Editor’s Note: Alex Kirshner is one of our college football writers. He had not, as of last night, seen a full episode of ABC’s “The Bachelor” in his life. Here is his recap of the season finale.
We start in the town of Cusco, in Peru. Our protagonist is Arie, the bachelor who’s possibly deciding at the end of this show to be with either Becca K. or Lauren B. for all eternity.
Part 1: Lauren meets the family, and it’s great
Arie is at a J.W. Marriott. I was at a J.W. Marriott a few days ago. That was in Indianapolis, not Peru, but that’s a nice hotel. There’s probably a good sports bar there. The contestants are going to meet with the family in an elegant room in the hotel, like this is the NFL Combine and they’re defensive backs going to meet with teams after running the 40-yard dash.
Arie’s parents and siblings are here, and they’re conducting a sort of job interview with Lauren, a tech saleswoman from Virginia Beach. Arie tells us he wants his parents to understand “why he’s in love with her,” which is cool, because there’s a 50 percent chance he’s dumping her by the end of this three-hour special.
After a family dinner, Arie’s dad, Arie Sr., pulls Lauren away from the herd and has a heart-to-heart with the woman who has a 50 percent chance of winning. Lauren is just 25, but she’s been engaged before! It wouldn’t be good to get engaged again and have that not work out, because that’d leave her 25 and having twice been in doomed engagements.
Then Lauren meets with Arie’s mom, Mieke, who tells us it breaks her heart that her son has to choose someone. Lauren is crying with the woman who’s either her future mother-in-law or the mom of the guy who’s going to dump her on national TV in a few hours (or months).
Part 2: But then Becca meets the family, and that’s great, too
Becca, a publicist from Minneapolis, shows up with a lovely wicker basket and some flowers. We have to presume those are for Arie’s mom. (Seconds later, it’s confirmed that the flowers are for Arie’s mom. Here’s what confuses me: The Arie family is in a foreign country right now. What is she going to do with flowers? They’re sure as hell not going on a plane back to wherever it is Arie’s family’s lives. Advantage, Lauren.)
Arie then makes a classic error. Merely one commercial break after he told Lauren he loved her in front of his parents, he tells Becca he loves her in front of his parents. Mom comes to the realization that her son is going to shatter at least one heart. But maybe Mom is a hypocrite, because she then cops to the same feeling Arie has.
“I love Lauren, but I also love Becca,” she tells her boy in a private sidebar.
“In my opinion, I would lean more towards ….” she says, and then her voice trails off. She says it’s hard to decide, and she doesn’t name anyone. I bet that part’s been edited.
Arie Sr. then chats with Becca and delivers an inspiring message: That he’s going to be fine with either.
Becca says she’s going to “lose it” if she hears Lauren’s name again. A member of Arie’s family then asks about Lauren, and tears flow. Lauren appears to be our frontrunner.
Part 3: Mom and Dad fill out their brackets
“I just love Lauren, but I think Becca would be better for your future,” Mom says.
Dad concurs. Becca has achieved frontrunner status, in a shocker.
“I feel like ultimately, they did sway more toward Becca,” Arie tells us. It feels like one of the key indicators there was when both his parents explicitly said they preferred Becca.
Part 4: A spontaneous, not-at-all pre-produced trip to Machu Pichu
We move to Peru’s Sacred Valley, where there are cute lambs. Arie is talking about how confident he’s felt about his relationship with Becca, but then Lauren shows up. Lauren is particularly radiant as the two of them board a private train. Arie seems to again consider the possibility that it won’t be Becca who wins his heart after all.
They’re going to a little place called Machu Pichu. They know they can’t just take a train all the way to the top of that particular mountain, right? I hope they don’t break anything. Lauren says she’s seen all of Machu Pichu “in her history books.” She means Google Images, because American social studies classes don’t teach 15th-century Inca history.
“Lauren’s found her lane in my heart,” Arie says, while the camera chases the two of them around a brick maze on Machu Pichu. The camera finds them. They’re making out.
Part 5: Spa!
After a commercial break, Lauren is in a quaint little room at a Peruvian spa. “Wanna come in?” she asks Arie, and he says, “Absolutely the hell not,” and he slams the door shut.
He doesn’t really do that. He comes inside, and Lauren opens up her heart to him. She says she wants Arie to know why she loves him, considering he’s done such a good job explaining it to her. “We just have something so different that I’ve never had before,” she says, and that’s a hell of a thing to say to a guy who’s probably been having sex with someone else on this exact same TV show for at least a week.
“I’m so, I’m just, I dunno,” Arie says.
They agree there’s something unexplainable about their relationship. I also feel this way, given that Arie is 11 years older than her and considerably less attractive.
Arie is 36 and says he wants to have kids soon, and I don’t think it’s uncomfortable at all that he’s discussing this with a 25-year-old contestant for his heart on this reality TV show.
Arie gets up and leaves. As best I can tell, no sex is had here.
Part 6: Becca’s last stand
Heading into his last date with Becca, our man is still torn up over having to decide between two women who are smarter, better-looking, and more engaging than he is.
