Episode 7

Must... finish... recapping... 

The Finale begins with Chris Harrison telling our friends that if they do not see a real potential future with each other, they have to pack their bags and leave. Michelle is into Cody but is reasonably trepidatious: 

First, rewatch the above and watch Cody begin to grin at the end. It's like he's thought it over and is totally game.

Second, I honestly have to wonder if this news was delivered with a tone of  there being potential for another twist, like an obligation to propose or something. I can't help but think if they knew the next step was just a plush Fantasy Suite date, fewer couples would have split. I mean, this show has never existed before. They really didn't know what to expect going into Paradise. And who knows? With shows like Married At First Sight out there, you never know what you could be getting yourself into. Just the way the couples suddenly balked and ran for the hills seemed a little suspect.

The boys are corralled into a boy chat in our familiar U-shape. Cody ruminates aloud...

... whilst Graham wages a serious war on his hangnails:

I'm falling more and more in like with Lacy with each episode. AshLee affectedly discusses "loving" the girls and Lacy reacts with a wonderful dead-pan smirk:

Graham does the difficult task of breaking things off with AshLee and then in his ITM, says:

"It's hard to say goodbye to the concept of loving someone. That now I am again left to keep looking for, you know, what we all want in life. To be loved and to love someone."

When Graham said this I had to rewind and listen again. It's such a fundamental truth and something that people somehow pride themselves on denying. We tell ourselves and our friends that we "don't need" a man/woman/relationship, when really that human connection is something we all desire and cherish. That's a valid and beautiful thing. Graham was one of the best things about this show.

It must be said that AshLee took the break-up incredibly well. I was a bit nervous watching that conversation go down but she was very poised. She stood her ground and maintained wanting to try with him, but didn't retaliate when he shut her down. 

That's an ambitious estimate.

That's an ambitious estimate.

AshLee is very interesting to watch. It's like she is missing some sort of social and/or self awareness which makes it difficult for her to truly bond with others. And yet she is so regimented in how she carries herself and puts herself together. She's obviously very beautiful and has likely been praised for that all her life. She clearly puts a lot of emphasis on her outward appearance and I wonder if it's because it's what she knows she can rely on. You can see throughout the season and in the girls' photos since filming that she is not exactly in the group. I speak from experience: you can be different but still likable. You cannot be fake and still likable.

 

The couples drop like flies and we're left with Michelle and Cody. Once again Michelle proves that without her there would be no Paradise. I swear, the girl almost single-handedly carries this show.

The following struck me as extremely misguided...

THIS. This is why Paradise is not a good formula for a real-world relationship. All the couples are comparing themselves against the others which won't benefit any of them. Lacy and Marcus undoubtedly look around and feel their relationship is superior and perfect, while the others look at Lacy and Marcus and think their own is flawed. It's apples and oranges. As my dear friend and yoga teacher extraordinaire, Alexa, says while you see someone on the mat next to you doing poses you simply cannot:

Michelle agonizes over her potential with Cody for about 30 minutes until:

I couldn't not steal this from Unspirational:

After deciding to give each other yet another go, the couples hug as though it's their last day on earth:

Chris Harrison appears and tells the couples breaking news:

"Let me tell you what the next step is going to be. This morning I asked you to challenge yourselves and challenge your relationship. And essentially you're going to do that... again."

Ummm...?

"Each couple has one more date here in Paradise. I urge you, just like you did today, to use that time together to continue to have difficult, real, raw, honest conversations about where these relationships are going."

Is it just me or is that speech more or less the exact same speech he gave at the beginning of the episode? 

He informs them that they'll finally get some private Fantasy Suite time which somehow makes Michelle say:

"This night is the only night we have to figure out if we can make it work or not."

No it's not.

No it's not.

What?? The only night? The ONLY night? This is such a flawed statement I have to remind myself, before getting too worked up, that Michelle is a producer-planted mole. Ahhh... all better.

Lacy says something about the importance of this private time with Marcus but I can't focus on what she's saying because:

The 80s are back, you guys. You heard it here first.

On their overnight date, the last shot we see of Lacy and Marcus is their silhouetted Harlequin romance novel cover tryout:

The next day, Michelle is literally beaming, making every female viewer wonder just how magical what Cody's got going on down there is. Had he not ended up with Michelle, something tells me this episode could have been quite the calling card for future pickups.

The couples animatedly discuss the amenities of their overnight dates (the bubble baths! the cheesecake! the hot tubs with jets that don't work!), and while Marcus and Lacy bask in the afterglow of their consummation...

.... Sarah's like:

Direct-look-into-camera!

Direct-look-into-camera!

It turns out Robert has some atypical Fantasy Suite habits, including wearing jeans to bed and:

Sarah pulls Robert aside and breaks it off. I have mixed feelings about all this, as I'm sure many of you do as well. Obviously I don't think anyone should judge anyone else for what speed they wish to take things and what one wears to bed is his/her prerogative. But, it's Bachelor in Paradise and I can totally feel Sarah's pain. While I believe Robert didn't mean to hurt Sarah's feelings, you'd have to be a real dolt to not see how not wanting to get intimate with a girl – when she wants to and after that much build-up – could wound her self esteem. I'm not saying he was supposed to tear off her clothes and ravage her, but why was there no kissing? They've been making out all over Paradise for the last several episodes, after all. Also, let's say he didn't want to do the deed in the "Fantasy Suite." Just communicate that!

