We’re inching ever closer to the end of another season of The Bachelorette, but how did we get here? Long before we had social media scandals, COVID conspiracy theories, or even the announcement of two Bachelorettes, we had one of the biggest calamities in the show’s history, which tonight’s Fantasy Suites episode is sure to bring to the surface again. Back in March 2021, when Clayton Echard was the face of the franchise and as the Bachelor, he committed one of the show’s few cardinal sins: He told multiple women, including Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia, that he was in love with them.
It didn’t help that when he told each of his three remaining finalists — Gabby, Rachel, and the eventual winner Susie Evans that he loved them, it was during the Fantasy Suites portion of the season. It’s no secret that overnights can make or break a relationship during any given season. So for Clayton to tell all of his remaining women that he was in love with them, well, things were bound to get sticky — and they did.
Fans most likely remember the fateful post-Fantasy Suite rose ceremony when Clayton revealed to Gabby and Rachel that he had been intimate with each of them while declaring his love for them. But they were the only two women present for the ceremony because Susie left after feeling conflicted about the Bachelor being in love with two other women. Bachelor Nation watched as Rachel and Gabby left the ceremony in tears, uncertain of where their relationships stood with Clayton.
Gabby and Rachel returned to the competition, only for Clayton to realize that he still had a shot with Susie. “It’s not feasibly possible for me to be in love with three women,” Clayton said, adding that Gabby and Rachel deserve to be given someone’s entire heart and that his “heart is no longer here; it’s with Susie.”
At first, Rachel had nothing to say, prompting Gabby to let loose on Clayton. After Gabby left the room, Clayton, unable to let a bad situation fizzle, decided to follow her. “I actually don’t know who you are at all,” she told him. “I can’t believe anything you say at all.”
Later, Rachel told Clayton, “I was the only one who chose to stand there, and you told me that you were willing to fight for this, and I believed you.” She added in tears, “I fought for you in front of your parents when I was heartbroken and telling them how much I love you. I fought for this every single day, and you never once for me. I held onto what little you gave me.”
At the season’s After the Final Rose special, both contestants had another opportunity to find closure with Clayton. Gabby used her time to express her feelings of being misled and feeling betrayed. While Clayton did attempt to apologize, Gabby retorted by stating that his “transparency had conditions.” Rachel echoed that point, “You wanted to give us transparency, but you left out the most important thing. I didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes. I felt like I was watching someone just get completely blindsided.”
Rachel went on to share she didn’t have any lingering feelings for Clayton, citing that she was “collateral damage in [his] journey for love.” While the previews show that Gabby and Rachel are in for plenty of unexpected twists and drama, hopefully, there are far fewer romantic casualties as the Bachelorettes head towards their own Fantasy Suites.