Arie takes his final three women to Peru for the Fantasy Suite dates
Credit: ABC
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Let’s be honest, rose lovers: Not much usually happens in the penultimate episode of The Bachelor. Yes, there are romantic dates, lots of talk of “opening up” and “love,” and of course the manufactured suspense of whether each “lady” will accept Chris Harrison’s invitation (on the Bachelor’s behalf, of course) to the Fantasy Suite.

Thank goodness for Ross, amirite?

It all begins in Ica, Peru, where Arie is excited to get to know his Final 3 “on a whole new level” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more). First up is Kendall, who is feeling “a lot of pressure” to say she’s ready to accept a proposal, should Arie choose her at the end. “If Arie proposed to me today, I’d probably say no,” she admits. But if he proposes to her in four to six days? Well that might be a whole different story.

The Bachelor meets her in the middle of the desert, where a dune buggy awaits. Good news for Kendall: Arie laughs at her Mad Max joke — though I’m not 100 percent convinced he got the reference. Of course, Arie is ready with a Painful Metaphor — “Dune buggying is like a relationship: There’s ups and downs and it’s scary, but also so exciting” — and he’s really feeling the chemistry with Kendall. They do seem to have a really good time together, and if they were dating under normal circumstances, I think they’d probably have a shot as a couple. But as we all know, nothing about The Bachelor is normal.

Kendall’s worries only intensify as the Fantasy Suite approaches. As she and Arie sample some kind of fried shellfish, we hear Kendall in voiceover tearfully declaring that she feels like Arie is her “best friend,” and beating herself up for maybe not being “ready” to get engaged in a few days. She’s also concerned that Arie may think of her as a “novelty” — Dude, I once dated this girl who collected taxidermy! — and not real Wife Material. Arie doesn’t offer much in the form of reassurance on that front, beyond saying he’s “okay” with the taxidermy and he thinks they’re “a good fit for each other.” Though Kendall had hinted that she wouldn’t accept the Fantasy Suite card if she didn’t feel ready for a proposal, when the time comes…

Credit: ABC

“I see so much in Arie that I absolutely love, and I want [in] a husband,” she says. “And I hope for a proposal at the end of all this.” Wait, what? Something tells me that last sentence was Frankensteined together from a completely different quote, like “And I hope I feel ready for a proposal at the end of all this” — but only fools expect reality from this “reality” show. (Next: Arie drops the l-bomb)

By the next morning, Arie knows how Kendall likes her eggs (sunny-side up, super crispy on the bottom), and Kendall says she doesn’t “feel as afraid anymore.” Before he heads out to shower and brush his teeth for date No. 2, the Bachelor tells Kendall that he’s “definitely” falling in love with her, too.

Okay, Lauren — you’re up!

A prop plane carries the duo high above the famed Nazca Lines, “a series of large scale geoglyphs carved in the ground for miles and miles.” It’s a beautiful, unique cultural wonder — so naturally, Lauren is bubbling over with excitement.

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Credit: ABC

“Sometimes, it does feel like there’s a wall up,” notes our perceptive Bachelor. “I’d really just love for Lauren to soak all this in and not be in her head so much.” That said, Lauren knows she’s being a downer; she just wishes those pesky “other girls” would go away so she could feel secure in her relationship with Arie. (Say it with me, rose lovers: YOU ARE ON THE BACHELOR, WOMAN!)

“Just know that I’m crazy about you,” Arie reminds her. “And I see a potential in you being my wife.” Sorry pal, but that’s not good enough. “I need to feel like I’m the only girl that you see,” Lauren counters. It almost sounds like an ultimatum, especially since Lauren also says she’s considered quitting the show because the stress has been too hard. “That kind of hurts me,” the Bachelor admits. “If I’m reassuring her the whole time, I’m not really getting to know her.” Will a night in the Fantasy Suite change that? Let’s find out!

Over dinner, Arie once again goes into reassurance mode, telling Lauren that the “other relationships” are a good thing, because — wait, hear him out — the one true relationship will win out, in full Darwinian fashion. It doesn’t really look like Lauren’s buying it, so Arie breaks out the big guns: “I do feel confident in all this, because I love you.”

In typical Lauren fashion, her reaction is…understated.

Credit: ABC

To be fair, Lauren eventually recovers enough to reciprocate Arie’s declaration. “I was just so happy to hear that,” she says. “I just want you know that I love you, too. So let’s go.” Okay then — the Fantasy Suite awaits! (Side note: Man, if Arie doesn’t pick Lauren, this whole thing is going to be real awkward for his final “lady” to watch.)

“We’re in a good place,” Lauren tells us the next morning. “My concerns about everything I was worried about yesterday have subsided.” Of course, the fact that Lauren all but declares victory — “I can’t see Arie ending up with anyone else but me” — has me worried that Team Bachelor is just setting her up for a big fall later. (Next: “That’s my proposal to give her”)

Enough about Lauren — it’s time to catch up with Becca (and her plus-one)! Everything starts out on a happy note: Arie says his relationship with Becca is “the safest, most comfortable” one he has, and Becca’s ready to tell Arie she loves him. As they float on a catamaran, they smooch and cuddle and talk about long-distance relationships (Arie does expect Becca to move to Phoenix, but only when she feels “comfortable”). “It was just a fun, chill date on a boat,” bubbles Becca. “I’m just so damn happy.”

