By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Oct 06, 2021 at 9:26 AM

I know last night marked the finale, but there is just simply no reason for three hours – THREE HOURS! – of "Bachelor in Paradise" in a single night. I had good, productive things I could've done, like ... well, nothing comes to mind right now but trust me, I would've come up with something. But instead I watched an episode of "Bachelor in Paradise" longer than most Best Picture winners, which seems excessive. But hey, you've gotta go 180 minutes when you've got priceless material like Kendall returning to say the same stuff she said three episodes ago and AH GOD, MORE ABIGAIL AND NOAH!? I thought we were done with these tedious two?

Anyways, (*pours moat of wine*) let's finish this thing. 

So yes, we're back at prom, which last we checked was transforming into an authentic prom experience – aka a fustercluck. Aaron bailed on his date Chelsea to make out with Tia while Noah and Abigail broke up – allegedly an unexpected development, but I feel like we spent the last three episodes watching these two talk about how neither of them are happy about the state of their relationship and how they're wanting things they're not getting. Still, like I said last week, no one wants to get dumped at prom – and certainly no one wants to get dumped at prom by a guy wearing neon suspenders – so Abigail returns to the dance floor crying and sad while Noah loads himself into an escape SUV and bails. I guess he gets to keep the outfit – lucky him.

But now that Abigail's sad, everyone's sad – and nervous because if their seemingly perfect relationship could implode, maybe every relationship could now that the pressure's on. There's only one way to handle such emotional thoughts: gazing into the middle distance. Indeed, EVERYONE'S gazing into the middle distance, deep in thought – except for Natasha, who missed the prom thanks to some mystery illness and therefore has some catching up to do at the evening's cocktail party. Just one problem: Wells cancels the cocktail party. Man, this season really hated Natasha.

Instead, we jump straight to the rose ceremony, which goes as expected for the most part: Joe with Serena, Riley with Maurissa, Kenny with Mari, Thomas still somehow with Becca, and Boxman with Anna. Things get a little more interesting with Aaron, who chooses his prom night fling Tia over his actual prom date Chelsea, and Ed, who must decide between Mykenna and Natasha. And because this show hates Natasha with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, he picks Mykenna, sending Natasha home in tears. YOU SHOULD BE CELEBRATING, GIRL! You're getting off this wretched beach and no longer have to deal with these people regularly chucking you under the bus. Remember: These folks BARELY got around to punishing Brendan for manipulating her, then cheered on Ed as he asked Mykenna out WHILE HE WAS DATING NATASHA. She deserves every good thing that happens to her next – hopefully none of it involving this god forsaken beach. 

While Natasha hopefully plots her revenge back home, the rest of the remaining couples prepare for a big day of conversation – led by our final co-hosts, Dean and Caelynn, who are there to impart relationship wisdom and read cue cards very poorly. Even Robert De Niro on "SNL" is thinking he could do better than these two. But thankfully, we leave them and move onto the important discussions about if our surviving soulmates will decide to stay for fantasy suite night, to leave as an item or to bail broken up and single. Mari and Kenny, for instance, decide to move on to fantasy suites. Between the age gap, the various Demi drama along the way and Kenny's general lack of pants throughout the season, I would not have expected these two to make it all the way to this point – but good for them. 

Speaking of unexpected couples: Thomas and Becca, the latter of which deciding that she doesn't want to leave this beach committed to somebody that she doesn't fully know. CAN'T IMAGINE WHY! It's not like the last time she was on this show, she fell in love with a guy who turned out to be a bag of lies and bad Instagram choices that cast a pall over her happy engagement. Of course, she could've chosen to leave WITH Thomas and they could've gotten to know each other by continuing to date out in the real world ... but apparently Becca forgot there was a third option between fantasy suites and the nuke button, so she breaks up with him. Thomas doesn't handle it great, trying (and failing) to convince her they should stay together before sobbingly making his way up the steps to the escape SUVs.

It's at this point a producer tells Becca things could use a little extra dramatic juice here, so she casually chases after him to let him know ... that they're still breaking up. He cries some more while Becca looks like she signed up for a free tan and vacay, not this – but apparently she's moved by his pleas, because while she's driving off in her SUV, she talks about having some regrets and how he's one of the only people to fight for a relationship with her. Becca, do not compare all your boyfriends to Ari and how that all ended – that is an alarmingly low bar to get over. 

Next up is Ed, who's contemplating really hard about his future relationship with Mykenna – you know, that relationship that's only approximately a day old. And that Mykenna didn't even choose because she wanted to date Aaron but he gave her the Heisman. Anyways, unsurprisingly, she's not interested in taking things further. Ed pitches the idea of fantasy suite night, and Mykenna turns that right down – then he tries saying that they could meet up outside "Paradise" and see how things go, and Mykenna's like, "Ooooh, I'm sorry, I'm gonna busy that day with ... stuff?" So that relationship died. RIP, Edkenna: born Monday, died Tuesday. 

Which brings us to another barely day-old relationship: Boxman and Anna. She's fallen hard for James – which pump the breaks, you've been here for less than a cup of coffee. Then again, this is the same person who, minutes into her date making human churros and handling snakes with James, was imagining their babies together – so she may not grasp the concept of breaks. So yeah, James breaks up with her and prepares to bail for San Diego – but not before Aaron decides he wants to go with him.

