Well, that was brutal.
We've had 21 hours to digest the gut-wrenching Bachelor
season 22 finale, and even though Becca has had months to recover from being blindsided on national television, her emotional wounds are still feel fresh.
The rawness is, of course, aided by the fact that America just watched a 46-minute two-camera slow-mo of her dreams being crushed, with Chris Harrison reminding us before and after every commercial break that the footage was uncut and unedited.
What remains now are the unanswered questions. Did Lauren take Arie back? Are they engaged or even together? Is Becca okay? Is she the next Bachelorette? And if so, how can she possibly be ready to fall in love again?
And the most pressing question on everyone's mind: why the hell did Arie stick around so long after Becca told him to scram? Was he looking for validation? Forgiveness? Outrage? Did he really believe he'd be able to make her feel better? And what made him think he was still allowed to touch her hair?
Hopefully, the answers to these (and more) are forthcoming. With two additional hours of this nonsense on tap, there's certainly enough time to dive into all the sordid details. And to all the guys and gals out there, when you abruptly end a relationship, leave. Let their friends do the consoling. Don't be a dick.
I Choo Choo Choose Lauren
The After the Final Rose show is typically a celebration, albeit one with a twinge of runner-up blues, and it usually comes with an upbeat headline like, "Is the Happy Couple Still Happy?" In fact, some similar iteration has been the title of eight of the 10 After the Final Rose recaps I've written for BuddyTV.
The only exceptions were Andi confronting Nick about fantasy suite sex and Juan Pablo refusing to get down on one knee. But in both cases, the final couples were at least still together. Season 22, however, is in a class by itself. And it's up to you whether that's positive or negative.
I'm in the camp that good TV is exactly that. And at the end of the day, beyond moral implications, the viewers are the only ones owed anything. These contestants know what they're getting into, whether motivated by love or fame or whatever, and withholding the best relevant footage does a disservice to the brand -- even if it's controversial -- and certainly the ratings.
It's all the more impactful if it captures real emotions and situations with which nearly everyone can relate, and who hasn't been dumped in horrific fashion? It's obviously not ideal and leaves character-building scars. But in the end, Becca comes out on top with unprecedented support and her pick from a crop of better, more interesting men who aren't going to take her for granted.
When life gives you lemons, you throw those f***ing lemons at Arie and laugh into the sunset with a dude who appreciates a strong, self-sufficient woman. And now, the dramatic two-hour conclusion to the absurdly long five-hour Bachelor season 22 finale...
Welcome to the Live Studio Audience
Wait, did Chris Harrison screw up? Did he flub his intro? "We will be seeing another wedding proposal tonight," he says, before pausing. "Could that happen tonight? Stranger things have happened." Uncharacteristic blunder? Time will tell.
After a recap of the demolition derby, Arie pays a visit to Jason Mesnick for some insight into the backlash he's about to face and the sage advice to only pursue the reconciliation if he's 100% sure. While Becca rereads her love journal and weeps, Arie has a panic attack outside Lauren's home.
He finally musters up the cojones to knock on the door, and she leaps into his arms, apparently already fully aware of the jilting. He professes his love and promises to spend every day making it up to her, and even though she struggled to readjust without being able to discuss her heartbreak, she forgives him and is willing to give it a second go. Hooray for love?
Thoughts from the Peanut Gallery
Seinne, Bekah (who my wife confirms can pull off basically wearing just a bra), Caroline, Tia and Kendall join Chris Harrison on stage because why not? They bash Arie's lack of empathy and for not doing things privately, and Seinne could've gotten over what happened before seeing Arie throw away the relationship like it was nothing.
Chris Harrison uses it as a springboard to address showing the footage in the first place, and the general consensus is that it was good because it showed Becca's poise and strength. They also reveal that Arie had confirmation from Lauren before breaking up with Becca, and they wonder if the weasel would've had the guts to call off the engagement otherwise.
Bekah hopes that Lauren gets out of this as soon as possible, but Seinne and Kendall are still rooting for love because they'd never wish bad things on anyone. And they put no blame on Lauren for taking back the man she loves, especially since she hadn't previously seen the breakup footage.
Becca's Triumphant Return
The next Bachelorette Becca is doing well now, but it's difficult to relive those moments. Still, it has allowed to her see all sides of Arie and provide closure in the knowledge that she wasn't the one for him. He needed to follow his heart, and she would never want to marry a man who felt trapped.
Arie had admitted to falling in love with both women, and she encouraged him to reach out to Lauren to get the guilt off his chest. But she had no knowledge of the actual contact and was shocked that he couldn't close that chapter, especially after they looked at houses and discussed what they were going to do with her place in Minnesota.
The outpouring of love has since filled her heart, and ridiculous public responses include billboards that read "Becca, you'll always have a rose from Minnesota" and "Arie ... Not okay, just leave," and a fundraiser that's collected more than $6,000. She wants to donate it to Stand Up to Cancer, and Chris Harrison promises to match.
Facing the Firing Squad
Becca is ready to rip off the band-aid, while Arie will have to answer for his deeds not only to her but also to all of Bachelor Nation. So when did he know it was over? It was the conversation with Lauren that convinced him, but it also led to guilt and shame. And he ended it the way he did so that everyone would know it was all on him.
He hid the Lauren chat because he didn't want to act rashly, which means there were times when Becca thought everything was fine when he was using it as a litmus test for their future. All she ever asked for was honesty, and she thought the whole time that Arie was attempting to close a door, not open one. Flash cut to Kendall crying on Bekah's shoulder.
