Finale! Bachelorette history! Will Desiree go home without one of the 25 dudes she was destined to fall in love (or at least vague superficial attraction) with? We rejoin her in pensive mode on the deck of her Antigua suite, mourning the loss of Brooks. She recaps for us, explaining that when his mom and sis asked if he were ready, “It’s hard for him to think of marriage when…he doesn’t love me.” Well, yeah. That’s the point.

OK, I feel mean, though, because Des is still crying and obviously really felt something for Brooks. But now she must move on. She sits down with Chris who asks, “How’re you doing?” Des says she’s OK, but then breaks down again. She just wants to go home. Chris is just sitting in silence with her. He is doing a remarkable job of sounding genuinely sorry, without a hint of “OMG this is such good TV!!!” creeping through.

Chris reminds her that two guys are still here, and asks, “If you’d never met Brooks, could you see yourself with one of these two guys?” Not really how love works, though, dude. It’s not like she’s interviewing and will choose the best candidate she can get. (Actually, that’s exactly what this show is like. Sorry I doubted you, Chris.) Des says that she’s not broken, and she doesn’t want Chris or Drew to feel the way she does…so she wants to continue on. Wait, what? So you DO think someone should propose out of pity? I don’t think this is a great plan.

Drew arrives at St. Anne’s Point, while Des is still brooding at photos. And here comes Chris! Do they even know Brooks is gone? Nope, but Des arrives to explain. She’s barely holding it together as she explains that he left of his own accord, but she’s still considering all her options. (If either of these guys has any self-respect, he should recognize that she is in no way fully committed to a relationship with him.) She begins the rose ceremony by saying, “When I call your name and ask you to accept this rose, please…let me know.” Oof, and now she’s sobbing again, begging them to be honest if they don’t want to go forward. This show is making me feel bad for everybody involved. I bet Chris is already composing an elegy in his head.

What if both guys told her no at this point? I think she’d just jump into the harbor.

But they both accept, and now it looks like the most somber prom night in the world. Drew insists that he’s ready to propose and that he’ll “never walk away” (which seems a little unnerving given his blank facial expression). But they toast their roses and plan to move forward…yay?

Now we’re back with the live studio audience, and polling the audience to see if Des can really fall in love with anyone after Brooks. First audience member thinks that Brooks might be coming back! The second is pro-Chris. I bet the third will be pro-Drew, you think? Oh, look, it is! OK, I don’t care about this speculation by randoms any more. Although I do like that one audience member says, “It’s either going to be Brooks or no one, because she already fell in love and said so. If she picks someone else it would be…fake.” Yes, that would be the moment that this show betrays the purity of its intentions.

Next up, Des doesn’t want to introduce the final two to her family yet. First they’re going on one final date! Ooh, I wonder if it’s the date she was supposed to take with Brooks—there are some unfulfilled contractual obligations there, I bet.

Horses! Des is wearing an appalling half-shirt, but riding a lovely bay horse. Drew’s horse is named Judy. First Drew walks up to kiss Des (standing on the wrong side of Des’s horse, and directly behind Judy—this date may end with him getting kicked in the head), and then they mount up to ride to the beach. Des is talking awkwardly to him, and he’s blah-ing back at her. (Also, he says that he didn’t walk around or go to the beach yesterday, he just hung out in his room. WTF, Drew?) Des is not feeling it today, and she has to tell him on this date. But before she can, Drew toasts to “being madly in love.” AWK-WARD.

Des realizes that the rose is on the other foot, and she has to squash Drew now. I can’t understand a damn word she’s saying…but it’s more or less, “You’re wonderful, I’m lucky, but I don’t feel it.” This is ironic! (Or, well, completely expected in any world other than the artificial construct of this show.) Drew finally gets that she’s letting him down easy, and his brows furrow in a reasonable approximation of sorrow. There is sniffling, and a manly tear. This is like Outbreak, but instead of Ebola virus it’s dumping! (I think this show would be better with more Ebola, actually.)

Drew actually lets her off pretty easy—definitely no floods of tears on his part—but he seems a bit shellshocked. He at least has the grace to say, “I guess this is goodbye” and get the hell out of Dodge. (Does he get to ride Judy home?) But his solo interview is sad. “I really do love her….and now I have to think about a life without her.” Time to start over. Maybe not on a reality dating show this time, though.

