Ben Higgins, star of season 20 of The Bachelor, knew he was in hot water walking into the finale. The last week viewers saw the couples -- before the tense Women Tell All, remember? -- they were jammin' in Jamaica, swimming under waterfalls and nestling up in the fantasy suite.
Higgins let the "L" word slip with both finalists, Dallas real estate developer JoJo Fletcher and Portland flight attendant Lauren Bushnell, which is considered a major faux pas in Bachelor-land. Case in point: Higgins spent Monday night's finale reeling from the fallout.
For 90 percent of the emotional episode, the bachelor looked like a deer in headlights, shocked and frantically nervous about being in love with two women at one time. Each girl grilled him about his feelings for the other, but when push came to shove, Higgins could only get down on his knee amid the picturesque rain forests of Jamaica and ask one woman to marry him.
That person was not our Dallas gal.
Fletcher walked down the aisle, so to speak, in a stunning pink beaded dress, cleavage fully bared, only to find disappointment at the other end.
"I found [love] with you," Higgins told her, "but I found it with somebody else more."
Fletcher was rightfully blindsided. Monday night's finale portrayed her and Higgins as the strongest couple, able to tackle real, tough issues; for example, what the hell they're going to do after the cameras turn off and real life sets in. Even Higgins' mom, Amy, the episode's biggest critic, was preaching Team JoJo after meeting both finalists in person.
In the season's After the Final Rose, Fletcher and Higgins' first meeting since filming, the Dallasite confronted Higgins about the breakup.
"You left me with, 'I still love you, you’re my best friend, I can’t imagine my life without you,'" Fletcher said. "Those days and weeks that followed, that’s all I had."
The conversation ended respectfully, and Fletcher wished the couple her best.
In retrospect, it's not like Higgins' proposal to Bushnell was a total shock. From the moment the blond bombshell stepped out of the limo (she was the very first woman to do so), Higgins seemed smitten. Bushnell was continually a front-runner, from the lip-locked solo excursions to her nearly flawless hometown date.
When Higgins got down on one knee, he repeated a phrase the two shared throughout the season.
"You're my person," he said, looking deep in Bushnell's eyes. And the rest is happily ever after.
Not all is lost for our gorgeous Dallas gal, however.
The series' esteemed host, Chris Harrison, announced Fletcher would be the star of next season's The Bachelorette.
That means she will have 20-plus men throwing themselves at her in hopes of retaining the final rose.
Someone called it...
We know what you're thinking -- Team JoJo and her amazing taco sounds like the best way to spend a reality TV season. See you then!