Warning: This recap for the season finale of Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? contains spoilers.
This week’s two-part episode kicks off in L.A., where Lauren is shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses with her sister and close friends. The girls are giddy, and after some slight arguments over color and cut, they settle on varying floor-length options, and decide to go out and celebrate with champagne. Meanwhile, Ben is back at the batting cage with his friend, and the tone is very different. The former Bachelor’s feet are still feeling a bit chilly, and he’s worried that he and Lauren need to get to know each other better before actually getting married. As the couple discuss their relationship issues with their friends, one of Lauren’s married confidantes recommends that she and Ben try marriage counseling.
Cut to Ben and Lauren visiting a couples therapist with the twins, and Grant and Lace. Dr. Mike starts everyone off with something called “The Nearly-Wed Game.” Hmmm … this is something they should be familiar with, as they played a very similar game with Yahoo TV not too long ago.
Anyhow, after the twins decide who is going to play the role of the “man” in their relationship (wait, why are they there again?), the questions begin. Lauren tells Ben that she’s going to win, even though they’re playing for the same team — maybe not the best sign for their relationship. Grant and Lace kill it, getting every question correct even though they’ve been dating for only four months, while Ben and Lauren struggle through and can only answer a question about their last fight correctly. (Spoiler alert: It was about their wedding plans.) The twins also do pretty well, and understandably the only question they get wrong is where the other likes to be touched.
Dr. Mike then brings the group to a high-ropes course and prefaces the next relationship-building activity by saying, “This is going to be a very scary experience.” The couples (and the twins) need to climb the course while connected by a rope and blindfolded. This activity is meant to facilitate communication and trust. Lace and Grant go first, and although Lace does shed some tears, Grant is extremely vocal and encouraging, and the two successfully complete the course, although they shriek and swear the entire time, as they’re both afraid of heights. Lauren and Ben manage, although they’re more bossy with each other than supportive, but in the end Lauren is able to complete the zipline with Ben waiting at the other end, chanting, “Scream! Pray! Jump!” All in all, the group is successful and moves on to their next challenge, known as “The Hot Seat.”
In this activity, Ben and Lauren sit across from each other and address their relationship issues. Ben talks about his fear of being unlovable and shares a story of feeling like an outsider in second grade. He explains that Lauren is the first person he doesn’t feel like pushing away, something he is OK with talking about in public because they’re in a “safe place.” Personally, I wouldn’t feel too safe discussing such matters in front of three of my exes on national TV, but to each their own. Ben and Lauren both wind up crying and begin to discuss Ben’s desire to slow things down. Of course, Dr. Mike picks this time to put the two in wedding clothes so they can address whether or not they’re ready to get married. This doesn’t seem like the most logical way to figure this out, but let’s go with it.
Ben waits outside in a tuxedo, and Lauren comes out in a full on wedding gown. The two begin to discuss their feelings, and Ben eventually tells her that the wedding is off. Poor Lauren now has to sit and talk about this on national TV in front of her fiancé’s exes while in a wedding dress. Ben explains that he doesn’t want them to leave each other’s lives; he just feels the need to slow things down. Lauren feels blindsided — which I find surprising, since Ben has been singing this tune for the past few episodes — and she questions whether Ben ever wants to get married. Dr. Mike suggests that the two spend more time together, and what better way to do so than take a road trip!
Before the couple go anywhere, though, they need to visit Chris Harrison at the Bachelor Mansion and tell him that the wedding is off. (Side note: Does Chris Harrison have a room at the Bachelor Mansion? It seems like he has to spend a lot of his time there.) On the way to the mansion, Ben and Lauren’s driver starts to exclaim that he’s driving “Ben and Lauren B.!” What a coincidence — the driver is a huge fan! He immediately begins to ask questions about the wedding and, after hearing their hesitation, asks Ben if he has cold feet. He yells at Ben, “Ain’t no time for cold feet, get hot feet!” Needless to say, I doubt Ben is going to tip the driver after this. When the two finally get to the mansion, Chris Harrison is supportive about the news because he takes marriage very seriously.
In another totally unscripted moment, Lauren asks on the car ride home if Ben gave the driver the hotel address. She says she just wants to get back to the hotel, and it seems like they’re going the wrong way, but Ben assures her everything’s fine. Then they pull up to a car dealership (not the hotel), because Ben wants to surprise Lauren with a brand new Fiat! Awww, better living through product placement.
After the two go through the car, advertising its navigation system and large back seats, they start off on their road trip back to Denver. Lauren shares that she hopes the road trip will help Ben “want to get married sooner rather than later.” I wasn’t aware that a road trip was the way to a man’s heart, but again, to each his/her own.
While on the car ride, Ben launches into a story about a surgery he had on his scrotum during high school and confides that he had to sit on frozen peas in class for a week. I think I saw Lauren nearly spit up her food, and she later shares that some things are better left unsaid. While driving, Lauren is tagged in a post by a Bachelor Fan Club about a dinner party they’re having, and the two decide to crash. Of course, the fans immediately ask about the wedding planning, and things quickly get uncomfortable. Ben and Lauren then continue their journey, and Lauren tells the cameras that “the road trip is going very smoothly. I don’t think anything can spoil it at this point.” Oh, great, Lauren — now you’ve done it.
The two finally hit their next stop: Las Vegas! (Let’s just ignore the fact that the drive from L.A .to Las Vegas is only around four hours.) The couple is there to attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival, and while they have fun at first, it is immediately ruined when the two are questioned by the press about their upcoming nuptials. After an argument at a concert because Lauren doesn’t want to dance in front of everybody and pretend that everything is fine, she finally states the obvious: “We’re not happily ever after right now.”
On the last leg of their drive, Ben and Lauren stop by a diner. There they see a happy couple in their 90s who were definitely not planted there by producers. They’re holding hands and whispering that they love each other. Of course, Ben immediately calls them over. They’ve met so many people in restaurants throughout this season! The couple has been married for more than 70 years, and they give Ben and Lauren relationship advice. The older man shares that he too had cold feet, but after he was given space the two worked through it and are still happy together. After Ben and Lauren leave the restaurant, they discuss how happy they are that they met the older couple, and Lauren realizes she’s now ready to give Ben the time that he needs.
When they arrive back in Denver, Ben surprises Lauren with a completely refurbished apartment in order to show her he still cares. He ditched the headboard that Lauren hated and instead bought items that she had previously mentioned she wanted. He explains that their friends (*cough* ABC *cough*) brought everything over and set it up while they were away. Lauren’s ecstatic, and the two are back on their path to “happily ever after.” The episode concludes with an interview with the older couple, known as Ed and Toots, à la When Harry Met Sally. Ed and Toots reveal that every night they say “Goodnight, you old bag,” and “Goodnight, you old fart” to each other. Ben and Lauren try it that night as well, in an effort to replicate the senior citizens’ happy relationship. Guess we’ll have to wait until Season 2 to find out if it worked.