Buckle up, Bachelor Nation: This season is gearing up for what promises to be truly, seriously, the most dramatic conclusion ever.
While PEOPLE won’t reveal specific plot points so as not to spoil the upcoming drama, suffice it to say that after the two-part finale on Monday and Tuesday, Arie Luyendyk Jr. will have a lot of explaining to do — especially since the franchise has been dropping ominous hints that something no one expected is about to go down.
“I know people are going to be hard on [me],” Luyendyk Jr., 36, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “I made a mistake. And I’m prepared for the backlash. But all I can say is I had to follow my heart.”
Of his two finalists, publicist Becca Kufrin, 27, and sales executive Lauren Burnham, 26, the race car driver says they’re “very different”: Minnesota-based Kufrin is “outgoing,” while Burnham, who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is more “reserved.”
“They’re both great in their own individual ways,” he adds.
One outspoken critic of the man of the hour? Former contestant Caroline Lunny, who openly called Luyendyk Jr. out on national television for “what he did” at the end of his season.
“This whole time, you’ve said that you are here because you are trying to find a wife,” she said during the Women Tell All reunion, which aired Sunday. “I know what you did, and I don’t know how you could do that. I just really don’t understand. But I really hope you found what you’re looking for.”
“I needed to say what I said. When somebody burns somebody you love, you want to have that moment where you get the last word in,” Lunny later told PEOPLE. “I don’t think Arie knows what he wants. I hope he can move past the glitz of being the Bachelor and take it seriously.”
And Luyendyk Jr. is certainly no stranger to controversy. Before the show even began airing, he dealt with blowback from fans who had been expecting that former Bachelorette star Peter Kraus would be the new suitor. He also came under fire for rumors that he broke up with a girlfriend to be on the show, though he says they had split six weeks before he found out he’d been chosen.
But the self-proclaimed “romantic” did find love on The Bachelor. And now, as his season finally draws to a close, he says he’s prepared to own up to his actions and explain his stunning behavior, even though that means addressing potential fallout from both the contestants — and the franchise’s millions of devoted viewers.
“[My decision] might not be the most popular,” he admits. “But for me it’s so worth it.”
The Bachelor concludes Monday and Tuesday on ABC.
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