So...that happened. Chris Harrison wasn't kidding when he said that this season's two-part finale of The Bachelorette would be the most intense, emotional conclusion in the show's history. Monday's penultimate episode had enough tears to fill a hot tub in the fantasy suite -- but we'll get to that a little later. First, let's take a look at what happened before Desiree's heart broke into a million tiny pieces.
Following last week's hometown dates, Des and her remaining three suitors are set to meet up in Antigua, which -- like every other destination so far -- is described as the "perfect place to fall in love." Des is happy and hopeful about the future, and she feels "so great" about the guys she has left.
"Chris truly is perfect for me in so many ways," she gushes over a montage of their greatest hits from the last nine weeks. "We connect on all different levels, and we do have all the ingredients needed to make a really great relationship...I love Chris' awkwardness, because sometimes I can be a little awkward, and I think he gets me...Chris is everything I'm looking for in a husband, and I would be very lucky to end up with him."
And then there's Drew. "There are so many things I love about Drew," she says. "He's so passionate and so romantic, and we really do have an emotional connection. Kissing Drew just leaves me speechless, and the caliber of Drew's looks is off the charts. But he's so humble and so sincere...I feel like if Drew and I were to end up together, we would have a deep connection and a deep love."
Not as deep, though, as the love Des already has for Brooks. "I have great connections with Chris and Drew, but my feelings for Brooks are set apart from the other guys. When I'm with Brooks, I do see my future," Des says. "Brooks is unlike anyone I've ever known...Brooks is one of a kind, and I love that about him...After the date in Madeira, I felt comfortable enough to let myself say that I loved him."
Brooks, tellingly, hasn't felt comfortable enough to say that he loves her -- but Des isn't worried. "He almost doesn't have to tell me he loves me for me to know," she muses. "It's unspoken. I picture Brooks as my husband...It feels great to be falling in love and to find the man of my dreams."
Speaking of the L-word, here comes Drew -- who has no problem talking about his feelings for Des. "Every time I see her, every time I'm with her, I fall more and more in love with her," he raves in a confessional. "I've been waiting a long time for this moment. I've finally found The One, my soul mate. I would get on a knee today and ask her to marry me."
Des is effusive about Drew, too -- she's particularly awed by his body -- but she has a different L-word in mind for their date in Antigua: limbo! (It's a game and a metaphor in one!) After driving around the island together, she and Drew end up at some kind of Caribbean festival involving music, dancing, a limbo pole, and lots of local arts and crafts, including hearts and roses made out of palm fronds. "Will you accept this rose?" Drew asks as he presents one to Des.
Later that night, Drew and Des head to the beach for a romantic seaside dinner, which is over before it begins, thanks to an unexpected storm. (Foreshadowing?) Seeking shelter from the rain, they head to the fantasy suite to "talk" -- but talking quickly gives way to kissing, and Drew eventually asks the camera crew to leave.
"I've had these crazy uncontrollable feelings for her for what feels like an eternity," he says. "And tonight is the night of all nights to show her how intimate and how passionate and how crazy I am about her...My mind is made up. I'm gonna marry this woman."
Meanwhile, back in the States, Brooks is feeling considerably less sure of his feelings for Desiree, so he seeks out his mom and sister for advice. "The idea of me proposing to her at the end of this makes me really uncomfortable," he confesses. "And when asked, 'Do you love Desiree?' I really shy away from the question."
Brooks' sister wisely tells him that if he doesn't how to answer that, he absolutely cannot ask Des to marry him in a few days. She also says that not knowing the answer is probably an answer in itself -- which is not good news for Des.
No matter, though, because Des is on a date with Chris, who is "truly, madly, deeply in love" with her. The two of them go on a helicopter ride around the island and then curl up on the beach for a picnic. "I feel like I've been dating Chris for a long time," Des says in a voiceover, as the camera pans to them making out in the surf, a la From Here to Eternity. "Everything comes so easy with Chris...We're like boyfriend and girlfriend."
