Chris Harrison
February 09, 2010 AT 06:03 AM EST

Obviously we have a lot to talk about this week with Ali leaving. I will get to that below but in cases like this I often end up glossing over or completely skipping the rest of the episode and I don’t want that to happen this time. The hometown dates have always been one of my favorite parts of this show. Just like in life, on this show you can be fake or manipulate your way through many situations, but not when family is involved. When you bring your family into a relationship, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t hide who you really are. For better or for worse that’s who we are. That’s where we all came from. For some this is a source of pride and for others a source of embarrassment but bottom line, good or bad it’s family and that’s something you can’t fake or change.

I have been asked several times what I think about Jake’s final four. My initial response to that is, who the hell am I to judge who someone has or hasn’t fallen in love with? With that said, I understand that part of my job is often judging situations like this. I know Jake pretty well and I’ve gotten to know these women as well. I understand what Jake sees in each of them and I completely understand where he’s coming from when he says he’s falling in love with all four of them. They each represent something different he’s looking for, but in many ways they are all very much the same (not that Vienna and Ali would admit that). As I watched Jake with these families I was struck by how sincere and articulate he was. He is incredibly good at expressing his feelings to people and that is not an easy thing to do in any situation much less in this one. We saw this first with Gia’s family in New York. I have noticed Gia really open up over the last few weeks. She seems extremely vulnerable right now and there’s only one reason for that, she’s in love. Jake and I both admitted that we were guilty of judging this book (Gia) by its cover when we first saw her. We talked openly that first night that we weren’t sure she was a woman of substance but we couldn’t have been more wrong. Gia is a very interesting, complex woman and it’s easy to see why she and Jake have become so close.

Tenley has definitely moved up in Jake’s mind in the last couple weeks. Tenley is a great example of what I was talking about above with family. Jake had an idea about what Tenley had been through with her divorce but seeing and hearing her family talk about how much she was hurt, I think he got a whole new perspective for just what she suffered through and just how strong of a woman Tenley is. Tenley gives little hints of how betrayed she felt by using words like partner or team when referring to a husband. The talk with Tenley’s dad on the porch was especially touching. Maybe it’s because I have a daughter and can imagine some scared kid asking my permission to marry my daughter but I found it to be a very sincere touching moment. By the way, to any kids out there who might ever think that they want to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage the answer is NO.

It’s too bad I can’t just talk about how amazing Ali’s hometown date was. That trip to her grandmother’s house was amazing. That was as an emotional moment as we’ve ever had on this show. There is no doubt in my mind that these two were falling in love with each other. Which makes what happened that much tougher and unfortunate. What would you do in the same situation? Would you choose a great career you know you have, or a chance at love you might have? That’s what Ali faced. I won’t go into great detail about Ali’s work situation. That’s not really for me to talk about. What I will tell you is what happened from my perspective. By the time I arrived at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills for the rose ceremony, Ali had already talked to Jake but hadn’t come to a final decision. When I sat down in deliberation with him I could tell he was confused and hurting. There are times on this show when you forget about the cameras and you truly feel like you’re just talking to and trying to help a friend and this was one of those moments. When Ali arrived that night I knew she hadn’t made up her mind, and I assumed she was going to want to talk with Jake again. When she asked, there was no question we were going to make that happen. This was a decision that couldn’t be left up to a rose ceremony. They needed to talk this out and come to a final decision, although in the end I’m not sure she really ever did. Jake and Ali sat in that room and talked for quite some time. I was sitting just outside and honestly, I lost track of time but it had to be at least two hours if not more.

I will say this for Jake, he really laid it out there for her. No, he didn’t profess his love and promise that she was the one but he did flat out say more than once “I don’t want you to go.” On more than one occasion during the conversation I was positive Ali was going to stay. At one point I almost walked in because they had pretty much come to that conclusion. But in the end she chose her career over Jake and chose to leave. She said it herself best, “I don’t know if I made the right decision.” Again I ask what would you have done? Choose a great career in a terrible economy or a shot at love you might have? That moment between the two of them at the limo was all anyone needed to see if there was any question as to how they felt about each other. As you saw, this led to another Bachelor first: no rose ceremony. It looked and felt awkward, didn’t it? The other women had been sitting around all night waiting and wondering what in the world was going on. Remember, they had no idea what Jake and Ali were doing. Nobody really knew how to act or what to do in that moment but I like it when it’s raw and awkward like that. Life isn’t always a pretty, polished Hollywood scene is it?

If you didn’t pass out watching Ali drive away, you heard we’re off to the beautiful island of St. Lucia. You also got to see more of the finale than we’ve shown you all season. A good tease of just how serious things will get with the final three and just how good the finale is going to be! I know there will be questions and comments about this week’s episode, so feel free to leave them below and I’ll try to answer as many as I can for you next week.

More Bachelor coverage from EW:

Bachelor TV recap: Premature evacuation

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