Rose lovers, is there a Witness Protection Program for Bachelors? After what just went down tonight, Clayton Echard is gonna need to lay very low for a very long time.
Jesse Palmer welcomes us to the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where some “Bachelor Nation favorites” are in attendance — including Gabby’s amazing grandpa and Rachel’s intensely awesome dad, Tony.
ABC The families
I would very much love to see gramps and Tony give Clayton the what-for.
Now, on to the mess, already in progress: If you blocked out everything that happened last night… well, I don’t blame you. But just a quick refresh: After Susie left, Clayton told Rachel and Gabby that he was in love with all of them — a revelation that didn’t go over great. Still, Clayton begged Rachel and Gabby to put aside their hurt and take it “one day at a time” with him, meaning, “Please come meet my parents because who knows, you may be the woman I love the most.”
Reader, both Gabby and Rachel said yes. They both met Clayton’s parents, and then — AND THEN — this walking meat armoire decides that he loves Susie the most, and he wants to give it one last shot with her. Fortunately (unfortunately?), Palmer showed up just at that moment to reveal that Susie is still in Iceland. Which leads us to Clayton today.
ABC Clayton is a fool.
Cool, cool. Susie, it seems, has been holed up in a Reykjavik hotel room just waiting for Palmer to show up “unannounced.” She’s still feeling pretty emotional about her break-up with Clayton. The host informs her that the Bachelor “really, really regrets” how things went down — and that he’d love to see her again.
Meanwhile back at the Echard family’s Airbnb, Clayton is explaining to Mom and Dad that Susie is a “once-in-a-lifetime kind of girl.” Just as the Bachelor’s dad, Brian, says the chances are “slim to none” that Susie is going to give him another chance, guess who walks through the door?
ABC Susie arrives
“I think maybe we go talk outside if that’s okay?” she asks Clayton, as Kelly and Brian watch with trepidation. “Selfishly for Clayton I’m hoping that she can forgive him and move on,” says mom. Well Clayton better be hoping that the world forgives him for wearing this (faux?) fur-trimmed atrocity.
ABC What is he wearing?
(That said, the show’s chief wardrobe stylist, Cary Fetman, is a total gem — so if he says this is fashion, I’ll believe him.)
“You are a good human, I genuinely believe that,” says Susie. “But I was really shocked by how everything ended. The way you treated me, the way you turned, that’s when my mentality on you changed … It was humiliating, if I’m being honest. I felt like a stray dog that had come into your home and you were like shooing me out.”
That sound you hear is all of Bachelor Nation cheering for Susie, who — while she didn’t do a good job communicating her dealbreakers to Clayton — has every right to be mad about how rude and aggressive he became during their break-up. “If you just have love for me as a person, how can you treat me like this?” she says, wiping away tears.
What can the Bachelor possibly say? Perhaps the only decent apology is something like, “I’m so sorry, I was totally out of line, and I am going to begin therapy for my anger issues.” Clayton gets the “I’m sorry” part right, but the rest of his apology is filled with red flags. When a shouty person tells you “I did not mean the things that I said” and that all that shouting was “way out of character,” it’s time to run. “I know the love’s there,” Clayton continues. “I know it could be a love that will last a lifetime … Is there any way you can give me a second chance? I love you and I don’t want to lose you.”
Sorry Clayton, but Susie is simply not ready to make a decision right now. She needs time to thin
k, away from you and your giant hood. In the meantime, why don’t you figure out what the hell you’re going to tell the other two women who have just been sitting around waiting for you to make up your goshdarn mind. “Gabby and Rachel did nothing wrong,” says the Bachelor, stating the obvious. “I owe it to them to tell them everything and ultimately break up with them.” Good Lord, this guy. Clayton claims that he “really did believe” what he said a few days ago — that either Gabby or Rachel could be his wife — but now everything has changed. “I have to live with my actions,” notes the Bachelor, “and I do accept full responsibility for them.”
As he heads over to the hotel, producers have Gabby and Rachel wait for him in the same room. They make anxious small talk (“Did you meet his parents?” and so on), and both look as if they know something Not Good is coming. “He’s choosing not to have these last two dates,” frets Rachel, burying her face in her hands.
Please reality TV gods, please let Clayton have enough sense to break the news to Gabby and Rachel separately rather than dumping them en masse. Please please please …
ABC Oh my god.
