Man, rose lovers, it has been a week — and we’re barely halfway through. After last night’s emotional bloodbath, we’re back again in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, but before we recap tonight’s events, please indulge me while I get something off my chest:
Yes, it was terrible of Arie to break up with Becca on camera, and to keep going back into the house even though she literally asked him to leave at least seven times. And yes, Arie likely did both of those things at the strong urging of the producers — but barring the use of a cattle prod and/or firearms, The Bachelor producers cannot “make” anyone do anything. Arie is a grown-ass man with a free (albeit weak) will. He may have been contractually obligated to allow cameras to film his conversation with Becca, but nothing would have stopped him from calling her before this visit and at the very least telling her the bad news over the phone first. (Hey, it would have been better than nothing, right?) Nor did he have to walk back into the house after Becca asked him to leave. Arie could have easily told the producers, “No, she really doesn’t want to talk to me anymore. I’ll talk to you guys outside if you want, but I am not going to bother her again.”
Remember when producers tried to get Dean to call Lee a racist on camera during Rachel’s season of The Bachelorette? And remember how Dean refused to do so, answering the producer’s “What do you mean?” query with a simple, “You know exactly what I mean.” If Dean, a man who is not exactly a paragon of moral rectitude, can stand up to producers, Arie could have as well. So yes, Team Bachelor abused Becca’s trust — but that’s to be expected. Arie’s betrayal, IMHO, is far worse.
End of rant. Back to the emotional bloodbath!
“I choose you today, but I choose you every day from here on out.” Man, Arie really didn’t make things easy on himself with that proposal, did he rose lovers? In part two of The Bachelor’s happy-turned-emotional bloodbath finale, we’re reminded of that doomed declaration, before joining a tearful Becca in the confessional — apparently soon after getting dumped, as she’s in the same blue off-the-shoulder top. “He didn’t even give it a chance,” she says, sniffling. “How did I not see this at all?” Team Bachelor even follows the poor woman to the airport, filming her as she waits, forlorn and crouched on the floor, to fly back home.
Meanwhile, Arie feels terrible about the “monster” move he just pulled on Becca, and he’s desperate for someone to talk to about it. If only there were someone on this earth who had endured/engineered this exact televised scenario and lived to tell the tale! Oh, look who’s here:
This is the first “former Bachelor advises current Bachelor” segment I’ve ever been excited to see. Who better to offer Arie advice about the downside of pulling a Mesnick than the man whose very name became synonymous with “wildly reckless indecision”? Welcome, Old Man River! Please, share your wisdom with Arie. “People yelled at me in the street,” Jason says. “They yelled, ‘You’re an a–hole!’ It hurt.” The bottom line, Mesnick adds, is that if you pull a major dick move like proposing to a woman on TV and then rescinding said proposal (also on TV), you should be prepared for strangers to bring the hate to your doorstep. “They’re going to say things that aren’t really nice,” he warns Arie. “Don’t do this unless you’re 100 percent certain.” (Next: Arie is 100 percent certain)
Cut to: Arie on a plane to Virginia Beach, where he hopes to win Lauren back while the cameras roll. Meanwhile, poor Becca is back in snowy Minneapolis, mournfully sifting through pictures and videos of happier times with Arie for the cameras, which she’s still obligated to allow into her home.
It’s a chilly winter day (allegedly this meeting happened sometime in January) when Arie drives up to Lauren’s family’s house, and then pauses outside to have a “panic attack.” What’s he so worried about? When he finally knocks on the door, Lauren all but leaps into his arms. (Apparently they spoke on the phone earlier and Lauren knows Arie is no longer engaged to Becca.) That said, when he asks Lauren for a “second chance,” she isn’t about to say yes without giving Arie a mildly hard time. After he dumped her, Lauren says, she felt “extremely alone,” and the past six weeks (!) marinating in that rejection were “crushing” for her. And she still can’t wrap her head around why Arie proposed to Becca if he wasn’t actually sure he wanted to marry her. The best way the Bachelor can explain it is that he thought that it was the “safe decision” for his future. “I think I just let the logic side of myself take over.” And they say televised romance is dead.
