We've come to the end of yet another journey, Bachelor
Nation, with the dashing pillowy-lipped speedster who finished second in the Maynard 500 all the way back in 2012 set to choose between fake proposal publicist Becca and a plain bagel as his future wife. And here's a telling hint: Arie Luyendyk, Jr. can't even win his own race for love, when his only competition is himself.
I'm not one to read spoilers, but you'd have needed to spend the last month living under Luke Pell's rock or searching for Jef Holm's second F to miss that Bachelor
season 22 is ending in controversy. We all have some idea of the Mesnickian conclusion racing towards us at 200 miles an hour, but in true Indy car fashion, it's going to take us five hours to get to the checkered flag.
It's ironic, since Arie could barely carry two hours each week without help from Krystal, Bekah and over-protective parents. But this one is so dramatic (the most dramatic, really) that it needs to be stretched out over two nights. So buckle up, Becca fans (are there Lauren fans, who don't know her personally?); it's going to be a long and bumpy ride -- with a pit stop.
Clarity, Peace, Serenity
Chris Harrison welcomes the studio audience to the live finale by tempering Arie's scandelicious actions with claims that they were all done for the sake of love, but he's definitely going down in history as one of the franchise's biggest jerks. But, hey, it worked out for Jason and Molly.
Back in Peru, Arie hopes his family can help provide clarity, and only Lauren Lauren B. is up first. The episode description reads, "When Lauren arrives, she instantly charms everyone with her outgoing personality," which elicits a snicker.
Now, I'm not saying Lauren has no personality. She's probably perfectly delightful in real life. But audiences haven't seen anything bubbly or engaging, so it's difficult to understand how Arie could've fallen head over heels in such a short time, especially when you contrast her reserved nature to Becca's genuine exuberance.
Lauren deadpans that she's "so excited" to meet the family of the man she loves, and they're welcoming while picking up on her nerves. She admits to dad -- aka the actual winner of the clan -- that she was previously engaged, and fear of failure is holding her back.
From Arie's perspective, all the time he spends reassuring Lauren takes away from in-depth conversations, which is a bit of a red flag. And after she tells Mom, "I'm very much in love with Arie," without smiling or showing any emotion, the matriarch encourages her to drop the walls and go for it.
Influencing the Luyendyks
The normally confident Becca is shaken by the reality that another woman wants her man, and he calms her nerves with proclamations of love before the meet and greet. She's much warmer than Lauren, but Mom has reservations because she was such a fan of the first girl. And she actually says this to Becca, even though she's eventually won over.
Arie's dad awkwardly asks Becca what she thinks of Lauren before admitting that he'd be happy with whomever his son picks (the siblings mention her competition by name as well), and she's put-off by the constant comparison because they're such vastly different people. It's really just a shitty thing to do to Becca, who leaves with increased apprehension.
The family consensus seems to be that Arie has dated a lot of women like Lauren, who are introverted and need constant reassurance, while Becca would fit his personality and provide the kick in the ass he so sorely needs. She makes sense and is a force in her own right, and they're already a team. But he keeps going back to what he describes as "undeniable love with Lauren."
After Caroline swings by the studio to reiterate that Arie toyed with both women and committed "unforgivable" atrocities, it's time for Lauren's final date. They hitch a ride on a private train to Machu Picchu, where they reminisce about their time together and laugh over their opening night limo introduction.
He's seen glimpses of her true nature throughout the journey, especially since they exchanged words of affirmation, and they gaze into each other's eyes and argue over who is luckier to be there. Arie came into this day thinking he'd made up his mind, but now Lauren has burrowed even deeper into his heart.
After dinner, they cheer to "a lifetime of unforgettable dates," proving they have no understanding of marriage. At best, it's a lifetime of mostly forgettable dates, and that's fine. Still, she opens up about disregarding her fears, and she's excited and ready to spend the rest of her life as his side-seat driver.
He reciprocates, and they envision the cheesiest of romantic futures together. And, yes, she imagines them waking up together and having coffee. It's all any girl wants. They kiss goodnight, and for the moment, Arie is on #TeamLauren.
Storms turn to sun as Arie and Becca walk around town, hand-in-hand, dancing in puddles with kids and petting llamas. Cumulonimbus Lauren looms, but Becca has faith that in the end, his heart will steer him in the right direction: toward her. Still, he's clearly conflicted and reserved.
She recognizes that Lauren is more his speed, while she would challenge him and strive for an equal partnership, and the idea of losing him to someone so fundamentally different from her is unimaginable. She expresses these fears like a human grown-up, and his reassurances are, well, less than stellar. It's over the top with Lauren, but with Becca, he mutters about "going back and forth" on some things.
She remains hopeful, and to show her how much she cares, she presents him with a scrapbook of their time together (including a blank "our first baby" page with a stork). She also reads a selection from her journal about falling in love and how her late father would be proud, even though Arie will never get to meet him.
A Classic Head vs. Heart Struggle
He leaves as confused as ever, and everyone -- including Arie -- knows Becca is the better choice. But the dull heart wants what the dull heart wants.
In some ways, you can't blame him. What's he supposed to do? Marry Becca and think about Lauren his whole life? If he picks Lauren and it doesn't work out, will he wonder about Becca? Probably not as much.