Good God, THIS GUY. Welp, let’s get this over with. Clayton, you have the floor. “This whole journey went not as how I expected,” he says. “I realize that I’ve caused so much pain, and I wish that I could take it all back… I realize it’s not feasibly possible for me to be in love with three women like I said I was… Everyone deserves to have someone give them 100 percent of their heart, and unfortunately, I just can’t be that person for either of you, because my heart’s no longer here. It’s with Susie.” The Bachelor goes on, saying how sorry he is and that he’ll understand if they hate him forever. I’m guessing, though, that his voice was drowned out by the throbbing wails of psychic rage reverberating through their heads. Poor Rachel looks like she’s about to start sobbing again, while Gabby is 1-800-PISSED-OFF.
ABC Gabby has had it.
“I know it was hard to come here and tell us, but I think you were too late,” she says quietly. “For both of us, you could have thought about it before — putting yourself in our shoes.” Gabby walks out, and of course Clayton follows her back to her own room, which is down the hall. She allows him to come in, and then lays into him once again.
“I’m pissed because I spent the last two days away from my friends and my family, people who actually give a s–t about me, and you don’t,” she fumes. “I can’t believe anything you say. Not one thing.” The more the Bachelor talks, the worse it gets. “I didn’t want you to leave!” he protests. “But now you do!” Gabby shoots back. “What the f— is the difference? A couple days doesn’t seem to make that big of a difference, Clayton — except that one time, it was going to be my decision, which you didn’t want it to be. And now it’s your decision, so it’s easier.”
That sound you hear is everyone in Bachelor Nation banging pots and pans to celebrate the glorious way this woman is reading Clayton for filth. And when the Bachelor dares to profess his love for her yet again, Gabby’s response is similarly perfect.
“You don’t want to admit that you’re wrong!” she continues. Gabby blasts Clayton for not pulling her and Rachel aside separately before the rose ceremony to share the news about Susie and how he “loved” all three of them. “And now you do the same f—ing thing to us? Address us as a group that you don’t give a f— about us?” All Gabby wants is for Clayton to admit that he, in fact, asked her and Rachel to stick around for the Wrong Reasons™.
The Bachelor takes this verbal lashing and apologizes once again. “There’s nothing I can say to fix this,” he adds. “Am I able to walk you out?”
ABC The perfect GIF.
I! Love! Her! So! Much! We cut back to the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, where Gabby is in the house looking amazing. And of course, she has to give a hug to grandpa before sitting down with Palmer.
“It’s been up and down watching the show back,” says Gabby. “These last couple weeks have been really heavy but they’ve also given me more clarity and kind of the
closure I’ve been looking for.” And yes, Gabby still does believe she was in love with Clayton — though now she understands that the man she loved didn’t truly exist. “With the information I had, and the person that was being given to me in the moment, that is the person that I loved,” she explains. “Looking back, I didn’t know everything.” She sure as hell did not. And now it’s time for Clayton to get out here and try to extinguish the emotional dumpster fire he began. Dead man walking!
ABC Gabby confronts Clayton
Palmer cedes the floor to Gabby, as he should. And she is ready. “After having watched it back, the first thing that comes to mind is that I feel so misled, and I feel like I wasn’t given all the information,” she tells Clayton, who looks like he wants to sink into the couch cushions. “That really is what hurts the most for me is that I truly did feel betrayed.”
The Bachelor says he’s sorry, because at this point that’s all he knows how to say. “I feel terrible, because I watch it back myself and I feel the emotion and pain that I caused,” he says. “I promise you, I had no malicious intent with any of my actions, but I just didn’t go about it the right way.” Oh, but Gabby’s not done. “I do think that I had given you chances in the moment to be more honest with me, even at the rose ceremony when you said you were being transparent — but your transparency had conditions,” she continues. “You told me that you were going to leave Iceland with the woman you love the most and you saw my visceral reaction — and then the previous week you were telling Susie that you loved her the most!”
Nor does she buy Clayton’s argument that he “compartmentalized” his relationships with the three final women. “Watching it back, everything is so muddled, and you were clearly pitting us against each other,” she says. “It really seemed like a competition … It seems like you had your mind set on Susie way before you wanted to tell us.”
Clayton tries again with the whole “I did have love for you all” thing, but Gabby cuts him off. “When you say ‘love,’ when you say you love someone, you’re assuming responsibility to protect them, to care for them, and to not hurt them — and you didn’t do any of those things.” The crowd LOVES it, and they burst into applause. Palmer asks Clayton if he regrets telling Gabby that he was in love with and “intimate” with the final three women. “I felt that I needed to be fully transparent,” he begins, but once again, Gabby isn’t having it. “But you didn’t tell me that you loved Susie the most,” she interrupts. “You have to treat us as individuals.”
