Gerry Turner’s quest to find new love on The Golden Bachelor has finally reached a happy ending, or as host Jesse Palmer teased at the top of the hour, “an ending that’s going to shock you to your core. It really is that emotional.” So, was he right? Let’s break down the season’s final hour and find out:
Thursday’s finale finds Gerry in Costa Rica with his final two women, Leslie Fhima and Theresa Nist, and our boy is torn. “When I’m with Leslie, we kind of get lost in each other,” he explains. “Words become unnecessary. We know what the other person is feeling. On the other hand, Theresa and I had a great one-on-one date at the beginning, and then it did go to a lull. After our overnight, everything changed.” (We get it, Gerry. It was a good time.)
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At this point, the only thing standing between Gerry and his life-changing decision — besides a river of tears, if this season has taught us anything — is a visit from his daughters and granddaughters, who drop into Costa Rica to grill his potential brides.
THE FINAL DATES | Their meeting with Theresa goes off without a hitch, and it feels like she’s off to an early lead. His girls are practically ready to call her mom by the end of their first conversation. Plus, we get to hear someone use the phrase “knocking boots” again, which is always… fun.
Theresa is floating on cloud nine after Gerry tells her that he loves her, but she’s still “concerned” (and understandably so!) about Leslie still being “in the mix.” In a moment of true vulnerability, Theresa says that she wants Gerry to propose, but only if he’s absolutely sure: “I wouldn’t want you to choose me if you weren’t 1,000% wanting me.”
Leslie also makes a memorable impression with Gerry’s family, mostly thanks to a misunderstanding over the context of a certain expletive he yelled at (…?) her. It’s much cuter than it sounds. But unlike Theresa, the girls’ first meeting with Leslie isn’t a total slam dunk. How do we know? Well, not only does Gerry rush through their next encounter, but they part ways with a “big fat hug.” That’s right, Theresa gets “I love you” and Leslie gets a “big fat hug.”
Leslie can sense that something is off. The way Gerry says, “Thanks for everything you’ve done for me and I hope I’ve done the same for you,” feels like a goodbye. And when she tells him he makes her feel whole, he replies with a wildly unenthusiastic “thanks for that.” Then comes the kiss of death: “Be happy,” he tells her. She replies in kind, and he acknowledges, “I think it’s time for me to go.” A cloud of awkwardness hangs in the air. Somewhere off screen, Theresa is already choosing her bridesmaids.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH | A glutton for punishment (and good TV), Gerry returns to Leslie’s room to drop the bomb: “I’ve kind of made a decision about how I want to go about this,” he tells her. “I have fallen in love with Theresa, and that’s the direction I’m going to take.”
Leslie is… not thrilled. “So everything you told me the other night was a complete and total lie?” she asks. He insists that he meant what he said, but that “things have changed, things have evolved,” which is what most people are told right before they get fired. When he tries to tell her how to feel, she rightly tells him that she’ll feel however the f–k she wants. She says it’s “mind-boggling” that he could change his mind so suddenly.
She thanks Gerry for sparing her the humiliation of having to do the walk of shame at the end of the finale, deflecting his attempts to comfort her. “There’s nothing you could say or do to make me feel better,” she says before he sees himself out of the room. And out of her life.
“I hate myself,” Gerry tells Jesse. “I hate everything right now.” He says the only time he’s felt worse than this was when his wife died.
THE CONFRONTATION | The feel-good finale then pivots to a live interview with Leslie, who is still overcome with emotion. “I went and picked out a dress,” she tells Jesse of her feelings after her overnight with Gerry. “I wrote my vows. I imagined our life together.”
Just when things can’t get any more dramatic, out comes Gerry, greeted with tepid applause from a studio audience that has completely turned on him. After an uncomfortable hug, Leslie reads him for filth, explaining that she fell in love with his integrity, which has now been compromised. He does his usual song and dance to explain himself, but she stands her ground. Apology not accepted.
THE UNEXPECTED CONCLUSION | After a quick one-on-one with the volcano, Gerry heads to the altar to propose to Theresa. She remembers that her late husband didn’t propose with an engagement ring, so to receive one now would be “overwhelming.” And in lieu of a helicopter crash (early 9-1-1 crossover?), it looks like she’s going to get it.
“The best is yet to come,” she tells him. “I think you’re the most wonderful man in the world. Now that I’ve found you, I never want to let you go.” He returns her sentiments about love not just being for the young, and he walks her back through their whirlwind love story. He also pulls an American Idol, faking her out with “You’re not the right person for me to live with… you’re the person I can’t live without.”
With tears in her eyes, Theresa gleefully accepts Gerry’s final rose.
And they’re getting hitched soon! The first-ever Golden Wedding special will air Jan. 4 at 8/7c on ABC.
Did Gerry make the right choice? Did Jesse oversell the drama? Is Jennifer Love Hewitt OK? Vote in our poll, and then hit the comments to share your thoughts on the whole season.
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