Bachelor Clayton Season Finale: I love you the MOST

Why has this recap taken so long to write? Do I not understand the emotional gravity of a season finale? Even one as boring as Clayton’s? 

Yes. I do understand. But I have a few reasons why this one has tripped me up. 

For one thing, a lot of life has happened over the past few months, and there are many balls to juggle. I’m afraid several have come tumbling down beside me, but I’m doing my best to keep everything afloat. Sometimes I empathize with Chandler from Friends when he said, “Can open. Worms everywhere.”

I realize I mixed various metaphors in the previous paragraph. I stand by my sanity.

The other reason it took me so long to write this recap is that I haven’t technically worked out my feelings. Am I mad? Disappointed? Conflicted if Clayton is the worst bachelor in franchise history? Am I happy? Relieved it’s over? Counting down the days until Serene’s brother Roland is the next bachelor? I just don’t know.

What I do know is that ABC showrunners obviously listen to my podcast because I believe it was there when I told Some Guy in Austin that they should experiment with two bachelorettes in one season. But, of course, now that this has come true, I am drunk with power. 

But let’s get back to why you all came here. You are taking roughly three and a half minutes out of your day to see what Lincee Ray has to say about Clayton Echard and his former beauty queen girlfriend.

Buckle up, people. I have a LOT to say. Cans open. Worms everywhere. 

ECHOING TEARS

We find Clayton sitting on a bench with Jesse Palmer. Once again, we are reminded that Clayton felt blindsided by Susie’s notion that he should have kept it in his pants, even when he was explicitly told to go forth and explore all options. 

I said this on the podcast, and I’ll say it again. Susie had every reason to walk out on that date. She did not know his true feelings until she sat down at the dinner table. Of course, she’s confused why Clayton would stick it two other places! Especially when Clayton adamantly enforced that he loved Susie “the most.” Ridiculous.

Showrunners realize they are sitting on TV gold. They whisper in Clayton’s ear that the best way to handle this situation is, to be honest with Gabby and Rachel. What if they get mad that he slept with the other one and want to bail out? Shouldn’t he give them that opportunity to make an informed decision based on the skeletal facts he will present at the rose ceremony?  

Clayton decides to be one-thousand-percent transparent. A.) That’s not a thing. B.) He was about seventy-eight-percent transparent. Once he figures out the correct set of steps to climb in the M.C. Escher Stair Museum, he finds Gabby and Rachel whispering frantic, “Where’s Susie?” queries to each other and the production staff. I thought Rachel’s eyes would pop out of her head when her lover walked onto the landing, struggling to catch his breath. 

Our bachelor warns the women standing in front of him that he is a shell of a man who may shatter into a million pieces. No, it’s not his heart rate giving him hell after climbing so many steps. Susie is gone, and Clay-en is sad. He works through his prepared speech like a champ, informing his girlfriends that Susie left because he was in love and slept with the two of them. Susie drew a line, and now he’s giving Rachel and Gabby the chance to draw one as well. It’s only fair. 

Then he opens the floor for questions, and I nearly die of embarrassment for him. Clayton is an idiot. 

Rachel signals that she needs a moment. In her state of bewilderment, she chooses to walk down a flight of stairs to cry in peace. Gabby notices her stilettos and marches her happy butt to a corner on the same floor as the rose ceremony. Both meltdown in ways that can be heard throughout the staircase museum, echoing through the cavernous venue. Gabby tries not to punch things. Rachel loses her eyelashes and a nail. It was a mess. 

Gabby is the first to get some one-on-one time with the doofus. She calmly asks Clayton to “help her understand” what is going on. But instead, Clayton moronically launches into a detailed play-by-play recounting his entire conversation with Susie and how he doesn’t understand why she wasn’t totally cool with him exploring all relationships. Plus, whoever he picks, that means he loves the most!

Spoiler: He’s already told Susie he loves her the most. What a Chach. 

Gabby asks a standard, logical, revealing question: Why didn’t you just save it? Why can you just love the last one you’re standing with at the end? The one you are going to MARRY.

JUST KIDDING

Clayton moves on to Rachel next. She is also confused by the “in love with three women” part of this scenario. In complete contrast to Gabby, Rachel all but sits in Clayton’s lap so he can tell her how she can be the last woman standing at the end of this absurd journey. Through strangled tears, she admits that she no longer feels special. I bless Rachel’s heart and wonder why no one on this team, people who had full knowledge of what was about to go down, had a tissue handy. 

