Finale: Episodes 10 & 11

Hello, dear readers!

Thank you for your patience! I've been on the road with singing gigs since last Thursday and have just been trucking away at this bit by bit in off times. I'm sending this one out from Philadelphia where I'm doing a workshop for a new opera. Philadelphians, I'll be performing this piece here in September in case you're around!

Finale recaps are always tricky for me, but this one's been even more of an emotional whirlwind since I (and I know most of you) have really liked and supported Arie for most of this season. I'm still nowhere near "Worst Bachelor Ever" territory with him (granted, I never felt that way about Juan Pablo, either) but I definitely have some issues with both him and production over the final 5 hours of this season.

As always, I love it when you (respectfully) share your own opinions, so please join in the discussion below!

 


 

“I had this idea that I would get to this point and I would totally know.”

—Arie, voicing how we all think we'd feel at that point

 

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MEETING ARIE'S FAMILY

We kick off Part I of the Finale with Lauren and Becca taking turns meeting Arie's family. I felt a cultural difference with them that I, as a person with a parent from a very different culture, loved. His parents were very sophisticated and polite, yet SO blunt, particularly evidenced by Arie's father when he told Becca TO HER FACE that he'd be happy "either way"....

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I got such a kick out of this because you know—you can tell by his smile!—that he means this kindly and thinks he's just said a good thing. I mentioned this on The Morning After, but I really could see my mother saying something like this. (I say this with love, obviously!) The many ins and outs of stringent North American tact aren't really something every culture shares or desires to understand. My favorite example: in my German culture class (I took these in Berlin along with German language classes when I first moved there), I was told that if you invite someone to a movie or dinner or something and they decline, instead of coming up with some flimsy, fabricated excuse, they might actually say "Ich habe keine Lust", or "I don't feel like it". I LOVE this kind of frankness but it is very un-American.

Later, Arie's mother does something that's normally seen as something of a faux-pas for parents on this show, which is that she expresses a preference for one woman over the other. (Again, there is a ZERO percent chance my mother would not have made it abundantly clear who she preferred... and if she didn't like either, she would've made that known, too.) This isn't the first time parents have expressed some preference, but I do feel like most of the time they don't express any opinion and kind of cop out with a careful "we like them both". I made a .GIF of this because I really feel like Arie's expression is subtly not thrilled about his mother's opinion. Obviously it's easier to say in retrospect, but I swear, doesn't he have a 10% smile when she says she loves Lauren, and doesn't it become a 10% frown when she leans towards Becca? 

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He didn't jump to Lauren's defense or anything, à la Jojo when her family clearly preferred Robby, but to me he doesn't seem totally impartial in the above clip.

 

LAUREN'S LAST DATE

For their final date, Arie takes Lauren to Machu Picchu—which, frankly, comes off as another sign to me that he digs her more; Becca gets a run-of-the-mill trip to a market and Lauren gets one of the wonders of the world?? I enjoyed when they ran away from the camera suddenly; feeling the cameraperson have to expectedly chase their subject always taps at that 4th wall. Also note how Lauren is the one leading this sprint, one of many obvious examples of her (endearing) discomfort on camera... 

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In the evening, after Lauren basically pours her heart out to Arie, she says something in an ITM that speaks to my issue with Arie's overall encouragement, his abundant Words of Affirmation, his telling both women he loves them, and his general over-enabling of confidence in both women...

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I recently listened to Reality Steve's podcast with Courtney Robertson, the winner of Ben Flajnik's season, who too dated Arie briefly and who seems to be a close friend of his. His past relationship with a woman named Sydney was a focal point of this discussion and it stood out to me because Courtney, as Arie's friend (who had evidently heard his side of the story), felt Sydney likely thought what she and Arie shared was something far more serious than it actually was. Courtney claimed Arie expressed regret that he didn't end it sooner and that he "allowed" her to become as invested as she did. Unto itself, I would believe them both as I do think many (too many!) women tend to ignore red flags and become way too invested without taking proper stock of what feelings/actions/commitment are being reciprocated. That said, after watching Arie not only "allow" but truly enable two women to feel 100% confident that they were The One—with no (or insufficient) foresight for the impending and inevitable breakup—I can totally see this being a pattern in his real life.

