Episode 10: Finale
This recap is going to go a little differently. I watched the episode itself Monday night and the After The Final Rose segment Tuesday morning. Usually I make notes and screencap as I watch. But this week, since we all know who Andi chooses in the end, I don't see the point in analyzing how happy/stimulated/attracted Andi is with either guy. She made her choice which is the right choice. No one can dispute her choice because no one was in her shoes, getting to know these guys, experiencing a chemistry/lack thereof with them, etc. I reiterate: Andi's choice is the right choice. FOR ANDI.
(I love Men Tell All but I don't deem it a real episode, hence the lack of a recap. If you're still curious on what I thought of it, I did name my most notable moments in my weekly Flare recap, which can be read here.)
MEETING ANDI'S FAMILY
I thought both Nick and Josh's family meet-and-greets went well enough. As is practically standard at this point, editing made it seem like there were doubts about each of the guys: Nick was conspicuously nervous – how shocking and offensive – and Josh was similar to Andi's past boyfriends – how shocking and offensive. Of course, after a heart to heart with each Patti and Hy, everything's fine. So that ominous music wasn't necessary after all.
The best part of this segment?
HY! Oh man, Hy. I love Hy almost as much as I love saying "Hy". Hy takes shit from nobody. Hy doesn't give a rat's ass about the cameras. Hy is a true man; he understands that it takes a real man to care about and for a woman – not the other way around – and is not afraid to admit that his top priorities in life are the women in his life. Even after 31 years of marriage, Hy still pulls out his wife's chair at the table!
Hy sits and speaks in ITMs like he would on the couch in his living room with an old friend. Hy doesn't change depending on his audience or environment.
You can tell Hy's a really great father. Hy's protective of his daughter yet trusts her instincts:
"The process being quick doesn't concern me. The feelings are either there or not and I have complete faith in her ability to make an intelligent and emotional decision. You got my blessing. The only one you've got to worry about is hers."
It always baffles me when a Bachelorette's father is reticent with his blessings for the guys' proposals. I mean, it's her decision who she picks, just as it was her decision to agree to be Bachelorette in the first place. Hy realizes this and has nothing but confidence in his daughter's decision-making abilities. He knows he's raised her well and steps aside to allow her to fly. From top to bottom it's great parenting.
Did anyone else notice how Andi and Josh casually call each other "babe" and "baby"? When Josh came to meet Andi's family, she called him "babe." Later on in their one-on-one, "Cheers, babe". About the baseball card, "Babe, I love it!" When they greeted each other for their one-on-one yacht date, he called her "baby."
She hasn't shared these terms of endearment – or at least not in moments that have aired – with anyone else. You don't call the guy/girl you're seeing "baby" anywhere near the beginning of your relationship, but rather when you're officially dating, you're boyfriend/girlfriend, and that advanced level of comfort is established. I think the fact that they're using "babe/baby" is VERY telling.
I had to wonder if this jump was timed...
... for this...
... to be captured by our aquatic friend here:
It's amazing to consider how I first saw Josh versus now. He may be a jock, but there's no denying he's a good-natured, well-intentioned jock. The two of them have palpable chemistry, cute banter, and are just easy together. They have goofy, effortless fun together. Above all, you can tell Josh is head-over-heels for her.
I particularly loved when Andi pressed for any last-minute thoughts or concerns and he could only gaze at her lovingly:
Andi: You've got to have some questions.
Josh: (sighs, shaking his head) I'm ready.
I know the baseball card has gotten mixed reviews – I watched with two girlfriends; one hated it, one was indifferent – but I loved it. I thought it suited them in the way it was a playful, not-so-serious gift, and it was definitely thoughtful. Also, apparently people took issue with the fact that he "assumed" she would change her name...? I really didn't see it like that. The gift clearly represents his being ready to give her his last name. I'm fairly feministic and generally pro women keeping their surnames when marrying, but seriously, chill out. It's just a cute present!
First of all, completely unrelated: I thought this date with Nick was one of the coolest of the season. Off-roading in a jeep (without any producers) through the Dominican Republic and then SWIMMING IN A LAGOON?
Are you serious?? So cool. For me that beats rappelling, gondola-riding, yachting, and private concerts any day.
