7:00pm PT by Christina Schoellkopf
'The Bachelor' Finale: Ben Engaged, Runner Up Left "Speechless"
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Season 20 finale of ABC's The Bachelor.]
The Bachelor star Ben Higgins gifted his final rose Monday — paired with a diamond engagement ring.
During the supersize episode, the last two women standing were flight attendant Lauren Bushnell, 25, and real estate developer JoJo Fletcher, 24. Despite being "confused" about the decision and a self-described "lost man," Ben ultimately got down on one knee and proposed to Lauren.
The finale also featured Ben's mother and father, who flew to Jamaica to meet Lauren and JoJo and, importantly, help their son sort out the emotional turmoil of being in love with two women. Both his parents (and viewers alike) were shocked last week when Ben broke The Bachelor rules and told both Lauren and JoJo that he loved them. His mother went so far as to describe the reveal as "really disturbing."
With tension in the air, Lauren was the first woman to meet Ben's parents. Ben's father was impressed with her, but his mother was not as easily convinced. She stepped outside to grill Lauren about her feelings for Ben and to question whether she had "what it takes" to commit to her son through "hard times."
JoJo was up next, and Ben's mother made a complete 180. JoJo's first impression was spot-on for Mrs. Higgins, who shared that while Lauren arrived put together and prepared, she appreciated that "JoJo showed up the way I would have showed up: terribly nervous." In tears, Ben's mother revealed in her private interview, "If I was to make that decision for Ben today, if it depended on me, I would pick JoJo." JoJo left the date feeling confident, telling the cameras, "Every fear that I've ever had was wiped away today. I have no doubt that I'm gonna be the person he picks in the end."
After consulting with his parents, Ben took each woman on one final date. Lauren's was a bit awkward; he shared that he was "stressed" and did not sleep the night before, and disclosed that he was concerned their relationship had not yet been tested: "It’s been so perfect," Ben told Lauren. "When things get too good to be true, I get really nervous. I knew I loved you like right away, and I didn't even know why." They did not end the night on the best terms. Ben's last few words to her almost seemed like a goodbye message: "Lauren, no matter what happens, you’ve made me a better person."
JoJo's last date was even more emotional. After taking a dip beneath a Jamaican waterfall, JoJo sat Ben down to ask him some tough questions. The bachelor was short with her about where his head was and how they would continue their relationship long-distance once the show wrapped. Later that night, JoJo told Ben she was "losing [her] mind," obsessing over who he would choose in the end. She pulled Ben away from the cameras to really pick his brain, but the Bachelor production team — luckily for viewers — at least caught their dramatic audio:
"You love her, too? Am I right?" JoJo asked about Ben's feelings for Lauren. Ben paused, before admitting, "Yes."
"And you said that to her?" JoJo asked. "Yes," Ben repeated.
In a bid to redeem himself, Ben desperately said, "Look at me, I’m sitting here on a bathroom floor with you tonight being as open with you as I possibly can be, and I love you."
Ben, on the day he was set to propose, still did not know which woman he would pick. Finally, after selecting the perfect ring (a three-carat emerald-cut diamond, set in platinum) he made up his mind that JoJo would be going home.
Here's how he broke the news to her: "I didn’t know if I could find love. I found it with you, but I found it with somebody else more."
JoJo was in shock, saying she felt "blindsided," and called him out for telling her that he could not imagine a life without her. In desperation, she asked him where it went wrong. Only adding to her confusion, Ben said, "It never did." As she walked away, a "speechless" JoJo turned to him to say he never should have told her he loved her.
Ben shook off the breakup and collected himself before calling Lauren's father to ask for her hand in marriage. The answer was, of course, yes.
Finally, it was time for Lauren to reunite with the bachelor. On one knee, he said: "I came into this honestly feeling unlovable...then we go through this experience. It’s a journey that’s full of goodbyes. Lauren, I never want to say goodbye to you. I want to wake up every morning and kiss you on the face. I want to go to bed at night and wake up to the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid eyes on. My desire from here on out is to live for you. Commit to you. Hold you. Kiss you a lot. Lauren, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Lauren, will you marry me?"
Lauren, who could not stop laughing, answered with a yes.
On ABC's After the Final Rose special, Ben re-proposed to Lauren on live TV in front of their close friends, family and Bachelor Nation.
Were you rooting for Lauren? Do you think Ben "blindsided" JoJo, or did he at least give her fair warning by admitting he loved both women? Are you excited to never hear Ben say the word "unlovable" again? Sound off in the comments section below.