In a “Bachelorette” finale that had almost the same running time as "The Dark Knight Rises,” Emily Maynard finally got down to picking her husband/baby daddy. She chose between Arie -- a dark, handsome racecar driver from Scottsdale, Ariz., who excelled at revving her engine -- and Jef, the edgy but essentially wholesome Salt Lake City native who just “gets her.”
Chemistry, as it always should, proved to be the ultimate deciding factor, and Emily ended up with few doubts that Jef was the man of her dreams -- even sending Arie home early. Chris Harrison and his live studio audience were along for the ride.
Meeting the Parents
In their first appearance this season, Emily’s parents arrived in Curacao to suss out her two men and try to help her come to a decision. Both suitors were eager to win her family’s approval, but Jef did a bit better than Arie, who met with a considerable amount of skepticism. Emily’s brother accused Arie of being a “smooth talker,” but softened when Arie revealed that he’s dated a single mother before. Emily’s dad gave both Jef and Arie his blessing to propose to Emily; but he, along with the rest of her family, was of no use when it came to choosing sides.
Will She or Won’t She?
Emily had been angsting about whether to introduce Ricki to her potential mates all season, but her concern came to a head on her last date with Jef, who spent their time together assuring her that he’d be a good dad. His sense of urgency seemed legitimate: “There’s still some doubt because I haven’t meet Ricki,” he said, “ and she’s the most important part of Emily’s family.”
Emily seemed to agree, saying, “You can’t really get the full picture of my life without meeting her.” The twosome sat on the sand together more stiffly than usual, and went in circles about whether or not Jef would get to meet Ricki. Emily admitted to feeling guilty that she had introduced Ricki to Brad, only to split from him later. But Emily made a good point -- she could hardly expect Jef to commit to her without first meting the most important person in her life. “Meeting Ricki is 100% the last piece of the puzzle before proposing to Emily,” confirmed Jef.
The Package Deal
Finally, Emily decided to introduce Jef to Ricki, and led Jef to the pool where Ricki was playing. And wow -- Jef was a total natural. He hopped in the water with Ricki and blew Emily away with how well he was able to put Ricki at ease. “He has totally exceeded every expectation I had,” Emily gushed.
The threesome played in the water together for a long time, and Emily endearingly dropped her composed camera demeanor around Jef and her daughter, transforming into a playful, sarcastic version of herself that we’ve always suspected existed. She couldn’t stop smiling.
Later that night, Jef and Emily cuddled on the couch, barely able to keep their hands off each other. Jef gifted her a book about Curacao -- the place where they had taken the most meaningful steps in their relationship. He had added his signature edgy touch by drawing stick figures of the two of them on the pages. They giggled and kissed, then said a poignant goodbye in the rain. Jef admitted that it was one of the hardest goodbyes he’s ever said, and that the possibility that Emily might see a life with Arie -- and not him -- was “so scary.”
The Love Potion Fails
Emily woke up the next morning with a decision, and promptly summoned Chris Harrison, who is the world’s expert on televised proposals. Emily told Chris that seeing Jef with Ricki had “pushed [her] over the edge,” and that Jef was her choice. Despite having come to a decision, Emily had trouble being relieved: “I can’t even be happy,” she said, “because I just feel so bad." It was déjà vu -- she was equally distraught when faced with dismissing Sean, the third runner-up.
Emily felt that it wouldn’t be fair to Arie to string him along on another date, and Chris Harrison agreed. “Be as honest with him as you’re being with me,” he advised, and gave her permission to send Arie packing.
In the meantime, Arie was busy mixing up a traditional love potion with the help of a local lady. As he stirred the potion, he expressed the depth of his feelings for Emily: “ I feel like Emily loves me," he said. “I feel like when I tell her, I see it in her eyes.”
Emily arrived at the scene wiping away tears -- not a good sign for Arie. Arie greeted her with a few dabs of his love potion. Although it would have been a great plot twist if the potion had worked, Emily instead started to sob a little. Rather than breaking her decision to him quickly, she dragged it on and on, so that it only slowly dawned on Arie that this was the breakup talk. She really should have been better at this by then.
