After the dark times of the dread reign of the Honey Badgelor, and the horrible detours into toxic masculinity we’ve had with Ali’s bros, we’ve made it to the end.
It’s been fourteen long weeks, but we made it, you guys! And you know what? I was not terribly optimistic about this season of The Bachelorette, because Ali did not strike me as a very interesting heroine during her tenure on Bachelor in Paradise, but she’s pleasantly surprised me. She’s been a great Bachelorette — articulate, clear, and not standing for any nonsense from some of her more toxically masculine bros. Love your work, Ali.
Because she hasn’t been standing for any nonsense, she ditched the early frontrunners, like Terrifying Charlie and Swarm of Bees Bill. That’s left us with two men left in this finale, both of whom seem relatively decent.
Taite: sometimes I think he’s a bit of a fuckboi, but other times I think he’s just a little bit afraid of going from zero to sixty with someone (which, fair enough). He has a lot of abs and a nice smile, and has so much chemistry with Ali that they can believably make out during even the least sexy thing in the world: exercise. The narrative they’ve developed around him is that he’s emotionally closed off, and so he might not be able to open up to the possibilities of a relationship with Ali.
Todd:a delightful gentle soft boy who is so beautiful it hurts to look at him. He doesn’t seem like the brightest spark in the world, but his heart is in the right place, and he has a very important skill that many men have not mastered: he knows when it’s not his turn to speak. The narrative they’ve developed around him is that he’s a fairytale prince, but that his life trajectory doesn’t match up with Ali’s: he’s 26, she’s 32, he has career stuff to do, she wants to get married and have babies immediately.
Compared to some other Bachie finales — the finale of national treasure Sophie Monk’s season springs to mind— Ali seems to have two flawed but relatively decent choices here. However, all of the promo material seems to suggest that she’s going to end up alone and weeping. I predicted at the beginning of the season that this was a fakeout — that they’re trying to surprise us with a happy ending the way they tried to surprise us when the Honey Badger pulled his Brad Womack move — so … let’s see if I’m right, shall we?
The Bachie finale is always a destination finale — the Honey Badger, for instance, took Sophie and Brittany to New Caledonia. But the purse strings must be tight at chez Bachie, because Ali and her final two bros don’t even leave the country: tonight’s finale takes place in the Northern Territory (and they fly there on Jetstar, no less!).
Anyone who’s watched even a second of this show knows that being on Bachie means a lot of running along the beach, frolicking in water, etc. Ali and her bros do just that as we get the setup for tonight’s episode, but given that they’re in the NT, I was honestly terrified for their lives. Don’t they know better than to swim in an abandoned body of water in crocodile country?!
Ali does not choose her bro by that violent and Darwinian method of elimination, however: everyone survives to meet her family.
Taite meets the family
‘Yeah, I looked Ali up when I heard she was going to be the Bachelorette, and I was attracted to her immediately,’ Taite tells Ali’s family.
‘THOSE ARE NOT THE WORDS I WOULD USE!’ Ali’s dad bristles.
He pulls Taite aside for a one-on-one chat. ‘So, how do you feel about Ali?’ he asks.
‘I, uh –’ Taite says.
‘Have you told her how you feel?’
‘It’s, like … my energy, she can see,’ Taite says, because apparently he becomes Yoda when he’s nervous.
Ali’s dad raises his eyebrows.
‘I’m not in love with her yet,’ Taite manages. ‘But I could be. I could be.’
Ali’s dad does not seem to be terribly keen on this response.
‘If you’re nervous about Taite now, then you’re going to be nervous about him going forward,’ Ali’s cousin Bianca tells Ali, when Taite has gone.
‘I don’t know if I’m nervous about him, exactly,’ Ali says, ‘but it’s like something is stopping him from saying the things he wants to say.’
I don’t know about you, but if the person I was dating was also dating someone who looked like they were carved from marble by the hand of a Greek god, I might also play my cards quite close to the vest.
Todd meets the family
Ali’s family somehow manage to face Todd without sunglasses to tone down the extreme splendour of his beauty.
‘So what do you want to do with your life?’ Ali’s dad asks him.
‘I want to join the police force,’ Todd replies. ‘I came close a couple of years ago in WA, but I could reapply in Adelaide.’
‘What if you don’t get in?’