“I never would’ve imagined that I’d be at this point and not know,” says Arie, a guy who would’ve been sued by ABC and lost his job if he’d decided on a suitor already.
“I always would be honest with you,” Arie tells Becca. (Note: Bookmarking this.) They’re sitting at a table with a lovely view of the mountains. She tells him she’s excited for him to come over later.
Part 7: An insightful conversation in another spa
Becca lights a candle in the room at her spa, Casa Cartagena. She paces about the room in a cardigan, and Arie walks up to the door. This time, she doesn’t have to invite him in. He just walks right on over to a couch, and she tells him about how in-her-head she is right now. She says it “scares the shit out of me” that their relationship could be “ripped away.”
“I think with us, it’s I don’t know, umm,” Arie says. “I don’t know.”
Arie says he has no questions for Becca, but that’s a good thing — because he knows her so well. They could be up all night pillow-talking and never run out of things to say.
It turns out Becca’s composed a handwritten note to Arie. She reads it out loud, which is definitely a personal choice and not something she’s been compelled to do by the show’s producers. She also scrapbooked some stuff for him, and it’s all in a bound book, which is a normal thing that people put memories inside of in the year 2018 (or 2017, when this was filmed). The white hot spontaneity of this encounter apexes when they make out.
Part 8: Confusion’s cruel reign
Arie looks out his hotel window and, in a voiceover, tells us that he thought he’d be engaged by the end of this season. What could he be getting at? We see shots of him pensively walking through city streets and then along an overlook at a cliff.
“I’m getting engaged today,” Arie says a few minutes later, while he’s picking out a ring. He says he can really see “her” wearing a particular design. Who’s “her”? I don’t know.
“She’s not gonna see this coming,” Arie then says. But who? And what?
The host, Chris, says we’re about to see “the most controversial scene in Bachelor history,” unedited and uncut, and I’ve never been more confused in my life.
Part 9: “How could you do that to somebody?”
The first woman on the scene is Lauren, who steps out of a large SUV and meets the host, Chris, at the entrance to the compound where Arie’s standing around. Chris escorts her to meet him, and Becca’s still nowhere to be found. Lauren calls Arie her “one true love.”
Does anyone have cutlery? Because you could cut this tension with a knife.
Lauren gives a speech about how real her love for Arie is. But then Arie starts to cry, and he launches into his own speech. “I wanted it so bad for us,” he says.
“But I can’t go through with it.”
Lauren doesn’t even know what to say, other than that she’s “extremely confused.” She wishes Arie the best, and the two of them hug it out.
“I’m so sorry. Can I walk you?” Arie says. And he does.
As Lauren leaves, she tells Arie she still loves him. There’s so much heavy breathing being picked up on the show’s mics. You have never heard this much heavy breathing.
In the car driving her away, Lauren asks how Arie could “do that to somebody.” I think she’s referring to him telling her he loved her and also saying it to another girl, in which case my best answer would be: “Love’s complicated.”
He’s copped to not knowing what he was going to do until the morning, which makes me fear for his fragile heart.
Part 10: The first unedited scene in reality TV history (allegedly)
At least that’s what our host calls it. He’s lying, and we know he’s lying off the bat, because there’s pensive piano music playing in the background. That requires editing.
Becca, the last woman standing, is on the scene. She walks toward Arie, taking the same winding pathway that’s just delivered Lauren to the ultimate disappointment. The two are clashing terribly, with Becca in a black gown and Arie in a navy blue suit.
Becca gives a speech, and she seems to know she has this thing locked. But Arie gives her a look throughout that says something other than, “I’m proposing to you now.”
But he is.
“My love for you is unmeasurable,” Arie says. He gets down on one knee, and he pulls that stunning ring out of his pocket. He asks if she’ll marry him, and she says, “Of course.”
Arie slides the ring onto Becca’s finger, and we’re done here. He sweeps her up in an embrace. He asks when they’ll start having babies, and she says, “Tonight.”
He gives her a rose, which breaks in the course of their celebration. The rose is something that’s given to people when they advance on The Bachelor, I am told.
That whole scene was edited, but the host says that now that unedited scene is coming.
Part 11: A change of heart
Some time after the proposal, the show cuts to the two of them in a hammock. They’re “alone and in love,” Becca says. In various shots, they’re playing chess together, tossing pizza dough together, doing dishes together, and kissing in a backyard together.
Arie confides in us, the viewers, that while he’s out and about with Becca, he thinks about what things might’ve been like with Lauren. It’s difficult, he says. The feelings of this breakup were supposed to dissipate like those of any other, but they haven’t. Arie feels an “immense amount of guilt” about what this means for Becca, he informs us.
Then, a bombshell comes:
“It kills me that I’m going back on that, but I have to follow my heart.”
Arie is calling off the engagement and breaking up with Becca. Holy antler spray.
Becca’s in Los Angeles now, having had a nice couples weekend with Arie. The past few months have been a “whirlwind,” she says, but she’s thrilled about everything now.
