Arie makes his choice...and then begins to have serious second thoughts
Credit: Paul Hebert/ABC (2)
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Well rose lovers, this season of The Bachelor may have begun with more of a whimper than a bang, but it’s sure ending with a spectacular, spoiled-on-every-magazine-cover flameout. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so gird your loins, drink your electrolytes (ideally in the form of wine), and let’s do this.

We open on the beautiful city of Cusco, Peru, where Arie is ruminating over his boneheaded decision to say “I love you” to both Becca and Lauren. The former has “great values,” is “funny and goofy and sexy,” and his relationship with her is “comfortable” (oy, there’s that word again). Choosing Lauren, Arie continues, is a “risk” — but his feelings for her are “intense.” Even if we didn’t already know how this was gonna turn out, that intro would make things pretty clear.

“I thought I would have more clarity,” the Bachelor tells Arie Sr., before bringing Lauren in to meet the family (mom, dad, brother Alec, sister Maida, and her significant other). “I really want my parents to see what I see in her,” notes Arie. Dude, how about letting us in on that secret first? Though she’s clearly dying inside, Lauren summons up enough emotional fortitude to offer a timid toast at lunch, and she manages to have a fairly human conversation with Arie’s dad. Meanwhile, Maida wants to know, do Arie and Lauren have “real” conversations? Um…no. “It has been hard for her to be open,” says Arie. “That goes through my mind sometimes with her.”

If only the Bachelor could see what’s happening in the other room: Lauren is in tears, weeping to Mama Luyendyk about how scared she is to lose Arie. “I really feel for you,” says Mrs. Luyendyk. “But I really think you should stay positive.” Hmmm…what does Mieke know?

When it’s Becca’s turn to meet the family, Arie Sr. is blunt: “It’s going to be really difficult for Becca, because we all think Lauren is a good choice.” But Becca puts on a brave face — and packs her confidence in wicker picnic basket — and heads into the Luyendyks’ den. Mieke still has her “reservations” about this strange, Midwestern brunette Arie’s brought home, but after a brief chat mama “totally took a liking to her.” Arie Sr., who earlier in the episode noted how the Dutch are known for their bluntness, informs Becca that he’ll be “fine with it” no matter which one of them Arie Jr. chooses. “That wasn’t fun to hear,” sighs Becca.

And unfortunately for her, she just keeps on hearing it, as we’re treated to a montage of other Luyendyks asking Becca about her rival. “I just swear to God if I have to hear the name Lauren one more time I’m going to lose it,” she says softly. Normally Team Bachelor never shows us anything but fluffy “she seems great” moments from these family visits, but clearly they know that we know Becca gets screwed over, so why not telegraph her future misery? “It makes me want to puke thinking about them together,” Becca whimpers in her confessional. Oy, somebody get the poor girl a bucket — she’s going to need it. (Next: Arie makes his final decision LOLZ)

One both women are gone, Arie turns to his family for help. “It’s hard because I feel like it makes more sense with Becca,” he says. “But with Lauren there’s like this undeniable love there.” In past seasons, we’d only get to see the family saying stuff like “we know you’ll make the right choice” and “we’ll support you no matter what,” but in this case, again, the producers give it to us straight: Everyone in Arie’s family is Team Becca. Mom says Becca is the better choice because she’s more stable. Dad tells Arie that Becca is best for him, because sometimes he needs “a bit of a kick in the ass,” and she’d be able to provide it. (Sister Maida agrees.)

The Bachelor hopes that these two last dates will give him the “clarity” that he needs — but we know that’s not going to happen, don’t we rose lovers? So I won’t waste your time or mine recapping the Last Chance Dates in detail. (Nor will we be spending time on those live segments with Random Former Contestants sharing their thoughts.) Here are the key moments:

*Lauren and Arie take a private train to Machu Picchu. Finally, Team Bachelor finds something that can elicit a semblance of emotion from Lauren: “It’s just absolutely insane,” she marvels.

*At the start of his date with Lauren, Arie feels like he’s leaning toward Becca — but after a few hours, he’s back to being confused. “Lauren’s found her way into my heart,” he sighs. “It’s crazy to think that I could say goodbye to someone like that.”

