A week after The Golden Bachelor ended with a buzzy engagement, Bachelor Nation tuned into the Dec. 7 Bachelor in Paradise finale to see if Season 9’s contestants would follow suit. And, well, some of them did! But not before 3 hours’ worth of emotional exits and big conversations about life beyond the beach.
Paradise Lost… & Found
The first half of the Paradise finale saw several couples fortify their relationships — with Kat Izzo and John Henry Spurlock, and Aaron Bryant and Eliza Isichei, going on vulnerable dates.
But not everyone’s final days on the beach were so sweet. Jess Girod and Tanner Courtad, for example, decided to end their short-lived connection early. “It’s been a lot, and I feel like I need to choose myself and do what’s best for me right now,” Jess told her friends before leaving.
Meanwhile, Kylee Russell and Aven Jones weren’t in the same place about engagement: a conflict that was only exacerbated by attending Kenny Braasch and Mari Pepin’s beach wedding.
Ultimately, while Aven wasn’t ready for a proposal just yet, he promised Kylee he’d “never been happier” and they decided to leave the beach as a couple — just not an engaged one.
Several viewers remarked on X (formerly Twitter) that Kylee didn’t seem thrilled to leave Mexico sans ring, with one user even comparing their car ride home to Succession’s Shiv and Tom (IYKYK). Others noted that Kylee wasn’t totally in the wrong to expect an engagement because, well, this is Bachelor in Paradise.
“Aven being shocked that kylee wants to get engaged when that’s literally the point of the entire show,” wrote one fan. “Is it a crazy premise? Yes. Is it what they signed up for? Also yes,” commented another. (Despite their less-than-glowing exit, though, Aven and Kylee have “blossomed as a couple” since leaving Paradise, an end-of-episode update revealed.)
2 Beachy Betrothals
That left two couples in Mexico for Fantasy Suites: Aaron and Eliza, and Kat and John Henry. While their respective connections seemed super strong, there were mixed feelings in both camps. “It’s just weird, like, my family doesn’t know what’s going on. They’re not here,” Eliza said in a confessional, adding that she couldn’t say with “100% certainty” that she’d accept a proposal.
John Henry, meanwhile, was ambivalent about popping the question to Kat — telling the camera that his heart said to do it, but his gut said they needed more time as a couple. Alas, though, both couples got engaged on the beach.
Kat and John Henry are “happily engaged” and moving to San Diego, per an update at the end of the episode, while Aaron and Eliza “hit some speed bumps” and are working on their relationship.
Fans were touched that Aaron called Eliza’s mom to get her blessing, with one fan saying the gesture made them “all in” on the couple — which made it especially devastating to hear they were struggling post-show. “EXCUSE ME I’m gonna need more info on the *speed bumps* in Eliza and Aaron’s engagement,” wrote one user.
Brayden & Christina’s Hard Launch
Perhaps the most surprising relationship to come out of this season happened off the beach. As revealed in a montage about the suitors’ love lives post-Paradise, Brayden Bowers and Christina Mandrell (from Zach Shallcross’ Bachelor season) are now dating.
“Brayden is like a big ol kid at heart,” observed one viewer. “I kinda love that he’s dating Christina Mandrell and hanging out with her kiddo. That’s cute.”
“Not on my bingo card but I’m here for it,” wrote another.
So while Christina didn’t make it to Paradise (as many fans hoped she would), she did end up playing a role in one of the season’s sweetest love stories. Brayden wrote on Instagram that Christina was the “biggest blessing,” while Christina said they were “creating a home filled with laughter and love.”
The post ‘Bachelor In Paradise’ Finale Recap & Reactions To Brayden & Christina appeared first on Bustle.