Hello, rosebuds, and welcome to our last Rose Rehash of the season and the end of Bachelorette Ashley’s abominable "journey" to find love. As always, your humble recappers will offer some play-by-okay and our own observations along the way.
The episode begins with Ashley departing for Vomo Island in Fiji for the final leg of the Let’s Find A Husband Tour -- and she tells us how excited she is to get engaged in the South Pacific.
Because the producers think it’s the first time we’re tuning in, we get another recap of the final men standing. Ben is "neat" and makes her feel comfortable, but she has a passion for JP she's never felt before.
Hold the rose—there’s one last hurdle before the guys meet with Neil Lane. First, it’s time to time to meet the fam. Ashley sprints across the lawn and squeals with joy as she embraces her sister, who appears to be auditioning for a role on "LA Ink." Ashley says she trusts her sister’s judgment the most and we roll our eyes because we’ve already seen the previews where she calls her sister a bitch.
Ashley breaks down the guys for her family. She has such passion with JP and Ben is goofy. She talks about her struggle and how it’s going to be hard to figure it out. Her sister cuts to the chase and asks Ashley if she’s in love. Of course she is! It’s the final episode! She says yes, and reiterates how she’s "ready to get engaged."
The sister is ready to meet the guys—but says she’s a little more concerned than she was last time. She hopes that she likes them—and if she doesn’t it will be a problem. Uh oh!
Meanwhile, JP is trudging down the beach, his boat shoes in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. He’s way nervous, but he’s pushing through. All he wants is for Ashley’s family to see how happy they are. Today is HUGE.
Ashley and JP sit down with her stepfather, Mike, mom Lori, sister Chrystie and bro Elliot. Ashley just knows that her family will love JP. Since we know what poor judgment Ashley has, we know they won’t.
Things are off to a good start when JP butters them up by telling Ashley’s family how much his family loved her and how they could see how happy he was with her. Things between them keep "getting better and better"—but the sister isn’t buying it.
Fortunately, mom is -- she says he’s welcome in the family -- but now it’s time for some tough questions. Is he smitten with Ashley? Does he say yes? Duh. Chrystie asks Ashley if JP makes her laugh. "I make myself laugh," cackles Ashley hysterically. While the family debates about her answer, Ashley says she doesn’t think there is anything JP could do to not have her family like him.
Deirdre: Wise up, girl! You’ve been down this road before.
Cut to the cabana where the sister says, "I don’t think he’s the one." Chrystie isn’t seeing it—and though mom thinks JP seems fine, she thinks Ashley had a stronger connection with Brad.
Big sis crushes Ashley’s soul when she tells her she thinks Ashley is too much for JP. She’s "too young" and he’s "too reserved." And, here come the tears.
Carrie: How many cartons of tissues do you think they have on hand for her?
Deirdre: They should’ve had Kleenex as a sponsor this season.
She can’t believe they don’t like JP. We can, because we’ve been watching all insufferable season.
Ashley cries to her stone-faced sister and says she values her opinion most and now her heart is a little broken since her sister didn’t approve.
Deirdre: Now she’s getting her heart broken by her own family?
Carrie: This girl seriously needs a therapist.
Instead, it’s time for a one-on-one session with big sis and JP. She repeats what she told Ashley and lets him know she "doesn’t see it." JP says he wasn’t expecting that, but we were. Chrystie says it all goes back to the question about making Ashley laugh and how "telling" that was. JP says he might not make her laugh but she makes him smile—all the time. He is "100 percent" in love and they have "undeniable chemistry." Chrystie is tough -- tattoos! -- and demands to know what he wants with her "much younger" sister.
JP continues to try and defend himself, saying he loves Ashley and wants a life with her. He might be set in his single ways now, but he wants to change and is willing to compromise for love. She’s still not impressed and puts a dagger in JP’s heart when she tells him she saw more of a connection with Ashley and Brad. Chrystie tells JP she realizes Ashley wants her support, but she keeps brushing JP off. He nervously laughs and promises to turn things around to gain her support, but she dismisses him for the nineteenth time and says she doesn’t think that there is anything that he can do. JP, understandably, is pissed.