*Arie says “I love you so much” to Lauren at least twice during his final chat with her — so of course, by the end of the date Lauren feels like she’s won: “I don’t think Arie would have let me tell him all those things about how much I care about him… if he knew he was picking Becca.”

*Foreshadowing: It’s pouring rain during the start of Arie’s Last Chance Date with Becca. Later, when the sun comes out and they sit together overlooking a beautiful vista, Arie says something that no doubt pains him to watch back now: “I’ve always been honest with you,” he tells Becca. “And I always would be honest with you.” (To be fair, when Becca asks him if he has “any hesitation” about things, the Bachelor admits to being “a little conflicted.”)

*Becca presents Arie with a scrapbook featuring photos of their “relationship” — and she leaves a blank page for “Our first baby.” Sigh. By the end of the night, Arie is still “struggling” to make a decision.

When P-day comes, the Bachelor — who says he’s “typically a pretty decisive person” — has finally achieved the “clarity” he’s yearned for all this time. “I couldn’t have pictured a better woman for me!” he declares. You know what that means: It’s time for Neil Lane! (Dude, his name is “Arrr-eee,” not “Air-eee,” okay?) (Next: “I can’t go through with it”)

Once the ring has been chosen and the makeup caked on and the fancy dresses donned, it’s time to for Arie to drop the hammer on a woman who absolutely doesn’t see it coming. “I can’t even imagine him not proposing to me today,” says Lauren, in what passes for a happy voice for her. “He makes me feel very safe.” Ooof. Cut to:

Credit: ABC

After Lauren pledges her forever love to Arie (“You’re the man I’ve been looking for my whole life”), the Bachelor — barely able to hold back his tears — lets out a pained sigh and breaks the bad news. “I can’t go through with it,” he tells Lauren. “It’s not anything that I can explain other than I gave it everything I had to see if it could work.” Can you blame Lauren for being “extremely confused”? The way Arie has handled things, each of his final two women is going into the proposal certain that she’s the one. Nice work, speed racer. You don’t even deserve the best wishes Lauren so graciously offers you before ending the conversation with, “I don’t really have a lot else to say, other than that.” Weirdly enough, both Arie and Lauren profess their love for each other again before he sends her away in the Reject SUV.

“I feel a little bit like a monster right now,” admits Arie. Just wait a few weeks, pal — you’ll feel like a bigger beast then. As for Lauren, she’s moved quickly from denial on to anger, especially about Arie’s claim that he didn’t decide who he was going to propose to until that very morning. “How can you get down on one knee if you weren’t sure until, like, three hours ago?” she scoffs. “I feel like he chose the easy route.”

Knowing what we know now, it seems particularly mean to dwell too long on Arie’s proposal to Becca, so let’s just hit the highlights:

*In a surprise move, Becca doesn’t make her “do the damn thing” joke during her pre-proposal speech, though she does say “I’m just ready to do this thing with you.”

*Here’s yet another statement Arie is no doubt regretting immensely right about now: “I choose you today,” he tells Becca, while down on bended knee. “I choose you every day from here on out.”

*The Neil Lane monstrosity is massive, but it’s slightly less garish than the usual Bachelor baubles.

Credit: ABC

If only the story ended there. (Seriously, if only. We’ve got another hour of this? Sheesh.) (Next: “I know this isn’t going to be a popular decision”)

Rose lovers, it is now time for the “raw, uncut” portion of the proceedings!

We rejoin Arie and Becca some time later on one of the show’s “happy couple” visits (producers arrange for the final couple to meet in secret while their Bachelor season is airing). We see them playing chess, making homemade pizza, and lounging in a backyard hammock — all while low-tech cameras roll, of course. And yet…Arie hasn’t stopped shooting confessionals — because dammit, he has something to confess.

“The time spent after the show with Becca — it’s been good,” he says. Though they’ve been looking forward to “being in public and going on a real date,” the (technically no longer a) Bachelor just can’t get Lauren out of his head. “I go to bed and I think about Lauren, and I wake up and I think about Lauren,” says Arie. He kept hoping the post-breakup haze would lift, but it didn’t. Long story even longer, Arie feels an “immense amount of guilt” over Becca, but he’s willing to “risk it all” for a second chance with Lauren: “I’ve decided to call off the engagement and break up with Becca.”