Whoa there, Gabby — you just broke Clayton’s brain. All he can do is apologize, again. “I didn’t ask enough questions and I made too many assumptions that were wrong,” he says. “I apologize for not figuring that out until it was all said and done.” Blech, enough of this. We’ll hear more of Clayton’s weak words later. Let’s just get back to the “journey.”
Now it’s time for Clayton to go back to Rachel’s room and absorb all “negative emotions” she may be feeling. Rachel weeps as she talks about how she fell in love with him in Houston, and how grateful she felt after their overnight date to have found such a special connection with someone. “You told me that you were willing to fight for this,” she sobs. “And I believed you … I promise you, when you look back on this, you will — this is going to haunt you, the fact that you let me go.” Everything Clayton says in response sounds, as Gabby would say, actually ridiculous: “I did see a future with you”; “I fought as hard as I could”; “I can’t just continue to try to love you when I can’t be 100 percent in.” Poor Rachel is just beside herself.
ABC Clayton crushes Rachel.
“Okay,” she says, clearly trying to shut him the eff up. “Okay.” As they walk out to the Reject SUV, Rachel continues to scold Clayton through her tears. “You gave up on us,” she whimpers. “You gave up. I never gave up.” The camera zooms in on her distraught face, which is unfortunate because one of her false lashes has fallen off and is now plastered right under her eye. “I cannot believe you’re gonna put me in the car right now,” she weeps. Still, Rachel gives him a weak hug before getting in the SUV and buckling herself in. Safety first.
“He didn’t even cry,” she wails. “He didn’t even fight at all.” That’s right, Rachel. Clayton is a talking pile of cinderblocks, and you can do so, so much better. And you will — if ABC has anything to say about it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Please welcome Rachel to the Thunderdome stage!
ABC Rachel is back to stand up for herself.
“I just feel like the hardest part of all of this is knowing how in love with him I was,” she says tearfully. “To see complete disrespect to both me and Gabby in the sense that he couldn’t even break up with us separately … To see myself just be so blindsided, I feel like I was robbed of the opportunity to actually stand up for myself. I was begging him not to put me in a car.” Well, honey, now’s your chance to stand up for yourself. Bring Clayton back to the stage so he can take another verbal lashing!
ABC Feel the burn, Clayton.
“I just want to start out by saying, none of these emotions are for you or about you. It has nothing to do with any lingering feelings,” says Rachel coldly. “Because I became collateral damage in your journey for love, that was the most completely selfish journey … There was no empathy at all for me or Gabby.” When it’s Clayton’s turn to talk, we get more of the same. “I’m incredibly sorry for my actions … I could have done things way better the way I did,” he says. “It does pain me to see this pain … I made assumptions and I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
Rachel simply doesn’t believe him, and why should she? “You told us you wanted to give us transparency, but you left out the most important things,” she fumes. “You left out the part that you already knew who the one was who you love the most … I don’t believe that you were in love with me at all.” As all of this is going on, Rachel’s parents, Mary Anne and Tony, are listening from the audience — and Tony looks like he’s running through a mental list of hit men to take care of Clayton.
ABC Run for your life, Clayton.
“I have plenty of things that I want to say, but I’m not gonna say anything,” says Tony. Adds Mary Anne, “I’m very angry, myself.” The Bachelor once again says that he’s “incredibly sorry” and that he takes “full accountability” for the whole disaster.
Rachel is ready with one last burning question: “You told me that I was the first person that you said, ‘I love you’ to in six years,” she huffs. “So, did you tell me that you were in love with me because you wanted to sleep with me?” Of course, Clayton denies it, and at this point, it’s a miracle that his nose isn’t growing. With that painful reunion over, Palmer tosses it back to Iceland, where Clayton’s is “about to throw the biggest Hail Mary Bachelor Nation has ever seen.” In other words …
ABC Neil Lane’s contractually obligated product shot.
Wait, what? Clayton has a ring? And now he wants Susie to show up to the Proposal Platform™ so he can offer it to her? Apparently so. Palmer arrives at Susie’s hotel room and hands her a handwritten letter from the Bachelor. “If you give me the chance, I will fight for your love, day in and day out,” it reads in part. “Because without you, I am nothing … If you’d be willing to meet me, I’d be patiently waiting for you in the countryside.” Um, “waiting for you in the countryside”? That sounds like a warning from a serial killer, not a romantic invitation from a suitor. Either way, it looks like producers were able to convince Susie to get all dressed up and meet Clayton in a quaint, earth-covered barn thing.