Back in the studio, Jason Mesnick commiserates with Arie's plight. He's either secretly pissed that this douchebag's antics are pulling him back into the spotlight or stoked that someone is finally stealing his infamous indecisive thunder.
The Head Wins -- For Now
The standard ending is not the important one in this case, but Arie goes through the motions of picking out the Neil Lane ring, letting Lauren profess her devotion before devastating her, and even offering a parting "I love you" on the way out.
She doesn't understand anything, and how could she after all those exaggerated reassurances? It's a betrayal, especially after she let her guard down, and she wholeheartedly believed he was the one. For his part, he feels like a monster.
Then there's the proposal, which comes with the pomp and circumstance of final roses past. They're two puzzle pieces that fit, and there are hugs and kisses and tears as Arie gets down on one knee and Becca proclaims that her heart is about to burst with joy.
It's gut-wrenching knowing what's coming, but at least they didn't lead us to believe there was a happily ever after. With Jason, we thought he and Melissa were destined for the altar before the After the Final Rose shocker. The gossip cycle plays a role in that being an impossibility, but I'm glad we don't have to be blindsided like Becca.
Change of Heart
In the days and weeks that follow, Arie and Becca spend a lot of time together, which he halfheartedly describes as "good." She's nurturing, caring and would fit in with his family, and they talk of moving in and starting a life. But despite their jaunts, he can't stop thinking about Lauren and what these moments would be like with her.
He feels incredible guilt and knows the situation is not fair to anyone involved. So he's decided to follow his heart; call off the engagement, despite his promise to "pick [Becca] every day"; and lay it all on the line to correct his mistake.
So Becca believes she's partaking in a "happy couple weekend," and she spends her time complimenting Arie's ring selection and feeling like she can finally relax and enjoy the love of her life. And she has no idea what's about to happen.
Bachelor Heartbreak, Uncut
As Chris Harrison has reminded us ad nauseam, what follows is reality TV's first uncut and unedited real-time two-camera break-up (which is specific criteria). Arie sits Becca down and starts with small talk, making her increasingly nervous, and then he opens up about his struggle.
It's disturbing to see simultaneous close-ups of both their faces as he admits that he wants to reconcile with Lauren, especially with the giant rock on her finger and the "American Idol: The Journey Begins in 6 Days" banner at the bottom right corner of the screen.
She was aware that he still had feelings for Lauren and was doing what she could to help strengthen their relationship, but she's naturally speechless and embarrassed over being jilted on national television. She doesn't say much, but her highlights include:
-- "You shouldn't have gotten down on one knee."
-- "You have a lot of shit to figure out."
-- " I want to help you find what you want -- clearly not me."
-- "Okay, I'm done."
-- "I'm not, like, going to hug you goodbye."
-- "This is just a really shitty thing on your part, like everything about this."
-- "I want you to go."
The Never-Ending Break-Up
I took notes with the intention of summarizing them, but recapping the words spoken and their impact is difficult in such a long segment. So I'll let my own unfiltered real-time reactions speak for themselves:
He leaves. She cries. And cries. This is going on way too long. Then. He. Goes. Back. Inside. Why? Oh, to ask if she's okay. Yeah, she's not okay, bro.
Becca: "Just leave. What are you still doing here? Just go."
Soooo he sits down on the couch.
Becca: "I've got nothing to say. But I do, honestly, I tried. It's so embarrassing. To think that you have this future..."
He asks to talk more then tries to touch her f***ing hair? No! That's not your hair anymore.
Becca: "I don't think you have anything else to say. I'm not the one for you."
Arie sit back down, says it kills him to see her like this, but he's so sorry.
Becca: "I feel like my future was ripped away. Like, I love you and obviously want you to be happy, and it's not me, but I can't imagine my life without you."
More explaining. Yeah, we got it dude. It feels cruel. She's not going to make you feel better.
Becca: "You finally saw me cry. Just go. Please just go."
All of America is screaming at the TV, why the f*** is he still there? Is he getting paid by the minute? Usually, you want to get these things over with. Still there. Scurry. Skedaddle. Gooooooooo. Go. Go. Go. He's not going.
Becca: "I can't even look at you. Just leave."
Nope. Still sitting there. He pulls up his sleeves. Even the camera man has to be thinking, "Dude, you should go. The door's right there."
He finally leaves. Thank god.
In the studio, Becca gets a huge ovation and can only describe the situation as "brutal." She was ready to do it all, and she hasn't seen or talked to Arie since. She feels angry, betrayed and that she was lied to for so long. She has many questions, but she's not sure if she can trust any of his answers.
Either way, that's a discussion for another night and another recap. Arie, Lauren and Becca will have their chances in the special two-hour After the Final Rose, when we'll also learn if a Jason/Molly-type reunion is in the cards. Until then, we'll have to wait and wonder about everyone's happiness. Except Chris Harrison's. It's all dollar signs to him.
How do you feel about how it all played out? Arie definitely screwed over Becca, but this is also how relationships and break-ups go. Maybe he shouldn't have proposed, but do you blame him for following his heart? How should he have handled it? Should Lauren take him back? And does the Mesnicks' success sway your opinion at all? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.