JoJo’s big moment has finally arrived. Her family has arrived in Thailand, and she’s enlisted them to help her choose between Jordan and Robby.
But first, we have the live studio event. Ben and Lauren are here. The Bachelor in Paradise crowd has peaceably assembled in advance of their premiere. Chad is behaving himself so far, complete with his security guard in tow. Chris Harrison takes his place at the helm of the party boat and steers us back to Thailand for the all-important first meetings between the Fletcher clan and the two suitors.
JoJo sets the scene for her family. She tells them that she has two great guys and that she is in love with both of them, but she hasn’t told either. That gets her a “good for you” from her mom. She says she wants to save that because of what happened to her when Ben told her that he loved her and then picked Lauren.
Jordan is first up. “He always seemed like a guy that could break my heart,” JoJo says to the camera. Jordan is excited for his big day. He says he’s always thought about asking his wife’s father for his blessing and, for him, this might be that moment. He arrives in the family’s suite with Thai market gifts in hand. He gives JoJo’s parents ugly touristy hats, which, to put it mildly, is a strange choice for a first impression. He admits to her parents that at first, he was skeptical about the process.
JoJo’s mom doesn’t waste any time hitting Jordan with the tough questions. She tells Jordan that her daughter has trust issues with men. She calls Jordan an attention-getter. “She’s my best friend, and I want to wake up every morning with her,” Jordan tells JoJo’s mom. She asks him to give her his word that he will not break her daughter’s heart. Jordan hesitates, but he gives her his word.
JoJo’s mom does not hesitate to tell JoJo her concerns about Jordan. She is afraid that Jordan is a playboy and that the two of them are too much alike. JoJo understands her mother’s hesitations. “I think what you’re concerned about is that he’s too likable,” she says. He will get all the attention in the room, and that will bring out JoJo’s insecurities. That is exactly what concerns Mom. “I love Jordan. Who doesn’t like Jordan? That’s the problem.” It is not often a woman has to convince her mother that her boyfriend is too likable, but in the Bachelorette universe just about anything is possible. Mom realizes that her daughter is too far gone and just doesn’t want to hear it.
The conversation with JoJo’s mom is interesting, but it is the conversation with JoJo’s dad where Jordan fumbles the ball. He’s nervous. He and JoJo’s dad have an awkward conversation (at least it is edited that way.) He has been saying all along how important it was to ask for his future father-in-law's permission. When the moment comes, he doesn’t do it. Jordan tells them that he loves their daughter, and he wants to prove that to them, but he doesn’t take that next step. He admits to the camera that the conversation didn’t feel like he expected it to feel. He knows it's going to be a problem. JoJo, for her part, is clueless. She assumed he asked. He had told her he wouldn’t propose without doing it.
Robby’s family meeting goes much smoother. He’s as confident as he always has been in his love of JoJo. On the way to the suite, he says he is excited to meet his potential future in-laws. He’s excited to ask her father for his blessing. Again, Mom comes out swinging. Right from the start she wants to know what it was about her daughter that attracted Robby. Robby says all of the right things. “She’s smart and intelligent. She’s fun to be around. She’s got a brightness about her.” He tells of the moment in Uruguay when he knew that he loved JoJo.
JoJo’s siblings are on board with Robby. Her brother says that his first instinct is that Robby is a great guy. Her other brother reminds her that she’s not picking a New Years’ Eve date. She needs to think about marriage and kids. They tell her that they don’t see any red flags at all with Robby. Meanwhile, Mom’s giving Robby the once over. She doesn’t want her daughter’s broken heart to be the discussion at the family dinner table anymore. She says she raised a princess, but she wants Robby to make her the “Queen of his heart.”
Robby pulls both of JoJo’s parents together and does the thing that Jordan didn’t do during his meeting. He asks them for their blessing. He says he wants to protect her and care for her and love her for his entire life. JoJo’s dad gets choked up. “I would be honored to have you in my family,” he tells Robby.
JoJo gets the details from her family after Robby leaves. They are sold on Robby’s authenticity and his love for JoJo. She is shocked to hear that Robby asked for their permission, but Jordan did not. She jumps to Jordan’s defense with her family. Her brother points that out. Dad comes to the rescue. “We are saying that they are both great guys, and we would embrace either one,” he tells his daughter.
JoJo is stressed out. She’s torn between two lovers and feeling like a fool. She doesn’t know what to do. Luckily for her, she has a whole hour of TV left to make up her mind.