For God’s sake, will someone get Harrison in here?

Credit: ABC

“Look, I know this isn’t going to be a popular decision,” Arie tells the host. “But I’m doing it because I love Lauren.” Though Arie isn’t sure how to tell Becca, Team Bachelor has that all figured out: They’ll lure her to another “happy couple” weekend, where a full production crew will be waiting to capture the entire awful encounter for posterity. “I feel like I can finally kind of relax,” Becca says happily. “I really just want to get to the point where the show’s done and we can finally start our life together.” Oh God — run, Becca! RUN!

As soon as Arie arrives and immediately wants to “talk,” Becca knows something is up. “You’re making me really nervous right now,” she says quietly. “What’s up?” Well, dear Becca, what’s up is the man who said he’d “choose you every day” for the rest of your lives is now choosing to throw in the towel so he can date the runner-up. In true “raw, uncut” style, we see a split screen, with the feed from Arie’s camera on the left, and the feed from Becca’s camera on the right. All the better to see the look on her face when a sheepish Arie says this: “I still think about her, and I think you sense that… The more I hung out with you, the more I felt like I was losing the possibility of maybe reconciling things with Lauren.” (Next: The reckoning)

Becca responds like many of us did in our living rooms.

Credit: ABC

“I have to follow my heart,” Arie says weakly, adding that when he spoke to Lauren recently (something Becca apparently knew about), he realized “there was all that feeling there still.” Beyond being stunned, floored, confused, and incredulous, Becca is mad. For one thing, she wants to know, if Arie was so “conflicted” in Peru, why the eff did he decide to get engaged? (His answer is basically, “Yep, my bad.”) “This is f—ing embarrassing,” she murmurs. “You shouldn’t have gotten down on one knee.”

No, Arie, Becca canNOT look at you right now. After more than 30 seconds of painful silence, a defeated Becca calls time of death on their relationship. “Well, I hope you find what you want,” she says, sighing. “It’s clearly not me.” At some point, Becca must have handed him the ring back, and he’s left holding it when she abruptly walks out to pack her bag. “You can stay. I’m going to leave,” Arie offers, trying to be a gentleman in his least gentlemanly moment ever. He stands forlornly before her for a few seconds, prompting Becca to snap, “I’m not, like, gonna hug you goodbye.” Get out, buddy — the faster, the better. Arie finally leaves, and we’re left with a camera shot of a closed bathroom door, and audio of her sobbing inside.

Oh, for God’s sake, Arie — why are you coming back inside? Becca told you to leave. After crushing her dignity on national TV you owe her that. “What are you still doing here?” she wails. “Just go!” Instead, he sits down on the couch, waiting for…what, exactly? For Becca to say she understands? For producers to call him an Uber? What? Eventually Becca resorts to hiding her face inside her off-the-shoulder top just to achieve some degree of escape from Arie, from the cameras, from all of it. “I can’t imagine my life without you,” she sobs. Oh honey, just give it a few weeks — we suspect you’ll have a whole herd of ABC-supplied hotties to choose from.

After Becca asks him three more times to leave, he finally (finally!) gets his butt off the couch and walks out. Even the SUV driver doesn’t want anything to do with Arie at this point, but he or she eventually unlocks the door and lets the backstabbing Bachelor into the car.

And with that, we’re back in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where Becca has appeared on the hot seat next to Chris Harrison. “Brutal,” she murmurs after the scene ends. After getting blindsided by Arie, Becca says she cried for “four days straight,” and since then she’s felt angry, betrayed, and confused. “I have a ton of questions,” she tells Harrison. But Becca doesn’t expect to get a “true answer” from Arie — nor do we, right rose lovers? Either way, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what Speed Racer has to say for himself.

Thus concludes night one of this SHOCKING FINALE EVENT. If you’re still able to think straight, let me know your thoughts on tonight’s “raw, uncut” emotional tsunami. Which is worse: Arie proposing to Becca when he was still clearly having doubts, or Arie then breaking up with Becca with the cameras rolling? And do you want to see Becca as the next Bachelorette? Post your thoughts now! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to mix NyQuil with chardonnay and sleep the sleep of the dead.

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