Arie promises Lauren that he’s “1,000 percent” over Becca, but at this point his promises are worth less than a one-off Fit Tea endorsement on Instagram. Still, Lauren desperately wants to believe that Arie’s indecisive days are behind him, so when Arie says he wants her back, she responds with a cheerful, “Well, you got me.” Has anyone seen Neil Lane, by the way? Lauren would like to start trying on rings pronto.
And we’re back in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where Bekah, Seinne, Tia, Caroline, and Kendall are all in the studio ready to talk trash about Arie with Chris Harrison. Tia, for one, wants the world to know that Arie did, in fact, confirm with Lauren that she’d take him back before he dumped Becca; she was with Lauren on New Year’s Eve when Arie messaged his runner-up on Instagram. So Tia is shocked — shocked! — that Arie later had audacity to say in his confessionals that he “wasn’t sure” how things were gonna go when he went down to Virginia Beach. Yes, that is a total douche move, but at this point it would be surprising if he did something human.
As for the rest of the “ladies,” they want to make it clear that people should not hate on Lauren — Arie should be the sole target of their wrath. When Harrison asks what they all hope will happen next with Arie and Lauren, Bekah M. is quick to respond: “I hope that Lauren gets out of that as soon as possible!” Same, girl. Same. (Next: “I signed up for this”)
Next up, it’s time for Becca to return to the stage. (Hopefully producers got her a hotel room and didn’t make her sleep in the greenroom last night.) After getting a huge round of applause from the very pro-Becca audience, Harrison asks her how she’s doing. “I’m hanging in there. Just trying to take deep breaths right now,” she says. “It’s hard to watch that all back and see how it all went down on the other end.” Speaking of which, the host wants to know how Becca feels about the show ambushing her into an on-camera breakup and then airing the whole unedited mess on national TV. (I’m paraphrasing.) “It was hard to relive those moments… But watching it back it honestly helps me get some closure,” Becca says diplomatically. Did you really think she’d tear producers a new one for this violation? They’re about to make her the Bachelorette!)
And then Becca says something that is very simple, but profoundly self-aware for a reality TV contestant: “I signed up for this.” God bless you, woman.
Harrison then turns the conversation to all the “outpouring of love” for Becca – from the billboards people (cough producers cough) took out shaming Arie and assuring Becca she deserves better, to all the money fans have Venmo’d to Becca so she can drink her pain away. Learning that the “good riddance Arie” fund is now up to $6,000, Becca is thankful, but as much as she loves her wine “I don’t think I can drink that much.” Instead she’s going to donate the money to Stand Up 2 Cancer — and Harrison says The Bachelor will match her contribution. (You can’t donate away your guilt, Mike Fleiss!)
Unfortunately, it’s now time for Arie to join Becca on the stage and face her wrath — or, more accurately, her quiet frustration mixed with disdain. All Becca wants to know – all any of us want to know when we’re dumped, really — is when did you know? At least this part of Arie’s story is consistent: He says that as soon as he called Lauren for “closure,” which Becca knew he was doing, he started thinking seriously about giving things with her another shot. So why didn’t he tell Becca as soon as he started having real doubts? “I wanted to be certain in my decision before I came to you,” says Arie. “You were working, and we were apart.” A smattering of Oh HELL no boos ripple through the audience — did he seriously just blame Becca’s job for his unacceptable delay? Arie quickly tries to explain that the time apart due to Becca’s gainful employment was a good thing, because it gave him the time he needed to get realign his head with his heart. (Next: An indecent proposal)
Naturally Becca wants to know why he proposed if he was feeling so conflicted, and Arie’s response is typically weak: “The pressure of this, the pressure of being the Bachelor. Knowing there’s a timeline.” Still, he admits that any outside pressure, whether real or imagined, is no excuse and he has no one to blame but himself.