That's right: The true romance of this season was apparently James and Aaron, because with James ready to fly out, Aaron quickly grabs Tia and dumps her while they're just standing in a hallway, talking faster than the Micro Machines commercial guy. Then he runs off to meet up with James and skip off the beach together, hand in hand. Aaron broke so many women's hearts and started so many fights over proper dating etiquette ... just so he could hang out with his bro in the end. You almost respect the swindle. While those two run off the beach while blasting Rihanna's "We Found Love in a Hopeless Place," Tia is straight-up done with this franchise – and honestly, it's about time somebody realized this system actually DOES NOT work. But hey, look at the good side, Tia: You at least got to play volleyball with a bunch of bouncing naked randos! Huh, yeah, I can see why you wouldn't be interested in coming back. 

While Tia lugs her bags across the sand – man, when this show doesn't care about you, it REALLY doesn't care about you – Riley and Maurissa have their big talk. Riley sounds uncertain about things, but thankfully it turns out to be a gag and he's all about doing the fantasy suite together. THAT'S RIGHT! She licked whipped cream off your nasty beach feet; that's a commitment you can't bail on. And saved for last, there's Serena and Joe, who unsurprisingly decide to take the fantasy suite together – and exchange adorable I love yous in the process. It's utterly precious and delightful – so much so that I didn't even notice or hear any more of Caelynn and Dean's bad hosting shtick. A WIN FOR EVERYONE!

So our remaining three couples get to leave the beach and head off on their fantasy suite dates. Riley and Maurissa are greeted with a pile of berries and cream, Mari and Kenny eat some more naked tacos (STOP RUINING TACOS! LEAVE TACOS ALONE!) and Serena and Joe get nothing because their romance doesn't require any gimmicks. It's just dang cute. Cue the celebratory sex music blasting on the soundtrack, and cue Kenny making a cringy "main course" pun that made me change the channel to Yankees/Red Sox to cleanse my brain. 

After briefly watching something somehow even longer and with fewer people to root for, I returned to "Bachelor in Paradise" to find that the producers must've realized that things were going too well so they chatted with Riley and got him too mutter some nonsense into Maurissa's ear after their sexy date night about how he's "gonna think some more about today," implying that he might not propose after all. POOR FORM, RILEY! What did I say about licking the whipped cream off your nasty beach foot?! There's no going back from that! BEACH FOOT LICKING IS BOND!

So Maurissa's sweating through the rest of this finale – quite literally as, after greeting Dean and Caelynn (frankly this is very rude to Wells), she meets Riley on the podium of dreams just pouring with sweat. She's like the "Key & Peele" sweating man meme but real (and fabulous because that blue jumpsuit was still a strong look). Maybe it's from the heat, but it's definitely from nervousness that Riley's gonna bail. But thankfully, Riley gets a hold of himself and gets down on one knee with Maurissa. YAY FOR LOVE AND THE POWER OF WHIPPED CREAM! If these two don't get a sponsorship deal with Reddi-wip after this, then what are we even doing here. 

Oh, sorry, in my excitement to get to Riley and Maurissa, I skipped Kenny and Mari, who incredibly get engaged after the long, tricky road to this point. Even the ring itself seems skeptical of their relationship and is reluctant to pop on Mari's finger – like, "Are you SURE about this? REALLY sure?! OK then ... best of luck." But indeed, the two are now engaged and can eat all the tacos they want – preferrably with the usual plates from now on, though, please. 

So we're two for two on engagements, with only Serena and Joe left – and they seem like the strongest couple of the final three so this should be no problem, right? LOL, say the producers, as they pull the pin on a Kendall-shaped grenade and toss it onto the beach. Yes, as you may expect from a person who loves taxidermy, Kendall just can't let some things die – so while Joe's smilingly eager to greet Serena at the podium, instead it's Kendall walking down the beach waving hello. So now that eager smile is more of a "James Bond laughing to stop himself from crying through torture in 'Casino Royale'" situation.

And what does Kendall have to say, dive-bombing this man's engagement? NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! You know that chat they had about three episodes ago? WELL HERE IT IS AGAIN! A bunch of stuff about why she came on the beach and how she thought she was over him but wasn't and how there will always be a part of her that loves him and GIRL, WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING RIGHT NOW! WE HAVE MOVED ON FROM YOU! This is some A-grade stalling on the show's part. Clearly they needed some filler to get to the three-hour mark, but here's an easy solution: DON'T DO A THREE-HOUR EPISODE! Anyways, the two hug and go their separate ways – hopefully for real and for good this time – but as soon as that's over, Joe wanders off down the beach, suddenly looking stressed about everything. 

Thankfully, it's less dramatic as it seems because when Serena ACTUALLY shows up – no, it's not Kendall in a "Mission Impossible"-style Serena mask or something – Joe tells her that his ex showed up, but that "if anything, it just made me more confident in how much I love you." YAAAAY! He proposes, she says yes and Kendall makes plans to drop by their house every other day for the next four years. Probably. 

The show finally ends with a few last-minute twists – Thomas and Becca! Back together! For some reason! Just like nobody hoped! – and a final montage of all the great times we've had over the last few months. Truly, what a journey it's been. All it's missing is "Graduation (Friends Forever)" by Vitamin C. 

As we go on ... 

We remember ...

All the times we ... had to eh, moving on – after all, we're not gone for long as "The Bachelorette" starts in two weeks! After letting a racist hijack Rachel's season, Tayshia awkwardly getting Clare's sloppy seconds and the all-encompassing nuclear dumpster fire known as Matt James' year, here's to the franchise finally not screwing up a Black lead's season! The bar is hilariously low!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.