If a Bachelorette contestant has a chance at winning, the show will sprinkle in some moments to make them memorable—little things that can be instantly recognized as a signature of a particular relationship. This season’s lasting touchstone? Blake and his boom box.
A few weeks after coming onto the show, Blake appeared outside of Katie’s room at night reenacting that scene from that movie. (Which movie? I honestly couldn’t tell without looking it up, but I know enough to know that it was a big deal in the 1980s.) Their conversation that night wasn’t particularly romantic—it actually focused heavily on Blake’s urgent need to masturbate—but the boom box moment was supposed to stick with us. That’s why, at the end of Monday night’s finale, after Blake and Katie revealed they’re still together and in love, every male member of the studio audience stood up and held a boom box above their heads while Blake and Katie danced to a song they also danced to on the show.
The audience members’ boom boxes looked suspiciously similar to the one Blake held above his head—an obvious sign that this was not a BYOB (bring your own boom box) situation. Blake didn’t use 60 percent of his luggage space on an obnoxious, oversized, outdated piece of technology—it was provided to him by The Bachelorette in hopes of making him memorable. And the audience members didn’t purchase their own boom boxes to bring to a TV taping—although there may be a lack of variety among boom box offerings in the 21st century, it’s clear that the massive props were provided to them.
You’d think that Blake’s love story with Katie would stand out on its own, without the Flock of Seagulls–era technology. By walking away from the show with Katie, Blake became the first contestant to return for a second season as a contestant and actually win. His raunchy humor clearly clicked with Katie, and while most of the show’s couples are simply Two Hot People who may or may not be able to hold a conversation, Blake and Katie seem like a good fit. But nothing about Blake and Katie is as memorable as the season’s main story arc: the failed relationship between Katie and Greg, which dominated the finale.
After Greg’s painful decision to leave the show on its second-to-last episode, his absence dominated the pretaped portions of Monday night’s episode—would Katie carry on without Greg? And in the reunion portion of the episode, nobody really needed to see Blake and Katie talk about their ongoing love—we just desperately wanted to see Greg and Katie rehash their breakup. After second-place contestant Justin got his mandatory 45-second interview in front of a studio audience, he jokingly remarked that he would love to be “a fly on the wall” while Greg and Katie caught up. Luckily, we all got to be flies on the wall—that’s kinda the whole point of the show. There are cameras!
Ultimately, there was no winner in The Great Katie-Greg Debate, except those of us who tune into The Bachelorette to see people get mad at each other. (So … everybody who watches The Bachelorette.) Months after filming, Katie is clearly still furious at Greg for his sudden decision to dump her on her own season. When she walked onto the stage, she refused to hug or even say hi to Greg, and coldly walked past him en route to her seat before launching a well-prepared list of accusations. She said Greg clearly went on the show with no intentions of getting engaged; that Greg couldn’t possibly have been in love with her if he was so willing to leave; and she even brought up the internet rumor that Greg, a former acting student, was using a spot on reality TV to demonstrate his acting chops for casting directors. (Highlight of the evening: Greg acknowledging that he’s worse at acting than Meryl Streep, and Katie butting in with “Oh, we know!”) Here’s a brief summary of Katie’s extensive barrage of criticisms: At one point, cohost Kaitlyn helpfully interrupted and asked Katie to define the word “gaslighting.”
The crowd started out cheering exclusively for Katie’s mic-drop zings—but when Greg was honest about his emotions, he started getting some applause, too. He stuck to his line that Katie wasn’t there emotionally for him—in his eyes, Katie’s attempts to professionally handle her role as the Bachelorette irreparably hurt the actual relationship they were developing. When Katie argued that he hadn’t really been in love, Greg pointed out that he’d brought his entire family into the process, which he wouldn’t have done if he hadn’t felt strongly about the relationship.
Do you ever have an argument in your head with someone who isn’t there? An ex, a person who glossed over your contributions at work, or someone who said something wrong online? Your need to have that conversation is so urgent that it eats up a part of your brain, so you practice it as you shower or pick up your takeout. In this imaginary argument, you win every line and the loser gracefully admits that your logic and arguing skills were superior. It was clear that Katie had been preparing for this conversation with Greg for months and prepping her critiques and one-liners. So it was weird when Greg exited and her fiancé, Blake, came out, and they smiled and kissed as if there isn’t a part of her being eaten alive by whatever the hell happened with Greg. During her fight with Greg, Katie repeatedly brought up her relationship with Blake in the way that people who have experienced heartbreak talk about a new, happy relationship that clearly takes up roughly half the brain space as their old, unhappy relationship. At the end of their argument, Greg wished Katie and Blake the best; Katie returned the well wishes through gritted teeth. She explained that the feelings she had for Greg left when he left the show. And that’s probably true—it’s just that her feelings of love were replaced by equally strong feelings in a different direction.
