One ring, one rose, One F!

***Like most of the nation, I was in shock when I heard about the Colorado shootings when I returned from Istanbul. My prayers go out to the family, friends and communities of all who were affected by this tragedy.

SIMPLE DISCLAIMER
The following information you are about to read is of personal opinion. However, if you or someone you poked on Facebook happens to personally know, sort of know, is friends with the niece/former classmate of someone who is obsessed with the Hunger Games trilogy and looks exactly like one of the contestants on the show…none of this is personal and I’m sure they are all lovely people.

I’ve been recapping The Bachelor since 2003 and I can say with complete certainty that this has been my favorite season. Sure, I love certain characters from episodes of yore (be still my ever-loving Roberto, Ames and Reid heart) but for the first time in a long time, I actually ended the season with a feeling that I had been somewhat entertained each week instead of the usual, “Why does this show have to be two hours long when clearly 30 minutes could suffice?” It was such a refreshing palate cleanser after the mind-numbing, monochromatic season known as The Groban.

Perhaps I liked this year because of Emily’s no nonsense attitude toward the traditional rules set forth by Bachelor nation. Maybe it was her Southern charm and integrity. It could have been her determination to actually take this reality show seriously for once by truly seeking out a connection that could spark a future relationship. I think she had viable candidates in both Arie and Jef and even though I agree with her father that you can’t technically be in love with two people, I believe she did have genuine feelings for both. This reality, ironically, made for pretty good reality television.

Plus, Harrison looked hot in his dark suit and pewter-colored tie. Everyone knows that pewter is the trendiest of all metallic materials.

I guess I was immediately distracted by his wardrobe, because it took a moment for me to wonder why Our Host was greeting the viewers in front of a live studio audience? Traditionally, Harrison is standing in front of either the entrance to Fancy Pants Resort & Spa or we just hear a generic voiceover anticipating the most dramatic rose ceremony ever, in a velvety baritone of course.

Instead, Chris is addressing an enthusiastic live studio audience with thought provoking questions such as, “Who will Emily choose?” and “Will there be a proposal?” Just as I’m about to inquire about this new opening montage, the scene switches to Emily once again hoisting an obviously empty suitcase up a staircase to her bungalow in Cureasow.

Emily: “I can’t believe I’m here on the beautiful island of Currocow. What a lovely place to get engaged! While I’m at it, I’m going to bring back denim button downs worn by every Ivy League collegiate in the ‘90s. Instead of pairing with a long khaki skirt and brown Cole Haan penny loafers, I’m going to wear it with a tangerine skirt and funky flip flops.”

Within seconds of confirming the fact that yes, Little Ricki IS wearing a fanny pack, Emily has changed into a purple frock, she’s greeting her parents, brother Ernie and his fiancé and One F Jef is walking up to the front door in his best white t-shirt and skinny jeans carrying a bushel of fresh flowers.

We’re moving fast. I’m intrigued.

Suzy is proud of her long legs, her platinum hair and ability to wield and contour shadow brush and a tube of false eyelash glue without the assistance of a dainty hand mirror if she’s ever in a bind. She gathers Jef up and gives him a stern warning that she’s leery of this entire process. She wants to know if Jef is serious about Emily.

OFJ: “I’ve fallen for your daughter.”
Suz: “And Little Ricki?”
OFJ: “I’m glad you asked that. I’m ready. More than anything I want to be a good husband and a good father.”

That’s enough for Suzy. He passes to the next round of everyone sitting on one side of the dinner table eating tiny sliders before being handed off to the intimidating, protective big brother.

Ernie: “Her was broken the last time. Everything is on the line.”
OFJ: “I care for your sister.”

Ernie: “The last person she brought home was Ricky. He was the perfect guy. Since then, everyone tries to live up to him. No one has ever made her feel like he did.”
OFJ: “She had loved ripped from her. When she feels it again, she’ll know.”

Ernie and every woman watching the show fight back tears and we all revel in the fact that the Bachelor franchise is actually making us feel something other than boredom or the knee-jerk reaction to roll our eyes incessantly.

Team One F.

