I’m so excited. It’s the Bachelor “On the Wings of Love” finale. The Pavelka-person is no longer going to invade my home on Monday nights. What did you say? Oh, ha ha very funny, like they’d really pick Him for Dancing with the Stars. Go check your DVR. All you have to do is re-watch him ‘dancing’ in the market with Gia or ‘swaying’ on the patio with Tenley. There isn’t a professional dancer out there who’d risk her career by having Jake crush her feet with those silly zippered boots of his. No, you’re not going to trick me. Good one, though, made me laugh.
The show’s getting a lot of free stuff from the St. Lucia government so the Bachelor must rave for a few minutes about the beauties of the place. He’s strolling in the surf, getting the bottoms of his trousers wet. Mystery solved. Now we know why he’s been wearing pants about four inches too short all season: they’re real “flood pants.” Two ladies remain; only one can become Mrs. Pilot Pavelka. Tenley is “gorgeous, head to toe,” but he finds himself “trying to pick her apart bit by bit.” Vienna, on the other hand, is “lightning hot. She has a wild side, but when I’m around her she makes me feel like I’m the only guy in the room(What, there were other guys on the show? Seems unfair they never showed them.)
THE FAMILY THAT CRIES TOGETHER
Jake is “really really proud that my family just shut down their lives and came out here to help me fall in love.” That and the free trip to the Caribbean to stay in one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. “It would make it really hard to marry a girl that didn’t get along with my family.” That makes me nervous.
The Pavelka family, Mom Susie, Dad Jim, brothers Jason and somebody, and their wives Lisa and Laura have gathered in the living room of their home-away-from-home at the appropriately product-placed Jalousie plantation. Gosh, everybody is glad to see Jake. Everybody gets teary-eyed. I’m starting to worry there’s some kind of genetic problem with the tear-ducts. And Jake? He just wants to kick the coffee table out of the way and fall into a big dog-pile with everyone. Dog-pile not shown.
Naturally, everyone wants to hear about the fabulous broads Jakey will be bringing to meet them. Tenley, says Jake, “has got a lot of life experience.” Ewwww, that doesn’t make her sound very wholesome, does it? “She and I have such an emotional connection.” The other one, Vienna, wow, “She’s really smart, drop-dead gorgeous. She came here to meet me and not make friends. It made her some enemies.”
Mom’s ears perk up at that like a she-wolf protecting her cub. “Is she the girl nobody liked?” Jake meekly nods his head, “Yep.” (Amazing the things mothers find out about, isn’t it?) Mom seems wise, “Sometimes, there’s something to that.”
Jake suddenly realizes that telling his folks that Vienna was universally hated by every other woman on the show might not have been such a good idea, “Well, crap, I screwed it up.” I don’t think he should beat himself up too much; they were bound to find out sooner or later.
THE GIRL EVERYBODY LIKES
Tenley arrives at the family compound, looking her usual adorable self in a pink sundress and carrying a big bunch of flowers. I’m sure the bluebirds were hovering somewhere nearby. Right off the bat she wants everyone to know that the thing she loves most about Jake is how he loves and admires his family, “I adore how he talks about you and your marriage I know how much love I have to give and how much I have to receive.” Beaming smiles all round. They love Tenley, too. How could they not? She’s soooo sweet.
Tenley and Jake’s dad really hit it off. Coquettishly she reaches out and touches him on the arm. She assures him that this “is a very serious matter to me. I want to be very very careful that I’m not falling in love with the idea of a man, but actually falling in love with the man.” Dad thinks that’s swell and assures her she’s going to fit right in.
Mom Sallie has some more serious worries. She and pops are going to die and the only glue that’s going to hold together this lot of wimpy guys is the sisters-in-law. (In all fairness, she did say “when Jim and I are gone,” but I can’t see the two of them running off to Tahiti and abandoning the kids, so she was obviously referring to kicking the bucket, as it were.) Is Tenley up to the job?
Indeed she is. Tenley summons her courage, “This is very hard for me. This is something very big. I do have a past. I was married and my husband left me. It was hard for my family. It was hard for me to tell you that.” Umm, I would’ve thought there would have been some practice-factor benefit in having told the story at least six times an episode for the last two months.
Tenley and Sallie form a mutual admiration society. Mom tells Jake, “She seems like the girl you would pick.” Dad Jim is rooting for Tenley, “You’ve been making lots of points here today.”
The Pavelkas and Tenley all start crying again. Tenley again brings up the unfortunate ex-in-laws and with tears brimming over her lids confides her deepest secret, “I’m just looking for another family to take me in.” Hey, lady, it’s a TV show, not the Humane Society!
Mom is one hundred percent in Tenley’s corner, but Jake has a real problem he needs to tell her about Tenley. “You know how I like to play rough?” Mom, “Ummm, yes?”
Jake, “Well I haven’t done that with Tenley.” Oops, guess Tenley didn’t give him a Fantasy Suite “gift” like Vienna.
The wonderful day with the Pavelkas ends with a totally un-rehearsed un-coached spontaneous “moment” as Jake assures Tenley his family loved her, then runs and jumps in the pool fully clothed. Tenley has no choice but to follow, rather frantically holding on to the strapless top of her cute little sundress. (See, this is one of those glaring differences between Tenley and Vienna. I’ll bet Vienna wouldn’t have given a second thought to a little thing like that.)
Evidently, the family that cries together also swims fully clothed together. The brothers jump in to join Tenley and Jake, and then the gluey sisters-in-law tentatively wade in behind. Group hug. Sister-in-law Lindsey says about Candidate Number One: “She’s adorable. She’s everything he ever wanted.” Mom agrees, “I think she’s the prfect woman for Jake. They seem like the perfect couple.”
THE GIRL NOBODY LIKES
Today is Vienna’s turn to impress her future in-laws. Jake can hardly wait; the second Vienna appears he goes tearing out the door to meet her. Vienna has not come empty-handed; she has a gift basket for the family. Contents not shown, thought to be sausages and cheese. Vienna claims to be very nervous, but Jake sits her down on a bench and instructs her to just “be yourself.”
Vienna is introduced and the conversation begins to flow. Mom Sallie encourages Vienna, “So tell us about yourself.”
Vienna is ready for that one, “I’m from a little town in Florida, Geneva. It’s mostly dirt.”
Sister-in-law Lindsey inquires, “So, except for coming here for the show, have you ever been out of the country?”
Vienna giggles, “No, but we took an RV trip up the coast. The girls hated me.”
Laura is interviewed about her potential fellow SIL, “The way she talked about the other girls…it wasn’t very classy.” Mom’s observation is “Vienna is not connecting very well with the family.” Lindsey confirms the others’ opinions, “My first impression of Vienna was that she was confrontational.”
A family luncheon will be Vienna’s next opportunity to impress. Regrettably, she exhibits the social skills of a porcupine and the table manners of a piglet. One of the Sisters asks helpfully, “So what did you like about Jake?” Vienna spits out her mouthful of food and sputters, “Nothing.” Nobody laughs, so she adds, “No. He’s sweet. Sometimes.”
After lunch Jake gets all kinds of cautions from everyone. His brother warns him that “brutal honesty is a sign of immaturity” and Mom points out that Vienna has been “poking at” the Sisters and “poking at” him. If she only knew. Jake’s frantic, “My mom’s not getting along with Vienna because of me. I can tell she’s shutting down. It’s just not happening.”
Things don’t get much better when the Sisters ask Vienna her opinion of Tenley, observing that they seem very different. Vienna more or less calls Tenley a mouse and makes it clear she doesn’t give her a second thought. The other girls in the house, though? According to Vienna, it was soooo hard because they were constantly ganging up on her. Later, she repeats the complaint to Mom, “The thing in the house was, when I was being hounded by the other girls, I was just being myself.” I’m wondering if that’s the wisest approach to take, telling your potential mother-in-law that people couldn’t stand you because you were yourself.
The next thing on screen is Vienna emotionally telling first the Sisters, then Mom, of her undying love for Jake and her unquenchable desire to spend the next eighty years with him. Somehow, this has a miraculous effect on the Pavelka’s opinion of Vienna and they’re all sitting around admitting to being low-lifes and apologizing for having judged Vienna so harshly when they first met her. Vienna very grudgingly accepts the apologies, though not before getting in a jab or two about how mean to her everyone was when she first joined the family party.
At this point in the show, there seems to be an enormous gap in time. We can only guess what happened: perhaps a film editor inadvertently threw a couple of reels of video into the wrong developer and destroyed it? My personal theory is that ABC brought down that giant fellow who was manhandling Roz at the WTA to sternly remind the Pavelkas that if they didn’t shape up and act like they liked Vienna they were going to get stuck with the bill for their two-thousand-dollar a night villas at the Jalousie Plantation and then have to swim back to Texas.
In any event, everyone’s now reading from a new script. Mom not-quite-convincingly tells the camera: “After talking with Vienna, I am no longer concerned about her ability to get along with people. I actually think she’d make a very good wife for him.”
The family ordeals endured, Jake will now get one final chance to bond with either Tenley or Vienna. It’s tough, he says, “I don’t know which girl I’m going to propose to.” If this were Pinocchio, his nose would be so long he’d be tripping over it by now.
SOME LIKE IT HOT
For their final date on “this journey” Jake will be taking Vienna to the Soufriere Sulfur Springs to wallow in the mud. Even though Vienna thinks “it smells like rotten eggs,” she’s excited to “get down and dirty with Jake.” Jake is equally enthusiastic, “Vienna and I cannot keep our hands off each other. Vienna writes “I love you” on Jake’s mud-covered abs. She gushes, “When Jake touched me and was rubbing mud all over my body…” I could provide further descriptions, but some things are better left unsaid.
The mud-wallow completed, Jake and Vienna climb out to bathe in a pool underneath a waterfall. The rear view of Vienna’s bikini-bottom has been deemed unsuitable for family audiences and ABC interns Philip and Tiffany, unfamiliar with Photoshop, have filled in the missing areas with a purple crayon.
There is passionate kissing and drinking of champagne and Vienna coyly invites Jake to “come back to my place and have some…dessert.”
Jake wants us to know that he’s “thoroughly into Vienna, but I have to make sure it’s not getting in the way of what my heart’s telling me I need in a wife.” Vienna is troubled by no such doubts, “I know we’re gonna be together forever. I think there’s only one soul-mate for everyone. Jake’s mine.”
Vienna is staying at the appropriately product-placed Anse Chastanet. Luckily she’s remembered to pack her favorite green satin nightgown. From the look of things, she was more forgetful about undergarments. Lounging seductively, she assures Jake that in addition to the “passion and chemistry” they share, “I want you to know I’m your rock and your best friend.” So, I guess that addresses any concerns he might have had?
Just to be sure everything’s been covered, Jake asks, “What was it like being married for three weeks.” That marriage gets shorter every time we hear about it. First it was ten months, then four months; now they barely got out of the Justice of the Peace’s office before they ended it. Vienna knows exactly what to say, “Oh, we were just kids. We knew it was a mistake as soon as we’d done it. But it broke my daddy’s heart. He didn’t even have to say anything; it was the disappointment in his voice.” There was a bunch more about poor Daddy’s heartbreak over her betrayal, but let’s just skip over that and get to the bedroom.
Vienna, as is usual on such occasions, has a Gift for the Bachelor. For years, she’s been wearing this special pink cubic zirconia ring that Daddy gave her to remind her not to run off and elope and break his heart again. Now, she’s finally found the man who’s worthy of her love, “from the moment I met you I knew you were the man I could spend the rest of my life with. I’m ready to take this ring off. Let’s take another leap of faith.” Let’s hope she was referring to the bungee jumping. She presents Jake with the Precious Daddy Ring-of-Promise and whispers, “I just wanna sleep in your arms.”
Vienna pretends to be unsure about what’s going to happen, “I’m so scared.” Jake hugs her tight, “I’m so sorry this is so stressful for you.”
Later, he leaves, and Vienna fake-cries: “I’m so scared. I don’t wanna lose him.”
SOME LIKE IT COLD
Today, Jake will be taking Tenley out for some good clean fun. He knows he has to get his head in the game, “My date with Vienna yesterday was incredible; I can’t forget that extreme physical connection. I’ve got to try to get it out of my mind.” Tenley’s anticipation of today’s adventure is of pure delight, “I’m feeling very in love. I just wanna see Jake and kiss him and hug him.”
They’re walking along a dock. There’s a boat. Tenley squeals, “Are we gonna go on this boat?” Why yes we are, Jake proudly informs her, “I’ve chartered a yacht.” The boat sets sail; dolphins run alongside. The rumor in the reef was true: Ariel is on board. Tenley marvels that the mountains are green and the ocean is blue, “As Jake and I are out in this gorgeous ocean, I feel so alive. Today I’m making a memory that will last a lifetime.” And, oh look! There’s Nemo and a whole bunch of his cousins. Can life be any better?
Jake and Tenley put flippers on their feet and go for a swim. It looks as if they’re having fun. Later in the afternoon, we see them sitting next to one another on the deck. Tenley looks happy. Jake looks as if he ate bad clams the night before. Tenley is concerned, “Are you tired?”
At first Jake agrees. “Yeah, that’s it. I’m just tired.” Then he decides to fess-up. She doesn’t turn him on. At all. “I’ve always looked for the physical chemistry, then for the emotional. This is just the opposite. Have you ever been concerned the emotional chemistry is so hot, but not the physical?”
Tenley is offended. “I feel like we have heat, but are you not feeling it? I feel it.”
Further discussion of the problem, sadly, does not lead to a resolution. Tenley tells Jake in no uncertain terms that she’s ‘been-there, done-that’ with her ex-hubby and she’s not playing that game again. In fact, she is terribly hurt.
For the second time on this momentous episode, Jake realizes his big mouth has put him in a heap of trouble. “I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings, she’s just so kind and sweet. Oh my gosh, what have I done?”
Cut to: Tenley’s room. Night. She’s working on the romantic ambiance setting aflame about a hundred candles with her Bic lighter. She is Not wearing a nightgown, but a strapless “little black dress.” Jake arrives. He pulls out the line he always uses when he has no idea what to say, “You look beautiful” and it’s clear Tenley’s fate is sealed.
Tenley is not letting Jake forget about the afternoon, “When you’re ready, I want to know more of what you were trying to tell me.”
Jake tries to wiggle out of it, “I love your smile. I love your positivity. I could probably go on and on about the things I love about you.” And gee willikers, he apologizes, I just felt gosh-awful about that, you know, conversation.
Tenley is oh-so-grateful. “Thank you for sharing. I’m oddly thankful that you are completely honest.”
There seems to be an unspoken agreement to shoulder on, pretending that there isn’t an elephant in the middle of the room. Jake pops open the champagne, Tenley suggests they drink it in the bedroom. Jake bravely follows her. She presents him with her commemorative gift of their wonderful journey together, a lovely shadow-box picture frame with all the ticket stubs and dried wrist-corsages from their dates together. I’m wondering if Vienna will let him hang it in the den.
Tenley is determined. “Tonight’s the night I’m going to prove to Jake that our chemistry is real in every way.” When last we see them, they are on the bed, kissing. Jake has scrunched his body so far away against the opposite side of the bed I worry that he’s going to fall on the floor.
ONE HEART WILL BE BROKEN
The Big Day has dawned. The Bachelor throws back the bedcovers and rises. Honestly, he worries, he has no idea who’s going to be his fiancée by sundown. In their separate rooms, the girls are each optimistic. Tenley is relieved, “I haven’t been in love in so long. I feel confident and adored.” Vienna decides to stroll along the beach and draw a heart in the sand—somehow, she knows, Jake will feel it. “Jake and I’s chemistry is just off the charts.”
Before any Bachelor can propose, he must choose A Ring. Luckily for Jake, that nice Mr. Neil Lane just happens to be on St. Lucia, in the neighborhood, with a briefcase full of baubles. Jake’s nervously gestures buckling up, “Whew, I feel like I need to put a seatbelt on.” Nice Mr. Neil Lane is soothing, “Tell me about the girl. Have you chosen?”
Gosh, no, Jake tells him, but actually I did ask this one girl what you know kind of cut and stone she wanted and it was a princess one. Ah, nods Mr. Neil Lane sagely, well here’s the princess one and here’s a round one for the other girl and why don’t you just take both of them and you can decide on a fiancée later. Gee thanks Mr. Lane, replies Jake gratefully. He pockets the ring boxes.
Nice Mr. Neil Lane having gone back to dig up some more diamonds, Jake is alone with his thoughts. He pretend cries. Again. “I feel like I’m getting ready to feel something I never felt. It’s scaring me because I don’t know how I’m going to handle it.”
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Tenley is putting Disney curls into her blonde locks. Vienna is soaping herself up in the shower. I’m hoping for the benefit of her armpits that there’s a free Gillette razor in the hotel’s basket of free toiletries.
Flipping back to Jade Mountain, we see that the Bachelor Has Made His Decision. “What happens today will change my life forever. I know what’s in my heart and what I’m doing is right.”
We get a look at the Finalists in their Rose Ceremony finery. Tenley is stunningly beautiful in a cream pleated strapless gown. Vienna is a vision in a one-shouldered Helen of Troy style turquoise chiffon with sequined girdle. Both girls are wearing their pageant-y dangle earrings.
The Bachelor, trying to look suitable agonized, waits for the ladies on a bridge with a scenic view of the ocean and a smaller island mountain. The mountain is green. The ocean is blue.
Alternating shots of first Tenley and then Vienna aboard their respective helicopters, we hear their final thoughts.
Tenley: “This is my second chance at that fairy-tale ending I haven’t had yet.”
Vienna: “I don’t want a rose. I want a ring. This is the leap of faith and I’m ready to jump.” I hope she plans on waiting until the helicopter lands.
Host Chris Harrison stands in a field of blowing grasses waiting for the first chopper to set down. If you’re surprised to learn that it’s Tenley getting out, you must have been watching some other show for the past two months. Host Chris escorts Tenley across the castle moat for her rendezvous with Jake.
Jake takes Tenley’s hands in his. “You’re so beautiful.” (Now where have I heard that before?) “Uh, there’s so many things I love about you. I love that we have the same values and the same morals the same temperament. I love your smile and your positivity.”
Jake is now pretend-crying. Tenley is real-crying.
Jake: “You’re perfect, you are, and I don’t know what it is, something just doesn’t feel right. I don’t know why.”
Tenley: “I don’t know what to say, but I took this thing seriously for a man who would want me for everything I am.” She’s sobbing. “I don’t know what you think is missing. Thank you for showing me for what I think I could have. I believe because of you I can love and I can let somebody love me and I remember wondering who was ever gonna love me. I did give my heart to you and I’m not sorry I did. I didn’t know I could desire all the things I do. Thank you for making me feel special.”
The Bachelor is such a clod he can’t think of a single thing to say back to her. He sighs, takes her hand and escorts her off the bridge and down the dungeon steps.
Tenley is still crying: “I’m not ready to say goodbye to you.”
Jake: “God, I’m never gonna forget you. I never met anybody like you.”
Tenley: “Then why do you have to say goodbye.”
Jake: “There is some part of me that is not coming naturally. I feel like I’m pushing.”
Tenley: “I feel so me.”
Tenley: “I have loved falling in love with you. I love feeling alive again. Thank you for giving that to me. Bye.”
Jake rolls his eyes and practically shoves her down the walkway. She blows him a kiss and leaves with a modicum of her dignity intact.
In the limousine, Tenley pours out her heart. “My heart is broken right now. It feels pretty bad. He’s a really good man. I had happiness at one time in my life. I was happy with Jake. Now this is opening a whole new can of worms. I want a man who can love me for every piece of me, who just lights up my life and I light up his. And I see Jake. I feel bad for him. I don’t think he knows what he wants. I think he’s gonna see it.” She waves out the window, “Bye, St. Lucia.”
End of fairy tale.
The Bachelor has a new-found confidence. “For 31 years I have dreamt of a moment like this. I can make hard choices. Id never ask a woman for her hand in marriage unless I was 100% sure. I came here for no reason but to fall in love. I can’t believe it’s ending like this, but I know what’s in my heart and I know what I’m doing is right.”
Vienna, in the helicopter, feels the same: “Today could be the first day of Jake and I’s life together. Jake’s my soulmate. I can’t even fathom not having Jake in my life.” (For the love of Pete, could we, just once, get somebody on this show who doesn’t murder the English language?)
Host Harrison is there to take Vienna’s hand as she steps out of the helicopter. I’m scared to death she’s going to trip and fall—the hem of her dress is a good twelve inches too long.
She’s so nervous as she walks up to Jake that she’s trembling. She tells Jake, “You look amazing. I’m completely in love with you?”
He seems surprised to hear that, “You are?”
Vienna assures him, “I can’t see you not being in my life.”
Jake faces her for his big speech. “You’re an amazing woman, absolutely amazing. There’s something you need to have. It’s a promise to your father. I didn’t understand the meaning of this.”
He puts the Daddy Promise Ring onto her right hand.
It’s a completely clueless, stupid, cruel thing to do. She thinks he’s dumping her and bursts into tears. Her head falls to her chest.
Jake lifts her chin, looks into her eyes and continues, “I asked you what it meant cause I thought it was a symbol of pain, but it’s much more than that. You need to have this. I think it’s important to you. There’s something else though, I don’t want you to ever forget this, Vienna, I love you.”
Vienna is ecstatic: “Oh my god!”
Jake: “Vienna, I love you with everything that I am.”
He kneels and holds out the ring box so we can all clearly see that nice Mr. Neil Lane’s name is printed on the cover, “Vienna, will you marry me?”
Vienna has had all her dreams fulfilled, “Oh my god, yessss!”
Vienna is wiggling all over with pleasure. She kisses him, breathes a few more “Oh my gods!,” admires the ring, jumps up and down, and falls into his arms.
And that was it, really, the whole proposal. In the end, I suppose it all turned out for the best. The world would be a poorer place with one less mermaid.