But can they be husband and wife? At dinner that night, talk turns to the future. Chris tells Des he has a job he loves in Seattle and can imagine them buying a house on the water and raising a family there, but Des says she thinks of California as her home. That could change, though, if she were "really in love," so she's "open" to moving.
Speaking of moving, Chris and Des are taking their date to the fantasy suite. Once there, Chris surprises Des with another poem about his feelings for her, which leads to some making out in the hot tub. They clearly have chemistry, but Des' heart belongs to someone else.
"Even though I'm falling in love with the other guys, I do have deeper feelings for Brooks," Des admits the next day. "When I'm with Brooks, I do see my future. I know that I am falling in love with him."
Unfortunately for Des, the feeling is not mutual. "Everything in my head tells me that this is it. But my heart doesn't feel the same way," Brooks says. "I can't pinpoint why I don't feel crazy in love with this woman."
Perhaps a little chat with Chris Harrison can clear things up? Brooks attempts to explain his hesitation to Harrison, who is understanding but blunt about what Brooks needs to do. "Are you telling me you're not sure? Or are you telling me you're not in love with this girl?" he asks.
"I don't know," Brooks replies nervously. (Behold the power of Chris Harrison!) "I've thought about everything a lot this week, and I feel like if I don't feel it at this point, I'm not going to feel it...I feel like I've come to a conclusion where I don't think Des is the love of my life."
Harrison, who has clearly grown protective of Des, accepts Brooks' revelation but says he needs to "be a man" and break the bad news to her himself. "No matter what I say or what I do, there's gonna be tears, and there's gonna be heartache, and I'm the cause of a lot of that," Brooks says. "That's the last thing I want to do to Des. She doesn't deserve that. It's not something I want to put her through." Later, fighting back tears, he adds: "This is one of the most difficult days of my life."
Des, for her part, couldn't be more excited about her date with Brooks. She goes on and on about what she has planned for their time together, totally unaware that they'll never get to do any of it. "I'm in love with Brooks, and I miss him every day when I'm not with him," she reveals giddily. "If Brooks got on one knee and proposed to me, I would definitely say yes."
And on that note...here come the tears! Brooks finally musters up the courage to face Des, but his eyes well up almost as soon as he sees her. As they walk to a quiet spot on the pier, Des pleads with him to talk to her. When he does, he can barely put a full sentence together. He rambles a little about all the amazing dates they've had but says it's hard for him to hold onto those things when they're not together. "I feel like I lose it," he confesses. "You know, I really want to be madly in love with you."
Those words seal the deal for Des, and she immediately breaks down in sobs. She can't even look at him, but she does manage to ask him why he's doing this to her now, so close to the finish line. "I didn't know," he replies. "I didn't know before this."
Things get really tough then, as Des tells Brooks point-blank that she loves him. "For once in my life, I was so hopeful," she says, a little bitterly. "I've never felt completely loved by anyone. It just sucks that I loved you. I do love you, regardless. I can say it -- I don't care. I don't care that you just broke my heart. I love you."
Brooks can't say anything except that he's sorry, so he just holds her while she cries. After a while, they begin the long walk back to the beach, and he asks what's next for her. "I wondered, you know, I was hoping, like, 'I don't know how conflicted she is, I don't know where these other relationships are...'" he begins.
Des stops walking then and turns abruptly to face him. "You want to know why I was conflicted throughout this whole thing?" she says through more tears. "Because I didn't want to share my heart. I wanted to give it to you."
That shuts him up pretty quickly, and after a few awkward hugs, they say goodbye and go their separate ways. Des returns to the dock to cry in peace, while Brooks paces in circles amid some trees, sobbing about having to leave things with Des in such a terrible place. "Worst day of my life!" he chokes out. "It was way worse than I thought it was gonna be."
Des is similarly shattered. "It throws everything off, having Brooks gone," she cries. "It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart knowing that I have two amazing, unreal guys who do love me. I just can't love them as much...And that's not what they deserve. Honestly, for me, it's over."