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Well, here we are. If there is one episode of The Bachelorette to watch, it’s this one. All the teases, the spoilers, the anticipated twists and turns — it all happens this week.
In other words: This is the week when Clare apparently “blows up” The Bachelorette (metaphorically speaking, I assume). Exciting!
We start with the guys sitting around complaining about Clare not giving them a rose. Boy band cover band manager Kenny sounds especially mad and entitled; clearly, he’s not ready to say bye-bye-bye to Clare unless it’s on his terms.
Clare, journaling in her room, is struggling with what she calls the “fine line” between respecting the process and going for what she wants, and isn’t sure what to do next.
Good thing, then, that Chris Harrison happens to show up at this very moment to help! He looks serious and wants to have a “just you and me” talk with Clare, and I guess the “on national television” part of that request is implied? Chris tells Clare the not-Dale guys are unhappy and confused, and Clare says she wants to respect the process but she’s “totally head over heels” for Dale.
Chris asks her directly whether she and Dale had any communication before the show, and she swears — on her father’s grave — that they hadn’t. I really hope that’s true, because that’s a pretty serious swear to make. She’s crying as she tells Chris how Dale makes her feel safe and loved, and he reminds her of her dad, and it all feels dramatic and maybe a little rehearsed but also sincere, and I think even Chris wipes a tear away, although with this show, it could have just been clever editing.
Clare asks Chris what they should do, and he tells her they have to reinvent how it’s done. Clare wants to spend as much time as possible with Dale, to tell him how she feels and to see if he feels the same way. Chris asks her if it’s over at this point, and when Clare nods, Chris says the line we’ve been waiting for: “Congratulations, you’ve just blown up The Bachelorette.”
There have been rumors that Clare’s trajectory on the show was actually initiated and driven by producers, and Chris’s role in this episode doesn’t do anything to convince me otherwise. It’s clear to me that he has an agenda. I like Clare, but I can see why show execs wouldn’t want a whole season of her blowing off all the guys to spend time with Dale, as she has done so far.
As the guys are talking about the upcoming cocktail party and wanting to get some answers from Clare, Chris comes in to tell them there won’t actually be a cocktail party that night, and no rose ceremony. The guys are stunned, and that’s when Chris asks to talk with Dale away from the rest of the group. It’s as awkward as it sounds! He tells Dale that Clare wants to spend time with him, and only him, that night — a one-on-one date, essentially, and it’s worth noting that so far on the show, Clare and Dale have not actually had one of those yet.
The rest of the guys are in the dark. Boy band cover band manager Kenny’s still acting mad and petulant (ugh Kenny, just cry me a river, ok?), and Blake M., bless his heart, is convinced that there’s no way Clare’s bailing on all of them for Dale. There are too many good guys there, he says, and there’s no way Dale’s her guy, and plus it’s just too early in the process.
Dale says he doesn’t really know what’s going on, but he gets dressed for the date anyway.
Clare’s wearing a bombshell red backless dress and great hair, which apparently really rings Dale’s bells because when he hugs her he does that bending over thing where the only body contact is above the waist. They sit down, and I have to say, as a longtime Bachelor/ette fan, I’ve seen Clare a lot, and I’ve never seen the smile she has when she’s with Dale. It’s kind of sweet.
Clare’s plan for the date is to tell Dale how she feels about him. She tells him that although she tries to be present for the Bachelorette process, she is only thinking about him — when she wakes up, when she goes to sleep. She says throughout her life, she was told it was too much to expect a man to have the qualities she was looking for, but that Dale has been all of those things to her.
Dale sweetly tells Clare he wants to hear about her parents, how they met, and how she became who she is, and she tells him her dad proposed to her mom after meeting her only once — three weeks after they met, he hitchhiked to her house to propose, and three months later they were married. This explains so much! No wonder Clare feels pressure to find love at first sight, because that’s what her parents had. They were together for 42 years, before her father died.
Dale’s parents have a similar story — his dad hitchhiked to see his mom after the first time they met — and his parents were married for more than 40 years before his mother died. Dale tearfully shares how after his mom passed, the family was broken, and even though he grew up being emotionally expressive, he had to bury his feelings in order to keep his family from falling apart.
This was a pretty emotional conversation, and I can see how these similar experiences could help bring Clare and Dale together. I think there’s something so specific about the pain of losing a parent in the way they both have, and I can definitely see why someone would want a partner who understands that.
Clare asks Dale how he was able to come back from being emotionally shut off, and I don’t know if there’s some funky editing going on here, but it’s made to look like it was Clare being announced as The Bachelorette that pulled Dale out of his shell. I mean, I’m not so sure, but it was nice to hear him tell Clare that he saw she had a beautiful presence and aura, and that when they met, he hadn’t felt those emotions in years.