On the beach, Ashley holds his hand and tries to console him, but he feels defeated. Ashley tells him not to worry, but he says it’s all he’s going to think about. He wanted more from her than "don’t worry." He professes his love, but doesn’t want to be with someone who is unsure and if things don’t change -- he’s DEF not proposing.
Before Ben’s date, it’s time for Ashley's sisterly sit-down. Ashley wants Chrystie’s support and that she feels things with JP in "her gut." Chrystie points out that Ashley felt it in her gut about the "guy who left" -- and look how that turned out.
Carrie: Wait, is Bentley now The-Bachelor-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named?
Ashley pleads with her sister to feel something for her. There is a wall between them now. Ashley feels so alone and like she "doesn’t have a sister." Chrystie contests that Ashley doesn’t want to hear what she has to say -- she just wants to hear that she loves JP. Ashley insists she just wants her to be honest, but instead it feels like she’s being attacked. Chrystie claims she’s trying to treat her like an adult and protect her. Nice try, sis!
Mom and sis have a chat. Mom says she just wants her support but sis says that she only wants to have her approval, not her opinion. "She’s been wrong before is what I’m saying." The sister is starting to make sense! Hooray!
Finally, it’s time to lighten the mood! Let’s bring Ben back into the picture. Ashley is worried about her sister’s reaction to Ben, but once Ben tells them everything started with them when they were volunteering at the orphanage, we know he’s going to be fine. Ben tells them he’s trusting his gut and going with it. Chrystie tells Ben she’s looking for a connection and to see Ashley be herself. "That’s how I know her -- partying, dancing and you know, dog-voice."
Deirdre: Dog-voice? I’m terrified of what’s coming next.
Carrie: Dog-voice is definitely worse than baby talk. Make it stop.
Ashley says his dog-voice is better than hers. After Ben and Ashley make an embarrassing display of "puppy love" via their high-pitched squeaky dog-voices, we are so creeped out that we pause the DVR and sit in silence for a full minute.
Chrystie corners "Benny-Boo" and sits him down for the scoop on his feelings for Ashley. Ben declares, "It just feels right" -- and she is digging on him. Chrystie sees Ashley being herself and "that’s a good thing." Ashley is "the woman he wants to be with" and things are "different" with them. He assures Chrystie that he is "without a doubt" in love with her sister. She asks if he thinks that Ashley is in love with her and he says yes. He’s ready to propose. Ben gets the stamp of approval.
As he leaves, he says in voiceover that the next time he sees her family they’ll be engaged. In Ashley’s voiceover, she agrees the day was wonderful, but she can’t forget about how she feels about JP.
Time for last-chance date time. Ashley share with Ben that her family loved him and he’s feeling great. They get an upgrade from their moped and it’s helicopter time! They soar over Fiji and Ashley says "there’s nothing better than being there with Ben" and he’s the perfect guy for her. Next stop—mud wrestling! Okay, kidding, but they do get down and dirty in the "healing mud pit" and suddenly it’s this season’s hot tub. Ben says it’s erotic, and Ashley calls it sexy. All she wants is "to rub the mud all over him."
The mud bath inspires Ben to open up and tell Ashley he loves her. Ben pours some bubbly and toasts to things going well. He hopes "everything is well received." Ashley is worried that Ben looks preoccupied and he says he’s thinking about the conversations he had earlier with her family and reveals they gave their permission for him to propose. Ben wasn’t nervous then, but he is now. So are we. He drops the L-bomb anyway and they share a kiss that is anything but mental. Ashley feels completely free with him and discloses she would be lucky to kiss Ben for the rest of her life. Ben agrees.
Back on the beach, Ashley is rocking a teal bikini and sarong as she waits for JP. They smooch on sight and he tells her how much he hates being away from her. Even though their connection is strong, she needs to see if she sees a life with JP.
