Episode 10: Finale

Dear readers, my sincerest apologies for the delay!

As tends to happen with Finales, I've had this post about 75% complete for awhile, but life (particularly my wedding, which is in 11 days!) got in the way of me completing in in time. 

A special thank you to those of you have written me while remaining so kind and understanding. I appreciate you guys more than you know!



"I've always been drawn to the excitement of gambling my feelings on the complicated relationships. And, you know, it's the damaged connections that have offered me the chance to always run away... I really, really had to do some soul-searching, deeper than I ever have before, to find the courage to challenge myself." —Rachel



The Finale episode picks up with the rest of Peter's cliffhanger date, and as per usual, there is no real resolution. (Shocking, I know.) The two share the Fantasy Suite nonetheless and act like everything's fine. FOR NOW.

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Rachel takes Bryan horseback riding and for more winery time, because When in Rioja. I thought it was interesting—especially now, since we know Rachel picks Bryan—that this far along we're still led to believe that Bryan made a terrible impression on Rachel's family. That meet-and-greet with Rachel's family felt ultra-edited to begin with, and the following conversation felt like more of the same...


We know by now that Rachel is pretty much a paragon of social aptitude and good behavior, so I sincerely doubt Rachel would ever just NOT respond to Bryan when he said the date with her family was a relief, much less would she curtly say, "right" when he expressed thinking it went well. I know the gist of this date was meant to make it seem like Rachel was distracted, which she may well have been. But I still don't buy in the slightest that these facial expressions and responses were from the context we were shown.



At the Final 3 Rose Ceremony Rachel says what I feel like every lead says at this point...


She sends sweet Eric home and while I'm not surprised, it still stings. I feel like we got to watch a real arc unfold with Eric, like we saw him "develop", as weird as that sounds to say. It's hard to believe this composed, emotionally mature (bearded!) man is the same one we saw get provoked enough to angrily (though I still maintain understandably) shout at other guys in Episode 3. In addition to being very classy when Rachel sends him home and making it as easy on her as possible, he also gives a great Direct-Look-Into-Camera...


For some reason I especially love Direct-Looks-Into-Camera when it involves someone being sent home. It shows this split second of awareness that I can't help but think would affect their behavior (probably for the better).

I'm on the fence about Eric moving forward... On one hand I'd love to watch him maybe fall in love again, watch him grapple with those (hopefully less foreign) emotions, whether as the lead or in Paradise. But on the other, I'd like him to rise above Bachelor Nation and resume his normal life with the added dimension of being able to let go and be vulnerable. Either way, Eric wins all the prizes.



For Bryan's big last date, Rachel takes him for a hot air balloon ride, because what season would be complete without one? The only thing missing was a phobia of heights...


In the evening, Rachel tells Bryan...


I'm reminded of Bachelorettes of seasons past who said the same thing about their final picks and who have lasted: Ashley Hebert with JP, Desiree with Chris, Kaitlyn with Shawn (I never saw Trista's season but something tells me she said something along the same lines). There's no question female leads have a better track record of picking their men than the men do their women.



For Peter's big last date, Rachel takes him to a monastery in the mountains of Anguiano, and just when we're about to learn about their famed attraction FROM THE 9TH CENTURY—NO BIG DEAL—which people travel from all over to behold, we're interrupted by a voiceover of a robotic ITM from Peter... 😒

The priest gives a little partnership advice, and I wrote down in my notes not only how right he is, but also how cute his self-satisfactory smile is afterwards...


In the evening, after more non-resolution in the not-seeing-eye-to-eye-on-the-proposal department, that topic is promptly revisited. When Peter asked the following (in my opinion valid) question, I found Rachel's reaction interesting...


Note where her eyes dart, especially the second time. I am fairly certain she's looking at her producer, unsure of how to extract herself from answering without addressing production. I could be wrong, but the fact that it happens twice has me pretty convinced.

This whole conversation-turned-breakup felt pretty lengthy but it's obvious we were shown a mere fraction of it. Note how when Rachel goes in for a goodbye hug her eyelashes are still intact, and how when she pulls away, they're gone...


No eyelash glue is so weak—I don't care how many tears are shed—as to slip off on a man's sweater. I can't help but wonder how much we missed here; minutes or hours?

After what truly is a heart-wrenching goodbye, I couldn't help but laugh at Chris Harrison's ever-so-helpful, sensitive commentary and head shake...

Thanks a mill, Chris.

Thanks a mill, Chris.

Peter comes out in front of the live audience directly following the commercial break (as I mentioned over at Flare, I personally loved this change up) and what ensues is a surprisingly frosty exchange between the two. I'm not sure what I was expecting, really, just perhaps a bit more of an amiable "oh well, we tried" feel to it all. I don't quite agree with Peter that he was attacked, but I also didn't find Rachel to be particularly warm towards him either. I get the impression this surprised Peter as well.