While Clare and Dale are on their date, we also see some exchanges between the rest of the guys. Blake is still insisting that it won’t work out between Clare and Dale because it’s just too early in the process.
Clare and Dale would certainly not agree with Blake’s assertion here, because they are literally declaring their love for each other.
Clare to Dale: “I can’t even put into words how you make me feel … All I know is that I’m so falling in love with you.”
Dale to Clare: “When we met, I felt love, and that’s what I came here for. And I’m falling in love with you through this process. I’m not afraid to say that at all.”
There’s a little more back-and-forth of this, and then they’re pretty much just making out at the table. At some point they get up and slow dance/make out to music from a “band” called “Chris and Bri” and I guess they were the “winners” of The Bachelor Presents: Listen To Your Heart, which I didn’t watch because it seemed like a not-very-good attempt to make a reality show that reminded people of A Star is Born, which I didn’t see because the trailer showed Bradley Cooper trying to physically pull Lady Gaga onstage even though she was clearly terrified and clearly saying no and I just felt like in 2018, about a year into #MeToo really having an impact, it maybe wasn’t the right moment in America for that?
Anyway. Clare and Dale continue to slow dance and kiss and generally put their arms all over each other in front of these two people singing a song about finding love true love. Subtle.
After what I’m guessing is a contractually-obligated amount of time with this band, Clare and Dale make their way back to her place and it basically turns into a Fantasy Suite date. We know this because the next shots we see are the “morning after” shots, complete with Clare’s red dress crumpled on the floor. They’re in bed together, possibly naked, talking about the night before and puzzling over what to do next. Clare tells Dale she doesn’t want him to leave, ever, and an in an interview she says she would “gladly” spend the rest of her life with him.
Cut to the guys, wondering out loud where Dale is. I mean … guys? I think you know the answer to this. Chasen says something about Clare not being the “type of person” to “take intimacy to the next level” with Dale at this stage, and I’m wondering has he met Clare, or literally any sex-positive adult woman?
Chris Harrison shows up at Clare’s room and gets all the hot goss on what happened on the date with Dale. Clare tells him that they essentially are on the same page, feelings-wise, and Chris is basically like “OK let’s wrap this up!” and tells Clare that the next step is, naturally, a proposal.
So … It definitely looks like production had a hand in all of this, right?
Chris asks Clare if she’s ready for that, and she laughs and says yes and tells him that’s the dumbest question he’s ever asked her, and I mean Chris didn’t say “GET HER OUT OF HERE” out loud but it really looked like he felt that way. Instead he tells her it’s going to happen “tonight.” Clare seems surprised, and Chris tells her, “You’re going to be an engaged woman very soon.” Chris Harrison has a real protective-dad vibe here, like he’s trying to get his last daughter married off already.
Important question: Does Dale want to propose? Clare says she’s not sure if Dale wants to be engaged to her, and for a second I thought, “Wait, is Clare going to propose to Dale?” Which I would have loved! Because Clare goes for what she wants! But then I remembered that what Clare wants is a man who proposes to her.
Clare greets the not-Dale guys, who are crammed together on, like, three loveseats, wondering what the heck is going on. She tells them that she came here to find love, and she appreciates everything they did to be there for her, but she’s found what she’s wanted and what she wants is Dale.
She’s tearful and emotional, and the guys are completely silent, at first. Jay — the straitjacket guy, so, whatever — is the first to speak, saying that he’s bummed. Blake M. expresses “concern” that she’ll ultimately be “devastated” because she doesn’t know Dale that well, in his opinion.
Boy band cover band manager Kenny falls to his knees and begs, “Please don’t go, girl” — just kidding, he petulantly demands that Clare apologize to the group. Kenny seems like the kind of guy who gets mean when his feelings get hurt. Clare, without missing a beat, says she will not apologize for falling in love with Dale. But Kenny insists! Because he could tell that she wasn’t fully present in their conversations, and if she was in love with Dale the first night she should have admitted that to everyone, and she should apologize for “faking it.” Ouch, Kenny — is that a nerve?
Clare, in her very Clare way, says she will apologize if she’s wasted their time, or if she’s hurt them, but she’s not going to apologize for her feelings for Dale. This finally gets Jason to respond with “As you shouldn’t,” and although I think Jason is the living embodiment of relationship red flags, I appreciate that he said that. This gets some of the other guys to accept reality and say they appreciate her telling them, and that they respect her boldness. Apparently seeing this as a relatively graceful way to end things, Clare tells the guys she’s going to miss them, and hugs them before leaving and literally crying on a producer’s shoulder.