In the end, Katie found Blake—but all anyone will remember from the season is how terribly it ended with Greg. Happily Ever After is nice, but Permanently Mad Forever really sells.
Episode MVP: Katie’s Aunt Lindsey
In the finale of this show, the Bachelorette introduces her family to the men she’s considering, and they always express some skepticism about their daughter marrying a man from a reality TV show. But Blake isn’t just “a man from a reality TV show”—he’s a man from multiple reality TV shows. Before dating Katie, he dated Clare on the last season of The Bachelorette, and when Clare ran off with Dale, he immediately began professing his love for Tayshia. It’s all been a lot to keep track of: For example, in the finale, it was quite weird to watch Tayshia help Blake pick out an engagement ring and remember, “Oh yeah, these two did tantric yoga on TV together!” (Tayshia also told Blake that if he was having second thoughts about Katie, “You need to let her go,” and then later congratulated herself as a matchmaker for the happy couple.)
The normal people who have been brought into the Bachelor-sphere have a healthy skepticism of this chain of events. Last week, Blake’s sister needled him pretty hard over his desire to court anybody with “the Bachelorette” next to their name—but Monday night, Katie’s Aunt Lindsey took it to the next level. Katie’s mom was pretty chill about the whole thing, but Aunt Lindsey confronted Blake from the jump, referring to his attempts to seek her approval as “cute” and asking Katie, “So why do you want the beard?” But most importantly, she cued in on his season-hopping: “What made you want to come onto this season after you flunked out of the last one?”
Roughly half of this season was devoted to whether jokers like Karl, Cody, and Thomas were on the show for the right reasons—but until family members showed up, nobody questioned whether the guy who has been on two consecutive seasons of reality television may have been motivated by a desire to be on reality television. It does seem like Katie and Blake are a great couple, but after back-to-back-to-back dalliances with three Bachelorettes, we just have to hope this relationship holds together when Blake starts seeing promos for Michelle’s season.
Easiest Bracket: Justin
The rhythm of the season was thrown off by the dramatic events of the final few weeks. Normally, the last four guys do hometown dates—but with four guys left, Michael went home to see his kid, robbing the world from figuring out how The Bachelorette would make Northeast Ohio seem romantic. (Again.) So only three guys got hometown dates, and no rose ceremony was needed after hometowns. And normally, the three guys left after hometowns will go to fantasy suites—but one of the three guys left was Greg, who ejecto-seato’d himself from the show, leaving just Blake and Justin.
Justin was not a final two guy. Katie seemed to like him, and he made some great facial expressions—he just wasn’t a final two guy. I actually think this is probably how his parents explained that they weren’t coming to New Mexico to be a part of his hometown date—“Sorry Justin, we’ll see you back in Baltimore, but you’re just not a final two guy.”
Unfortunately, Justin had been tricked into believing that he was a final two guy by the inconvenient fact that he was in the final two. He got all psyched up for his date with Katie. Before meeting her, he said that “to have everything you hoped for come to fruition is a really cool feeling,” but … nothing he hoped for was coming to fruition. In fact, Katie quickly and cleanly dumped him, explaining that she had already picked Blake.
Justin would’ve lost out to Greg too … and probably Michael, if we’re being honest. He was like a March Madness team that made the championship game by beating 14-seeded South Fartsville Tech in the Sweet 16 and 13-seed East Vermont A&M in the Elite Eight. He got all pumped up for his chance to win the title, only to take the floor and lose by 40 to Duke. Sweet, sweet Justin, you were lucky to make the Final Four. This title was never going to have your name on it.
Most Perfectly Acceptable: Tayshia and Kaitlyn
For years, I would make fun of the fact that the notes used to invite couples to spend the night together for the fantasy suite dates were clearly written by a host of different people—in spite of the fact that they were all supposed to be from Chris Harrison. But now that Harrison is gone, I must note: The note we saw in the finale, supposedly from Tayshia and Kaitlyn, has the same handwriting as a note from a previous season written by “Harrison”:
You can see similarities in a lot of the letters—for the record, the Blake in the first letter is a little different from the Blake in the second letter—but the key difference is the spelling of “forego.” I wanna grill Bachelor producers over this like they grilled Robert Durst about the “Beverley” note in The Jinx.