Obviously the biggest topic on the discussion table is: Did Andi lead Nick on? And if so, was she cruel in how she did it?
As I said way back in Episode 4 about the Eric thing, I believe the lead is meant to have a poker face to some degree. That is a gentle way of saying they are required to lead one, two, three or even more guys on. And no one was more aware of this risk than Nick, who rightfully analyzed the signs she gave him from every angle for nine weeks. I hate it when people say this, but it is true to some degree: he knew what he was getting himself into. And I think at a certain point he believed what he wanted to believe and not necessarily reading between the lines as closely as he had in the earlier weeks.
I went back and watched his one-on-one with her to seek out that moment when I think she chose her words carefully and he heard encouragement. She says, "It's gonna be alright" repeatedly. These words and the way she says them could really go either way – considering of course that there's another man in the picture. But watch Nick's face register what she says and how he interprets it:
Okay, so she didn't exactly change the subject when he discussed one day grocery shopping with her. But she didn't outright lie either.
"She's giving me all the signs. And I appreciate that. I do."
Watching Nick watch her is heart-wrenching. He is completely exposed and vulnerable and gotten to that point only via encouragement and subsequent confidence:
"Andi and I have an amazing connection. It's the kind of love I've always hoped to have and I think I'm definitely ready to propose to Andi. But I don't know for sure how she feels about me and you know, I'm nervous about that. I've gone down this path before and it's important to me to not have any doubts in my gut. So, going into tonight, if she is in love with me and I'm the person she hopes to spend the rest of her life with I need her to find a way to just let me know because if I don't know it's me, we're not getting engaged."
"At this point I'm ready to propose to Andi but I still have my anxieties about this, having been engaged before and not wanting to have any ounce of doubt."
File those quotes away for later, when we discuss After The Final Rose.
JOSH PICKS THE RING
Let's take a brief intermission from the heavy stuff and notice a rare mic pack sighting!
The sound guys must love having guys (and their belts) versus girls (and their mini dresses) on the show. Mic packs – or rather, their concealment – were a constant battle. I don't think I've ever seen so many velcro thigh straps, waist straps, or industrial-strength double-sided tape as I did during filming.
Josh picking out the ring was pretty damn adorable. He was excited and nervous and, of course, serious. Just LOOK at his face while he assesses the rings, so intent on making the perfect choice. It's precious:
I'd say he did alright. :)
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
You can see poor Nick's mind fly through emotions, reasons, scenarios as he sees Andi at the door instead of Neil Lane:
As Andi uses his own story of waking up the morning of a proposal and thinking something's not right against him, he serves up a direct-look-into-camera for the ages:
As Andi explains, "It's clear to me that the things I see in you, the things I see with us, are ultimately not what I think is best for us", she puts her hand to her heart and – zero sarcasm – I'm reminded of just how unenviable her position is:
Of course, it goes without saying hers is infinitely more enviable than his and this difficult task is the last on a long list of tasks she signed up for, but it's impossible to not feel for her as well. You can tell her heart is racing as she scrambles for the right words to use. My only wish is she hadn't told him a life with him would result in her overanalyzing every single moment. It just added insult to injury in a moment that should have consisted purely of apologies and the gist that, well, she just can't live without the other man.
She tries. He asks, "Is this more about us or more about someone else?" and she responds with a very telling:
I was SO glad she stated in After The Final Rose that it just came down to what she deemed a stronger, "more right" relationship with someone else. It was the simple truth and a case of desperately necessary tough love. She even says, "I probably should have said it months ago" and is correct.
Nick: "There are certain things I wish you wouldn't have said or done."
Let's be honest. Nick was absolutely led on, as is every runner-up in the history of this show. But there was something very wrong about it happening to Nick. Unlike most contestants on this show, he arrived cautious and skeptical. He wasn't naive but rather intelligent and self-aware, adamant about not allowing the machine of the show to humiliate him. He didn't arrive already halfway "in love" with someone he hadn't even yet met. He didn't make any decisions or assumptions without encouragement or reason. So for him of all people to really let his walls down and expose his heart on national television only to have the rug pulled out from under him is all kinds of sick in my eyes.