“Wow,” is Chris Harrison’s expert commentary with the live studio audience.
Back in Thailand, JoJo is still ‘to’ and ‘fro’-ing. She repeats her familiar refrain: “I want, at the end of this day, just to have a lot more clarity.”
Robby doesn’t need clarity. Mr. I Love You has been clear on what he wants for a long time. “Today is going to be awesome,” he says. During their date, JoJo asks him what he thinks their future would be like. He has a very specific vision of that future. It involves a comfortable sofa and meatloaf. And burned meatloaf at that. JoJo knows that he is ready for a family. She trusts him, and she knows that a future with Robby would be one filled with love. He has no doubts, and he wants her to feel that with him. He wants her to walk away from their last night feeling confident. He tells her that he reassured her parents that she would be safe with him.
JoJo doesn’t doubt his love. She feels it. She says she never thought she would be able to have the type of love she has with Robby. “It’s the type of love that I’ve been waiting for. That makes me excited to say ‘yes’ to Robby.”
The date with Jordan is an altogether different animal. Where as the last time spent with Robby was all about love and trust, JoJo starts her date with Jordan with some serious doubts. She can’t get over the fact that he did not ask her father for his permission to marry his daughter. She is excited to see him, but she’s anxious about what the day will hold. Jordan is excited, too, but his excitement is different. He wants to know where JoJo stands. They are in this together, and he says they have a lot of big decisions to make together. “It is a two-way street,” he says.
JoJo wastes no time asking Jordan what is in his head. She wants to talk about his time with her family. He says he loved it. He loved her family. “How did you feel talking to my dad?” she asks. Jordan says he didn’t shy away from his intentions, but they both know he didn’t do the thing she wanted him to do. They had talked about how it was important to both of them and then he just didn’t go there. She tells him that she is disappointed and upset. If it is him, then he won’t have their blessing.
Jordan really doesn’t have a good answer for her. Or, at least he isn’t able to articulate one. Putting the pieces together it seems that he didn’t want to go there before they met Robby and he also didn’t want to put himself out there before he knew for sure that JoJo felt the same way about him. Both reasons are understandable except for when you’re operating in the paradigm of The Bachelorette taking time like that is a luxury that just doesn’t exist. She wants to know what he needs from her. He wants her to know that he knows he screwed up. She asks him straight up what happens two days from now. “I don’t know,” he says.
She walks away feeling confused and upset. She needs that one last moment during the evening part of their date, for him to be honest and upfront. “I’ve told everyone that I want to marry you,” he tells her. She longs for the moment with her parents that got away. He realizes that he’s losing ground with her and tells her he is ready to take a leap of faith even if he doesn’t know 100% how she feels. She leaves him. Regrets? He’s got a few.
Both men pick out a ring. Robby is confident, of course. Jordan is a little wishy-washy. Robby’s nerves are excitement. Jordan’s nerves seem like straight-up nerves. They both write her a final note and Jordan makes one last phone call. He calls her parents and asks for their permission, which they happily give over speaker phone — just as he must have imagined it all those years. He’s a quarterback, after all. He knows how to throw a Hail, Mary.
JoJo wakes up with the clarity she’s been looking for since the beginning. Jordan tells her in the letter that he got her parent’s permission. She says she doesn’t feel right, but also that “it’s everything I want.” After reading Robby’s impossibly sweet letter, she says, in what might be a tell, "This is the kind of love that you…" Then she catches it and corrects herself. "That I want." She also thinks she might be having a panic attack.
Now, it's time for the big day. Everyone is showered and spiffed. Robby is the first to arrive at the beach, and we all know what that means. All of us except Robby, that is. He’s excited. He’s in love. He’s ready to propose, but JoJo stops him. “Robby, hold on. I can’t let you get on one knee.” His demeanor changes. His face falls. She tells him that she loves him, but that her heart is somewhere else. He stumbles, sad and confused, to the waiting car and off into Bachelorette history.
Cut to the live studio audience and you could hear a pin drop. It is almost like Chris Harrison is having a moment of silence for poor Robby.
The moment with Jordan is almost anti-climatic after the emotional goodbye to Robby. Jordan tells JoJo that he loves her. “You challenge me to be the best version of myself,” he says. JoJo finally tells him that she loves him back. “I love you so much,” she says. “I didn’t want you to get down on one knee until you did that.”
He gets on one knee. She says yes. Somewhere Aaron Rodgers doesn’t care.
So, it’s Jordan. Honestly, it was always Jordan.