But I’d also like to point out that before these notes, I had not thought about Chris Harrison in weeks. Truly, not even once. Tayshia and Kaitlyn hosted the entire season, and it was fine. I thought Kaitlyn did a good job talking a weeping Katie off the bathroom floor in the penultimate episode; I thought Tayshia did a terrible job trying to inject suspense into the moments before Blake’s proposal. (“This could be a fantasy ending for Katie … OR A COMPLETE NIGHTMARE.”) But for the most part, Tayshia and Kaitlyn were totally fine! They said at the end of Monday night’s episode that they’ll be back for Michelle’s season. That’s totally fine! I look over at Jeopardy!, where everybody acknowledges that it will be almost impossible for the franchise’s new host to step out of the massive shadow left by the late Alex Trebek, and then I look back here, where Chris Harrison was so forgettable that I didn’t think about him for weeks. He was so immensely replaceable that they could even keep using “his” handwriting and say it was someone else’s.
Worst Edit: New Mexico
I like New Mexico! Beautiful state! But the Land of Enchantment got a bad edit this season. I’d describe the way the state was portrayed as “a desert, but surprisingly cold.” Almost no effort was made to highlight anything unique about New Mexico. Nobody ate hatch chiles, and in the biggest stunner of all time, nobody even went hot air ballooning. (The Bachelor usually does that in places that aren’t even particularly balloon-friendly!)
Monday night, for the first time all season, the show injected a little bit of New Mexican culture into the show—by having Katie and Blake write down all their fears and insecurities and stuff them inside Zozobra before burning Zozobra. Zozobra is a real New Mexican thing. Don’t know what it is? Click this link, or VIEW THIS IMAGE AND LIVE IN FEAR.
After skimping on its props budget all season, they really went all out with their Zozobra—it was like 30 feet tall with glowing red eyes and an animatronic head. But in the end, the show gave us exactly one piece of information about New Mexico, and it was “people in this state like building giant demons that haunt your dreams.” New Mexico deserved better!
Most Romantic Moment: Spon-con
Thankfully, The Bachelor’s Neil Lane usage seems to be declining. It peaked during Tayshia’s quarantine season, when the celebrity jeweler actually hosted Tayshia and Brendan in his room for a date that attempted to show that he’s whimsical and extravagant. Everybody was creeped out—most of all Brendan, who soon quit the show.
But we’re past all that now. I expected Lane to make his usual appearance on Monday night’s finale, but instead, he simply FaceTimed into the show and left Tayshia to help Blake choose the perfect ring. Neil has shown up for Bachelor and Bachelorette finales across the globe, from Southeast Asia to Europe—but apparently New Mexico (and a stint in quarantine) was a bit too far.
But it was still made quite clear that the ring chosen was a Neil Lane ring, because when Blake got down on a knee and popped the box open, it said NEIL LANE in big letters on the inside. I guess somebody realized that the rings themselves are probably better promo than the weirdo hawking them.
But that wasn’t the only proposal spon-con! Normally the cars on The Bachelor franchise are generic and blend into the background—but I noticed Monday night that the show was really zooming in on the SUVs that drove Katie and Blake to the proposal site. I had to ask—did Hyundai throw the bag at The Bachelorette? Sure enough, they did! You may have seen ads in the past few months featuring Tayshia, ESPN personalities, and Wanda Maximoff enjoying Hyundai vehicles; this cross-Disney partnership apparently extends to the cars used on-screen during The Bachelorette. (Real missed opportunity in not using the Santa Fe for the entirely New Mexico–based season, but still.)
They say that money can’t buy you love. But if The Bachelorette’s finale taught me one thing, it’s that the stylish, revamped Hyundai Palisade® can drive you toward love with an air of elegance at an affordable price.
Toughest Question Answered: Blake’s Employment Status
Finally, after months of waiting, The Bachelorette’s finale brought us the clarity and closure I’d been looking for all season. No, I’m not talking about Katie picking a guy—I’m talking about Blake finally being pressed on what his job is. I have spent most of this season consumed by the question of how Blake, a “wildlife manager,” makes a living. Here’s what we know: He hates horses, he posts a lot of pictures with birds of prey on Instagram, and he says he has to go to Africa “for work” a lot.
Thankfully, Katie’s family was willing to push him harder on this. As they try to figure out whether their daughter is moving to Canada, they ask Blake where he lives. He says he spends a lot of time in Africa working for a nonprofit, which worries them as they fear that he lives full time not only in another country, but on another continent. But Blake clarifies: He doesn’t work full time in Africa—in fact, he doesn’t work full time at all. He’s unemployed right now.
I’m gonna go ahead and take a favorable view of Blake’s career—after two seasons on reality TV, he’s got a healthy social media following that can probably generate a decent amount of income. Maybe that’s allowed him to ditch conventional 9-5 labo(u)r and dedicate himself to helping out in a field he’s passionate about. But still, I feel vindication now that Blake has given us clarity about his non-job. The man finally said the words “I’m unemployed.” I’ve caught my white whale—hopefully Blake can rehabilitate it back to health in an ethical nature sanctuary.