Time for a therapy session! JP complains that Ashley’s sister "messed him up" and says that "with all due respect, she’s wrong." Next, they chat about how they can’t really explain what it is about their relationship, but that things just "work." JP says he wants them to start a new life together. Not because he has to, but because he wants to. When she’s happy, he’s happy. He’s going to take the leap of faith and tell her he loves her.
He says he’s madly in love with her and she smiles in completely different way than she does with Ben -- like she can’t believe it’s true. We think the writing is on the wall for Ben. They smooch some more and she has the answers to move forward. They move into the bedroom and JP is really bringing it home. Who knew JP was a closet scrap-booker? He gives her a photo album complete with a love note:
"My Dearest Ashley,
This is the first chapter to the greatest love story ever told. The past few months have been the happiest of my life and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Meeting you has changed my life forever and falling in love with you has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. When we look back years from now, still happy and very much in love, we will always remember this time in our lives where Ashley and JP first began. I love you, Baby with all my heart and can’t wait for the next chapter."
Well played, JP. Well played. JP says it’s love or nothing. We say it’s time for Ashley to break some hearts.
On Engagement Day, we awake with Ashley swathed under a mosquito net as she spends the morning lounging in her robe and contemplating the future.
Deirdre: OMG she’s journaling. Seriously?
Carrie: Dear Journal. I love two guys…what should I do??
Ashley hits the beach for one last pensive stroll, where she hopes the sand will reveal what she should do. After yet another recap of where her relationship stands with each guy, Ashley says she’s made her final decision.
Hey, Neil Lane! While Ben selects a ring, Neil gets into the game and asks Ben how the process has been for him. Watch your back, Chris Harrison! Ben says it’s been real and great and selects the "infinity ring" -- a stunner with an entwined band and zillions of diamonds. Next up, JP makes a visit to the diamond district with Neil Lane—who asks what happens if Ashley says no. "Heartbreak," he chokes, as he tears up and chooses the ring.
On a beautiful island, surrounding by lush flowers and driftwood, Ashley waits for her suitors and talks about how her biggest fear was that they guys would reject her and how she’s scared that the future she’s envisioning won’t come true.
We’re crushed when Ben gets out of the plane. No! Ben is talking about fairytales, but we know this isn’t ending with them riding off in the sunset on a moped. We can’t keep it together when he says this moment makes him think of his dad and how he "lost one family member" and now he's "gaining another one."
Ashley and Ben embrace and she bites her lip to brace herself for what’s coming next, but Ben surges ahead and goes into his speech about how great she is, blah, blah and he’s down on one knee asking Ashley to marry him and "make him the happiest guy on Earth."
Gross. Ben is so blindsided.
Carrie: Why couldn’t she have pulled an Ali and sent him home before she made him propose?
Deirdre: Has she not learned anything this season?
Ashley clasps his hands and gently pulls him up. Ben goes stiff, curtly chokes out, "so that’s it," and spins on his heel and up the stairs. Ashley, adding insult to injury, chases after him talking about how she doesn’t want him to be upset. Ben says he’s opened up and done things he never thought he could, and that it took a lot for him to say he loved her. She says she feels blessed to have met him and to be "a part of his life." When she starts to tell him that he is "interesting" and "smart" he says he doesn’t need her to sugarcoat it. Ashley is STILL shocked that they can’t leave on better terms and be friends. We are shocked that she is still so naïve after a whole season of this. Ben tells her that JP’s a great guy and he’s sure they’ll have a nice life together. With that, Ashley finally lets him walk away -- or actually, paddle away.
Really? Ben took a plane in and now they’re sending him off on a canoe? COME ON. Ben says he got no signs and that maybe he was wrong about being in love with Ashley. Back at the island, Ashley is crying and so are we as we watch Ben sail into the stormy waters of despair. No more dog voices for these two.
Ugh, we’re sniffling into our tissues when Ashley says how much she loves JP and how she can see him as the "best husband" and "best father." On the walk up, JP tells Chris he’s nervous while Ashley waits with a smile and a rose.
