07/23/2012 01:28 am ET Updated Sep 21, 2012

'The Bachelorette' Finale Recap: Jef Wins Emily Maynard's Heart


Note: Do note read on if you have not seen the Season 8 finale of ABC's "The Bachelorette" with Emily Maynard.

I've been recapping "The Bachelorette" since 2003 and I can say with complete certainty that this has been my favorite season. Sure, I love certain characters from episodes of yore (be still my ever-loving Roberto, Ames and Reid heart) but for the first time in a long time, I actually ended the season with a feeling that I had been somewhat entertained each week instead of the usual, "Why does this show have to be two hours long when clearly 30 minutes could suffice?"

Perhaps I liked this year because of Emily's no nonsense attitude toward the traditional rules set forth by "Bachelor" nation. Maybe it was her Southern charm and integrity. It could have been her determination to actually take this reality show seriously for once by truly seeking out a connection that could spark a future relationship. I think she had viable candidates in both Arie and Jef and even though I agree with her father that you can't technically be in love with two people, I believe she did have genuine feelings for both. This reality, ironically, made for pretty good reality television.

Top Five Thoughts from the Finale

1. What's Up With the Random Studio Audience?
From the opening moments of the finale, we find Our Host Chris Harrison looking extremely debonaire in a black suit and pewter tie. Traditionally, Our Host is standing in front of either the entrance to Fancy Pants Resort & Spa or we just hear a generic voiceover anticipating the most dramatic rose ceremony ever in a velvety baritone. Instead, Chris is addressing an enthusiastic live studio audience with thought provoking questions such as, "Did you guys like that?" and "How hot is Arie?" It was confusing at first, but after Emily confides in Our Host that she doesn't need nor want a second meeting with Arie, we realize that Harrison is going to have to do some pretty fancy tap dancing to fill the gap left by an entire date, Neil Lane engagement ring session, video montage featuring a trip down memory lane and an almost proposal/rejection with Arie. Most of us would decide to cut the show down to one hour instead of featuring a woman named Potpourri quirkily suggest that Emily choose Arie so the rest of America can enjoy One F Jef. Chris' former Miss America hosting experience certainly came in handy during this "live" session.

2. Real Men Wear Pink
Jef convinces Emily that he is ready to meet Little Ricki on their last one-on-one date. They have an impromptu pool party and the moment Little Ricki let Jef borrow her pink swim goggles, I knew it was true love. When he allowed Little Ricki to push him in the pool, Ricki knew it was true love. And when Ricki asked her Mom if Jef could come back the next day, Emily knew it was true love. Ever the eternal rule-breaker, Emily goes rogue again, calls Harrison and straight up tells him that she has made up her mind and asks him politely to send the black SUV of doom to pick up Arie in the garden. Harrison, of course, makes her rip the Band-Aid herself and sends her to break the news.

3. Love Potion No. 9
Emily arrives in the flower garden where Arie has just concocted a love potion with the help of a very old Indian woman. He rubs the scented oil all over Emily's arms before she leads him to the notorious break-up bench. Though Botox has apparently permanently damaged her tear ducts, we know her crying is severe due to the choking and sobbing sounds she squeaks out even though zero liquid falls from her eyes. This goes on for a few minutes with Arie frantically asking, "What's wrong? What is it? Are you hurt? Did someone die?" The poor guy never once thought it was his fate that was being mourned at that moment. Somehow, Emily manages to convey, in a very indirect way, that she thinks he's perfect for her, yet not really. Confused, he sits there in a daze as she again clarifies that he's the one, except he's runner-up. Astounded by the realization that not only does his love potion not work, but that black SUV is waiting around for him, Arie bristles with a cold good-bye. It was a close call, but the ABC psychotherapist was not successful in making him cry.

2. The Most Ghetto Rose Ceremony Ever
Home Depot would like you to know that they did NOT sponsor the rose ceremony stage this season, and the limp ferns were purchased from the garden section of Lowes. For real? Clay pots, a splintery stage and some wilted flowers? And what was up with all the random swinging doors just laying up against the wall in the background? I'm convinced it was a secret sound stage in Los Angeles and all this took place after Emily and Jef dated for a few months before he proposed. Something was definitely shady about this whole scene because never in the history of the show has the engagement moment been so ugly. Perhaps the ABC intern got mono? Still ... it doesn't matter. You're on a beautiful island that no one can pronounce. I'm sure the beach would have been perfectly lovely with just the sand, surf and sunset. Am I right?

1. These Aren't Empty Words
One F Jef may be young, but he has the eloquence and maturity of an older, wiser Chris Harrison. His pre-proposal speech (and every other soliloquy for that matter) was simply perfect. After complementing his soon-to-be-bride, he gave props to the process which landed them in the current tacky environment and promised to give his heart and love to Emily and Little Ricki forever. And the entire country swooned together.

I may be going out on a very thin limb here, but I predict that this actually lasts. I know ABC is excited to pimp out an actual relationship that is healthy (besides Trista and Ryan) and one that seems to be bound for holy matrimony (we're still waiting JP and Ashley). What do you think? Will Emily and Jef get married in the spring? Was their proposal setting an actual set? Will Arie be the next Bachelor? Are you going to apply antibacterial hand sanitizer before watching the "Bachelor Pad" like I am? Sound off in the comments below!