At the end of the two-hour finale, Juan Pablo sent Clare home, ultimately choosing Nikki. The live audience applauded as Clare gave the Venezuelan a piece of her mind and were also dumb-founded as Nikki professed her love, only to have those feelings hardly reciprocated when he offered her the final rose. At the live After the Final Rose special, things only got more bizarre and tense as a defensive Juan Pablo refused to truly say whether or not he even loves Nikki and all but chided Harrison for asking the questions that anyone who stars on this show is supposed to be asked.
So how is Harrison feeling nearly a day after the tense conversation ended? What happened as soon as the cameras turned off? And what was that "surprise" Juan Pablo claimed he knew nothing about? Find out in our final one-on-one interview with Harrison below:
What a night! How are you feeling now that you've slept on it?
Chris Harrison: People thought I was mad and angry, but I really wasn't at all. I think I was just confused and a little disappointed. I kept [thinking], "What are you trying to accomplish?" I didn't know if there was some sort of act or charade going on or like a revenge thing against me or the show. He does this a lot, I've noticed, in life where it's never his fault. He's a controlling person and he was never able to let go. He created this battle in his mind and it manifested itself last night in a really bizarre manner, like I'll show the world, I'm not going to tell this beautiful woman who loves me that I care for her. That only hurt two people in the entire world last night: Nikki and himself.
The Bachelor Finale: And the final rose goes to...
Going back to that final day in St. Lucia, did you have any idea what was about to transpire?
Harrison: Obviously, I knew he was picking Nikki and that he was saying goodbye to Clare. He had to deal with Neil Lane and he picked a ring and again, in true Juan Pablo style, he wouldn't tell the producers if he was going to propose or not. So we're like, "OK, do your thing. We're not going to tell you to propose." So we watched and he laid an egg where he had this beautiful woman who stood before him and said, "I love you," and he all but punched her in the shoulder and said, "I like you, buddy!" But if you ask him, he's like, "No, I like her a lot!"
Were you happy that Clare told him off like she did?
Harrison: I'm just glad Clare redeemed herself. I really liked Clare all along and I told you earlier in the season that I was surprised people turned on her and got negative. I knew she was emotional and there were things you could pick on, but that's no reason to dislike her. So I'm glad people got to see what I've seen all along, that she's a great girl. When she fell into my arms after the rejection, she said, "How did I do?" and I said, "You did great, I'm really proud of you." I think she articulated what a lot of people were thinking at home which is why there was a huge applause in the audience.
People were definitely rooting for you on Twitter during the special. Did you get any negative feedback?
Harrison: I heard some other people say I'm an a--hole, or how dare I try to pull that out of him and make him say he loves her when he doesn't. They're entitled to their opinion, but they misunderstood. I wasn't trying to get him to say he loves her; I don't really care. If he wants to propose or doesn't want to propose, that's fine, but just say something real and something that shows emotion and depth. Everything was just so angry and defensive and almost callous. It's like whatever you have going on in your mind, there's no battle here. Everyone wants you at the end of the day to succeed.
At one point, even Sean and Catherine laid into him a bit, especially when he said he was done with the media.
Harrison: You can act naïve and like you've never seen the show and, to a certain degree, I gave him a little slack, but he was on the show for six or seven weeks with Des and then spent countless hours with staff and producers talking about being the Bachelor. So none of this was a huge surprise. The Bachelor not working doesn't mean he's a bad person, but he was just never comfortable in those shoes and he fought it from Day 1 and you can't do that or it'll be a rough ride. And it was.
You referenced a surprise that Juan Pablo was supposed to have and then it got awkward. What was it?
Harrison: He told a network executive, "Don't worry. After the final rose, I've got a big surprise for you." Then yesterday he texted somebody and, again, said he had a big surprise. And he didn't deliver it. I don't know if that surprise was I'm going to punch Chris Harrison in the face or I'm going to propose to Nikki because it could've been either one of those things — you never know with this guy. In true Juan Pablo fashion, last night he acted like he had never heard that before in his life. But I was in no mood to get into it with him.
Did we miss anything during commercial breaks or when the show ended?
Harrison: The oddest thing in the world was that as soon as it was over, he asked — not in a mean way — but if they were done. And then he got up, grabbed Nikki's hand and they walked out of the studio by themselves. Nobody applauded, nobody booed. He just walked off like two people going to the bathroom. To me, that summed it all up. It's Juan Pablo's world against the rest of the world and everybody be damned. But the only catch is, nobody is against him! He took a picture with Nikki on the street corner in Hollywood alone saying like, "I'm free." But there's not a battle going on. This is a time when you're with a woman you love, she loves you, you should be backstage like we were with Catherine and Sean, and Des and Chris, and Emily and Jef, etc. where we're popping champagne and toasting to the future. Instead, they're in on a street corner alone angrily Instagramming. It would've been very easy yesterday if he said, "Man, that was a rough ride. We had our differences, but I came out the other side and got this girl. I don't know what this relationship is going to be, I'm not comfortable saying I love you yet, but man, she means a lot to me and I can't wait to move on." OK, great! But we got nothing. No feeling, but anger and resentment.
Did you feel bad for Nikki or do you think she got herself into this mess?
Harrison: A little bit of both. Look, she signed up for this like Juan Pablo and she decided to stick by his side. But with that said, I don't think she was prepared to feel like she did last night. I give her credit for standing by her man in a very difficult situation and a situation he didn't handle well. If there's this woman who professed her love for you, if for nothing else be respectful and give her something because to leave her hanging like that, I felt bad for her. I think she was a little sad last night. When it started and I interviewed her first she had hope in her eyes and she was happy. When she was sitting there with him I saw her body language change, her shoulders flop, her eyes get sad and I felt horrible. At that point there was nothing she could do but stand by his side and I respected her for that. What's she going to do, stand up and slap him in the face?
Harrison: Overall, it was the most raw, emotional, open season we've ever had. We just embraced whatever Juan Pablo brought to the table and it was a scary thing as a producer. But we knew we were going to show [everything] because, at the end of the day, this is what happened.
And now it's onto The Bachelorette!
Harrison: [We start filming] tonight! I love Andi. She's awesome.
What did you think of this crazy season? Share your thoughts below!