Brown paper napkins. Really ABC Intern? Don’t you know by now to have Kleenex, a hair tie, bobby pins, and Uncle Jesse’s phone number on speed dial by now? Get your head in the game. 

Clayton appeases Rachel by telling her that his love for her is different than the others. She clings to this truth for dear life and weeps tears into his broad, dumb shoulders. He asks her if she would be willing to take things day-by-day. He doesn’t want to lose her because he cares for her so much. 

WHO ME?

Two team members carry an exhausted Rachel up the flight of stairs to the rose ceremony staging area. They use a bottle of pink champagne to bribe Gabby back onto the landing. Rachel willingly accepts the rose Clayton offers her. Gabby turns her down immediately and walks off camera. I may have stood up.

Rachel may have suffered a mild aneurysm. Does this mean she wins? Congrats to the future, Mrs. Echard! Sure, you won by default, but it’s still a victory. Huzzah! 

Clayton follows her to the rejection SUV, but because he’s somehow the luckiest jackwagon in the world, he manages to talk Gabby into staying. Describing their relationship as “special and unique,” Gabby dismisses the enormous red flag waving in her face. She also squashes down that feeling in her gut, saying, “THIS IS A COMPETITION. YOU CAN’T LOVE SOMEONE THE MOST. THAT IS NOT A THING THAT CAN BE MEASURED.”

Clayton repeats the same thing he said to Rachel moments before. And somehow, Gabby trudges back up the 829 steps, which lead her to Rachel. After Rachel scrambles up off the floor, she and Gabby hug as if they’ve returned home from war. Then, Clayton offers Gabby a rose a second time, and she accepts it. 

OLD SAINT NICK

The scene switches to the live studio audience, and Uncle Jesse has invited three special people up onto the couch for a little jam session. Our beloved Michelle looks fantastic in emerald green. Clare is there, too, with fresh Botox and new cheekbones. 

And then there’s Nick Viall. Who would have guessed that this guy would be the voice of reason? He seems a little hot under the collar because Clayton is a clown who doesn’t understand love. He doesn’t care that Clayton slept with everyone. He’s more upset that Clayton didn’t tell the girls that he loved Susie the most. It’s clear Rachel and Gabby will have their hearts broken, and Clayton has no idea. 

I agree with Nick. [Checks outside to see if the sky is falling.] I think Clayton knew he loved Susie, but he does an outstanding job compartmentalizing. He wasn’t malicious. I don’t think he was trying for a three-for-three hat trick. However, I believe he’s ignorant enough not to foresee this bothering anyone. 

Clayton’s dad agrees with me. 

THAT MAKES SENSE

Clayton’s family rents an Icelandic VRBO and is excited to see their huge son lucky in love. But, instead of a fairytale, Clayton shares his horrible decisions and the extenuating consequences that followed. His mom and dad literally squint in confusion when Clayton shares that he has fallen in love with three women. And that the last one left because she couldn’t understand this logic. 

Clayton’s dad was a rockstar. His mumbles represented an array of “pro Susie” declarations: “That’s understandable. It makes sense. I see her point. You really screwed the pooch.”

As a result, meeting Gabby and Rachel is hella awkward. Everyone knows what went down. Everyone knows Susie opted out. No one feels like they are special. No mimosa is safe. Clayton’s mom is sweet, and his dad is embarrassed by his son’s actions. 

There’s zero resolution after meeting the women. Clayton’s parents refuse to tell him which one to choose. He takes this as a sign that Susie is the one. His heart just isn’t in it anymore with Rachel and Gabby. 

Clayton’s father almost punches his son. He’s appalled by the sudden turn of events. How can Clayton love the woman who walked out on him? Especially when he has two lovely girls, ready to be married, who know the truth of his ridiculous ways, and they are STILL HERE?

Clayton explains that every woman is special in her own way, blah, blah, blah, and he did love each one, blah, blah, blah, and wasn’t exaggerating when he said he could see himself married to both of them, blah, blah, blah. 

Clayton: “But Susie is once in a lifetime type of woman. I can’t let her go.”

Mom: “Then why were you intimate with the other two women? Why did you screw that up if you knew she was once in a lifetime?”

