So much for our "happy ending"! As we learned in "After the Final Rose," Brad Womack and Emily Maynard almost got married, broke up, and got back together again in the four months between the mid-November Season 15 finale and the AFTR special. She's not ready to move to Austin. She's not ready to marry the Bachelor of her dreams. He's not ready to even talk to her like a normal person and admit that he's always nervous around her. In fact, Brad still seems to have a far more easygoing relationship with Chantal O'Brien, who has landed herself a new boyfriend back in Seattle.
The whole thing feels like a depressing couples therapy session, with Chris Harrison trotting out past success stories from the franchise to show how "the process" can work. Instead of helping, having Ali Fedotowsky and Roberto Martinez, Jason and Molly Mesnick, and Trista and Ryan Sutter there just casts Brad and Emily's lack of chemistry in a harsher light. All three seem like natural couples, but Brad and Emily don't.
Here's more from the depressing ATFR special:
- Brad talks with Chantal: Brad and Chantal seem to still have an easy relationship, but Chantal wants to know when he knew it wasn't her. Brad admits that he knew early on that he had feelings for Emily, but there was no denying his chemistry with Chantal. Chantal says it sounds like he knew he would pick Emily, but he just thought hey, Chantal is cool, let's keep her around. Even Chris thinks Brad is just trying to avoid trouble with Emily, who is backstage. Brad emphasizes it's not a matter of getting into trouble. He's getting upset again, and Chantal starts crying. Now it's awkward! Chantal feels like he's discounting what they had, like he was always going to pick Emily.
- Chantal has a new boyfriend: When she went home, she happened to meet somebody. It was totally unexpected. "He's definitely everything I've been looking for," she gushes. Wow, she moves fast!
- Brad's drama with Emily: He'd marry her right now; she makes him want to be a better person. Chris reveals that this was almost their wedding day — they were going to go back to Anguilla to do it. "This has been a roller coaster," Brad says.
- Brad and Emily did break up: As Brad explains, people may not understand what couples go through while the show is on air. He is confident they'll make it through, but his low was when Emily said, "I just can't do it. I'm leaving." She can be tough, he says. They are in a real relationship, not some fantasy land. But they are still engaged: "I am not letting her go."
- Emily pours cold water on everything: Brad is still nervous around her. He's smitten, but does she even like him? He keeps touching and petting her. They haven't seen each other in a month.
"It's certainly not all roses," Emily says, but she's very confident in how she feels about him. "I really do love him."
They are still a couple. Are they an engaged couple? She says yes. Is it a bad sign that Brad didn't know what she'd say? We think yes. Chris asks if they're going to get married, and Emily spills that she's not ready for marriage. She tells Brad, "Right now in this instance, I love you, but no." She feels like they have some things to figure out, like how they fight and how they communicate and deal with their issues. "Could I move to Austin today? No."
Every Monday night Emily would turn into a ball of anxiety and self-doubt. She knew it wouldn't be the "Let's Watch Emily Fall in Love With Brad Show," but she didn't expect Brad to give them so much material. (Actually, it kind of did feel like "The Emily Show.") What's really going on here?
- What do they need to work on? They have volatile fights, often over the phone. Emily questions what's her reality and what's reality TV. Brad has said he fell in love early during the show, but if that's true she feels like he should've saved some things for just her. She wants to see what they're like in the real world.
- Will they really get married? Emily says she can't see her everyday life without Brad. He's put up with her worst, so she can see them getting married.
- The success stories come back: This whole thing is turning into a therapy session, so Chris brings out the franchise's three success stories to give advice to Brad and Emily. From here it turns into a cult meeting. Jason says they're there to help. He can relate to both of them in that he was on The Bachelorette and The Bachelor and he's a single father. Molly adds that it’s hard not to watch the show or read the blogs, but priorities are important. It doesn't matter what strangers say on computers (Hi, guys!), because your family and friends know you and love you.
Ryan can empathize with Emily, because he had to watch Trista with Charlie. If someone told Emily before the show, you will meet the perfect guy for you but you have to go through pain to get there, would you do it? Trista says she and Ryan met on the show, but what they did after the show was what built their relationship.
Ali says Roberto always tells her, "It's just us." According to Roberto, they have to live in a little bubble. Ryan expands on that analogy, saying it's like they've been on a cruise ship and now they've been put on a life boat and pushed out to stormy seas. Chris tells Brad and Emily that their Bachelor family is there to help them.
That's all great, but Brad and Emily have classic communication issues, like any struggling couple. It doesn't sound like "the process" itself is the main issue as much as personality conflicts and the baggage they have both brought into the relationship. Besides, didn't they know what they were getting into, at least from the TV side? After all, this is the franchise's 21st season.
- They haven't seen the finale? At this point, Brad — who is still so nervous he keeps adjusting his collar — and Emily haven't seen the finale. So they play it back. But it's one of the least romantic proposals in Bachelor history! It feels stiff and prepared.
- Brad gives Emily her ring: It's been sized. "You are my forever. Here's your ring, babe. I love you so very much."
- The Bachelorette Season 7: Chris says the new season will start Monday, May 23, just as we predicted!
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For more on Brad and Emily...
- 5 Reasons Why Brad and Emily Will Live Happily Ever After (We Hope!)
- Finale Recap: Brad Womack Proposes to Emily Maynard
- POLL: Will Brad and Emily Last?