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‘The Bachelorette’ Finale Recap: A Very Normal, Traditional Resolution

After several seasons of bonkers endings, Tayshia threw it back to the old days with a simple engagement

Getty Images/ABC/Ringer illustration

Bachelor franchise finales have really turned into roller coasters over the last few years. The show used to end with a proposal, and that was it. Then, on Arie’s season of The Bachelor, he proposed to Becca, dumped her, and then proposed to Lauren. Since then, it’s actually more common to have an unconventional season ending—a broken proposal, a non-proposal, or a last-minute partner swap.

So it was almost surprising to see Tayshia’s season end with a simple proposal and a cut to credits. Even the decision she made itself wasn’t particularly tense. Tayshia entered the last week of the show with three remaining contestants. Brendan took himself out of the running, citing an inability to fully invest emotionally after his recent divorce. Ivan was eliminated in a relatively calm and mutually understood decision, because both realized in a mysterious off-camera conversation that they aren’t compatible due to their different religious beliefs. To pipe in a smidgen of drama, Ben was brought back onto the show—but Tayshia had already dumped him once. And while the finale usually sees both of the final two contestants get a ring and go to propose to the Bachelorette, only for one to have their heart broken, Tayshia nipped that in the bud, breaking up with Ben so he wouldn’t get his hopes up.

That left Zac. Tayshia and Zac seem to be in love—they certainly like saying they’re in love! Zac proposes and they cry and hug and scream and kiss and dance and make lots of happy squeaky noises. They clink glasses of what appears to be grape juice—who knew that staying sober was the way to win the “give every contestant unlimited free alcohol” show?—and take off in the fake New York City taxi from Zac’s “hometown” date. (Fun fact: Uber and Lyft exist in New York, but also we take subways most of the time.)

Zac is a bit smaller and scrawnier than the guys Tayshia dated on The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise—although he does have the same receding hairline as Colton—but Zac makes Tayshia laugh, and the two seem to have formed a legit, mature, adult bond. Tayshia expresses her fear that her partner will “run away,” but Zac says his nine years of sobriety show a dedication to staying in the moment. Tayshia says she wants to jump into fountains all across the world with Zac. That’s pretty gross, but you can look forward to seeing this soggy couple in a public park near you!

Strangest Ending: Ivan

This is an Ivan Fan Website. I fully hoped and expected to see him end up with Tayshia at the end. They had great chemistry, talked at length about serious issues, and both said they were falling in love with each other. (Plus, they set a non-Guinness World Record!) So I was surprised when Ivan got eliminated minutes into Tuesday night’s finale—in one of the least dramatic departures ever.

Tayshia pulls Ivan aside before the penultimate rose ceremony. She says that despite all the things that bond them together, they aren’t compatible on the issue of religion, which is important to her. Ivan cordially agrees and looks bummed—but not surprised—as he departs.

It was strange to watch because… at no point in the televised run of this season did Ivan or Tayshia ever discuss religion. We can presume that the two either had a conversation about religion that was edited out of a previous episode, or they talked about it behind closed doors during the fantasy suites episode. (For all the talk about fantasy suites sex, maybe everybody slams the door shut and starts talking about eschatology and the paradox of faith.)

But it’s especially surprising because Tayshia hasn’t seemed particularly religiously motivated at any time in her three Bachelor-franchise appearances. Tayshia does have a Bible verse in her Instagram bio, but for whatever reason, the show hasn’t emphasized her faith. It never came up with Colton (maybe because Colton was also overtly religious); it never came up with John Paul Jones on Bachelor in Paradise; and oddly, it never came up with Zac this season.

So we’re left with a mystery here. What beliefs made this relationship impossible? Why is religion such a big issue for Tayshia with Ivan, but not with anybody else? And most of all, on a show that films almost every interaction these couples have, how did this decisive conversation wind up off air?

Worst Performance: Tayshia’s Dad

In the final week of the season, The Bachelorette brings in the Bachelorette’s families. They get to meet the final contestants—sometimes, all the contestants ask the Bachelorette’s dad for permission to marry her, something we thankfully passed over this season—and provide the Bachelorette with emotional support and guidance.

Unfortunately, Tayshia’s dad is only there to give the worst pep talk in Bachelorette history. After two relatively uneventful meetings with Ben and Zac—the greatest tension was that Ben went to Army while Tayshia’s sister went to Navy—Tayshia’s dad, Desmond, has a one-on-one sit-down with his daughter, during which he imparts absolutely zero pieces of helpful advice. “We basically don’t want you to make a mistake,” Desmond says. “I like Zac, and Ben’s a good guy ... But we don’t want things to go backwards for you. I don’t want you to be making the biggest mistake of your life.”

It’s like a coach calling a timeout with five seconds left in the game, but instead of drawing up the final play for his team to hit the game-winning shot, he just says, “Wow, you guys better not screw this up! It’d be really bad if you guys don’t score here! I don’t want you to miss the biggest shot of your life!”

Tayshia hates it. She walks away saying that she was “very overwhelmed.” Her conversation with her dad causes angst at a time when she needs clarity.

I’m not really sure what Desmond was trying to say—was he trying to tell her neither guy was right? But somehow, it convinces Tayshia it’s time to dump Ben. (The show inserted a sequence where Tayshia hangs out with Zac in between the scene where she talks to her dad and the one where she dumps Ben, but she’s wearing the same denim dress in the pep talk and the dumping, so we can assume they were one after the other.) I’m not actually sure if that’s what Desmond was asking for—maybe when he said “Ben’s a good guy” he meant “Ben sucks ass and I hope you immediately dump him,” but if that’s the case, he probably should’ve said that out loud.

Biggest Bummer: Ben

I’ll need to check the stats, but I think there’s a 0 percent success rate for guys who get dumped on The Bachelorette and then come back to try again. Coming back is a great idea from a cynical perspective—you get to stay on TV longer and drink all you want and eat good food and you’ll probably get some Instagram followers out of it. But if you’re actually on the show to find love, you’re probably not going to win back the woman who has already dumped you once.

Unfortunately, Ben doesn’t seem particularly cynical. Although his decision to stay on The Bachelorette was almost certainly encouraged and facilitated by the show’s producers, he really does seem to love Tayshia. He tells Tayshia that he loves her, and that he loves her more, and that he loves her a lot, and that he has never loved anybody the way he loves her, and that he’s never felt this way about anybody before in his entire life, and that he hated being without her, and that he loves her. He can’t quite explain why—he says the main reason he loves Tayshia is the way he feels when he is with Tayshia. This is how puppies would talk if they spoke English.

It almost works. (It’s hard to say no to a puppy.) Tayshia lets Ben come back on the show, and even gives him a kiss. She’s horrified by that choice—“WHY WOULD YOU KISS HIM,” she screams at herself—and Ben is thrilled. “I blacked out, because I’ve never been happier in my entire life,” he says. Ben gets to meet Tayshia’s family, and is the last guy in the running besides Zac. But it’s doomed.

Tayshia probably didn’t handle this whole situation well. Ben’s love was clearly not fully reciprocated, but Tayshia liked him a little bit, and understandably felt bad about dumping someone who was relatively nice and talked openly about how deeply he has been hurt in the past. But clearly Ben had no shot, and her desire to avoid being mean to Ben forced her to be mean to him on multiple occasions, when it could’ve just been over with earlier.

Sometimes, in real life, people give former partners a second chance and it works out. But the calculus is a little bit different on reality TV, when each contestant is just one of 30 in a process meant to find the best partner. Ben didn’t get dumped because there was some flaw that he needed to work on—he got dumped because Tayshia liked another guy more. That’s not really something Ben could fix.