The Bachelorette – Season 8, Episode 11 – Emily finally picks her man on the show's season finale. (ABC)Last night’s epic three-hour finale of the Bachelorette saw Emily Maynard choose between her final two suitors: dashing racecar driver Arie, and chaste, skateboard-tossing, water mogul-cum-amateur puppeteer Jef.
To assist in our Bachelorette’s decision-making process, her family was flown to Curacao to meet the contenders.
Jef was up first, scoring major points with Em’s fam (perhaps because they’re hoping to do Christmas at his ranch?) and easily winning Dad’s blessing for a proposal.
Arie was next on the interview circuit, and facing an uphill battle, thanks to his position in line.
“I’m not sure why we’re going through the actions of seeing another guy today,” Em’s dad grumbles, as if he’s missing a trip to the Blue Curacao distillery for this.
Meanwhile, Emily’s disconcertingly ageless mom Suzy and overprotective brother Ernie seem to have been the target of some sort of Arie smear campaign, as both are on high alert: “I expected that Arie would be arrogant or too self assured,” says Suzy, her poreless skin glowing like Tilda Swinton’s.
The Bachelorette – Season 8, Episode 11 – Emily's mom Suzy ponders her daughter's dilemma while looking radiant. (ABC)“You’re very smooth in the way you talk, and you seem really practiced and good at it,” Ernie tells Arie, stopping short of asking him for some pointers on that talking thing.
Mr. Smooth doesn’t quite live up to his rep at the start—resorting to rambling musings about fish and their climatic patterns in order to break the ice (“I hear that fish bite when it’s overcast!” he reports, with all the enthusiasm of that trivia-happy kid in Jerry Maguire), but he quickly recovers, remembering his secret weapon: his fetish for S&M (that’s singleness and motherness of course). And as soon as Arie utters the magic words—“When I dated a single mother…”—Emily’s family quickly gets on board.
“After talking to Arie, I’m confused, I had my mind made up before I met Arie,” says Ernie, as if he is a lifelong Pepsi drinker whose participation in a Pepsi Coke challenge has turned his world upside down.
The Bachelorette – Season 8, Episode 11 – Emily's brother Ernie adopts a pained expression as he struggles to choose between his sister's final two suitors. (ABC)Worse still, Emily’s family not only refuses to pick her winner for her, they go so far as to make the ludicrous suggestion that Emily should maybe wait on that whole engagement thing, with her Dad pointing out: “You say that you’re in love. I don’t believe that you can love two people at once.”
In the words of Will Smith: Parents just don’t understand.
Confused as ever, Emily meets Jef on the beach for their final date, at which point Jef decides to broach the subject of meeting Ricki. Visibly torn, Emily finally decides to make the introduction, which literally goes swimmingly, with the three morphing into Brady pool party mode.
The Bachelorette – Season 8, Episode 11 – Emily introduces Ricki to her "friend" Jef; Ricki introduces Jef to her "friend" the sock monkey. Everyone gets along famously. (ABC)The trio’s blended family chemistry is enough to convince Emily that Jef is the one, so she dons her Egyptian queen-goes-beach-goddess regalia (phoenix necklace? check. gold eye-shaped cuff? check. midnight blue patterned sarong? check.) and summons Chris Harrison to her lush residency to workshop ways of breaking Arie’s heart.
Cut to Arie, who is pre-partying for his final date with a local enchantress who has lured him into the woods to craft a love potion for Em. “Tomorrow I’m getting engaged!” he tells the camera with devastating certainty.
The Bachelorette – Season 8, Episode 11 – Emily prepares to cut Arie loose while he conjures up a last ditch love potion. (ABC)As Emily disembarks from her ride (a sure sign something is wrong, as she usually appears like a mirage, walking from a point in the distance), it’s time to face the moment she’s been dreading.
“The hardest thing today is actually saying the words to Arie,” she confides, to clear up any confusion that the hardest thing would be breaking someone’s heart after they’ve made a love potion for you.
“That smells really good, you did a great job!” Em half-heartedly gushes about Arie’s perfuming skills, before asking him to take a seat so she can break the bad news.
As a shocked Arie attempts to compose himself, Emily resorts to repeating the refrain, “I always thought it was just going to be me and you,” until Arie finally replies with: “Good luck, I don’t know what else to say.”
Messy business of destroying someone’s hopes and dreams on live television out of the way, Emily wakes the next day feeling like a new woman, and pondering whether or not she’s ready to get engaged, since there needs to be some sort of highly anticipated surprise at the end (spoiler alert: she is!).
She slips into an ornate, peach chiffon Bollywood-inspired gown with a sequined bodice by Jean Fares Couture, accessorizes with dramatic jade and pink drop earrings by The Woods and intones her mantra: “I’m not going to be the girl who gets engaged fifteen times before she gets married.”
The Bachelorette – Season 8, Episode 11 – Emily awaits Jef's proposal in a jawdropping romantic creation by Jean Fares Couture. (ABC)As she meets her prince charming amidst a pastel vista of island houses flanked by a bevy of technicolor flowers, the two chitchat about being soulmates before Jef gets down to the business at hand, reminding Emily that what he’s about to ask her is a “forever thing.”
After mulling Jef’s offer for a solid ten seconds (to eat up some of the time previously reserved for Arie), Emily finally says yes, Ricki bounds into the picture and it’s time for Peter Cetera to play us out to the After the Rose special.
The Bachelorette – Season 8, Episode 11 – Emily, Jef and Ricki head toward their happily ever after. (ABC)Which is where we learn that being engaged makes Emily’s hair dramatically longer and straighter, Jef and Emily are still madly in love (and adept at posing for nostalgic family photos to prove it), Emily is too busy wedding planning to read Arie’s journal (which the poor guy flew to Charlotte to drop on her doorstep), Jef is better at breaking up with people than Emily is ("Jef called Arie and smoothed it over and gave him the closure I couldn't," Emily reveals), and that Arie is almost certainly the next Bachelor.
So all’s well that ends-in-a-no-need-to-audition-guys-for-the-next-series-kind-of-way.