This week, The Bachelor fans can expect double the episodes and more than double the drama, according to host Chris Harrison, who spoke with PEOPLE Wednesday.
Juan Pablo met the families of the four remaining ladies on Monday night’s hometown dates edition. Then on Tuesday, the final three travel to St. Lucia for the exotic overnight dates.
Harrison wouldn’t describe either experience as “smooth sailing” for our lover with a language barrier.
How does this season compare to others in terms of the final weeks?
The last three weeks were as difficult as we’ve ever had on this show. Maybe the most difficult. And I don’t mean his final choice or how it ends up. I mean this was a rockier road to that final episode than we’ve ever had. At this point, it’s [usually] the bachelor trying to narrow it down to two or three amazing people and then trying to figure out, ‘Who fits best in my lifestyle?’
Why do you think that is?
I think he has a tough time letting go, really opening up and giving himself to this process. Yes, it is a television show, and we are creating something entertaining, but it works. You have to believe. Juan Pablo has had a really tough time with that and the women have felt that.
I don’t know if it is a cultural difference and a language barrier. He didn’t know the show as well as people who have been watching it for 10 years and could just slide easily into that role. I think it made some of them question his motives and if he is here for true love because they are not seeing and hearing it as much as they have in the past.
How jarring was it for him to have Sharleen leave this late in the game?
Essentially, he was dumped. That hurts your ego and confidence. Suddenly all those insecurities – ‘Are they all going to leave? Do they really love me? Where is this going?’ – come to the surface and make you question everything. He’s only human. It rocks the foundation. We’ve all fallen for that person that didn’t fall for us.
He goes all protective father and tries to fix everything. You can see this wall come up. It’s very much a defense mechanism to take himself and his own emotions out of it. Later, he gets upset and allows himself to cry. You could see that it did shake his confidence.
Would she have been in the final two and why do you think she left?
I think she was heading that direction. There were still a lot of hurdles to clear – hometowns and overnights – but she was a favorite from the night she got out of the limo. While Juan Pablo does hold the roses, that doesn’t mean these women are just doe-eyed followers that do as he says.
Sharleen is an amazingly smart, articulate woman who expects a lot out of a man. She wasn’t getting that in her opinion. It happens again next week. One of these woman will question whether this is right for her and if she is getting what she needs out of this relationship.
Tease next week’s episodes
[It] isn’t such smooth sailing for [Juan Pablo] when he goes into these homes vying for permission from these parents to possibly marry their daughter. These women have lived through the experience, but families go, ‘We don’t know this guy. You are suddenly in love with him and ready to give up your life.’ They’re not so quick to give up their blessing. They aren’t all contentious but there are contentious parts of at least a couple of them for sure. You’ll see by the end of the episode if they fall for him.
The exotic dates episode is probably the most pivotal we’ve had this season. It’s a shakeup of the foundation of everything going on. It’s usually the bachelor figuring things out, but this season it has been the ladies questioning and figuring and that will continue through the overnight dates. There are some ugly cries and emotional moments ahead. The people left are 100 percent into this and there’s a lot on the line.
Chelsie was really the last goodbye that wasn’t really about her as much as it was about the whole process of having to say goodbye. From here on out, it is very personal. Families are involved and love and life is really on the line. It is huge and I hate to use the word, but it’s dramatic.
Was letting Chelsie go the right decision?
I don’t think he had that connection with Chelsie. They were like good friends. But even if you know it’s right, it’s still never fun or easy to say goodbye. He takes it really personal, is an emotional guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and Chelsie was really popular in the house so it was a tough situation. [That’s why] he pulled the half-Mesnick on the railing.
Is it a failure if there’s no proposal?
No, it’s life. I love that our show doesn’t always end in a proposal. The odd and scary-as-hell thing about producing this show is that we have no say in how it ends. We are going to show you the good, the bad and the ugly.
Is there validity to the criticisms Clare makes against Nikki and vice versa?
Those two are the frontrunners and are getting the most attention and affection with Juan Pablo. It is only human nature to go after those two and find something wrong. The funny thing is Nikki and Clare are more similar than they’d actually care to admit.
What does he see in Renee?
Juan Pablo has a love of family. Renee has that as well. Juan Pablo sees a lot of himself in Renee. He has a lot of respect for her and obviously she’s beautiful. Renee has all the qualities that he eventually wants in a wife and family, but is that what he wants right now? It gets down to lifestyle, ‘Is this the person who will fits my life right now?’
Is he pleased with the outcome?
At the end of the day, he did a great job for him and he’ll be satisfied with where he is in his life.