An ex-boyfriend of mine used to call himself an "expectation manager". He believed in underselling and underpromising (he's British and was the one from whom I got my "show, don't tell" expression), as doing such would only ever result in exceeding others' expectations of him, rather than falling short of them. ("Show, don't tell" applies here, too. It really does apply to everything! Telling both women he loves them really is just a bunch of words, until the action—or the showing—of choosing one.) Now, I do think it is possible for a person to over-underpromise and over-undersell—it can tie into being too modest and too noncommittal-seeming and not effusive enough—but I would WAY rather a person (especially a romantic interest) lean more like that than being an over-promiser to the point of deception. 

Another guy I dated (so many ex stories today!) believed in being an "ethical player". Basically, you can be a player—by all means, enjoy it!—AS LONG AS you are 100% honest about what your intentions and level of commitment are, and that you, yes, manage those expectations. For example, knowingly allowing a woman you're dating to think your relationship is monogamous when you really don't treat it thusly—even if it's only by omission of truth and transparency, because, say, you've just never had the "talk" about monogamy—is still dishonesty, and is unethical.

Look, I really like Arie and totally believe he is 100% sincere about wanting to find a longterm, permanent mate. I don't see him as some douchebag player or master manipulator who doesn't give two shits about the women he dates. That said, unintentional deception is still deception. Especially when it's not a one-off and it's beginning to look an awful lot like a pattern. Regarding Arie, I actually think he's getting in his own way in his pursuit of longterm love because I believe he may be cursed with grass-is-greener mentality (a cousin to FOMO), which is a tricky affliction to shed. (Take it from me—I used to suffer from the same mindset.) 

 

BECCA'S LAST DATE

In the evening of her final date, Becca reads Arie a letter she's written him, but note what she says versus what's on the page. At least a two paragraphs, if not pages worth of content were skipped over...

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I also had to include this .GIF because I find it hilarious when contestants refer to THEMSELVES as First Name + Initial. There's something very meta about it. Like, OF COURSE Becca isn't "Becca K" in her day-to-day life, but in this sphere, she is nothing other than Becca K, even long after Bekah M has gone. Also note the cute, self-aware way in which she says it.

 

PROPOSAL DAY

It's the big day and both women do the standard dolled-up, pre-proposal (or pre-breakup) B-rolls. Here, Lauren gives us a SOLID Direct-Look-Into-Camera™...

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And in case it wasn't enough that Arie took Lauren to Machu Picchu or that he made a 10% frown at his mother expressing a preference for Becca, we get MAJOR foreshadowing when he says...

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THE BREAKUP

I've said a few times over my last few recaps (particularly in my The Morning After videos) that I feel Arie really got in over his head with all this. Like, I think his allowing himself to feel (what he considers legitimate) feelings of love for both women (both the imprudence of it and his ability to do so) are an example of this. The way he handled the entire break-up is perhaps the best example. Like, just LOOK at him while the cameras set up around and swarm them. If this isn't the face of being in over one's head, I don't know what is...

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I made two .GIFs from this god-awful UNEDITED (gasp!) breakup scene. (Andy, while being a gold star husband and watching it with me: "This is why there's editing.") The first was the AMAZING moment when Becca said "Are you f---ing kidding me?", just since it had to be captured for posterity...

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Note how in the above .GIF Arie says he wants to see if there's a "possibility" of reconciling with Lauren. And below, he makes it sound very uncertain, even claiming it's a "risk"...

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When put like that, it is indeed a risk to give up love (he calls what he has with Becca love though I don't quite believe it), and in that, something of a sacrifice and a plead for Lauren. He's willing to give it ALL up for just the chance that she'd take him back, right? But then we later learn...

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You guys know one of my biggest sensitivities as a viewer of this show is feeling like our intelligence is being insulted. The above grinds my gears because it does just that. I don't appreciate Arie's change of heart being sold to me as this grand gesture full of risk and unknowns—because it's more romantic that way—when really there was NO risk and we just weren't provided the vital intel to know otherwise. This is an example of that aforementioned dishonesty by the omission of truth. 