That stumps poor Todd. ‘He has no purpose!’ Ali’s dad crows.
He presses harder on this when he takes Todd aside for some quiet time. ‘So, your timeline doesn’t match up with Ali’s, does it?’ he says, because he’s clearly living in the same sci-fi universe as his daughter.
‘It’s not ideal,’ Todd says, apparently oblivious to the barbs. ‘But that’s what you do when you’re in love! You work it out. You compromise. You sacrifice. I love Ali, and I know we could do that.’
‘Harrumph,’ says Ali’s dad.
‘I’ll be crushed if Ali doesn’t pick me,’ Todd goes on. ‘But I know Taite, and either way, Ali’s going to be so, so happy, sir.’
Oh, Todd, bless your pure heart and your beautiful soul (and your perfect face). Explain to me again why you have their burning desire to be a cop?
Todd’s final date
‘I can’t wait to see Ali!’ Todd enthuses. I can’t quite see, but I’m fairly certain he’s wearing shorts with little love hearts on them.
Ali meets Todd in a national park near Darwin, where she tells us he’s a ‘huge romantic — always up for anything!’ I’m not sure these two things actually follow from each other, but it is possible that I am slightly confused by Todd’s dazzling beauty.
Then we get what I think might be the first helicopter of the season, confirming my theory that money is tight for Team Bachie — no wonder they all had to fly Jetstar. Nominally, Todd and Ali are supposed to be looking at the view in this not-so-subtle ad for NT tourism, but realistically, they spend the whole chopper ride with their tongues down each other’s throats.
Ahem. On behalf of women-attracted-to-men everywhere, Ali: get it, girl.
After a brief detour during which they try — and like! — green ant gin, Ali and Todd end up frolicking in a water hole. I’m terrified that they’re going to get eaten by crocodiles, but given that Todd is almost certainly magical, perhaps he is somehow protecting them.
Oh, and they make out behind a waterfall. I assume that Todd lives behind a waterfall, so this must feel very homey for him.
‘I love you, Ali,’ he tells her. ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I can see you as the mother of my children.’
The music swells, the lights twinkle, Ali’s ovaries explode, etc.
Taite’s final date
Taite’s date has essentially the same structure as Todd’s date. Ali picks him up in epic aerial transpo (a small plane this time), they spend a bunch of time making out instead of looking at the view, and then they take to the water.
In Taite and Ali’s case, they take a boat out onto the wetlands, and then have their final wine time while idling in the middle. ‘Look at all the wildlife!’ they exclaim, pointing at a fucking ENORMOUS crocodile.
If you’re wondering whether it’s in any way symbolic that Ali and Taite are having their final conversation while literally surrounded by crocodiles, then well done, gentle reader. You have passed the test.
‘I’m not good with my words,’ Taite tells Ali. ‘So I just … stare, normally.’
Ali sets aside the fact that this sounds very creepy and kisses his face off.
‘But there’s something I need to tell you,’ he says. ‘I know you want to get married and have kids straight away, but … I don’t know if I can commit to that.’
‘I came here to fall in love,’ he says. ‘But I feel like I’m auditioning to be a husband and a father.’
‘Do you love me?’
‘I could,’ he replies. ‘I really could, Ali. But you’re putting so much pressure on me.’
‘Do you want to be with me?’
‘Of course I do! But in our own time. I can’t be on your … timeline.’
And so here we are: Ali in the midst of a temporal jam with both her bros.
‘Todd is perfect,’ Ali tells us. ‘But I have so much electricity with Taite.’
I suspected before this, but this is the moment when I knew what she was going to do.
Here is a little something about love stories: in a story, the couple who are perfect on paper are not the couple that work out. Love stories are all about the imperfect — something Todd basically stated outright last night when he demonstrated his understanding of Denis de Rougemont’s ‘happy love has no history’ principle (1939, 45). Pam Regis highlights something similar in her book when she identifies the eight elements of a romance novel (2003, 30). Among them, we have the attraction between the couple, which exists in tension with the barrier between them. There’s the point of ritual death, where it seems like the couple can never be together, and then the overcoming of the barrier, leading to the happy ending. In short, to get to the heights, one must first go to the depths.
And so when Ali emphasised how perfect Todd was for her on paper … I knew that Taite had won.