The closest Becca comes to chewing Arie out is chiding him for his “lack of respect” for her and her feelings. When Harrison asks if she’s ready to move on, Becca is once again diplomatic and gracious. “Yeah. I’m always going to have love in my heart for you,” she tells Arie. But “I’ve moved on. I’m ready for the next chapter in my life, and to find somebody better suited for me.” (Or just better, period.) Her parting advice to Arie: Be honest with Lauren, you lying piece of garbage. (I’m paraphrasing.)
With that bit of ugliness over with, Becca heads backstage to await her next big moment (more on that in a minute) — and out comes Lauren, who’s only too happy to reunite with her beloved. We then get this amazing exchange:
Harrison: “Lauren, I can’t imagine what’s going through your head right now.”
Lauren: “Yeah, me either.”
Anyhow, remember how Harrison teased the possibility of “another proposal” at the top of the show? I think you know where this is going: Arie stands up and brings Lauren to center stage, where he serves up his second proposal in the last six months. “I’ve made some bad decisions, but the best decision was running back to you,” he says. “I truly believe you are my soul mate.” As he gets down on one knee, we are treated to what is possibly the best reaction shot in Bachelor franchise history:
Same, girl. Same.
Anyhow, she says yes, the audience claps politely, and somewhere Neil Lane fumes silently that he didn’t get a clear product shot this time around. One thing’s for sure: Arie will need a lot of image rehab before ABC agrees to pay for a wedding. (Yes, they eventually put Molly and Jason’s wedding on TV, but something tells me the hate for Arie runs a lot deeper.) (Next: Meet the new, not at all surprising, Bachelorette)
At this point, it’s all over but the housekeeping: Surprise — Becca is the new Bachelorette! Though she can’t possibly be ready to undergo another nine weeks of emotional Crossfit, Becca insists the choice to return to the franchise was “easy, honestly, once I got past the initial heartbreak… I want to be the best damn bachelorette I can be.” The good news is, she certainly can’t be worse than the last Bachelor.
Becca even plays along and acts surprised when Harrison announces that she’ll be meeting some of her future suitors right now on live TV! Up first is Lincoln, a very charming black man with a (possibly?) British accent, who looks sincerely flustered in Becca’s presence: “I’m blushing — but you can’t tell for obvious reasons.” He’s parting shot — “Arie is a wanker” — is perfection. Next is a man named Chase, who has very high hair and a skinny tie. He tells Becca she deserves “better” than Arie, and he hopes to be the proverbial door that opens when another closes.
Unfortunately the next man who arrives is playing a banjo and singing — and even more unfortunately, he seems to have trouble communicating via anything but song. I think he mumbled something about looking forward to getting to know Becca, but who knows. A suave dude named Darius is next. “I just wanted to formally apologize on behalf of my gender,” he tells Becca. And she LOVES it. Finally, we get Bradley, who arrives on stage leading a horse. (I hope the Bachelor Interns get overtime for that cleanup job.) “When you fall off the horse, you gotta get back up again,” he explains. “I brought you this horse, and I want to be the man who helps you back up again.” The audience is quick to respond with the expected Awwwwww, and then Bradley manages to help Becca onto his steed (side-saddle, thank god) without any wardrobe malfunctions.
And that, rose lovers, is officially the end of this season’s “journey”! I’ll admit, there were times I thought I wasn’t going to make it through — so thank you as always for playing through the pain with me. (By the way, just as Jason and Molly did so many years ago, Arie and Lauren will get their own “Bachelor Betrayal” magazine cover this week courtesy of PEOPLE.) Don’t miss Chris Harrison’s full blog, and let me know how you’re holding up after this week’s five-hour Bachelor blowout. And let’s all meet back here on May 28!