Two down, one to go. Papa Maynard is up to bat and it takes him all of three seconds to fall in love with Jef after he asks for his blessing and approval to both date and propose to his daughter and Ricki. Ecstatic by the day’s festivities, Emily bids her beau adieu, sending him to walk the length of a very long driveway as she takes her paper fan and flurries it in front of her neck and bosom which hold the weight of an Aztec symbol on a heavy chain.

Aztec is the new pewter.

We’re back from the commercial and Arie is making his way up to the front door where he’s greeted by a slick haired Emily in a bright cabana dress. Suzy is immediately smitten and extends a long, toned, tan limb out from the slide slit of her dress, beckoning Arie to take his place by her on the sofa. Instead, he sits by Ernie and begins rambling on about how he read somewhere that fish bite when it’s cloudy.

Dad and Ernie exchange concerned glances. It was just moments before that Papa Maynard wondered aloud why Arie had to come in the first place since One F Jef is the clear suitor for his precious Emily? The fact that Arie opened with, “I don’t’ fish” is clearly not a good sign. Sure One F has an interesting hair cut and wears pants from the junior department, but don’t think Emily didn’t offer up a little background information that included such details as: shot gun, clay pigeons or 40,000 acre ranch in Utah.

Arie takes a different approach with his family gift. Instead of bringing live flowers, he presents the unit with a box of dead ones…all the boutonnières he’s received from Emily. Dad and Ernie remember the bottle of Wild Turkey One F slipped them both off camera and sigh as Suzy gushes on and on about the intimate gift.

In their alone time, Suzy thinks Arie is precious. Ernie thinks he’s smooth and too practiced. And Papa Maynard thinks he seems like a nice fella. Emily sends him down the long and winding road and returns to the sunken living room to hear who her family thinks she should choose. Everyone, including the mute fiancé, looks at her in stunned silence. This angers Emily enough to let her inner brat out before Ernie puts her in her place by saying, “If you don’t know by now who you would choose, I certainly can’t answer it for you either.”

COME ON? What in the world are we watching? I’m confused by the great advice and relatively normal reactions (except Little Ricki in that fanny pack) by all characters involved. I LOVE IT!

Suzy suggests that Emily wait to become engaged and Emily’s typical confident exterior begins to crumble ever-so-slightly. Claiming she doesn’t want to be “the girl who is engaged all the time,” Emily breaks down in front of the camera through shoulder heaves and tearless sobs, wondering if she is even ready to be engaged.

Emily: “It’s not all about me. It’s about me and my daughter. Have to make the right decision. It’s about our whole entire lives.”

Suddenly, we’re transported back into the live studio audience where Harrison hones in on his previous Miss America hosting duties by interviewing audience members. Even though we glean zero entertaining or informational enlightenment from this spontaneous dialog, I’m glad to see him having fun and continuing his pursuit to be the Harrison to Kelly’s former Regis.

We return to the bungalow where Little Ricki is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yes, the fanny pack made another appearance. Lord help her if this has become some practical version of a security blanket. Emily seems distracted as she meets Jef on the beach. The ABC Intern is pleased that he remembered to line the blanket with rocks but is chastised by the wardrobe department for choosing a mustard yellow colored blanket. The clash with Emily’s day glow yellow skirt is beyond fixable. Fortunately, the pair is too caught up in a conversation about Little Ricki to even notice the faux pas.

OFJ: “You seem stressed.”
Emily: “I am. I don’t want to hurt anyone. Are you not stressed?”

OFJ: “No. I’m sure about everything. You’re everything I’ve ever wanted. Yet, I haven’t met Ricki.”
Emily: “I know. I want to introduce you, but I don’t know.”

OFJ: “Just because I haven’t met her doesn’t mean I don’t think about her every day.”
Emily: “I feel bad about introducing her to Brad.”

OFJ: “If you were in my position, and you found this person who gets you in every way and you hadn’t met that person’s daughter, what would you think? How would you feel?”
Emily: “I would think it was weird and I would feel disappointed.”

Wisdom at its finest ladies and gentlemen.

Emily changes her mind and decides to blow off the yacht bobbing away in the Caribbean distance and instead takes Jef to meet Little Ricki. And Jef couldn’t be more excited.