THAT SAID, I do not blame Andi for this. I honestly believe Andi cared for Nick a lot. I believe in an alternate universe where there was no time limit and no Josh and just a different set of circumstances, she and Nick could have a fantastic, functional, and maybe even successful relationship. But this is the Bachelorette universe, where the Bachelorette had a job to do, and guess what: she did it VERY well. It's a television show, and if Andi just did what she wanted to do for nine weeks (likely taking in Marseilles, Venice, and Brussels with Josh) and not what was contractually expected of her, believe me, we'd all have tuned out by episode 2. Call it sick, but a consistent audience of several million can't be wrong.
I'm not going to lie: I was totally charmed by this entire segment. Josh was SO heartbreakingly sincere when he said, "I'm happier than I've ever been in my entire life." It reminded me a bit of when he had a sit-down with his mother during his hometown. When he holds back tears he sort of twists his mouth and it's all kinds of cute:
"From that point forward [their first kiss], I knew I wasn't alone anymore, that it wasn't just me. It was us, together.
We could have done without the ominous music pretending there might be a chance in hell Andi wasn't going to reciprocate Josh's love, but on the whole it was one of the sweeter proposals I've seen on the show. These two are clearly smitten with each other and are destined to be the new poster children for the franchise's successful couples.
AFTER THE FINAL ROSE
In After The Final Rose, for the first time this entire season I had an impossible time relating to Nick. So much of who he's represented himself as being is self-aware and authentic. I'm not saying the segment of him not being over Andi isn't authentic, but it's definitely not self-aware.
Here's why: If Andi wanted him, then or now, I think the ball would be in her court to make that clear. If at After The Final Rose she were to pull a Jason Mesnick, again, that's her move to make, not his. No heartfelt letters, visit attempts, or other grand gestures will make her change her mind. It's something that must – and should – come from her, unprompted. I understand the need for closure and wanting to just get it "out there", but After The Final Rose is guaranteed. He'd get his moment to confront her. Any attempts before that are not his responsibility. Personally, I think I have a particularly hard time relating to this because I know my pride would never allow me to show further hurt than I'd already revealed. It's a form of self-preservation and I guess a fear of being made a fool, but not something I'd change about myself.
I get that he truly fell for her. I do. He felt about her like he's never felt about anyone, and obviously fell hard. But there's no use in dwelling on what went wrong if half of the equation checked out a long time ago. Especially when it's clear that at least some of what they had was a farce, which let's be honest, it would have had to be. (Refer above to my paragraph about the runner-up always being led on to some extent.)
Also, his holding onto what they had doesn't align with those quotes of his I wrote earlier. Highlights were:
"If I don't know it's me, we're not getting engaged."
"At this point I'm ready to propose to Andi but I still have my anxieties about this, having been engaged before and not wanting to have any ounce of doubt."
Along the same vein, if she's showing regret over having picked another man, based on his own words, he should not be still hung up on her. He himself says he doesn't want any ounce of doubt. What pieces could they possibly pick up after this ultimate doubt-inducing betrayal on her part? Granted, I can't begin to imagine the confusion and loss he's experiencing. I may have been in the Bachelor pressure-cooker bubble but I know I never felt anywhere near the earnest feelings he obviously did, nor do I think everyone deals (nor should deal) with loss in the same way. So it's not my place to judge.
THAT CONTROVERSIAL FANTASY SUITE COMMENT
Here's my take on what happened: Nick is still hurting, heartbroken, confused. He finally has his moment to confront Andi. Andi appears and is noticeably guarded. There's no mistaking it and I suspect this unfamiliar Andi catches him off-guard. I think Nick was expecting a warmer, compassionate, perhaps still apologetic Andi, something closer to what he knows of her. Instead of just giving her a piece of his mind as the runners-up often do, he is strangely meek. He mentions his letter and she curtly says she's read it, and he thanks her! (This caused me quite a bit of distress as I don't think her reading his letter is any sort of favor.) Dissatisfied with her lack of empathy, and not being able to articulate his frustrations more clearly, he asks how she could have made love to him if she didn't love him.
Andi doesn't miss a beat and rightfully calls him out on the spot for his "below the belt" comment. I was really impressed with her composure and quickness in that moment. In her position I know I probably would have been too flustered to stammer out anything sensical.
