Did it live up to the promos? Clayton Echard confessed his feelings for Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia during what was dubbed the rose ceremony from hell. The jaw-dropping sequence went down during part one of the season 26 Bachelor finale, which aired on Monday, March 14.
The morning after his fight with Susie Evans, Clayton feared that Rachel and Gabby would not be willing to continue their relationships with him either if they learned how serious he was about all of them. Clayton shared Susie’s ultimatum with the remaining two women at the rose ceremony and confessed that not only was he in love with every member of the final three but he also slept with both Gabby and Rachel. Clayton told them that he could see himself at the end of the show with one of them, but he wasn’t sure yet which one it would be.
Gabby and Rachel walked away in tears, with Gabby being the first to approach Clayton amid the drama. She questioned how he could say he was in love with multiple women, and he explained that he meant what he told all of them but would pick whomever he loved “the most,” which she took issue with.
Rachel subsequently confronted Clayton, telling him that she no longer felt like their time together was special. He insisted that the love he felt for her was different than the love he felt for Gabby. Clayton encouraged Rachel to take the process day by day and stay to meet his family.
The women eventually returned to carry on with the rose ceremony. “I want to apologize for putting you both through this tonight,” Clayton told them. “I do appreciate you all giving me the time to talk with you both, and I do understand that as I hand these roses out tonight, that you can choose what you want to do and you can choose not to accept the rose if you do not feel that you are able to. I just want you to know that I hope that I’ve said enough, but I thank you for at least giving us the time to talk through it.”
Rachel accepted Clayton’s rose, but Gabby did not. As he walked Gabby out, she told him that she did not want to compete for love, but he still begged her to stick around, urging her to take things one step at a time. Gabby then returned to the rose ceremony with Clayton, where he once again offered her a rose and this time she accepted. She explained to the cameras that he made her believe she could trust their special connection and gave her space to feel how she was feeling.
Clayton previously told Rachel and Gabby that he was falling in love with them amid fantasy suite dates during the Tuesday, March 8, episode. He later informed Susie that he was in love with her, but she pumped the brakes, telling him that she would not be able to move toward an engagement if he had slept with the other women there or told them he loved them.
The Bachelor confessed to Susie that he expressed feelings of love to Gabby and Rachel and that he had sex with both of them in the fantasy suites. The revelation led to a blowup fight between him and Susie, and he ultimately sent her home after he realized she could not get past his relationships with the other two finalists. Clayton accused Susie of invalidating everything they had together and claimed that he no longer recognized her.
After the episode aired, Clayton explained why Susie’s overnight date was last as fans noted that her concerns might have been addressed without the drama if she had been given the first date of the week.
“The answer is no, I didn’t [pick the order], but I don’t know how to answer that question,” he said during the Thursday, March 10, episode of Kaitlyn Bristowe’s “Off the Vine” podcast. “They came in and they said, ‘We think you should do this way,’ and they convinced me. … They’re like, ‘You need to keep your other options open, you need to keep everything open, so don’t close off. Because if Susie goes first, we’re afraid you’re gonna close off.’ So I said, ‘OK.’ … I did have a say in it at the end of it all.”
Clayton previously reflected on the disastrous rose ceremony — which was teased in promos for months — in December 2021. “It was upsetting for the women to hear it and rightfully so,” he exclusively told Us Weekly of his sex confession. “I understand that. My big thing is I’m someone who’s very transparent and I know that there’s questions of, you know, ‘Why did he say this?’ … Just understand that once the show airs, that whole scene will play out and there will be an explanation and people will then understand — or at least they’ll be able to see the full picture of what actually happened in the way that it did.”
Part two of the Bachelor finale airs on ABC Tuesday, March 15, at 8 p.m. ET.