He regrets proposing, which he blames on the pressure of being the Bachelor, and he recognizes that he had a choice and made the wrong one, apologizing with no excuses. Still, she says he robbed her of her first engagement and, despite his internal conflict, had always stood by his decision with confidence.
She's always going to have love in her heart for him, but she's ready to move on and find someone better suited to her life, like she hopes Lauren is for him. She forgives him and wants him to be happy because she refuses to have ill will toward anyone. But she urges him to be honest with Lauren and hold her heart high, showing the respect and commitment he couldn't give her.
Holy hell, this is the most depressing recap ever. I swear, I'm trying to find places to be funny. There just aren't any.
Blast from the Dysfunctional Past
Jason and Molly are back in the hot seat to waste more time and rehash their own public saga, which occurred back in the stone ages before the perils of social media (which is coincidentally the first season I ever watched).
Jason's first bit of advice would have been to end things privately. But he admits that if people hadn't seen it, they'd have wondered exactly what happened. He reiterates that Arie is a genuinely nice and good person, and he hopes the critics can wish him well because this show can mess you up with its "weird love trap."
They urge Arie and Lauren to leave the big city and work on their relationship out of the limelight, and Molly believes this will bring them closer together. The backlash and magazine covers were part of their journey, and she is unsure what kind of relationship they'd have without the shared experience. And now they've been married for eight years.
Is the Happy Couple Still Happy?
Lauren joins the party, and there is literally zero applause when she says she's excited to finally do normal couple things. They decided not to watch the finale, so Lauren still hasn't witnessed the crushing break-up with her own eyes.
Arie reached out through Instagram on New Year's Eve -- before the premiere -- to see if she'd be open to a conversation, and she was initially hesitant and asked if Becca knew they were talking. It was apparently an effort to be respectful to her friend, but they neglect to mention how Arie responded (since we know he didn't divulge it to his fiancee until later).
They recognize that people are angry, but this has made them stronger, and Lauren has never been more in love. Here are her words: "The one thing that is present right now to me is just his bravery and his honesty. And I think that he did an amazing job at handling this whole thing, and he couldn't have gone about it in a more respectful way, and I'm really proud of him." Yeah, she definitely didn't watch the finale.
She trusts him completely with her heart, and he dismisses the haters because it's easy to sit at home and judge (in a recap, say). But no love story is perfect, and they have each other's heart, which is all that matters.
What Does the Future Hold?
They're kicking off their public relationship by leaving the country before she moves to Arizona, and they'll get through the outrage together by avoiding social media and focusing on strengthening their bond.
Lauren didn't expect it, but she always had hope that Arie would circle back to her. Meanwhile, he never could have imagined that this was how his journey would end when he signed up for Emily Maynard's season six years ago.
Arie caps off his own quest for televised love by again dropping to one knee, this time starting his proposal with the words every woman wants to hear: "I made a lot of bad decisions." About 12 people not related to Arie clap as she accepts, none of whom previously lived in the mansion.
It's a pretty shitty thing to do in the presence of Becca's friends, especially when she's probably still in the building and already had to hear Arie say he was "1,000%" over her. At least he got a new ring. I'll let my wife sum it up: "What an asshole. This is so horrifying. He should not be doing this in front of everyone."
Chris Harrison deadpans, "I didn't see that coming." And, yep, he let it slip earlier.
A Not-So-Surprising Revelation
Is there any doubt? Becca is the next Bachelorette! And right after she watched her douchey ex propose to the human version of beige. She vows to be the best damn Bachelorette she can be, and she's truly ready to find the man of her dreams.
Her girls couldn't be more excited, and they all pile onto the couch to declare Becca the most deserving and best human out there. And some of the guys are about to find it out in person because like what happened with Rachel, the show starts right now.
First in front of the makeshift mansion backdrop is Lincoln, a black man with a British accent who calls Arie a wanker and is way too sweet and nervous as he gushes on and on (and on).
Chase is equally all over the place, but he's excited to be here and demands multiple hugs. What is happening?
Ryan is a dorkier version of Wells in a flowery sport coat who rocks out on the banjo and sings an original song about Becca. My wife dubs him a frontrunner.
Then there's Darius, who apologizes on behalf of his gender and is bursting with excitement over her beauty.
Finally (and you may have missed this if you didn't extend your DVR), Blake walks in with a horse named Bradley. He doesn't ride Bradley. But he trots him to the stage and tells Becca that he's the man to help her get back in the saddle.
Riding into the Sunset
That's it, folks, as the curtain closes on yet another adventure. We've done this 35 times now. And while it was one of the messiest, it actually ended happy for all parties. Lauren is the salt to Arie's bland cracker, and together they're something you can stomach when you're feeling sick.
As always, I thank everyone for reading each week and riding the crazy train to the end of the tracks. Without you, I'd be writing exclusively for my wife. And I'm pretty sure she only reads to see if I've quoted her.
Are you happy with the way things turned out? Even with the heartbreak, is it the best possible outcome for Becca? And even if she doesn't find love, do you have ill will toward Arie and Lauren? Or are you wishing them a lifetime of health and happiness? Should he have proposed on stage, and what's your reaction to the poor reception they received? Finally, do you predict they have the meddle and moxie to make it for the long haul? Or are they destined for failure? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.