Mic drop. 

As if luck would have it, Uncle Jesse walks in that moment and shares with the Echards that low and behold, Susie is still in Iceland. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? This is brand new information that changes everything! Who cares that she could have left five days ago, but the production team pretended no flights were leaving due to a blizzard. This is fate!

CHECK YES OR NO

Uncle Jesse heads to Susie’s room and informs her that Clayton has been a pathetic wreck since she left. Will she meet his family and get some closure at the Echard VRBO?

Yes. She will. But I’m not mad at her for doing it since Clayton the last time she saw this Chach was when he shoved her into a rejection SUV because he was “done” and didn’t want to hear her out. 

Susie walks into the VRBO without any warning. She introduces herself to the family and asks Clayton to join her on the roaming bench outside. I was proud of Susie for standing her ground, telling Clayton that she was shocked by his reaction to her “listening to my inner voice.” She was humiliated and embarrassed. 

Clayton, ever the optimist, sees this as an open window and asks Susie to think about any decisions she may make in the future. He wants to give her space. She’s got about 12 hours, but that should be sufficient time for him to break Rachel and Gabby’s hearts before dinner. Sound good?

We find our two remaining women together in a common room because Mike Fleiss wants to squeeze out as much on-camera pain as possible. I didn’t expect Clayton to walk in and break up with both of them in one fell swoop. It lasted thirty seconds. There were no tears—only a profession of love for Susie.

Gabby walks out. Rachel weeps. Clayton leaves the wounded gazelle and faces the lioness. Gabby could not be more repulsed by the dork in front of her trying to use his words to make ends meet. It’s disgusting. 

Welcome to Gabby’s TED Talk:

The look on Gabby’s face when he asked to walk her out — PRICELESS. 

Back in the studio, we see that Gabby is okay now. She’s calmed her baby voice down a bit, found an incredible stylist, and wants Bachelor Nation to know that even though she doesn’t think Clayton was malicious with her feelings, he definitely wasn’t being honest. (Hint: “I love you the most, Susie.”)

Gabby also wants Clayton to know that he has no idea what the word “love” means. 

Rachel, on the other hand, is all tears. BUT DO NOT THINK THESE TEARS ARE FOR CLAYTON. They are not. I think she’s more embarrassed that she begged Clayton not to kick her off the show. After watching it back and absorbing all the information kept from her, she now knows that he’s a great big blockhead. 

And this decision will haunt him until the day he dies. Snap!

WHITE WEDDING

Clayton sends a note to Susie via Uncle Jesse. It’s eighteen pages, front, and back. He promises to fight for their love until the end of time and asks Susie if she will meet him at the proposal barn, where he will dangle a Neil Lane ring in front of her face but not propose. 

Susie shows up! I’m nervous that she will take him back, but our girl stands her ground and shares with Clayton that their connection is real. But the love she has for him is not the love he has for her. She is going to leave Iceland by herself. 

HOORAY!!!! SUSIE IS THE BEST!!!! WAY TO GO!!!! 

Wait a minute. Why is Jesse Palmer staring at me like that! What did he just say? Did he say that Clayton doesn’t end up alone? Does this jackwagon talk someone into being in his life? Please say it isn’t Susie. PLEASE say it isn’t Susie. PLEASE SAY IT ISN’T SUSIE.

It’s Susie. 

What in the actual world is going on with this show? With this girl? Our Susie!

Allegedly Clayton went back to “normal life,” and Susie reached out to him to rekindle things. Now she calls him her boyfriend, and they are moving in together. 

Am I supposed to be happy? Is it okay for me to be disappointed in Susie? Should I feel sorry for her for asking a very annoyed studio audience to root for their relationship? Can she honestly think the same way after watching the show? 

I think Susie has been hit over the head with something hard and heavy. Or perhaps an Icelandic bank account is ready to transfer several thousands of dollars in her name when the allotted three months “pretend to date Clayton, so the world doesn’t hate him” subsides. 

I guess a highlight of the night was the announcement that Rachel and Gabby are the next bachelorettes. I’m not sure why both girls acted as if they hadn’t prepared for the moment. Maybe they were both told the other was the lucky winner? Regardless, I think the moment they go after the same guy on the new season, it will be ON. So long, BeFri necklaces! Sayonara ride or die bumper sticker. It’s every woman for herself!