JP talks about taking a leap of faith with Ashley, and that he’s madly in love with her. Ashley says how much she loves him and doesn’t want to be with anyone else. "You’re the one. You’re it." JP drops down on one knee and we don’t even need to tell you she says yes. Cue their over-the-top roller-rink song—and we can’t fight the feeling anymore to throw up during the flashback montage.
She pins on the final rose and tells him she loves him "so much, baby." At least JP makes us laugh when they stroll into the sunset and she asks if he’d ever think it would ever end like this. JP laughs and says, "You walked in the room that first rose ceremony and were like, my husband is definitely in this room and I was like what the f--- is she talking about."
And now... our recap of "After the Final Rose."
Still seething from Ashley’s treatment of Ben, we join Chris Harrison for an explanation. Chris is looking spiffy in a purple tie and pinstripe suit as he welcomes us -- and Ben -- back to the show. It’s been an agonizing five minutes wondering how Ben’s doing, so we’re ready to dig in.
Deirdre: Did he get his hair straightened? It looks darker too.
Carrie: Who cares? He still looks hot.
After a brief trip down Ben’s reject-proposal lane, the camera cuts back to Ben in the studio as Chris wonders what it’s like for him to watch the footage. Ben says it’s tough to take and that there was "some anger there." Chris says it spoke to how real it felt and called it one of the most genuine proposals they’ve had on the show.
Carrie: It would have been even more genuine if she’d said yes.
Deirdre: She never should have let him get to that point.
Ben admits it was "hard to get up" after Ashley broke his heart -- er, said no -- and that it wasn’t easy to be so vulnerable.
After Fiji, Ben flew straight to his best friend’s wedding and talked about how that was tough holding everything inside. But, he says he’s a more complete person because of "this journey" and says he wants to know what she and JP have that they didn’t.
Back from the commercial break, out strides Ashley, who is also rocking darker hair. Ben greets her with a comment about her "nice ring" and we all share an awkward laugh. Ashley tries to explain that she followed her heart, but that it "hit her hard" to know that she caused Ben so much pain. Shockingly, she reveals that in the moment she didn’t understand how Ben could have walked away. However, after viewing again, she finally gets why he left. Baby steps, Ash. You’ll get there!
Ben is grateful for the experience and claims the friend thing "will always be there between them."
Carrie: Ha, yeah right!
Deirdre: Please make him the next Bachelor already.
Since we got the scoop on Bachelor Pad 2 last night, this time ABC pushes a preview of Take the Money And Run. Couldn’t they at least bring back some old Bach contestants? Snooze. We’re bored now.
Back on set, Chris introduces Ashley and JP for the "first time in public" and they celebrate with a big smooch to lots of cheers from the audience. JP says it’s been so hard to be apart and when he’s with Ashley "nothing else matters." Ashley says that JP is the one because they are a team and he picks her up when she’s down. It’s not just about him, but it’s about "us."
JP complains how hard it’s been to see her struggle about the rumors and tabloids and how he hated she had to go through that without him there. Ashley coos that JP completes her and they snuggle closer on the couch. She’s ruining "Jerry Maguire" for us and we’re trying to keep our dinner down.
We fast forward through the replay of their proposal and Chris asks JP how he thinks he did. Ashley and JP both agree "he nailed it" and Chris said it obviously worked since he got the girl. Chris chats with JP about the showdown with Chrystie in Fiji as she glares at him from the audience. She joins on stage and we’re a little scared.
Guys, Chrystie was totally just being protective! After seeing the season she "feels like a jerk" -- because it clearly WAS there with them. Team cupcake! JP says it’s water under the bridge—they can’t wait to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah together!
For the final few minutes, Ashley and JP talk future plans. She’s finishing school and heading to the Big Apple to shack up in a new place with JP. They’ve been talking about a wedding, but want to get into a routine first and let things settle down. We live in New York, and hope we never run into them on the street.
Chris says they just witnessed one of the most beautiful proposals and that they don’t want them to leave empty-handed. JP holds up Ashley’s interlaced fingers and says, "I’m not." Smooth. Even so, Chris has a surprise! They are heading back to Fiji—and we are headed to bed.
It’s been real, rosebuds!