The guys are stunned. Jason says he’s crushed, and he “hit bottom” when he hugged Clare goodbye. Blake M. shares that he bought a book on dementia and Alzheimer’s so he could learn more about her mom, and wonders why he invested so much to not get anything in return, and I’m starting to think that Blake M. is the kind of guy who feels entitled to a girl if he does something nice for her.
Chris Harrison is having a video chat with jeweler Neil Lane, and tells him they need “the ring” tonight, which again pings my “producer involvement” radar. Chris then goes to Dale and
demands whether he’ll do right by his daughter tells him that Clare is expecting a proposal. Tonight. Dale … doesn’t look entirely surprised or troubled by this.
Despite what feels like mild manufactured drama — Clare’s concerned Dale won’t show up, because she’s used to men leaving her — we soon see Clare in a backless white sheath dress with a massive slit and I would like to just take a moment and appreciate that this is a woman who knows what looks good on her and rocks it every time.
Chris Harrison comes in and stands face-to-face with Clare. He looks very serious as he tells her, “I just want to say: we are so proud of you,” and now I’m just really looking forward to their father-daughter dance at her wedding.
Finally, Dale walks in, and the whole setup feels very Final Rose. They hug, they kiss, and Clare launches into a typical Final Rose speech. She tells Dale that from the moment she knew he would be a contestant, she was excited to meet him, and when she did, it was like electricity, because she knew that she had just met her husband. He has everything her dad had — he’s kind, strong, compassionate, and he’s shown her that he would never leave her. (Quick reality check: It’s been *maybe* two weeks, not exactly enough time for Dale to actually prove this.) Clare tells Dale she wants to show up for him every day.
And Dale pretty much reciprocates her feelings! He also knew from the moment he stepped out of the limo that they had something special. She always made it clear to him that she believed in them, and he knows that she would go to the end of the world for him, and he’s never had that. It means a lot to him that he reminds her of her father, and he thinks his mom would absolutely love her, because all she ever wanted was someone who loves him unconditionally. He says he’s “so appreciative” of her, and the best is yet to come, and he’s not going anywhere, and he wants to make her happy every day.
And then! He gets down on one knee and proposes! Clare says yes! They both say “I love you!” Clare asks him to accept her final rose, and he says yes! They drink champagne and shout with joy that they’re engaged! Honestly, I just can’t be cynical about this. Maybe they’ll work out, maybe they won’t, but when the show ends with engagements like this, I always find myself hoping the couple will make it.
Chris Harrison, hands officially washed of Clare, goes in to talk with the guys, who are disappointed and confused and completely baffled as to what’s next for them. Chris tells them that if they can get past their feelings for Clare, their journey doesn’t have to end. They have only a few hours to decide, and while it looks like some of the guys are considering leaving — especially Jason and Blake M. — all of them end up staying. Personally I think they just don’t want to leave La Quinta, and if I had the opportunity to wait out at least part of a worldwide pandemic in a quarantine bubble at a high-end resort in the California desert, I’d take it too.
That evening, Chris tells the guys that they were cheated, and that they didn’t have an honest chance to find love. He says their leap of faith to stay will be rewarded by … their new Bachelorette! No seriously that’s how he phrases it: “Your new Bachelorette is on her way here right now. You guys have a new Bachelorette,” as though framing it like one woman is there to manage all of these men’s feelings and expectations is totally normal. Chris treats the guys as though they have actual PTSD and assures them that she “really wants to get to know you guys, and she really wants to find love.”
And then Tayshia arrives in a limo! She’s wearing a sparkly olive cutout gown. She’s nervous, she’s excited, and she’s ready to be The Bachelorette. Again, the timing of this whole thing is suspicious, because we know Tayshia had to quarantine for two weeks, and hasn’t Clare only been there about two weeks? I just want to know when, exactly, the producers decided Clare wasn’t it, and why? Is it because Clare and Dale did actually contact each other before the show?
In any case, Tayshia’s the new Bachelorette, and the show ends with a “To Be Continued” right as she enters the room. Cliffhanger!
Tag scene: Clare and Dale making salad and making out and generally being both super hot and super cute together. Aw.
And with that, this is my last post here about The Bachelorette. I was truly interested in watching Clare as the lead. I have been 39 and single, and I would like to have seen her entire journey, if for no other reason to see a woman around my age on a show like The Bachelorette.
But I also think Tayshia will be a great Bachelorette. She was a delight to watch on The Bachelor (Colton’s season) and Bachelor in Paradise. Both times she was dating guys who turned out to be duds, and I’m hoping this batch of contestants includes some better matches.
So, goodbye for now — it was fun while it lasted!