Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Bachelorette Season 11 Finale/ATFR Recap and Thoughts

After a season full of tantrums, surprise exits and an entrance, silly dates, tears, sex, and a screwed-up format, we finally made it to the finale! The two remaining guys are the infamous Nick, who has made it to the final two twice now in the Bachelorette franchise, and Shawn, the hot-but-needy DNA mash-up of Ryan Gosling and Calvin Harris. Not only are they completely different from one another, but they hate each other with a fiery passion rivaled only by the hots they have for Kaitlyn.

But who should win Kaitlyn's heart? Not only was my money on Shawn, but he is who I preferred to win. While he definitely has some qualities that are unfortunate (dude really needs to chill with the jealousy and insecurity), I felt like he and Kailtyn were a better fit, and overall I liked him better than Nick. A lot better. See, I was a fan of Nick early on in his season with Andi, but the more that was revealed of him, the less I liked because he seemed petty and immature. He really showed that when he kiss and told on Andi's After The Final Rose special, and seeing him insert himself into Kaitlyn's season didn't make me like him any more than before. He may have come off a little better this go around, a little more reserved, cool, and collected, but there was still that aura of weasel that just wouldn't go away.

But let's get to the show! This final episode begins with us going to Chris Harrison live in studio. He promises the finale will be shocking and wants us to remember to tune in for the ATFR special. Well, Chris, you always say that ("most shocking," "most exciting," etc.) and of course we'll be watching AFTR. Then we're off, and we begin by seeing Nick and Shawn talking about Kaitlyn and how she got along with their families. They are both preparing for the end of this road, but first, they have to meet Kaitlyn's family.

We join Kaitlyn as she's hanging out with her family in L.A. and she admits to them that she is in love with both guys and both guys are in love with her. She reveals that one of her final two is Nick and the fam is shocked. Kaitlyn explains what has happened with the two guys hating each other and about how her relationship moved too quickly with Nick and her mother looks a tad worried.

Nick arrives and Kaitlyn prepares him by telling him that she told her family about she and Nick having sex in Dublin and Nick was not happy about that. Once inside, Nick has to explain himself all over again to Kaitlyn's family and Kaitlyn's sister brings up the concern about his motives. Nick tells her family that his first time on The Bachelorette was about having an experience, but this time he was there just for Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn's mom takes Nick for a little talk and we find out that she did not have a high opinion of him from watching Andi's season. She gets right to the point with her concerns about Nick, very bluntly, and he tries to soothe her worries and answer her questions. Nick seems to get a pass based on Kaitlyn's mom's reaction to Nick talking about him being in love with Kaitlyn and about proposing. Even Nick gets emotional. It was kind of weird to watch. Kaitlyn's mom reverses her view on Nick based on him getting emotional (and we know he is a smooth talker). Nick works the same magic on the dad and gets his blessing to propose.

I feel like Nick seems like a safe choice because he is a more subdued person than Kaitlyn is and her family seems to like the calming influence Nick has. I remember being at this point in Andi's season and thinking the same thing and how it was hard to imagine Andi not ending up with Nick, and it is kind of this way this time around as well because you can tell how strong the attraction is between Nick and Kaitlyn.

The next day Kaitlyn meets again with her family and preps them for meeting Shawn. They are concerned due to his insecurities but they see that Kaitlyn wants him there and wants them to give him a chance, so they are going into the day with open minds. When he arrives, Shawn admits that he is very nervous. He makes an instant impression on Kaitlyn's sister with his welcoming gifts for her kids. Also, Shawn is wearing a nearly identical shirt to her dad. Shawn makes a big impact by telling her family how he came on the show for Kaitlyn and he is very open with his feelings and they are enamored by him.

Kaitlyn's mom steals Shawn away for a talk and asks him about the Nick situation and about potential jealousy in the future. Shawn gives a good answer but the mom just keeps on drilling about how he feels about Kaitlyn and Nick and the sex (though she puts it more delicately than that). Shawn says that once they are in an exclusive relationship (which he understands that they have not been through the show process) they will be fine having been made stronger through their struggles on the show. Kaitlyn's mom is won over and impressed by his maturity and confidence. Kaitlyn's sister drops the bomb to Kaitlyn that she is Team Shawn and says that Kaitlyn and Shawn's connection is much more than what she sees Kaitlyn has with Nick. Shawn has another good conversation with Kaitlyn's dad, then he brings over Kaitlyn's mom and formally asks Kaitlyn's parents for their blessings to marry Kaitlyn. Shawn is clearly over the moon after meeting Kaitlyn's family and seems 100% confident that they will be engaged the next week.