As for the breakup scene itself: Yes, I think it should've been done in private, and yes, I think if it had to be televised (I totally get why producers would want to capture it), this indeed went too far. After a few minutes of it being perversely captivating, it wasn't even entertaining in that sick way anymore. It was just tedious, repetitive, unproductive (except for it making Becca a shoo-in for Bachelorette), and based on us later finding out that Lauren was already waiting in the wings for him, at least somewhat contrived and artificial.

 

AFTER THE FINAL ROSE

When the 4TH HOUR of this finale begins, we're shown a recap of all this as well as plenty of footage of a broken-hearted Becca, including a disturbing segue from her bending over, sobbing, to the audience applauding...

 This reminds me of  Chris Soules' finale !

This reminds me of Chris Soules' finale!

The following .GIF has a ton of stuff going on...

1)  Arie is INSANELY attracted to Lauren. Look at how he looks at her and actually LICKS HIS LIPS. As I said on The Morning After, you get the feeling he wants to devour her.
2) Note how Lauren's head isn't actually leaning on the sofa in the shot before she asks if he's 100% over her. I can't even imagine how chopped up this conversation was.
3) It really bugs me how quick to say how "a thousand percent" over Becca he is. I get that he's had time to process it and he's there to win back his preferred woman, but you can't claim to have loved Becca yet practically trip over yourself to dismiss the entire relationship (I don't care who the audience is). Like, which one is it?? Either you actually loved her to some extent, in which case, after the fact, show at least a modicum of respect for a relationship you've already (callously) squashed. OR you can dismiss it entirely, but that forfeits your right to say it was "love" or anything resembling it. He could have easily just said, "Yes, I'm over her." The too-fast "thousand percent" is overkill. I would actually respect his actions here more if he'd just said he thought loved Becca but that, in hindsight, he was wrong and had been confused. 

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I'm a huge Jason and Molly Mesnick fan and just LOVE how no-BS and openly critical they are about this show. I mean, how many former leads can come on and have the chutzpah to say something along the lines of....

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Lauren finally joins Arie in the hot seat for their first public appearance. I was very impressed with Lauren's composure throughout all this. I think she (rightly) knew her relationship would be scrutinized and she came off dignified and well-spoken. This would be a high pressure situation for even the most camera-comfortable and outspoken personalities and Lauren held her own very well. Seeing them together actually gave me some faith in them lasting, too, as they really appeared to be supportive of each other and very much on the same "team". Again, though, that's more based on Lauren's outward confidence in them, since her personality has proven to err on the cautious side, more so than Arie's confidence, since I no longer totally trust that, nor do I trust his own trust in himself.

The following moment caught my attention. First, it feels like Arie self-edits, in that he corrects "Becca knew we were talking" to "Becca knew I'd be reaching out". (There is a difference, especially given that we later found out that he didn't tell Becca about this phone call until a week after the fact.) Second, I get the feeling that Lauren and Becca were not particularly close...

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... I don't actually know any intel on this, it's just the way she responds to Chris Harrison that feels like politeness only.

Finally, Arie proposes to Lauren in front of the live audience. I shared my thoughts on his decision to propose over at Flare (in short, I reeeeally wish he'd done this privately), but something that stood out to me was once again how wonderfully camera-shy Lauren is. Just watch how she shrouds her face during this moment of real emotion—even taking back her right hand to cover both sides of her face—only lowering her hands when she's fully composed herself...

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How anyone could find her boring to watch is beyond me. Watching Lauren is watching reality TV—a real human on TV, not someone being a too "on", camera-ready, TV-version of herself. I feel like Lauren couldn't ham it up for cameras if she tried, and I for one love this about her. 