The person who steps out of the limo first is always the loser. I wasn’t surprised when it was Todd, but oh, I was sad for him and his poor heart. ‘I’m so in love!’ he tells Osher, and Osher must be a stronger person than I not to start weeping for him on the spot.
But you know who is hella tough? Todd. I thought he was going to dissolve when Ali broke up with him, but he just proved that he is one of the best boys we’ve seen on this show for a long time by taking the rejection with grace and strength.
‘You tick off every item on my checklist, but there’s something missing for me,’ Ali tells him. ‘I’m so sorry, Todd.’
‘It’s all right,’ he says, hugging her as she weeps. ‘It’s all right. I’m sad — of course I’m sad — but you’re going to be so happy, Ali, and that’s all that matters.’
‘You really are a perfect angel, aren’t you?’ she sobs.
‘If you ever need me, I’ll be there,’ he whispers into her hair.
I note that he did not deny that he is, in fact, a literal angel, sent from heaven. Ahem.
‘I’m happy for you, but this is the time when I have to say goodbye,’ Todd says. He kisses her on the cheek, wipes away one of her tears, and then walks off.
When he’s alone, then he does start crying, sinking down onto a log and letting the emotion pour out of him. And then, sadly, we have to cut away from him — nominally because the narrative needs to move on, but realistically because there’d be too many questions if they showed all the animals of the forest turning up to sing a cheery song for him to raise his spirits.
Interestingly, in making this choice, Ali has made basically the inverse of the choice that 2017 American Bachelorette Rachel Lindsey made in her season. Like Ali, she wanted to be engaged, and so she broke up with the guy who wouldn’t give her that — despite the fact that basically everyone who watched, including me, was convinced they were in pretty passionate love — and went with the guy who would (they’re still engaged now). This was a subject of great ambivalence for the audience. Despite the fact that the marital impulse is powerful in American Bachie, basically everyone was like ‘OMG, Rachel, you have fucked this one up terribly and made a horrible choice: you’ve picked marriage over love’.
(Brief moment of self-advertisement: I actually have an article coming out in a few weeks comparing Rachel and Peter’s runner-up romance in that season to Georgia and Matty’s in the 2016 season here. Keep an eye on my Twitter if you’re interested.)
Essentially, here, Ali’s done the opposite. Todd promised her everything she wanted. Taite told her he wasn’t sure he could commit to any of it. But Taite’s the one that she’s fallen for, and so she’s symbolically chosen passionate love over the promise of marriage. Given that Todd was such a fan favourite, I’m going to be really interested in how the audience reacts to this (although my sense was that, although Todd was loved, people didn’t necessarily ship him with Ali — certainly not like people shipped Peter and Rachel).
But! Let us to the ending … after I gloat about how I was TOTALLY RIGHT that the ads which made it seem like Ali ended up alone were a fakeout. Dr Jodes: two for two in 2018.
Taite must twig immediately that Ali is going to pick him when he walks up to her, because she’s beaming from ear to ear, but he does a good job at pretending otherwise.
‘This has been a magical journey with you,’ Ali tells him. ‘I’ve learned that love isn’t just a checklist. I’ve learned that love is compromise and sacrifice. I know you’re not ready for everything I want, but I love you enough to take a risk on you, Taite.’
Not to harsh anyone’s buzz, but … did Ali really learn anything here? Isn’t taking a risk on emotionally unavailable men and hoping against hope it’ll work out kind of her MO?
It seems to work this time, though, because Taite pulls out a ring. ‘Ali,’ he says, ‘I see a future with you. I was scared, but I see that future now. This is a commitment ring, because I’m committed to you. Will you wear it?’
No prizes for guessing joyous Ali’s reaction is.
‘I love it,’ she breathes.
‘I love you,’ he replies, and she loses her entire mind.
And you can guess what happens next. Ali Oetjen has established a very particular Bachie brand, and so the show would not be truly over unless…
…yes, they pash. Forever and ever and ever.
OMG YOU GUYS WE MADE IT!
It’s been fourteen weeks and thousands of words, but your pal Dr McAl is officially signing off Bachie duties for a few months, until we go to Paradise … when I will sign back on, doubtless, with many more thousands of words about how precious angels Todd and Brooke (from Nick’s season) need to be together forever.
Before then, I have another book coming out, so remember: if you like my hot takes on Bachie, please consider giving my books your rose!
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.