After seeing the guys meet the family, I think the difference between the two relationships is that Kaitlyn and Nick are cute together and have a lot of connection and an obvious attraction. However, Kaitlyn and Shawn look and act like a solid couple that has weathered storms and is strong and confident. They may not be as cutesy together like Kaitlyn and Nick are, but it is also a testament that they are not stuck in the honeymoon stage of their relationship and have moved beyond that.

We get a quick moment back in the studio with Chris Harrison and he asks the crowd who Kaitlyn's family liked more. The crowd is probably 60-40 Shawn, but Chris calls it 50-50. This would have been nothing to talk about except it was extremely awkward because just in the background you can see Nick's mom, little sister, and other family in the audience.

Back to the show, we see Kaitlyn and Nick on their last date. They spend some time on a big boat on the water talking about their families, drinking wine, and kissing of course. I mentioned in an earlier post about how in his ITMs, Nick seemed to be half-asleep or something, but this week he looks more awake, but he is still extremely mumble-y. In Kaitlyn's ITM she enumerates Nick's qualities and how she really needs clarity because she cares for both of the guys so much.

The date continues into evening and they have dinner and talk more. They basically rehash how Nick came on the show and where they are now in their relationship and how Nick took a chance on her and she appreciates it. Nick says he has a gift for her in his bedroom and it takes a few times for her to believe that he is not making a joke. What he gives her is a picture of the two of them on their first one-on-one date with a hand written note about his feelings for her. She talks about how what they have is right and how she knows she is in love.

Shawn's final date with Kaitlyn begins with him arriving and they go to a little picnic spot in what appears to be a vineyard. Kaitlyn is not as care free as on her date with Nick because she is worrying and still needing clarity about her decision that is to come. Shawn says how incredible it is that they're here after the journey they've had and how he hopes that this isn't their last date. The mood is much more serious than with Nick. Kaitlyn just looks really confused and worried and it is causing their date to not look very comfortable. They talk about the awkwardness (while she smooths his leg hair???) and the reality of what is coming the next day (the final day) is weighing on them but Kaitlyn's vibe has made Shawn go from confident to nervous, and it could affect if he proposes to her.

So they go into the dinner portion of the date trying to overcome the awkwardness and trying to enjoy the time together. They are still pretty serious as they discuss things and Shawn is definitely bringing the emotion and talking about how he hopes he gets to share the future with her and get to know her family more. Then they start talking about being married and having kids and then Shawn has a gift for Kaitlyn as well. And I have to say, his gift is super cute. It is a big jar full of their memories, including souvenirs from their dates, notes, pictures, etc. After the way the day ended, Shawn says he will definitely be proposing to Kaitlyn.

In her ITM Kaitlyn is crying because she knows she is going to blindside someone with her decision and she feels terrible about it. We return to Chris Harrison in the studio and the studio is deathly silent. We next get to see Shawn meeting with Neil Lane and picking out Kaitlyn's engagement ring (OMG SHINY *drools*). Next we hear Nick talking about Kaitlyn as we see her getting ready for the big day. Then Neil Lane shows up for Nick, who awkwardly shares the story of the last time he was supposed to meet Neil Lane but got sent home. Then Nick picks out a ring as well.

This portion of the show is moving along quickly as we go back and forth between the guys with glimpses of Kaitlyn. We're back to Shawn and he's getting ready and says that he only wants to propose once in his life. We get a shot of Nick getting ready and then we see Kaitlyn looking worried in a car on her way presumably to the final destination, which is the mansion from the beginning of the season. Kaitlyn arrives and meets with Chris Harrison while we get shots of Shawn in the car, who is saying he would be heartbroken if Kaitlyn didn't choose him. Nick is also shown in the car looking worried. Kaitlyn walks to her post, looking not excited but more ill than anything, and waits while we see more of the guys in the limos, probably both wondering who will be the unlucky one to arrive first.

The limo arrives and out gets...Nick. Chris Harrison leads him in and we know now that Kaitlyn is waiting back there to tell him goodbye. In her ITM she says she's upset about having to do it but looking forward to the happiness that is on the other side of tonight with Shawn. As Nick walks up to her, Kaitlyn looks like she's about to bust from the tension. Nick starts talking and Kaitlyn looks sad but Nick seems to be ignoring the vibe she is giving off. He gets emotional and then pulls her closer, holding her hand and is about to propose but she stops him and she's crying then looks away before saying she's sorry and crying more.

She is shaking as she's telling him her heart is with someone else and he backs away and even kind of cuts her off as she's trying to explain her feelings. She tries to explain again and Nick has a look on his face that he's heard this before (which we all know he has) and he even tells her he doesn't need to hear it. He does not let her off the hook easy, I guess preferring to do this now than on ATFR like he did with Andi, saying it's not fair for her to say what she felt was the same as he felt because if that were true they wouldn't be essentially breaking up right now. She walks him out and he is clearly pissed and in his ITM in the limo he says he is the world's biggest joke and he throws away the Claddagh ring he got in Ireland. We go back to the studio and the audience (his family included of course) is silent again.