Again, as I said at Flare, I really feel like it was Lauren and Arie (even more so than us as viewers) who were robbed of a proper Lauren-as-the-winner edit, because it just means the audience doesn't feel as familiar with her and them as a couple as they could and should have. (For example, think about how much airtime Bekah M got—just about every bit of her 1-on-1 time with Arie was shown—versus Lauren's insanely limited early airtime.) It's easy for us to not really understand what they share because we were never SHOWN crucial parts of it. I just want to emphasize that, while we can critique the choices made on the journey to get here, it's pointless to critique them as a couple. They seem very happy together and I truly wish them the best. Congratulations, Arie and Lauren!

 

OUR NEXT BACHELORETTE

Finally, Becca is announced as Bachelorette! This wasn't a surprise as, after that breakup (and how impeccably Becca handled it), it seemed unthinkable that anyone else would've been crowned. Becca is obviously intelligent and has an obvious strong sense of self-worth (evidenced by how she handled the breakup), but she also seems very modest and easy-going and just cool. It's always nice to actually be excited to watch the next lead. :)

I don't have much else to say about this—I'm delighted with the choice—except that to consider Chris Harrison "good hands" in which to be left to find love—or to consider this franchise in any way qualified (or to be trusted) to help anyone find love—is so ridiculous that it's audience laughter-worthy...

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In case you missed them, be sure to read my Flare Finale Part I and Finale Part II recaps!

 

THE FASHION

Requests

Emily asked about Lauren's knit tank and denim jacket from her Machu Picchu date...

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Lauren's Free People "Corset Detail Swit Cami" is sadly sold out (HERE) but there's a super similar (and major look-for-less) option HERE! Her Levi's "Ex-Boyfriend Trucker" denim jacket sells HERE and HERE.

Naomi asked about Caroline's Finale Part I dress...

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Caroline Vici Collection "Havana Ruffle" midi dress is sadly sold out (HERE), but there's a near-identical version (and a look-for-less, which is pretty impressive considering Caroline's only cost $52) selling HERE.

A few of you asked about Seinne's dress from the same episode...

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Seinne's For Love And Lemons "Tati Lace Corset Dress" sells HERE.

Merrill asked about Caroline's green bandage dress from After The Final Rose...

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Caroline's Vici Collection "Watch For Curves" bodycon sells HERE.

A few of you asked about Kendall's necklace, also from ATFR...

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Kendall's necklace, as with her moon lariat from Episode 9, is by her jewelry designer mother of Beautiful Soul designs. It sells (on sale!) HERE.

Sara asked about Tia's ATFR outfit...

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Tia's Saylor "Misty" set sells HERE.

Finally, a few of you asked about Becca's proposal gown...

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Becca's Olvi's "2768" dress can be found HERE, but it doesn't seem to actually sell online.

 

Best Dressed

I have one Honorable Mention, Becca's jacket from her Peru B-roll...

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This is a super cute piece and a nice (and functional, warmth-wise) twist on a typical denim jacket. Becca's denim sherpa moto jacket is by Mossimo for Target but is sadly sold out. Fear not, though, as there's a near-identical (and equally wallet-friendly) one selling HERE. (In my search I also found an equally cute but more traditional jean jacket with the sherpa detail—on sale—HERE.) I ID'ed Becca's crescent moon necklace back in Episode 5 but it's gotten a ton of airtime since then (she is almost always wearing it) and a lot of you have still been asking about it. Her necklace sells HERE.

I have a tie for second Runner-up! First up is Seinne with her ATFR dress...

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Gosh I love this look. There's something very old Hollywood about the silk charmeuse and those puffed sleeves. It's a risk and, while undeniably feminine, it's not at all basic (at least not in this decade). The color is the also the perfect shade of rosy pink and really keeps this feeling modern. Further, I applaud the makeup and especially the ponytail—she looks very chic. Seinne's Reformation "Harlow" dress sells HERE.

My other second Runner-up is Lauren with her ATFR (and proposal!) dress...

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We've all seen long sleeved lace or floral mini dresses, but this is like a 2.0 version of both. The lace is very next-level with all those floral appliqués, and to me, the baby blue color is really what makes this so special. It's unexpected and feels very fresh. Lauren's Self Portrait "3D Lily" mini dress sells HERE, but since it's on the pricey side (and as per Nancy's request) I sniffed around for some look-for-less options. The most similar one I could find is darker, by the same brand, and sells HERE. There's also a version with an A-line skirt, HERE. If you love the baby blue of Lauren's dress and are a bit flexible on style, there are a few options: There's a sleeveless, high neck, knee-length version HERE, a short sleeve, backless version HERE, and my personal favorite, a gorgeous off-the-shoulder option HERE.

