This season of The Bachelor has been, in a word, terrible. I’m delivering that information mostly secondhand, because after two episodes with Arie, I simply could not continue. He has the personality of a damp piece of wood; the physical grace of a large, confused bird; and his face is too many different colors. He has a Les Mis tattoo. Sorry, but I have more important things to do, like watch Summer House. But I returned once more to check out the finale and it was, I have to say, genuinely shocking in its lack of humanity.
Most of the three-hour episode went by as expected. Arie told both women he loved them; Becca gave Arie a weird scrapbook that included a page that said “I ❤️ Dogs” and another for “Our First Baby...”; Lauren, a nearly mute and very tan porcelain doll, really enjoyed Machu Picchu, and then Arie proposed to Becca. Becca and Arie are engaged! For a minute!
We first realize something is up when we are not brought back to the live studio after Arie proposes to Becca, as is customary. It’s unfortunate that I, and so many others, know this. The happy couple is supposed to be riding off into the Peruvian sunset—why, then, are we watching them play chess? Why are we listening to Becca compliment Arie on how he does the dishes? Why are we watching a rain drop softly fall from a tree branch? Oh my god, what is happening?!?!
Here’s what is happening: Arie has changed his mind. It is Jason and Melissa 2.0, and Chris Harrison, though he is giving the live audience his best somber stare, cannot hide the gigantic 3D dollar signs boinking out of his eye sockets.
“I go to bed and I think about Lauren, and I wake up and I think about Lauren,” Arie tells producers mournfully. Arie believes he has made a mistake. ABC is going to get this on camera. Arie, as far as we know, is perfectly fine with traumatizing his new fiancée on national television. (It is rather unfortunate for the network that this despicable moment is airing around the same time as a tell-all book on the franchise; the book reveals, among other things, that producers track contestants’ periods so they can best take advantage of emotionally vulnerable moments).
Arie enters the house that Becca believed they were staying in for a romantic weekend getaway, sits her down, and tells her, on camera, that he changed his mind. To better capture Becca’s reaction, ABC initiates a split-screen. He tells her that it’s not fair to be half-there with her, and that he wants to give it a shot with Lauren. Becca, whose hair is triumphantly shiny in this moment, asks whether he will be half-there with Lauren, too. This does not appear to have occurred to Arie.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Becca asks, face in her hands, giant engagement ring glimmering. Finally, after staring at each other in silence, she says “Okay, I’m done,” and gets up up to pack her suitcase.
One would think that the breakup would end here—that Arie would leave, or alternatively, if he had more he wanted to say, that he would say more words. Strangely, neither of these things happened. Arie lingers inside his manufactured split-screen breakup for an excruciatingly long period of time, remaining on site after being asked to leave five separate times.
“Do you want a few minutes to yourself, or do you want me just to go?” Arie asks after following Becca down the hall.
“I want you to go,” she says. He does not. We are all trapped here in this horrible light-filled weekend fuck house, listening to Becca’s quiet, hiccupy cries through the wall. Like a sad ghost who just had to follow his heart, man, Arie floats out the door and then inexplicably comes back in, sighing heavily through his nose and very slowly chasing Becca around the house, waiting for her to tell him he’s a good person. My desire for Becca to pull out a lighter and set his blue crew neck on fire is quite strong at this point, but she is living inside a literal nightmare and we can’t really blame her for being shellshocked.
“I have nothing to say,” she croaks. Arie stares expectantly.
“It’s so embarrassing,” she cries.
“Can we talk just a little bit?” Arie whines, a cameraman directly behind him. “Can you talk to me for like, a few minutes,” the vivid subtext reading: because the producers won’t let me leave until we fight?
“I don’t think you have anything else to say,” Becca says, correctly. He does not. All this man knows how to do, it seems, is stare.
It goes on and on and on. It is the song that never ends, except for the song is Becca sobbing, with an occasional dry-eyed sniff from her awful ex-fiancé. The episode is “blowing up on social media,” Chris Harrison informs us happily during a break, before cutting back to more of this horrible scene. It goes on for so long, in fact, that it actually doesn’t end—the episode was extended through tonight, when Becca will confront Arie in the live studio, and audiences will find out what happened between Lauren and Arie.
Something amazing, I’m sure.