Kaitlyn is shown crying about how hard it was to say goodbye to Nick but that it will all be worth it when she sees Shawn. Shawn arrives, looking nervous, and is led in and Kaitlyn is shaking as she waits. They kiss and Shawn goes into his speech and she's smiling and he's smiling and the music starts to build and soar then backs off as Kaitlyn starts her little speech. It seems like the conversation is about to go south but Kaitlyn tells him she has never loved anyone like she loves him. He gets on one knee and proposes and she's crying and she says yes and she is still shaking, now presumably from happiness.

Finally free of all obstacles, Kaitlyn gets to be her crazy little self, squawking that she loves him before presenting him with the final rose. They skip giddily off to the limo and drive away to live happily ever after!

But wait! There's more! The After The Final Rose special begins immediately following the end of the episode. Chris Harrison brings out the happy couple. Shawn's skin looks particularly nice, either because he's finally not stressed and upset all the time or because he got put in the makeup chair before coming on. Either way, he looks well rested and Kaitlyn is giddy and goofy.

But next, we get to see Nick and find out how he's doing after all of this. He's got more of a beard than before and of course there is the déjà vu joke. Nick says he was shocked and blindsided. Chris Harrison dives in, asking more about the pre-existing relationship between him and Kaitlyn. Nick explains that they clicked and when Harrison asks if they were on the phone for hours, Nick keeps responding that they were having a lot of great conversations and getting to know each other, which is the party line he and Kaitlyn have been saying all season. Nick explains that when they hooked up in Dublin, it didn't feel too soon to them because their pre-existing relationship covered a lot of ground and they were already on a different level when he came on. Then Chris Harrison asks why Shawn hates him so much and Nick says it was silly and immature but it was a tough situation. Harrison reveals that Nick will get a chance to talk to Shawn and it seems like nobody is sure how that will go.

Shawn is brought out and he shakes Nick's hand then makes a joke about how small the couch is. Nick jokes by formally introducing himself and it's a awkward. Like a lot. It's hard to tell if they are being nice or being sarcastically nice. When asked why he had a problem with Nick, Shawn tries to explain but won't go into some stuff that was said in the house. Harrison asks if they are more alike than they think because Kaitlyn fell for both of them. Nick brings up that they didn't get to know each other at all and that a lot of what Shawn thought about him was about his reputation from Andi's season. He explains he was frustrated by the lack of ability to get to know Shawn. Harrison asks Shawn about jealousy and he explains that pretty well, saying his beef with Nick was about 3% of his ITMs but that was what the show chose to air.

Harrison goes back to Nick asking about his worries coming into the show and Nick says he expected to be disliked because of it. Shawn says Nick shared a little much about his Dublin date with Kaitlyn when the guys had agreed not to talk about what happened on the dates. Harrison makes a joke about them hugging it out even if Nick won't be a groomsman in the wedding, and they don't hug it out but do agree they took away from the main focus of the show, the love story, as Shawn calls it, with their feud. Shawn says all this in a way that makes it sounds like he's agreeing with Nick without actually agreeing with Nick.

Then they bring Kaitlyn out for a chat with Nick. Harrison hands the reigns over to Nick, who talks about it being a difficult process. Like with Andi, Nick brings up something personal, but instead of asking why Kaitlyn had sex with him, he asks her why she said she loved him. Kaitlyn's face at the moment was worth the screen shots:

Nick keeps talking and Kaitlyn talks and it ends amicably enough, but Harrison isn't done yet! He keeps asking questions and even plays back the horribly awkward breakup with the picture-in-picture of their faces as it plays. Nick seems to want answers as to why she let him continue to say those things to her when she knew he wasn't the one. Kaitlyn tries to explain she maybe should have done it a little different but Nick keeps harping on the point and just won't shut up about it when we all know the show wanted something from that situation and Kaitlyn is not allow to say "The producers made me do it!" so she has to just sit there and take his ire, which is really not fair. I think maybe Chris Harrison finally felt pity on her and wrapped it up so we could finally talk more to Shawn! You know, the winner?

The couple is brought back out and we get to see again how happy and in love the two are. I really hope they are too, and last longer than what everyone is guessing. Shawn says he is finally glad to be able to live his life out in the open with her and defend her in public now. It was super cute. Hey, if they're together long enough, maybe I'll be able to run into them in Nashville some time! Yeah, probably not, but a girl can hope!

Well that's it! We have our winner and now we must prepare ourselves for Bachelor in Paradise!

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