The most boring installment of The Bachelor is over. Season 20 ended as it began, with a fizzle: One of the four wavy-haired Laurens won the Neil Lane ring and Ben Higgins’s heart, and with that, we’re all free.
The 27-year-old “charming software salesman” made Bachelor history by being the first in the franchise to confess his love to two women going into the season finale—flight attendant Lauren B., who “loves love,” and Texan real estate developer, JoJo. And so the next two hours of The Bachelor finale went, with Ben sweating in Jamaica as he told two similarly nice women he loved them, and prayed so hard that he had chosen the right one.
First, Ben trotted both women out before his side-eyeing mother and wide-smiling father.
“I hate that at this point in time, he still doesn’t know who to plant his stake with,” Mrs. Higgins said, throwing out the first double entendre of the night. Though Ben hadn’t decided, it was obvious his mother preferred JoJo.
Ben’s mom called Lauren “a sweet gal, but…if I was to make that decision for Ben today, if it depended on me, I would pick JoJo,” she said, noting the brunette would make her son “feel safe.”
But Ben—the kind of man’s man who can reroof his own house and lay down a sidewalk—would not be moved by his mother’s opinion. He took the ladies on one last one-on-one date to explore his feelings and decide who would be his wife.
The dates were brutal. Ben decided this would be a good time to come clean about the fact that when he said “I love you,” he didn’t mean “only you,” or that “I’m not going to humiliate you on national television.”
On the beach with Lauren, he confessed that he had fallen in love with her “right away,” but said her perfection was disarming. “When things get too good to be true I get really nervous,” he said. “It freaks me out.”
For the first time, we saw Lauren look unsure. “No matter what happens,” Ben said, seemingly setting her up for disappointment, “you’ve made me a better person, you’ve made this worth it.”
Ben kissed Lauren’s tears.
JoJo fared no better. Her date started with the two millennials jumping into a body of water—a well-worn metaphor on the show for lovers plunging into a new life together—and ending with a secret (but hot mic’d) conversation, with JoJo pleading, “I need something from you,” and Ben crying that he was “a lost man.”
JoJo kissed Ben’s tears.
In the end, the only tears that didn’t get kissed were JoJo’s. So it was less of a surprise when she was sent home. Because it wouldn’t be good TV to let her down immediately, producers let her give a monologue about how much she loved Ben.
Ben let her go on and on. She licked her lips and searched his face for some clue.
And then she was friend-zoned. “I came into this not knowing if I was going to find love,” he said. “I found it with you, but I found it with somebody else more.”
Though she looked as if she might vomit, JoJo took the dumping classier than your typical reality show contestant would have. She hugged Ben, admonished him for telling her that he loved her, then lifted her pink brocade dress and escaped into the limo.
Ben looked tortured, but the time for mourning was brief, because Lauren arrived soon after. She got her own monologue, laying her borrowed Grey’s Anatomy catchphrase, “You are my person,” on him.
Ben gets down on one knee, and promises to “live for you, commit to you, love you, hold you, kiss you a lot.”
“You’re my person,” he says right back. “I’m reaaaaal lucky.”
God bless ABC. They did everything they could to liven up our remaining moments with the most average guy in America, Ben Higgins. They brought in Ben’s hometown preacher and made him stand for hours with an open Bible at the ready, hoping (but ultimately failing) to pressure Ben and his intended to opt for a shotgun wedding.
Then they brought out JoJo and teased the announcement of the franchise’s next star.
“May not be who you think it is,” Chris Harrison gushed, gleefully disproving famous spoiler Reality Steve’s guess that half-Filipino Caila, Ben’s second runner-up, would be the next Bachelorette.
JoJo told Ben that there were no hard feelings, saying that “everything happens for a reason and I’m really happy for you guys,” offering uncharacteristically enthusiastic support for her former lover’s ultimate choice.
In fact, JoJo looked the opposite of a woman scorned. She had the cut-out dress, the body, the tan, and the confidence of a woman who knew Harrison would soon be crowning her the next Bachelorette, putting her in the role of dumping two dozen men that are hopefully a lot more exciting than Ben Higgins.