One F high fives Little Ricki when he meets her and says all the right things as she frolics about showing off tricks in the shallow end of the pool. They swam and played, Jef gave her a fluffy towel and helped her catch hermit crabs. They talked with stuffed animals and hung out on the front porch like a real little family.

When he put on her pink goggles before his swim, I knew it was true love. When he allowed Little Ricki to push him in the pool, Ricki knew it was true love. And when Ricki asked her Mom if Jef could come back the next day, Emily knew it was true love.

Dressed in his best skinny jeans and a blue gingham shirt, Jef meets Emily at the door of his hotel room before casually talking about the day’s events. They giggle about how the show has taken them from One F riding in on a skateboard to this moment and that’s when he pulls out a gift.

“SO HELP ME IF THIS IS A SCRAPBOOK!” I shouted at the television. My friend Ann, who is full of wisdom like Jef, calmed me down by saying, “He’s too cool for a scrapbook. Just wait.”

There was a moment, albeit a brief one, that we both caught our breath when it did appear to be a leather bound book of acid free, photo-safe paper from Creative Memories. As it turns out, it was a book about the island of Cowcow.

OJF: “I wanted you to have something from the place where I could possibly propose.”

Relieved that it wasn’t cut out glossies of Emily’s picture in the recent US Weekly glued to a template that resembled the London Tower with a sticker of Big Bend holding the corners in place, I have to admit that I felt a little disappointed in Jef’s gift.

OFJ: “There’s more inside.”

Emily flipped through the pages and laughed hysterically at all of the tiny stick figures Jef had drawn in with a freshly uncapped Bic. They were snorkeling, hanging out on a beach and holding hands on a couch.

It was simply charming. The ABC Intern fetched her a hammer as she nailed the memory of Arie into the rejection coffin.

We’re an hour into the show and Harrison is back to pole the audience. I half expected him to pull a Monty Hall and offer $50 if anyone sitting in the near vicinity who could produce a can opener or book about poetry from their purse before trading it in for whatever is behind door number one. (For those of you who don’t get this pop culture reference, it makes me feel sad, old and determined to work in some reference to One Direction before this recap is over.)

Emily is back in a white tank top and blue skirt. Let the record show that Ryan’s was still more feminine. I begin listening to her voiceover, catching up on the fact that she’s trying to figure out being in love with two people, blah, blah, blah. Ann, Macey and I were debating something important, (I think it had to do with Swedish fish? Or maybe the vocal stylings of One Direction?) when the reaction from the rest of our group stopped our conversation short. Frantically rewinding, we heard this:

Emily: “Everything went great with Jef. I felt comfortable. I felt like this is it. I know that Jef is everything I’ve been looking for.”

SSSSSHHHHHHUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTT UUUUUUUPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!

Four of us stood up, the rest clapped, Katie cried and we all celebrated the fact that Emily has a great head on her shoulders!

Ever the eternal rule-breaker, Emily politely asks Harrison to send the black SUV of doom to pick up Arie in the garden and drive him back to Arizona. Harrison, of course, makes her rip the Band-Aid herself and sends her to break the news before advising her to be as honest as possible.

Emily arrives in the flower garden where Arie has just concocted a love potion with the help of a very old Indian woman. He rubs the scented oil all over Emily’s arms before she leads him to the notorious break-up bench. He comments on her Phoenix necklace and considers it a secret sign that she’s picking him in the end.

Even though Phoenix is the new Aztec, it was a big party foul to wear the bird that has the same name of the town where the guy you’re about to dump lives. Wardrobe should have caught that.

Though Botox has permanently damaged her tear ducts, we know her crying is severe due to the choking and sobbing sounds she squeaks out even though zero liquid falls from her eyes. This goes on for a few minutes with Arie frantically asking, “What’s wrong? What is it? Are you hurt? Did someone die?” The poor guy never once thought it was his fate that was being mourned at that moment. Somehow, Emily manages to convey, in a very indirect way, that she thinks he’s perfect for her, yet not really. Confused, he sits there in a daze as she again clarifies that he’s the one, except he’s runner-up. Astounded by the realization that not only does his love potion not work, but that black SUV is waiting around for him, Arie bristles with a cold good-bye.