In a live studio shot, Arie is booed. We cut, obviously, to a commercial.
The commercial break ends. We return.
Part 12: The first unedited scene in reality TV history (for real this time, maybe). “It just might be the most emotional scene ever,” the host says.
Arie walks toward Becca, looking straight ahead in a blue long-sleeve T. Becca meets him in the kitchen of a house, looking full of joy. While an entire camera crew shuffles through the room, Arie asks, “How do I start this conversation?” He’s breaking the bad news to her.
“For me, the more I hung out with you, the more I felt like I was losing the possibility of maybe reconciling things with Lauren,” he says.
“So what?” she says. “You want to be back with her.”
“I want to see if there’s that possibility.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
Arie says he must follow his heart, and Becca is shellshocked.
“What the fuck?” she says.
Arie expected his “heartbreak” at dumping Lauren to go away. He doesn’t think it’s fair to be “half in” with Becca, but he feels with Lauren, he won’t be half-in. He’s going all the way in.
“Oh my fucking god,” she says. (I think. ABC-produced bleeping makes it difficult to say for sure.)
Becca takes her engagement ring off. She’s not looking up. Arie tells her she didn’t do anything wrong. All things considered, she’s holding up exceptionally well.
“Oh my fucking god,” she says again.
She tells him he shouldn’t have gotten down on one knee, and that this is embarrassing. He’s got lots to figure out, she tells him, and he says he’s “put a lot of thought behind this.”
Becca tells Arie she hopes he finds what he wants, because “it’s clearly not me.” (Maybe she could get back with her ex-boyfriend Ross, a Stanford football strength coach who tried to woo her back by flying trans-ocean to surprise her during last week’s episode.)
She has to suffer the indignity of walking down the hall to get her stuff. She’s barely even unpacked. But Arie says he’ll leave instead, and that Becca can stay.
“This was just, like, a really [swear word] thing on your part,” Becca tells him. It’s not clear which word she used, but it could’ve been only one or two.
Arie is doing another crummy thing. He asks Becca if he should wait a few minutes or leave now. When she tells him to leave now, he waits so that ABC can get more footage of him.
Becca’s tears are the soundtrack for the next few moments. We see that Becca has given the ring back to Arie, and he looks sad. But ABC probably bought that ring in the first place. Arie walks outside and deliberates.
ABC sticks with Becca’s crying for way too long. Arie then goes back into the house, because what’s more important than giving Becca space is that Arie allows the camera crew to spend more time shooting him looking concerned in the hallway.
“What are you still doing here?” Becca asks when he knocks on her door. “Just go.”
This is pathetic television on The Bachelor’s part. There’s a reason TV shows are edited. Everything feels so exploitative. Arie sits stone-faced while Becca continues to cry on a split screen. She tells him she has nothing to say, again.
“What did I do wrong?” she asks.
(He’s already told her she did nothing wrong. And she didn’t. This is on him.)
She calls this “fucking embarrassing,” and it undoubtedly is. He asks if they can talk some more, continually milking the situation for the cameras. He gets close to her, and she tells him, “Don’t touch me.” She reiterates that there’s nothing to say.
We cut to the studio, for the second break since this started.
“We’re not done yet,” Chris says.
At this point, it’s worth remembering that there have been dozens of post-Bachelor breakups. (I know this because the people I’m watching the show with have explained it to me. This show has a low batting average of successful marriages.) But did Arie really have to call his film crew before taking a baseball bat to the piñata of Becca’s heart?
We cut back to Los Angeles, where the broken-up lovers are still pacing.
The two sit back down on the couch where Arie delivered the bad news. There’s not any constructive conversation going on, though. She feels her “future was ripped away.”
Arie says he’s sorry. He’s “so sorry.” I bet he is.
Becca finally starts to cry. It’s really, really time for Arie to leave, but he’s not leaving.
Becca insists again that Arie leave. Again, he does not leave.
“K, I’m gonna go,” he’s finally says. But he keeps staring right at her.
At last, after nearly a half-hour of emotionally traumatizing Becca, Arie walks out of the house and gets on his way to a waiting SUV. Becca continues to cry.
(Another loser in this: Arie’s driver, who had to wait in the driveway all this time. I hope the engine wasn’t running.)
Part 13: For some reason, Becca now has to explain this sadness on live TV.
We cut back to the studio. Becca’s sitting there with Chris.
“Brutal,” she says.
Becca says she hasn’t heard anything from Arie since he broke up with her. (This was sometime a few weeks to months ago. The exact date’s not clear.) She says she stayed in Los Angeles and cried for probably four days after the breakup.
“I am angry at times. I feel betrayed a lot of the time, just because I feel like I was lied to for so long,” she says. Chris asks if she wants to see him again and, if so, what she’ll say.
Becca has questions, but she doesn’t think they’ll yield answers.
Part 14: Oh, there’s going to be more of this.
Arie, Becca, and Lauren will be on live TV together Tuesday night.