Also, not to harp on the comparing thing, but Sarah said this verbatim:

“To be honest, I didn’t feel this way until today, getting back in the house, seeing the other couples. I see both guys say things like, “I’m so crazy about Michelle” and “I’m so crazy about Lacy” and I don’t feel like you’re as excited about me."

COMPARE AND DESPAIR.

After a legitimately difficult-to-watch breakup, Sarah speaks with the girls and Lacy just can't believe it:

Joking aside (come on, I couldn't not .gif that), I do believe the girls at this point had become close and that they felt terrible for her. Sarah's a whip smart, super sweet girl. It's not fun watching those cry on TV.

The two remaining couples are paid a visit by some of the few successful couples of Bachelor/ette seasons past, including my faves, Molly and Jason!

I loved Jason's season (yes, I've been watching this show that long) and I think the two of them are hilarious. If you don't already listen to their podcast, it's very entertaining and filled with juicy behind-the-scenes info.

While most of the returning couples' segment was a bit of a snooze (although the couples do look very happy, which is nice), I loved the part where they asked rapid fire questions. My favorite was Lacy saying she loves Marcus' chest hair...

I couldn't agree more. I LOVE chest hair on men. What's with all the waxed/shaved chests, guys?!

I also enjoyed when Sean Lowe asked if Michelle wanted to change Cody's hair and she:

Watching Marcus navigate the strangely low-hung basket lamps was amusing:

When I first heard that Michelle and Cody were dating after this show (before it began airing), I couldn't believe it. Well, I'm a believer now. These two are genuinely cute together. And I was moved by Michelle's speech, which gave a bit of insight into the things they've discussed that don't make television. Notably, his always considering Michelle's daughter and his willingness to bend to fit into their lives. Cody wins in more ways than one. 

Everyone saw that proposal coming, but I guess I didn't see it happening ON THE SHOW. I mean, the show filmed over the course of about three to four weeks. That's, er, not a long time. But hell, I'm a recent believer of the old "when you know, you know" adage, so more power to these two. I actually think they stand a better chance than most Bachelor/ette couples. They've spent collectively WAY more time together than the average lead gets with their final pick. And had Marcus waited until the real world, he'd have had to pay for this sparkler himself:

The internet tells us it's a total of 3.68 carats. Since Marcus was sure about the girl, that's seriously shrewd thinking on his part.

I have to give my congrats to these two. I was not a fan of Lacy's during the first two episodes and Marcus made me facepalm once or twice, but I'm happy to be wrong about people and gladly take back those feelings. The more in love with each other these two fell, the more at ease and compelling they became. Especially Lacy, who became a voice of reason of sorts and stood her ground on more than one occasion. Congratulations to these two!

 

BEST DRESSED

There weren't the same selection of cocktail-y outfits this week due to the lack of Rose Ceremony, but I still had a few standouts.

AshLee's breakup outfit was a bit all over the place, but there's no denying her flowy off-white pants were GORGEOUS:

I'm seriously obsessed with these. I love super wide leg pants but it's hard to find a pair that are flattering. I have high hopes for these – yes, I've already ordered a pair – thanks to their high and fitted waist. The black ones are also tempting as they're a nice alternative to a black maxi skirt.

They're only $29 (marked down from $69!) here.

My fashion win of the week was Lacy's effortless black backless maxi...

It's structured in the bust but has an airy quality everywhere else so it's super flattering. I also like how she went understated with her hair and makeup and let the dress shine. Lacy confuses me because she'll make such "on" fashion choices sometimes and, uh, less "on" ones other times. (see eyeshadow, above) Either way, this dress is an absolute win and ended up being perfect for her surprise beach proposal. Her exact dress is only $59.50 (!) and sells here.

*** UPDATE 09.21.14: Since posting, the black maxi has sold out. However, the burgundy is still available here.

The one truly consistent fashion statement all season was....

Metallic jewelry tattoos! I have to admit when I first saw these on AshLee in the series premiere I was like, "Are these a thing now??" I'm still a bit mixed but think they can look very cool when used sparingly. FlashTat sells them, as well as several Etsy shops.

Also, as for AshLee's mother-of-pearl slave bracelet (pictured above, which I expressed my love for Week One), a panda named Jae was kind enough to tell me where to find it, so I'm paying it forward!

 

LESSONS LEARNED THIS WEEK

1. Jeans are a perfectly viable pyjamas substitute.

2. Remember when I mentioned mic straps several weeks ago? Here's what they look like:

They attach with velcro and are used wherever they're least noticeable. I was a fan of the upper thigh which made me feel like Lara Croft. :)

 

That's a wrap! I can't lie; I'm glad Paradise is over. That was hell. Now that this is no longer on my plate I can focus on expanding other areas.

I think next season (The Bachelor) I may just stick with fashion roundups but we'll see... The relationships of Bachelor/ette are far more interesting to watch develop and therefore to analyze. Your input is always welcome!

Thanks for reading, fellow pandas!