Emily: “Arie! Wait!”
Arie: “There’s nothing else to say. I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m not going to give you the goodbye you want. Good luck. Thank you for sparing me the embarrassment of tomorrow. Here’s your token hug.”

Again. I think this was an EXTREMELY appropriate reaction. There was nothing Emily could say at the moment to help the matter. He was not going to marry this girl. Cut the ties and MOVE ON.

Arie bustles into the SUV of doom, knocks something out or over as he enters and slams the door as Emily cries on the rejection bench. He admits to feeling confused, stupid and naïve. It was a close call, but the ABC psychotherapist was not successful in making him cry. I can’t say that same for the moment when the old Indian woman came running after him because he forgot his love potion in the garden.

ASIDE:
You guys know I take artistic freedom in adding creative details to the recap here and there. I introduced the ABC Psychotherapist back when that chick told the Good Doctor Stork that her ovaries were withering away. Never in a million years did I expect to see this on the credits last night…

SHE HAS A NAME!

Harrison is back in action and has recruited the franchise’s only couple who has agreed to commit whenever and however ABC needs them. That’s right, it’s JP and Ashley! Ashley thanks Build-A-Bear for her tiny shorts and the napkin company who provided her top before assuring the audience that Arie is totally going to be okay. Harrison tucks her back in JP’s pocket before inviting DDAHnna up to give her two cents on the ordeal. I don’t remember what she said because I was distracted by her unflattering jeans. I did mistake the adorable Michael Stagleano for his twin (whom DDAHnna married) and was thrilled to be reminded that he is back on the Bachelor Pad once again! Next up is a girl named Ashley from Brad’s season who has the biggest derriere I’ve ever seen stuffed into a sausage of a dress. It left nothing to the imagination.

The scene switches to Jef buying a Neil Lane sponsored engagement ring, Emily journaling in her pink robe with Little Ricki before changing into a cocktail dress inspired by Peaches-N-Cream Barbie. Harrison escorts her from the SUV to the rose ceremony. Home Depot would like you to know that they did NOT sponsor the rose ceremony stage this season, and the limp ferns were purchased from the garden section of Lowes.

For real? Clay pots, a splintery stage and some wilted flowers? And what was up with all the random swinging doors just lying up against the wall in the background? The watching party at my house was convinced it was a secret sound stage in Los Angeles and all this took place after Emily and Jef dated for a few months before he proposed. Something was definitely shady about this whole scene because never in the history of the show has the engagement moment been so ugly. Perhaps the ABC intern got mono? Still … it doesn’t matter. You’re on a beautiful island that no one can pronounce. I’m sure the beach would have been perfectly lovely with just the sand, surf and sunset. Am I right?

Jef saunters up to Emily with confidence. She tells him he is her soul mate and that she loves him. She knew he was the one for her so much that she sent Arie home and didn’t even go on the date with him.

OFJ: “I’m so in love with you. I promise you that if you let me into your life, and Ricki’s, you will never feel lonely ever again. I love you so much. I want you to know that what I’m about to ask you aren’t just empty words. They are forever.”

He gets down on one knee and asks her to marry him. She waits 10 seconds and then says yes.

One F Jef may be young, but he has the eloquence and maturity of an older, wiser Chris Harrison. His pre-proposal speech (and every other soliloquy for that matter) was simply perfect. After complementing his soon-to-be-bride, he gave props to the process which landed them in the current tacky environment and promised to give his heart and love to Emily and Little Ricki forever. And the entire country swooned together as Little Ricki toddles up on her brand new wedges, and they all walk off into the fake sunset hand-in-hand.

What did you guys think? Were you thrilled for Jef? Were you sad for Arie? Will Arie be the next Bachelor? Are you going to apply antibacterial hand sanitizer before watching the Bachelor Pad like I am? Sound off in the comments section below!

PS: I’m frantically working on my end-of-the-season slide show. Feel free to send me your photos from watching parties! I plan on posting it Thursday.

And check back tomorrow for the Bachelor Pad recap!

Until then, I’m all about the shame, not the fame,
Lincee

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