Come on, man. You can’t promise me “Shocking! Secrets!” and then tell me that Arie flew to Charlotte to leave his diary on Emily’s steps. You just can’t. It’s unacceptable and not remotely up to “Bachelorette” finale drama standards.
With the promise of said secrets, I was thinking in the months since Emily got engaged to Jef, she’d gotten pregnant, or she’d started hooking up with Chris Harrison or something, because he’s a G. Alas, turns out that our leading lady and Jef-With-One-F are still together. Not only are they still together, but they’re, like, repulsively cute together. Jef is so perfect that when Arie had unresolved feelings for Emily post-finale, he helped to talk the runner-up through them. And Emily is so perfect that she didn’t even open the journal Arie left for her on her stairs. Yay! Love! Rainbows! Cotton candy!
I’m sorry. I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself in my post-three-hour-live-finale stupor. Obviously, Emily chose Jef. Skinny jeans for the win!
Jefy was first up to meet Emily’s parents, which I always worry can be the kiss of death for these dudes. And things didn’t go terribly smoothly between he and the Maynards, largely because her family seems incredibly cold. Jef showed up -- underdressed in a causal white tee -- and was greeted with a few forced smiles. There was Suzy, Emily’s mom, whose voice was about 3 zillion octaves lower than her daughter’s. Dave, her dad, who doesn’t believe it’s possible to be in love with two people at once. And let’s not forget Ernie, Emily’s brother, who speaks in a monotone and told Jef he’d basically never live up to Emily’s deceased fiance. Fun times!
Though he had good intentions, Jef appeared nervous while meeting Emily’s family, injecting the word “like” into nearly all of his sentences. When Arie swung by Casa Maynard, however, he was far more confident. Plus, he one-upped Jef in the gift department. While the J-Man presented Suzy with a respectable bouquet, Arie gave her a special box filled with all of the dried roses he’d received from Emily throughout the season. Nicely played, my dude.
Despite his Cougar-wooing skills, Arie wasn’t the obvious favorite with the parentals. When Emily sought -- nay, begged -- her family to give her an opinion on her final two guys, mum was the word. But Suzy did “encourage” Emily to “wait on a proposal” and not introduce Ricki to the guys, because “it would be confusing for a child.”
But who really heeds their mother’s advice, right? Cut to Emily’s final date with Jef, where he’s expressing serious unease about not having met the little girl who might soon become his stepchild. Emily admitted she still had a guilty conscience about introducing Ricki to Brad when things didn’t work out between them. I would have a guilty conscience about that, too, because it was so horribly awkward and Brad can’t talk to kids and Ricki so clearly hated him.
But Jef! Jef is different. He’s a kid at heart! He looks a decade younger than Emily! So what the hey? Let’s all go meet the real star of the show, shall we?
At Emily’s Curaçao palace, little Ricki Tick is swimming in the pool.
“There she is! That’s her!” Emily said to Jef, the two peering through the shutters at a 6-year-old as if she were an endangered species in the jungle.
Finally, the pair stopped stalking the little girl and headed over to the pool, and they all swam and played games and found crabs on the beach and talked about monkey dolls with Cheetos smeared all over them. Just like a big, happy family.
Things went so well, in fact, that Emily calls a meeting with Chris Harrison, who Emily says has “seen every single couple go through hurdles and he’s been there.” (Yes, as a paid host.) She reveals that she knows for certain she wants to be with Jef and can’t bear to go on a final date with Arie. Which is sweet and all, but really, Em? I wanted a little drama. I wanted Arie to get out of the helicopter and Chris to flash his trademark poker face. I wanted to see if she’d let him get down on one knee and then hate her for letting him get down on one knee. Why did she have to be so humane about the whole thing? Bah, humbug.
Emily decides that the best place to reject Arie is in a woman named Dinah’s herb garden in Curaçao. There, Arie has been busy picking flowers in vain and mixing them into some weird-looking “love potion” which has no chance of ever being strong enough to woo Emily. Which honestly, I feel was very unfair to Dinah. This is her place of business. We don’t need to imply that her love potions are cockamamie.
As Emily is nervously exiting the car and approaching the garden, of course the editors have overlaid the scene with sound bytes of Arie saying how excited he is to be getting engaged, and how he can’t wait for Emily to say she loves him back.
But oh, how wrong you were, my friend. Emily tried to explain why he wasn’t the right guy for her, but basically dissolved into an ugly cry instead. At first, Arie took it like a man, looking away and saying he understood. But then he suddenly stood up, fed up with hearing her phony excuses, and walked away in a huff.
“Arie! Will you wait for me?” a desperate Emily cried after him.
“I don’t think you’re going to get the goodbye that you want,” he said, kicking the dirt. “I’m not gonna be, like, ‘Good luck.’”
He spoke truths. Emily tearfully reflected into a shallow, mud-filled puddle, and then headed back to her hotel to put on her sparkly beauty pageant dress for the final proposal moment! Which, I have to say, producers, was a major let down. Really? This is all you got? Some clay pots and colorful shutters for the proposal background? What about a scenic vista with some ocean views, or a sweeping cliff? What about a helicopter landing? Weak.
Jef -- looking particularly dapper in a fitted blue suit -- sauntered up the unimpressive finale podium. In a very matter-of-fact tone of voice, Emily told Jef that she had rejected Arie early, and that she loved him. Then he got down on one knee with his free Neil Lane ring, asked her to marry him, and she made him wait for 6,000 years before sighing and saying “yes.” It was the stuff female dreams are made of.
Since the finale was pretty anticlimactic, I was stoked when Chris promised the live After the Final Rose would have some shocking secrets. But he was just playing us. Jef and Em are still obsessed with each other, and Arie is finally moving on now that he has his journal back. After Jef takes Emily along on a charity mission to Africa -- yes, really -- he’s planning to move to Charlotte. Because, let’s be real: As if Emily ever planned to “start over” elsewhere. Even if Jef has a baller family ranch in Utah. Instead, he will move to North Carolina, get a separate place, and only move in when the princess deems it appropriate.
OK, time for the usual end-of-season bet: How long until these two crazy kids call it quits, and Jef, dejected, returns to Holmstead Ranch to bury his sorrows with a good game of archery?
Follow Amy Kaufman on Twitter @AmyKinLA