“Oawahh,” said Arie, turning away from her before lapsing into silence. Her platitudes bounced off of him for a while before he said, “I’m shocked. I completely thought we’d had something.” Emily assured him that she had meant everything she had ever said, but it only seemed to hurt him more.
“I’ll go,” he said, trying to make a getaway. She ran after him and stopped him. “I don’t know what else to say,” he said, still avoiding eye contact. “I don’t think you’re going to get the goodbye you want, because I’m not going to be like, 'Good luck.'” He thanked her for saving him from the embarrassment of a failed proposal, then brushed her off and got into the SUV. Emily wept as the car pulled away.
Arie was fairly stoic during his SUV departure, and managed, with some difficulty, to keep the tears at bay. “I still believe she’s the love of my life,’ he said. “That’s what’s so painful.” He truly had been taken by surprise.
Back at Studio
Chris Harrison’s live studio audience included "Bachelor"/"Bachelorette" big shots Ashley & JP, Deanna, Michael Stagliano, and Emily’s friend Ashley S from Brad’s season. They all vocalized their support of Emily pulling Arie’s plug early. “When you know, you know,” affirmed JP. And Michael, speaking from personal experience, had some words of reassurance for Arie: “It will be really easy for him to find a girl afterward.”
When we got back to Emily, she was ecstatic to finally be able to confess her love for Jef, but had some doubts about accepting a proposal. The reason? She didn’t want to be “that girl” – you know, the one who is always a fiancée and never a bride.
Jef, as is tradition, sat down with Neil Lane to pick out a perfect engagement ring and to tell the cameras of his undying love for Emily.
They met on a wooden platform (built for the occasion) in a Curacao town square, Emily wearing a sparkly apricot dress and Jef wearing (what else) a skinny tie. “I really do feel like you’re my soul mate,” Emily was finally able to say. She revealed to Jef that Arie had been dismissed the day before, and wasn’t even in the country. Hearing that, Jef looked like Christmas had come early. He spewed out his love for Emily, saying, “I found my everything, and I’m so in love with you.” He went on about how God (ABC?) puts the right people in our lives when the timing is right. “If you let me in your life, and Ricki’s life,” he said, “ you will never be lonely again.” He continued, “What I’m about to ask you aren’t just empty words. What I’m about to ask you is forever.” Then he knelt on one knee and proposed to Emily, who -- after a long, dramatic pause -- accepted.
They embraced, and then Ricki was unleashed to scamper up and join them in a celebratory walk into the sunset.
After the Final Rose
The show was still not over. The studio audience witnessed Emily’s live reunion with Arie -- who, to his credit, kept it extremely classy. Arie told Emily that he felt nothing but love for her, and validated her decision to choose Jef, only wishing that she’d been as honest with him as she’d been with Chris Harrison. (See? He told you so.)
Arie admitted how hard it had been to live his life after the show was over, and that he had even flown to North Carolina to see Emily for an off-camera confrontation. Arie had changed his mind upon arrival, out of respect for Jef, and had simply left the journal he had kept during the show on Emily’s doorstep.
Emily whipped out the journal in front of Arie, Chris Harrison, and the audience, but revealed that she had refrained from reading it. “I felt that it wouldn’t help anything,” she said. Emily gave the journal back to Arie, who expressed happiness for the couple and disclosed that he still occasionally talks to Jef on the phone. “I’m in a good place now, and I can look back at it and know you’re happy,” he told Emily, “and I know I want to find that for myself.”
Arie then vacated the stage to make room for Jef, who appeared to be even more in love with Emily than when he proposed, if that’s possible. At Chris Harrison’s prompting, he gushed about Emily’s many excellent qualities and about his love for Ricki, whom he seemed equally enamored with.
Emily and Jef then revealed their plans for the future: They’ll head to Africa (no specification on which country) to do humanitarian work, and then build their lives together in North Carolina so that Ricki can stay in her school. Then they’ll get married (maybe even in Africa), and Emily likes the idea of a spring wedding. Well, if you want it paid for, we’d recommend inviting the cameras – but either way, congratulations, Emily and Jef! We hope you make it.