Dinner takes place in a tent in the middle of the desert, and even though Becca has never said “I love you” first in a relationship, tonight she bites the bullet and spits out a retroactive l-bomb. After hometown dates, recalls Becca, “I was just, like, looking at the clouds and honestly, all of a sudden it clicked, like, ‘Holy s—, I love him.’” And just to make things extra complicated, the Bachelor returns the sentiment, telling Becca that he’s no longer just “falling” in love, he’s in love with her. “There’s a part of me that wants to end this now, and propose here in the sand dunes,” the Bachelor muses contentedly.

What could possibly go wrong?

After a night in the Fantasy Tent, Becca and Arie are feeling no pain. They take their breakfast on a blanket in the sand, and tell each other “I love you” over and over again. “Nothing can get in the way at all,” gushes Becca. Cut to…

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Knock knock knock! There’s a beefy former boyfriend at the door! And he wants his perky Minnesota publicist back. “I’m Ross,” he tells Arie, when the Bachelor opens the door. “I’m Becca’s ex.” Without waiting for an invite, Ross enters Arie’s room and asks if they can “chat for a second.” Here’s the situation: Ross found out a week ago that his “soul mate” Becca, was a contestant on The Bachelor and just might get proposed to by some salt-and-pepper haired pretty boy. This did not sit well with Ross. “That’s my proposal to give her,” he informs Arie. “She’s the love of my life. I want to marry her.”

So Ross did some internet sleuthing, tracked down some Team Bachelor contacts, and got himself a free ticket to Peru. “I’da swam here if I had to,” he continues. “I came here to get her, because she’s the one for me.” Though this is a lot to take in, Arie maintains his composure.

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Ross says he’s here to find out if Becca feels the same way about him, and he seems unfazed by the news that Arie and Becca have already reached the “I love you” stage. The Bachelor knows there’s nothing he can do but let Becca make the decision, but he has a condition: “If it ends up that she says goodbye to you, I’d like you to respect our relationship moving forward.” Oh honey, no one respects any “relationship” on this show, but sure.

“It blows my mind. The guy has huge f—ing balls,” Arie fumes. “Or he’s f—ing crazy.” Welp, it’s time to see what Becca thinks about all this.

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Hmmm…pretty clear how she feels, eh Ross? But the Avenging Ex isn’t ready to hear it. “Really, you’re not excited to see me?” he drawls, as his sad “take me back” bouquet dangles limply from his hand. Though they broke up over a year ago, Ross says he’s been thinking about her every day. “No matter where I go or what I do, my head and my heart, they just always come back to you,” he says, adding that he knew he had to do “something big” to win her back. “I want to marry you, Becca.”

Yeah, the answer’s still no. Becca scoffs that Ross thinks life “is gonna workout like The Notebook,” and she is none too pleased that her ex talked to Arie. “You’re holding on to, like, a shred of hope that we had years ago,” she says. “You can’t see that what we has wasn’t healthy for so damn long…It ended for a reason.”

Finally, it sinks in. “I wish you guys the best. I have no business being here,” Ross mutters, before sadly walking away. (Here’s hoping he gets some sightseeing in before he goes!) (Next: The final 2 “ladies” revealed)

Immediately, Becca heads to Arie’s room so she can apologize on her ex-boyfriend’s behalf and assure him that her relationship with Ross is officially dunzo. Will the Bachelor hold this blast from the past against Becca when the rose ceremony rolls around? Only time (about the length of a commercial break) will tell. One brief chat with Harrison later, and Arie is ready to narrow the field down to two potential wives…riiiight after he talks to Kendall (again).

This time, though, the Bachelor isn’t looking for assurance so much as trying to spare Kendall the embarrassment of standing alone, roseless, in front of the other women. “I don’t think we can get there,” he tells her. She’s disappointed but handles it with grace, which is no surprise given her humane behavior this entire season. “It means a lot that you’ve been in my life,” she says ruefully. “I love being around you.”

Guys…Kendall for Bachelorette, right? Look at the two other options and tell me she isn’t the best choice. But I digress.

Having walked Kendall to the Reject SUV, Arie returns to his final two and hands them each a rose. The only thing left for Arie to do is introduce Becca and Lauren to his family, choose one of them, and live happily ever after. Like I said before, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, rose lovers, we’re almost at the end of this “journey.” Did Arie send the right woman home? Which woman do you want to “win”? And is it me, or does sand surfing look really unpleasant? Post your thoughts now! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s exclusive blog right here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to figure out Ross’s celebrity look-alike. (George Eads? One of the Hemsworths? I can’t decide.)

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