I have another tie for Runner-up! First up is Bekah M with her ATFR ensemble...

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What a cool outfit this is. This definitely falls into the not-everyone-can-pull-this-off category, which ultimately impresses me even more. It's glamorous, youthful, and manages to be very risqué yet somehow sophisticated. I love how Bekah M throws style norms by the wayside and she sort of just does whatever the hell she wants. Her style is anything but basic and always very FUN, as is this entire look. Becca's Show Me Your Mumu "Barely There Top" (in Polka Dot Mesh) sells HERE. Her gorgeous Michael Costello x Revolve "Athena" skirt sells HERE. You may remember her suede platform sandals from Episode 3. They're by Jessica Simpson and long gone, but the "Naidine" sandals by the same brand are near-identical; they sell HERE. As for her earrings...

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Bekah M's Hart Hagerty "Electric Jade Double Dare Darlings" earrings sell (on sale!) HERE.

My other Runner-up is Becca with her ATFR and Bachelorette announcement dress...

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This dress is SO I-am-woman-hear-me-roar and I am LOVING it. (I know many of you did too; this was a much-requested piece.) Something about the metallic and the draping feels strong, sexy, and powerful. I personally with she hadn't hemmed it to her midi length (the full-length feels much more dramatic to me) and that she'd done some sort of a tousled low-do to let the open back shine, but I'm nitpicking—she stunned in this. Becca's Gemeli Power "Kotahi" gown sells HERE. If you're open to a one shoulder neckline, there's a fantastic look-for-less (in a length closer to Becca's) HERE. Her Via Spiga "Faxon" sandals sell HERE.

Drumroll, please! My Best Dressed is Lauren with her Finale/break-up gown...

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Was there a single woman who saw this and didn't want to wear it? (Or at least, didn't want to look like Lauren wearing it?) I love it when the women, especially this late in the season, BRING IT fashion-wise, and this incredible dress is very much "it"! It's bling-y without being gaudy, it's glamorous (it'd be at home on any red carpet), and it makes a statement (a 20s-flapper-meets-The Bachelor statement) with every step. The only thing that could make this more perfect is if she'd worn her hair back and up in some dramatic twist, but I feel even a bit weird saying that as her hair looks ridiculously good. If you can't tell, I loved this look. At this point we're used to dresses of this nature being unattainable couture pieces (as in, even if they are available for sale, they're in the $1K-5K range), but Lauren's MacDuggal "4612D" gown actually sells (also in blue) HERE—and while it's not cheap, it's WAY cheaper than I was expecting it to be.

 

Worst Dressed

There wasn't a single bad look in all 5 hours of this Finale!

 

BEST DRESSED OF THE SEASON

I've been wanting to add a Pretty Panda award for Best Dressed of the Season for awhile but I always end up getting overwhelmed by the recap itself and forgetting to do so. Not this season!

This season's winner is Seinne! Scroll below to admire her fashion...

There wasn't a single week during her entire time on the show—regardless of airtime—where she wasn't featured somewhere in the Best Dressed section. (I'm pretty sure this is an ATPP recaps record.) She has a distinct personal style which is feminine and sexy but always with an unexpected edge. She's not afraid to take risks and incorporates both higher-end and affordable pieces. She tends to let her sartorial pieces speak for themselves and often styles them with dainty jewelry and accessories. (I may be a bit biased in loving this as it's very much what I do as well.) Though her hair is usually down, it's always on point. (And this week she wore her hair up! Hallelujah!) Well played, Seinne! 👏🏼👏🏼

 

 

Our collective discussion is the best part, so don't be shy and be sure to share your thoughts on this Finale in the comments below. Thanks so much for following along with me all season, fellow pandas! I 🖤 you guys!

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