The Bachelorette Season 16 Finale Recap: We Did It!

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Tonight: Two hours. Two (or is it three?) guys. One rose. One giant diamond ring. Zero Chris Harrisons. That’s right, it’s a different kind of Bachelorette finale this year. Given that this season took place during a pandemic, the show went without the After the Final Rose special, meaning that we don’t get Chris popping in with updates and a shocked live studio audience every five minutes. Instead, it’s just Tayshia trying to figure out which — if any — of her final guys will become her fiancé. 
Last night’s episode ended with Ben sitting in Tayshia’s room after returning to tell her that he loves her. She stepped out to take a breather and tell a producer, “There’s a rose ceremony. What do I do with that?” When Tayshia returns to Ben, she says she wishes he told her sooner because she was “almost there.” But, she tells him he can come to the rose ceremony, because she still needs to figure out what to think. They step outside to say goodbye — just while he goes to change into a rose ceremony suit — and then suddenly she kisses him. Like, a long kiss. Not World’s Longest, Coldest Kiss long, but long. In her confessional, Tayshia says, “I just kissed him! Why would I kiss him?!” In his confessional, Ben is confident he’ll be getting a rose. 
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At the rose ceremony, Ben tells Ivan and Zac that Tayshia “invited him” and they all soon see that self-eliminator Brendan isn’t there. Tayshia pulls Ivan aside before giving out a single rose. Uh oh. They talk vaguely about how something to do with religion that they talked about in the fantasy suite is the reason why they’re not compatible. Tayshia says her religion is very important to her. Ivan seems like he knew it was coming. 
Driving off, he says he knew “this thing could just really be the bomb that explodes everything here, and it just happened.” (Again, we don’t know specifically what it is.) He also very confidently says that Tayshia is finding the show more difficult than she expected and “she’s not going to pick anybody, I don't think.” Big prediction from Ivan.
Tayshia gives roses to Zac and Ben. Obviously.
Next up, it’s time for Ben to meet Tayshia’s mom, dad, and two brothers. Just like that, Ben’s back in the game. The meetup is honestly pretty boring. The arc is that Tayshia’s parents are skeptical that she let Ben go only for him to come back, but at the end of the date, they respect him. In her confessional, Tayshia says, “Today I started to fall in love with Ben all over again.”
Zac’s family hang has more substance. The theme of this one is that Tayshia’s parents are worried about her getting married again, because she has already been through a divorce. Zac impresses Tayshia’s dad by sharing with him the good things Tayshia told him about their father-daughter relationship. Zac also makes clear that he would never propose unless he was very serious about it, having been divorced himself. Dad feels “at ease.” Mom says she noticed their chemistry. They also all eat pizza together, and I didn’t see Ben doing that, so another point for Zac.
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The next day, Tayshia’s dad visits her and without explicitly saying it, seems to warn her not to get engaged at all. While the family thinks Ben and Zac are good guys, they don’t want Tayshia to go through the pain she went through with her divorce again. Tayshia says talking to her dad snaps her back to the reality of what she went through. 
Zac and Tayshia have their last one-on-one date next. (Or, "next," but we’ll get to that.) She seems very stressed out. In her confessional, she says, “After talking to my dad, I feel like I can’t decide if I want to get married again.” That is quite a statement to make on the last episode of this show.
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
On a normal season, this date would be Zac and Tayshia canoodling on a beach or exploring a new city. In this pandemic season, they get a dance lesson. Tayshia is stressed out about the dancing, too, but learns that Zac does a great job of distracting her. By the end they’re laughing and know a choreographed first dance for their maybe-wedding. 
At night, Zac and Tayshia meet up in a suite, and Tayshia opens up about her fears. She worries she could end up in a relationship, and then have her partner leave her either when things get hard or if she changes as a person. Specifically, she says she wants to “conquer the world” now, but if in five years she wants to be a stay-at-home-mom, she doesn’t want to be ditched because of that. Zac says he doesn’t love her because of what she wants to do with her life. He also notes that it’s the ninth anniversary of his sobriety, and that being sober “allows me to not run away. Not run and actually face life as it comes my way.” He says he would be the same way in a relationship. 
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This really turns Tayshia’s mood around. She can feel that he loves her and supports her. To show this, she starts saying his full name a lot. Lots of “I love Zac Clark!” At this point, I don’t want to see Ben again. I don’t want to see Tayshia’s family again. I just want Tayshia and Zac Clark to start real-life dating. (I would like to see Chris Harrison, though. I feel lost without him.)
After a commercial, we return to see Tayshia wearing the same denim dress she had on when she talked to her dad. Something is up. 
“I know what my heart wants, and I know it’s not Ben,” she says. Wow. So did this happen after she talked to her dad? Right before? And when was Zac’s date? If I had to guess, I’d say it was after both the dad convo and the Ben breakup, but it’s possible it was before both. Something is out of order.
Anyway, Tayshia goes to Ben’s room and tells him her heart is with someone else. She says he shouldn’t second guess himself about returning, because she really did want to give their relationship another chance. But, she also says, “We missed out on a little bit of time that was very monumental.” She must mean the fantasy suite, and that is definitely going to make him do at least a little second guessing. 
Ben tells Tayshia that he is truly happy for her. In the car he says, “I’m still in love with her. I don’t know what the fuck to do now.” It has really been quite the journey with Ben this season. I wish him well.
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With Ben gone, Tayshia and Zac can get ready for the final rose ceremony. Zac meets with Neil Lane. Tayshia applies lip gloss. Let’s do this. 
When Tayshia meets Chris Harrison at the proposal spot, she is very emotional. She says she’s not sure if she’s ever really been in love at all until now. She says she’s excited, but it’s hard to tell if it’s combined with doubt or just nerves. 
Zac’s speech to Tayshia is… what’s a more romantic word for “well executed”? He lists off reasons that he loves her. “I love you because you're a fighter. I love you because you're a strong independent woman … I love you because you believe in me. I love you because you're a total dork … I love you because you drive me absolutely wild.” 
Tayshia responds with her own speech, and it makes Zac and all of us watching at home very nervous that she’s either going to break up with him or reject the proposal. “I know that I told you that I love you,” she says. “But…” She gets choked up and pauses for way too long. “It’s more than that. It’s this wild, wild love that I have tried to come up with so many reasons to not believe.” Yep, it’s confirmed. She’s down for a proposal. 
Zac says that he wants to choose Tayshia now and every day of their lives. He says, “Marry me.” She says, “yes.” They’re both super excited. After exclaiming “We did it!” and toasting some champagne, they hop in their cardboard taxi from their hometown date, which now features “just engaged” sign on the back. They “drive” off to start their new life.
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And that’s it. No updates. No surprise appearance from Clare Crawley. Nothing. Just a preview for Matt James’ season as we prepare to start this whole thing over again.
Winner of the episode: Zac and Tayshia. They actually did it! And Ivan had me convinced she really was going to pick no one. 
Loser of the episode: Ben. Sorry, Ben. Bachelor Nation won’t forget you. 

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