Warning: Spoilers ahead for the Monday, March 5, and Tuesday, March 6, finale of The Bachelor. Proceed at your own risk.
“I feel a little bit like a monster right now.” Arie Luyendyk Jr. said those words at the beginning of Tuesday’s After the Final Rose special, and given what he did to fiancée Becca Kufrin on Monday’s Bachelor finale — breaking up with her on camera during one of their so-called “happy couple” weekends so he could date runner-up Lauren Burnham — Bachelor Nation might not be in a rush to reassure him otherwise. But we’re in a rush to forget this season ever happened, so let’s get to the recap.
The episode begins with Becca in Minnesota, mourning the end of their relationship, as Arie prepares to reconcile with Lauren.
First, though, he sits down with Jason Mesnick, who went through something similar when he broke up with his Bachelor fiancée, Melissa Rycroft, to be with the runner-up, Molly Malaney. (He and Molly are now married with a daughter.) Jason tells Arie that people yelled at him in the street after his season, and that Arie should be really sure of what he wants before he blows up his life and Becca’s life and Lauren’s life.
But Arie is sure — or so he says. (We’ve heard this before, and we all know how it turned out the last time.) He claims that if he could do it all over again, he’d just be with Lauren. He wants to marry her. It’s too bad he didn’t have that realization *before* he proposed to someone else.
Arie heads down to Virginia Beach to convince Lauren to take him back, but it turns out that it doesn’t actually take much convincing. She greets him with a huge hug, and we find out — from Arie, and then from some of the other women on his season — that he and Lauren talked on the phone about getting back together, possibly even before he and Becca officially broke up.
They talk about it again in person, though, so we can watch it all play out on camera. He says he made a mistake in choosing Becca in Peru, and that he only did it because he thought she was the “safe” decision. He also says that he’s “1000 percent” over Becca — which seems a little callous — and that his heart is fully with Lauren. Again, that would have been a great thing to figure out *before* you proposed.
Back in the studio, where a live audience is watching all of this play out on a giant screen, Chris Harrison chats with a few other season 22 contestants — Seinne, Bekah M., Tia, Kendall, and Caroline. They’re all pretty angry at Arie because of how he treated Becca, and Bekah M. and Caroline echo viewers’ complaints that he should have ended the engagement privately. The other women don’t take as much issue with the decision to film the split, but they all agree that he shouldn’t have proposed in the first place. They also stress that they have no issue with Lauren in this situation — it’s all on Arie.
Chris then invites Becca to the stage, much to the delight of the studio audience. Like the other women before her, she tells Chris she’s fine with the decision to air the breakup, because she signed up to have her life filmed and it’s just another chapter in her story. (That story, as we’ll learn later in the episode, now includes a stint as the season 14 star of The Bachelorette.)
Becca (who looks stunning in a Donna Mizani dress) tells Chris about that fateful weekend in LA, saying she and Arie had looked at houses together not long before. She admits that she was blindsided by the split, but also says she has since made her peace with it and forgives him. She then notes how grateful she is for the support from Bachelor fans and pledges to donate the “wine fund” they started for her to Stand Up 2 Cancer. #TeamBecca!
Chris then invites Arie to join them on the couch. Becca is remarkably calm and restrained seeing her ex-fiancé for the first time, despite the fact that he still can’t muster up any genuine compassion for her, or give her an answer as to why he did what he did. (His only explanation is that he was under a lot of pressure.) Becca calls him out for disrespecting her and giving up on their relationship so quickly, and also notes that he robbed her of a really special moment. She’ll never have a first proposal or a first engagement again, and he shouldn’t have gotten down on one knee if he wasn’t sure. They agree on that, at least.
After they part ways, Chris brings out Jason and Molly for a quick interlude before sitting down with Arie and Lauren, who reveals that they’re “more in love than ever.” Lauren praises Arie for his “bravery and honesty” — ugh — and says he couldn’t have gone about this whole debacle in a more respectful way. (I can think of a few people who might beg to differ.)
And this is where things get really uncomfortable. Just minutes after a discussion with his ex about his first botched TV proposal, Arie gets down on one knee again and pops the question to Lauren, saying he’s ready to face this life with her, good and bad. Normally, a live Bachelor proposal would elicit thunderous applause from the studio audience, but this one is met mostly with stunned silence and a few half-hearted whoops that may or may not have come from Arie’s family. Lauren accepts, of course, and the audience claps politely, but the whole thing is really awkward, especially since Becca is probably watching from backstage.
Becca gets the final word, though, because — no surprise — she’s the new Bachelorette. And since everyone is eager to move on as quickly as possible from Arie’s journey, her journey is starting right now, with five potential suitors who make it clear that, unlike Arie, they’re “ready to do the damn thing” with her.
What did you think of this season of The Bachelor? Tell us @BritandCo.
(photos via ABC/Paul Hebert)