I am actively against slut-shaming and take it very seriously. I'm all for women knowing what they want and making their own decisions, whether it be to remain abstinent or to sleep with whomever they want. In my humble opinion, it is the woman's body, her choice, and she should stand by her wants. I know one of the things that makes Nick's comment so controversial is the fact that he said it on national television. Certainly, I agree that is private and he had no business trying to retaliate with it with an audience of millions. But frankly, I think all the fury with his having said it – clearly a case of him nervously trying to elicit any kind of reaction out of her and subsequently putting his foot in mouth – is slightly overblown. But either way, believe it or not, that's not my concern.
I can't help but think if Andi were the guy in this scenario and Nick the girl, no one would bat an eye that she was "intimate" with more than one man. As a man, it would just be in his red-blooded male nature to want to sow his wild oats. There's a slight insinuation and double standard that as a woman, if she wasn't going to pick him, she shouldn't have slept with him. And I reiterate, I firmly believe a woman can do what she wants without judgment. And I felt Andi was on the receiving end of judgment, whether from Nick or any one of America's Bachelor viewers, and that EES SO NOT OKAY in my book.
That said, I'm all about open discussion and realize there is more than one take on this. When I said I felt it would have been different were the genders reversed, Kate – one of my dearest friends and reluctant Bachelor/ette convert – had a great counterargument:
"I don't know. I think it would have been the same. I thought Nick felt that he was used by her because he thought "making love" was an act of expressing love. I actually find that refreshing in a man. It maybe isn't even worth making a big deal over. It already seems like everybody focused more on that more than the truth of what Nick was saying: she totally played him, particularly if she says she never loved him. In my opinion, she wasn't slut-shamed by him asking broken-heartedly why she led him on by making love to him when she knew she liked Josh more. The sex thing has become some "scandal", as if the Fantasy Suite on the Bachelorette is supposed to be some classy thing that Nick has now tainted."
I have the best friends. :D
I personally agree that Nick didn't mean to bring it up in a slut-shame way. He definitely seems open-minded and forward-thinking in his views and doesn't seem to have issues with respecting women and their rights. I still think bringing up the Fantasy Suite was out of line, whether or not he thought the sex meant she loved him. Not to bring up gender reversal again, but I can't help but think if he were a woman, his behavior would be at risk of being considered clingy and delusional, and his attempts to see her, stalker-ish.
You can see this is veering off onto a tangential debate about feminism and gender stereotypes, so I'll pass the mic to you, dear readers. Comment below if you agree, disagree, or have a different take altogether. My only request is to keep it respectful and kind. I know these are sensitive topics but we're all entitled to our own opinion. Nastiness is unwelcome!
A side note: Nick forfeited any upper hand, in my opinion, by bringing up the Fantasy Suite. He went into it the sympathetic character and victim, Andi the culprit. But by accusing her of "making love" when she wasn't "in love" instantaneously switched their titles. Andi swiftly became the victim and became (understandably) defensive, and Nick didn't get the answers he sought. It just wasn't productive.
THE HAPPY COUPLE
No one can deny that Andi and Josh are great together. She made her choice which is the right choice; it came down to who she couldn't live without and for her that was Josh. I truly have zero doubt they'll continue to make each other very happy.
Just look at those megawatt smiles!
CONGRATULATIONS, ANDI AND JOSH!
There were some fantastic flowy dresses this week. I really dug Andi's red, two-tier backless number:
Effortlessly vibrant. Win.
I was a bit on the fence about her tiered crop tank...
... but am so obsessed with that maxi skirt I've already forgotten about it. Tank? What tank?
I would wear her bold print caftan all day, every day:
It makes me think of this which makes me happy.
It goes without saying I want to steal this backless tank off Andi's, er, back:
Me want. And I always approve of a crisp pair of white linen pants. Love.
I maybe could have done with a belt on her feather T-back maxi...
... but that's splitting hairs. I still want that dress. Solid fashion this week!
DRINKING GAMES WORDS OF THE WEEK
Thanks so much for reading and following this season along with me, fellow pandas! Your loyalty and involvement are what really kept me motivated to keep writing my thoughts these past few months. I look forward to chewing up (and spitting out) Bachelor in Paradise with y'all!