This cold reunion reminded me a bit of Andi's season, when Nick returned and was evidently expecting more warmth from Andi, and he retaliated with his famous line (you know what I'm talking about). Obviously Peter never went so far, but his line about feeling attacked hints at a similar position. 

Perhaps most notable is how, when we all know Peter is a frontrunner and fan favorite to become next season's Bachelor, Rachel spells out (TWICE) that she doesn't think Peter is meant to fall in love on TV...


I don't necessarily disagree with her; it's very possible Peter just can't let his guard down fast enough, can't throw caution to the wind to the extent necessary to fall in love with and propose to a woman in 9 weeks. But to me, him not wanting to propose to Rachel in 9 weeks and on TV doesn't mean he's not capable of proposing to any woman in that timeframe and on TV. And seeing as how Rachel didn't ultimately pick Peter, it's pretty safe to say she was never going to pick Peter, with or without his qualms about a proposal. So it's not entirely fair to judge his ability to fall in love on TV based on a relationship into which she most certainly was never planning on diving headfirst either. My point is, his relationship with Rachel doesn't automatically represent how a televised Peter would be with just about any other woman on the planet, and certainly doesn't detract from his potential and ability to be a good Bachelor.

As I said over at Flare, I believe it takes both a certain readiness AND the right woman (or man) to unlock the desire for commitment and marriage in many men (and women). It's TBD whether or not Peter is fully ready, but it 100% wasn't Rachel who was meant to "unlock" that desire in him. And since the feeling was mutual, why should he be the only one held accountable? You could argue Peter just had better intuition than most runners-up, and since proposing once in his life is something he holds dear, he was right to not give into pressure and propose. Why should he be punished for that? If anything, it'll just give his eventual true love story more significance.

For what it's worth, I think Peter would be a very compelling Bachelor. I think he's got the universal appeal to make women swoon and actually fall for (not pretend to fall for, or convince themselves they're falling for) him, and his refusal to just do and say what's expected of him makes him a unique breed in this world. And in my opinion, he's more interesting for it.



Heading into the proposal, Rachel gets ready in her room, and who wouldn't appreciate the desk loaded with bottles of booze and wine...


This proposal was simply beautiful. My favorite moment was when she finally made it clear it to Bryan that it was him she was choosing, and he completely steamrolled her speech in his desire to kiss her. Adorable:

There was no sense of "OMG IS SHE GOING TO PICK HIM?", so instead, from the very beginning of her speech, it was possible to just focus on what she was saying as to WHY she was picking him as opposed to IF she was picking him. I particularly liked her words (at the top of this post) about her own soul-searching journey. She mentioned coming to terms with her penchant for seeking out and fixing cracks and the imperfections, and had to challenge herself to accept and embrace something good. It showed that finding "Mr. Right" doesn't just involve waiting for one's white knight to appear (which if you know me, you know I don't believe in); it really does require self-reflection and growth, whatever form that may take. There was something about this personal discovery and its challenges that I feel had to have resonated with many, many viewers. I know it did with me. 



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Not much to add here that I didn't say over at Flare and on The Morning After. I love these two as a pair and have a lot of faith of them working out. Congratulations to the happy couple!



I have a tie for Best Dressed. First up is Peter with his Final 3 Rose Ceremony suit...


I love it when a traditionally "old" color like burgundy is made fresh, and the pattern-mixing really works here. Peter was easily this season's overall Best Dressed.

My other Best Dressed is Eric with his live segment ensemble... 


This look was SLICK. I love the subtle print on that suit, how he matched navy with black (I will never tire of that combination), and THAT FACIAL HAIR. He looks so dapper and his good attitude only made him more attractive. 👏🏼  

For those asking, his suit is by Loren Spratt but I wasn't able to find it for sale online. His lapel flower is a magnetic cloth carnation by Magnepels and sells HERE.



No Worst Dressed this week. Whew!



Several of you asked about the look I wore on The Morning After...

The cardigan is by Helmut Lang but is several seasons old (one of the joys of visiting your parents' house is raiding your old closet), but there's still one Small (the size I'm wearing) available HERE. The necklace is my latest obsession, is from Free People, and sells HERE.

Since I've done a few Paradise videos since this finale and have had requests for those as well...


My off-the-shoulder sweater is by Free People and sells HERE. The necklace is the same as in the look above.


My top is by Knot Sisters and while it's from a year ago and sadly sold out (HERE), there's still one selling on Poshmark HERE. My Ann Taylor necklace sells HERE.

A few of you asked about Rachel's vibrant red dress she wore on Live with Kelly and Ryan...