Are you excited about the new format? Or are you still sifting through your emotions and haven’t landed on a feeling yet? Do you think Clayton and Susie are faking their relationship so his house won’t be egged from here to eternity? And on a scale of one to Peter the Pilot, where does Clayton end on the Chach factor to you, compared to other rascals of bachelors past? 

Sound off in the comments section!  

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Leah
Leah
March 17, 2022 11:26 am

Pure gold!

The second I saw Clay-uhn’s handwritten note, I was rooting for the Friends’ reference.

Brilliant recap.

Teri
Teri
March 17, 2022 11:29 am

I sincerely hope Clayton gets help for the angry and manipulative aspects of his personality. This season has been exhausting and I’m glad it’s over.

Please, Mr. Fleiss, do not pit Gabby and Rachel against each other. Women need to build each other up, not tear each other down.

Debbie
Debbie
March 21, 2022 4:25 pm
Reply to  Teri

Hopefully the two lead bachelorettes will turn out like the two male leads on the recent Joe Millionaire. Those two guys became great friends and supported each other throughout! That was a fun series and much more positive.

Kelli
Kelli
March 17, 2022 11:31 am

78% transparent–GOLD!!!! Kevin, Bachelor Dog, also thinks Clay Un is a chach.

Old Christine
Old Christine
March 17, 2022 3:59 pm
Reply to  Kelli

Kevin is smarter than Clayton too.

Cindy S.
Cindy S.
March 17, 2022 11:39 am

I only watched the last 2 episodes. I just don’t have the time to stay invested in this show anymore after Nick V came on the scene. But I still love your recaps and this has to be one of the best. You had me rolling over ‘she’s confused why Clayton would stick it two others places.’ It truly was the most dramatic ending! Great job on the recap Lincee!

Judy Keith
Judy Keith
March 17, 2022 1:52 pm
Reply to  Cindy S.

But Nick v is a fan favorite. Along with Claire. Out of all the ridiculous things said in the 2 hours I will never get back. That was the top.

Nashjill
Nashjill
March 17, 2022 12:17 pm

Susie deserves better than what she got from Clay-un, so while I don’t wish them any ill-will, I also have a hard time rooting for their relationship. I hope for Susie’s sake that this works out and she is happy.

I can’t say I was a big Gabby fan this season…but daaaaang, was I cheering for her after she put Clay-un in his place (multiple times!) My favorite person this season, though, was Clay-un’s dad. It was so refreshing to see a parent on this show call their kid out for behaving like an idiot.

The 2 bachelorettes will be interesting. Like someone else commented, I hope Fleiss doesn’t pit them against each other. No one wants to see drama between them. We are rooting for their friendship!

Sonya
Sonya
March 17, 2022 12:59 pm

He’s right up there with Juan Pablo! I, too, had mixed feelings. I liked him at first. He seemed sweet and genuine when he read the letters from the kids wishing him to find love and that he’d be a great day. I didn’t think of him as one of the better looking ones. I felt sorry for him when Caitlyn read the mean tweets, but every time he started begging a girl to stay or making out with one on the bar, I felt like he was nothing more than a horny teenager and he just really didn’t like the thought of someone having the nerve to reject him. Can opened. Worms everywhere! He needed to keep his worm in the can a little longer! (Loved all the Friends references!)

Shannon
Shannon
March 17, 2022 1:35 pm

When Susie opened that letter I said out loud “it’s 18 pages front and back!” I’m so glad you thought the same thing

Brian
Brian
March 17, 2022 1:52 pm

On the one hand, Gabby hit the nail on the head when she said the Clayton was lacking in emotional intelligence.

On the other hand, Clayton basically did what the show is designed and structured to do – force an immediate and artificial sense of intimacy, including sex with multiple partners in rapid succession through the fantasy suites.

Everybody involved knew this going in. Susie actually expected Clayton to voluntarily self-edit and short-circuit the process prior to that part of the bargain?

Jeet
Jeet
March 21, 2022 6:57 am
Reply to  Brian

Agree 100%. As the mother of sons I can see both male and female perspectives. And I hate the double standard. What people seem to forget was the past three bachelorettes slept with more than 1 guy (one was “sex positive”), yet everyone gave them a standing O. