Michelle Young is the newest Bachelorette. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little) (Emery Little)
Michelle Young is the newest Bachelorette. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Emery Little

Here for the Wrong Reasons: Finale of ‘The Bachelorette’ Season 18

A recap of the final episode of the latest season.

December 26, 2021

Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”s of the 18th season of “The Bachelorette.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every Wednesday for episode recaps and updates on Michelle Young’s journey to become an Instagram influencer find love. Make your picks in Vanderbilt’s (very un)official Bachelorette Fantasy League.

As both 2021 and the 18th season of “The Bachelorette” come to a close, let’s take some time to reflect about what this year in Bachelor Nation has brought us. Chris Harrison got ousted as the franchise’s host (and got engaged to Entertainment Tonight host Lauren Zima), three “Bachelor in Paradise” couples got engaged, lots of couples (unsurprisingly) broke up—we’re looking at you, Clare/Dale and Blake/Katie—and ABC has blessed (or cursed?) us with two upcoming seasons of “The Bachelor.”

Similarly, Michelle’s journey to find love has come to a close. This week, she handed out the final rose of the season, and as usual, it was not without tears and drama. Her parents, LaVonne and Ephraim, and her sister, Angela, are in Mexico to assess her final two options. WIll it be like mother, like daughter? Will Michelle defy her parents for the bad boy? Read on to find out. At the very least, there’s no Barb Weber.

 

Live show

Per usual, there’s a live studio audience watching the finale in real time, before watching After the Final Rose in person. Kaitlyn is hosting solo, since Tayshia was exposed to COVID. Kinda makes you wonder whether this large studio audience is the best idea … Throughout the show, Paulie, one of the producers, makes little references from various holiday movies, including eating spaghetti with candy while dressed up as Buddy from “Elf” and holding up a “We’ll be right back” sign before a commercial break, reminiscent of the scene from “Love, Actually.” 

 

Brandon hangs out with the Youngs

Going into the meet-the-parents episode, Brandon has a major advantage: he’s met Michelle’s parents before, during an earlier date to Michelle’s childhood home. You’ll remember that Brandon borrowed a pair of Ephraim’s swim trunks, so in addition to the bouquet of flowers he gives LaVonne, he brings Michelle’s dad a new pair of floral trunks. Dressed like an off-duty member of the Armed Forces, Brandon easily wins the Young family’s approval—Ephraim remarks that Brandon reminds him of himself, and LaVonne starts to tear up when she tells Michelle how much she loves Brandon. 

This meet-the-parents is remarkably easy, to the point where I’m pretty sure the Youngs like Brandon more than Michelle likes Brandon. My evidence? “You would be welcome in the family,” LaVonne says. “I just wanna marry her so bad,” Brandon replies. “I want that for you too,” LaVonne says, one short step away from marrying Brandon herself. It’s nice that the Youngs are supportive, but it doesn’t sit right with me—it is Michelle’s journey to find love, after all. Plus, Brandon has an uncanny knack for saying the exact right thing at the exact right time, like he’s following a script. And we all know how Bachelor Nation feels about actors.

 

Nayte meets the Youngs

Unlike Brandon, the Youngs’ newest BFF, Nayte has yet to meet Michelle’s parents until this episode. Michelle very obviously wants her family to like him, but her family very obviously does not. In contrast with how her face glows around Brandon, LaVonne’s expression around Nayte is stony-faced, at best. Ephraim also notes, “Brandon was definitely a warmer person, initially.” The Youngs’ main issue with Nayte is that they can’t “feel his emotions” as much as Brandon’s. Clearly, they’ve never gotten ghosted after thinking someone was really into them.

Plus, Nayte and Michelle haven’t figured out the logistics of who will move where, while Brandon said that he’d be happy to move to Minnesota. What they fail to remember is that just because someone says something, doesn’t mean they actually mean it—if you ask me, Nayte and Michelle are being practical; after all, they’ve only known each other for two months, max. Brandon, on the other hand, is a textbook case of love bombing. While he might seem like the perfect catch, the intense affection he’s heaping on Michelle and her family right off the bat is actually a pretty red flag. 

 

Date with Brandon

For their last date before a potential proposal, Michelle and Brandon go jet skiing. In a very profound exchange, Michelle reiterates how important communication in a relationship is to her, so Brandon more or less communicates to her that he already has their future babies’ names picked out. She tells him how much she appreciated him pulling her aside during the rose ceremony last week because she “needed someone to check in,” which is almost as thought-provoking as when Brandon remarks, “I face things with love rather than anger.”

At dinner, Brandon sports an outfit that would be more fitting on a country club server, while Michelle stuns in a white halter-neck dress. If gift-giving is Brandon’s love language, he’s not very good at it. He gives Michelle the sweatshirt he was wearing during their Fantasy Suite foodfight, because who doesn’t want to wear coffee-stained clothes caked in maple syrup? She pulls a Ben Higgins and tells him that she loves him back, which makes me nervous.

 

Date with Nayte

For the final date of the season, Michelle and Nayte visit a shaman named Raúl. (If you had “cultural appropriation” on your “Bachelorette” bingo card, go ahead and check that box off.) During the ritual, Michelle tells Nayte, “I hope for you to be able to continue to open up, give efforts, stay in it, even though love can be very scary.” Shaman Raúl calls Nayte out for suppressing his emotions, but Nayte continues to act like the star football player who was forced to be in the school play—while he might secretly enjoy it, he has to treat it like a joke to protect his street cred. Michelle remarks to the camera that she didn’t feel like she was getting enough from Nayte … he’s gotta start kicking down his walls like the Kool-Aid Man ASAP, or else he’s getting the boot tomorrow.

Nayte finally gets his emotional act together and tells Michelle that he only brought two suits with him, because he never expected to make it this far. “This could be it for me,” he says. “I could start the rest of my life with you and be the happiest guy in the world.” That’s more like it, Nayte! He also says that he’s “scared as hell” that Michelle and the love they have will get ripped away from him. That night, Nayte continues to open up (just under the wire), and Michelle is thrilled because she “saw emotions from Nayte that I haven’t seen.”

After Nayte leaves her hotel room, Michelle receives a letter from Brandon—one last Hail Mary attempt from our resident love bomber. I’ll spare you the exact contents of the vomit-inducing letter, but the gist of it is that he overuses the word “truly,” can only write in run-on sentences, compares her love to an infection—an especially romantic metaphor during pandemic times—and “sees her.” Glad to know that he has functioning eyes. 

 

Proposal day

Neil Lane

No “Bachelorette” finale is complete without a visit from Neil Lane, purveyor of the world’s finest tacky costume jewelry. Nayte selects a pear-shaped diamond ring, and naturally, Brandon selects one with a halo. Not to be dramatic, but I’d turn down a guy if he proposed to me with either of these rings.

The rejection

When Brandon arrives on the beach first, it is clear to the viewer that he’s headed for the reject pile, and even Kaitlyn and Tayshia tell him to go down to meet Michelle as if they’re telling him his dog died. Clueless, Brandon says, “I feel like I’m going to get engaged today.” The impending schadenfreude is going to be delicious.

Brandon begins to propose, but is interrupted by Michelle. As soon as he hears her say “but,” he knows it’s over. She tells him that she loves him but needs to continue to follow her heart, which is leading her to another person. “I truly wish you happiness. I truly mean that,” Brandon replies. Someone get this man an Instagram partnership with Truly spiked seltzers, stat. Michelle leads him off of the proposal platform, but not before they say they love each other one last time. If I were Michelle’s fiancée watching this back, I’d be incredibly concerned that she told another man she loves him just minutes before I proposed, but maybe that’s just me.

The proposal

Dry your tears, because things are about to do an emotional 180. Nayte arrives on the proposal platform and tells Michelle, “I want to run away to forever with the woman that I’ve come to love … this ‘amazingly crazy wow’ kind of love.” She responds, saying that it was a “kinetic moment” when he stepped out of the limo. She kind of strings him along here, talking about how she fears loving someone more than they love her back and how “this has not necessarily been a smooth ride.” However, she also expresses that isn’t willing to walk away without him, and Nayte breathes a huge sigh of relief. He kneels down, proffers the Neil Lane atrocity this show calls fine jewelry and asks her to marry him. Obviously, she says yes.

Michelle also has something to give Nayte. Keeping in the “Bachelorette” pattern, their journey has come full circle, from Nayte receiving her first impression rose to her last rose. 

 

After the Final Rose

On the live “After the Final Rose” aftershow, it’s tradition for the Bachelorette to face the guy whose heart she broke. Brandon—whose suit is as awful as his grammar—tells Michelle that he was sure they were about to get engaged when he arrived on the beach, but says that he’s glad she found her person. Michelle explains why she told him she loves him, even though she didn’t choose him: “My decision to share that I was in love with you, I wasn’t sharing that because I already had made a decision. I was sharing that because it was something that I had been holding back, and because I didn’t think I was capable of falling in love with two people.” Good thing Nayte seems like a pretty secure guy.

Next, Nayte comes out and he and Michelle bask in their newly-engaged happiness. We learn that the Olukoya and Young families are now besties, which is a relief, considering how much Ephraim and LaVonne preferred Brandon over Nayte. Looks like Michelle has found her #SoulNayte, and how we’ve got until Monday, Jan. 3, for the premiere of Clayton Echard’s season of “The Bachelor.” Cheers to the return of Bachelor Mondays, and here’s to hoping that Michelle and Nayte are, indeed, here for the right reasons!

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