“It’s just you and me here because, like, I don’t want anything else,” says Clayton, in his proposal preamble. “I just want you to know, if you ever question how serious that I am, like … ” He pulls out the ring box and holds it in front of Susie’s face. Doesn’t she look delighted?
ABC Susie wants nothing to do with that ring.
“I am this serious about it,” he says. “To grow, have a family, to go through all the stages of life together — if you just give me the chance.”
So, what’s it going to be, Susie? After taking a moment to collect herself, Susie thanks Clayton for his letter and his “powerful” words. “You are this incredible person,” she says. “I still believe it … And there’s no doubt about our connection. The love that I have for you in my heart, it’s so real. And I know that you have it, too. But… ” That’s right, rose lovers! She said “But”!
ABC If only she held this thought…
“You have an unconditional love of somebody you want to spend a lifetime with — that’s not where I’m at,” says Susie. “I’ve made the decision to leave Iceland alone… But it doesn’t take away from everything that we’ve had and the love that I, like, genuinely feel in my heart for you.”
The Bachelor isn’t giving up hope. He asks Susie if there’s a chance that things might work out — and Susie pauses for a good 10 seconds before crushing his hopes and dreams: “I feel like it’s over.”
So, to recap (within this recap): Clayton f—ed around and found out. He said “I love you” to three women, and then went home with zero — zero! — women. A truly impressive self-own, sir. Back in the Thunderdome, Palmer is somber. “For the first time in history our Bachelor was rejected on the final day and he ends up alone… “
ABC Jesse knows something.
“Or does he?”
Oh my God, what fresh hell is this? Clayton’s back on the couch, and he’s still looking pretty glum. When he left Iceland, he felt like a failure. “I did, because that was my intention was to walk out with somebody,” he says. “As I stood there in the rain, I just realized, ‘You came in by yourself and you’re leaving by yourself.’ I did have those thoughts — maybe that’s what needed to happen.”
Once he got home, he tried to resume his life — but then Clayton says he was “absolutely shocked” when someone from his season reached out to him. Who could it be? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME!
ABC Oh for God’s sake.
Oh FFS. Susie, come on. “What a pleasant surprise!” says Palmer. (It’s not.) Then the host asks the question that’s on everyone’s mind: “What are you doing here?” Susie says she was protecting herself when she left Iceland, but “we took time apart after the show” and “we’re really happy to be here today.” And yes, they’re together. “That’s my boyfriend!” chirps Susie.
Blech. “I didn’t think it was going to happen either, especially after the way that we ended things,” says Clayton. “I loved him as a person before I ever fell in love with him,” adds Susie. “We all made mistakes.” Though the couple expects “a little backlash,” Susie says she hopes that fans will root for their relationship to succeed. But don’t worry — they’re not dumb enough to get married yet. “I’m moving right in with her. I’m going to Virginia in the next couple days,” says Clayton. “I left my job, I sold my condo — all to give us a fair shot. We know it requires effort, like any other relationship.” Though he does not take Palmer up on the offer to give Susie an engagement ring, Clayton does hustle backstage for a minute and comes back with a gift.
ABC Susie gets her final rose.
I refuse to say “Awwwww!” rose lovers. I simply refuse! (Dammit, it was kind of sweet, wasn’t it?) The evening’s final order of business is upon us: Who will be the next Bachelorette? After teasing that it is “not Gabby or Rachel,” Palmer reveals the wonderful news: “It’s Gabby and Rachel!” And look how happy they are for each other! It almost makes me tear up.
ABC Our new Bachelorettes!
“You deserve this!” Rachel squeals. “You too!” replies Gabby. Palmer explains that they’ll both be Bachelorettes the entire season. “Do we date the same guys?” Gabby asks, giggling. “I have PTSD!” The host has no answers on how it will all work — “I honestly have no idea,” he notes — but I swear if producers try to pit these two against each other, I will hunt them down.
That said, if producers try anything funny, we can rest assured Tony will introduce them into a world of hurt. Welp, rose lovers, that was a happy ending to an otherwise catastrophic season. Before you log off, please take a moment and satisfy my curiosity: Are you happy about the dual Bachelorettes? How long do you think Susie and Clayton will last? And will you miss Tayshia
and Kaitlyn as hosts? (ABC announced Jesse Palmer will be taking back the Bachelorette reins for season 19.) Post your thoughts below!
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