Rachel's Likely dress also comes in purple and navy and sells HERE. There's a look-for-less by the same designer in the exact same shade of red HERE. Her Stuart Weitzman sandals sell HERE, and the updated version of this sandal (with a slightly lower, more bearable heel height) sells HERE. There's a look-for-less for these sandals selling HERE.

Terri asked about the pink gown Rachel wore in a contemplative winery B-roll...

Rachel's Alter Ego gown is actually a bridesmaid wrap dress and sells HERE.



For the live segment and After The Finale Rose, Rachel wore a pale pink number...

I loved this look. She brought the sex appeal but it was never remotely in bad taste. That color looks fabulous on her and it's deliciously feminine. Rachel's dress is by Cinq à Sept and sells HERE. You've seen her JL by Judith Leiber shoes many times throughout the season now, and they sell HERE. Her sold out Suzanne Kalan diamond hoops (HERE) are real, but I found a good look-for-less option for those HERE.

For her Fantasy Suite date with Bryan..

Ooooh I dug this. It's so edgy and different. To me this is very much an outfit for women more so than men (I know Andy would prefer the above pink mini dress over this) but I don't care; Rachel looks like a badass #girlboss in it. Rachel's Misha Collection jacket dress sells HERE (in my search I found a fabulous asymmetrical dress with fringe by the same designer, HERE, which I'm seriously considering for myself). Her Schutz shoes sell (on sale!) HERE, and also come in both beige and red, HERE.

For the Final 3 Rose Ceremony...

Okay, so I appreciate what this look is going for... I like the drama and how it's all amped up and thus more television-appropriate. That said, I'm just not wild about the dress itself. The sleeves make her look like a linebacker, and with drama like this, I'd rather see her hair up, as well as dressier footwear (not booties you could easily wear with ripped jeans). I respect this choice, though, and gladly embrace it over another fitted, bedazzled Randi Rahm. Rachel's gown is from Celestino Couture's Spring/Summer 2013 collection (HERE) but I'm afraid I couldn't find it available anywhere. Her Joie booties sell (on sale!) HERE, in blush and olive green colors (also on sale) HERE, and in suede with studs (also on sale, and I am in lust with these) HERE.

For her final 1-on-1 with Bryan...

I liked two things about this outfit: 1- it's simply chic, and 2- it combines many pieces already worn on the season, showing wearability and versatility. You've seen Rachel's grey coat a few times this season; it's by Mackage and sells HERE (it also sells in black HERE). Her jeans, which she also wore in Episode 4, are by Paige and sell HERE (there's a look-for-less HERE). Her Frye boots sell (on sale) HERE. She wore the necklace in Episode 6 (layered). It's by Alisa Michelle and though when I reached out I was told it's a one-off, they are offering my readers 25% off sitewide until August 21st (use code AMPANDA25).

For her 1-on-1 with Peter...

I reeeeally liked this look. I want that sweater BAD. I want that coat BAD. I would never think to pair a burgundy cashmere sweater with camo and yet it works, and now I want to try the pairing BAD. This is a top to bottom casual-meets-edgy win for me. Rachel's 360 Cashmere sweater is sold out in her burgundy color (HERE) but is still available in black, HERE. There's a near-identical cashmere alternative HERE, and a look-for-less HERE in Petite. If you're open to other colors but want Regular sizes, more look-for-less options are HERE. Her camouflage parka is by Zara and is sold out (HERE), but there's a great alternative HERE, and an option with a sequined back, HERE. Her Frye boots are the same as the look above (they sell HERE), and her Robyn Rhodes ring sells HERE (get 20% off with PANDAS20).

In the evening...

I don't know if I've ever had as many people request an item as you guys did this coat. I can't blame you—it's got both quirk and style. I love plaid and how this one is sort of super-sized, yet monochromatic (and thus versatile). Rachel's plaid coat is by She & Sky but is sadly sold out (HERE) but I found a decent alternative HERE. Her chain tassel necklace is by Nan Fusco but I couldn't find it anywhere, and the closest alternative I could find sells HERE. Her real diamond stacking rings are by Suzanne Kalan, but there's a fantastic look-for-less HERE.

Finally, for the big proposal...

Rachel looked like a goddess in this dress. It was sexy (apparently sky high slights are very on-trend) but felt very "couture". She was smart to wear her hair back (yay!!) and I appreciated the contrast of the appropriately subtle earrings. Rachel's dress is by none other than the season favorite for dramatic, beaded gowns, Randi Rahm. Her Judith Lieber heels (also worn on the live finale) sell HERE. Her earrings are by Suzanne Kalan, but there's a great look-for-less option selling HERE.

As always, dear readers, I look forward to your comments,
and a huge THANK YOU for following along this season with me!