Chris’s turn for his date/beheading. But first Chris Harrison suggests once again that maybe Brooks comes back. I think the show is protesting too much, trying to get us to keep watching. I think she goes home alone. For Chris’s date, Des has just cut to the chase and is wearing a bikini top. She seems cheerier today, and says that “seeing Chris walk up felt different from Drew, in a good way.” But I think it’s because she’s never cared that much about him. They’re going for a ride on a catamaran. I don’t see any poem-concealing bulges in his pockets, but I wouldn’t put it past him to etch something on a coconut husk before the day is out.

They smile and tan and drink rum punch out of handled mugs, which seems an odd choice on a boat. They seem to be having a good time, and then they watch a fish skipping along the surface of the water. A flying fish, maybe? It’s small, and I half expected a shark to come flying out after it (which would be an awesome Shark Week crossover, TV people, just sayin’). Then it’s time for swimming, and I want to go to the Caribbean. Des burbles on in an interview about how she’s feeling better and trusting her heart and yada yada. I think this is setting up a “I won’t accept a proposal yet but want to keep dating” ending. I don’t think Brooks is coming back.

That evening, the couple sit and drink wine and Chris basically promises Des in sixteen different ways I SWEAR I WILL NOT DITCH YOU AT THE ALTAR and she makes more noises about feeling comfortable and relaxed. This sounds less like, “They’re perfect together!” and more like “He’s been friendzoned” to me, but YMMV. She’s leaning away from him while his leg is crossed toward her—she’s trying to convince herself to keep going with him, but she doesn’t feel anything that romantic for him, I think.

Chris awkwardly but sweetly asks if Des wants him to meet her parents. She admits she was struggling with it, but then, almost bemused, says, “Yeah, I do want you to meet my family.” Oh, Chris, do you know about her asshole brother? Be warned. (That said, I don’t think asshole brother will be as threatened by Chris, so maybe he won’t pull the bull elephant seal shtick as hard.)

Oh, look, Chris brought a prezzie! He brings Des a journal with an inscription, but no poem—very restrained. Oh, wait, there’s also an inscription: “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are [going].” The show doesn’t tell us, but this line (which Chris has misquoted slightly, as it should be “moving”) was from that most romantic of bards, Oliver Wendell Holmes. And I see I spoke too soon about the poetry—he’s transcribed all of the poems he wrote her. OK, even though his poetry is terrible, this is SUCH a sensitive New Age guy gift! Very romantic. Chris, you are an A+ SNAG. (That said, I predict this journal winds up on her nightstand under a copy of Us Weekly and is never touched again.)

Des is super-moved, and in a talking head, gives an entire speech I can’t understand because she’s weeping so much. But she sobers up enough to tell us, “I almost feel guilty. How could I not have loved him from the beginning?” Oh, so this is how they’re going to play it—the “he was right here all along” plotline! I don’t blame them, it’s a classic.

After the break, it’s back to the studio, where now the show is lining up its alumni to try to convince us this is a valid way to find a mate. We have the homecoming court of Jackie, Lesley and Lindsay (other runners up from last season), as well as Prom King & Queen Sean and Catherine! They look good, but won’t announce a wedding date yet. (They should maybe work through the whole “he might be sleeping with the chick from DTWS” thing first.)

Sean gives a dull interview—if you’re wondering if he still loves Catherine madly? He does. Does he feel sympathetic to Des? He does. Is this a hard position to be in? It is. Yawn. Catherine, on the other hand, sandbags her a little bit! She says that if she were Chris, it would be hard to watch that footage of Des proclaiming her love for Brooks, but hey, if he still wants to get down on one knee after that, more power to him. Wow, cold! Also, I don’t get why they’re all saying Chris will see this love-proclaiming footage before he proposes. Don’t they only see it between the proposal and the “After the Final Rose” special?

It’s time for the “friends of Des” panel to speak, but none of them says anything of note, so I’m not bothering to recap it. Suffice it to say that she will either choose a guy, or not, and be happy, or sad. And dammit, I’m out of boo-boop on the Tivo. Now I’m stuck with commercials. Y’all, I love Rebel Wilson, but I am not sure about this “Super Fun Night” show. I hope she will elevate it beyond what the trailers look like. If not, I’ll just have to watch “Pitch Perfect” for the 37,000th time.

Back to Antigua! Now Des’s “pensive balcony” shot has happy music, and she is giving her “I’m at peace” face. She’s ready for Chris to meet her family. I wish he had dressed better. He’s in another v-neck, but he did bring flowers for Mom, so that’s a point in his favor. The grilling starts right away, as Dad asks, “Why should Desiree choose you?” Nate thinks he’s on Law & Order asking the tough questions, and he looks like an idiot. Chris is frankly smarter than Nate, and thus has fluid (if glib) answers for all of his  questions. Chris makes the parents laugh, and has clearly won them over.

Stepping aside with Des’s Dad, Chris reassures him that he’s in it for the long haul. Dad is grinning. Chris plays the “both of our families are long-standing marriages” card, and then awkwardly/charmingly asks Dad for his blessing. Dad gives him permission to propose. (Did he give permission to Sean that easily? Or did Sean even ask?) Chris departs, and Des looks very cute and smiley as he walks off. Now, back to Horrible Nate. Did Chris pass the Asshole Brother test?

Nate asks, “Is he the one you want to spend the rest of your life with?” Des answers, “At this moment, yes.” Nate’s as WTF as I am at that response, asking, “But you’re not going to wake up tomorrow and feel different, are you?” More talk about whether she’s broken from Brooks’s departure. It adds nothing new, so I turn my attention to trying to peel my melted Reeses’ cup from its wrapper. It’s a difficult journey, but I’m in it for the long haul.

D-Day! Chris wakes up and heads off for the “pick out the product-placed ring” visit. Does Neal Lane get to just travel the world visiting various TV fiancés and lending them rings? I would like that job. Chris chooses a huge diamond that seems emerald-ish in cut, and has little diamonds around it and in a twist over the band. A bit much, if you ask me (which no one did). Des is wearing a gauzy nude one-shoulder number that’s kind of mermaidy and has crystals in a lacy pattern all over one hip and side. Pretty restrained for her, but a nice balance of “wedding dress” that’s still tropics-appropriate. She’s crying again in her talking head as she claims that she feels Chris’s total love, but still doesn’t know what she’s going to do.

Des explains that she needs to tell Chris the full extent of her experience with Brooks, and “is so nervous and scared that once he learns the truth, everything will change.” I’m nervous and scared that this won’t be over in ten minutes.

Back in the studio, even Chris Harrison says, “We’ve all waited long enough,” and we cut right to Des waiting on a sunny vista point next to…a cannon? Well, they won’t take the engagement photos in that direction, it’ll be fine. In the car, Chris looks like he’s going to puke. On Twitter, Jennifer Weiner points out that he didn’t bother to shave. He approaches Des, and now they both look a little sick. Des whispers that she’s nervous, and Chris says, “You are?”, sounding worried.

He has a nice little speech that he gets through cleanly but sincerely, while tears well up in Des’s eyes. He talks about “making decisions with you, for us,” which is as egalitarian as I think I’ve ever heard someone on this show be. But just as he goes to descend to one knee, Des stops him to say a few things first. Chris is freaking out, because he assumes this is goodbye. Des wants to tell him “where her heart has been,” and reveals that she sent Drew home, and Chris is the only one who met her family. She confesses that Brooks’s departure tore her apart, and she loved him and was “blindsided” by her feelings for Brooks…which prevented her from seeing that the one thing she always needed was (say it with me) RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF HER!

She loves him! She loves him for sticking with her, and they’re smooching and crying and hugging and even though I don’t really think this one is built to last, it’s very sweet. There’s a long pause while Chris figures out how to segue back to proposal-mode. I can’t quite hear his speech over the swirling cheesy music, but it gets him down on one knee at last. Something about love and kids and 150%. I assume it was good. He has not lost the ring, and finally pops the question. “Will you marry me?” “Yes, a thousand times yes!” [sic] He puts the ring on her shaking hand and now they’re just kissing and holding one  another’s heads in relief.

Plinky nasal acoustic guitar plays behind a “Chris hearts Des” montage, going all the back to their first introduction, when Chris got down on one knee and pretended to propose. Des picks up the last rose of the season and asks, “Will you accept…my final rose?” (Which sounds like a euphemism to me.) They’re giddy with relief at finishing this crazy-ass season, and stroll away into the cannon-riddled sunset.

Thank you for coming with me on this journey, readers! I’m so glad we were all here for the right reasons. May your roses always be accepted.

Final rose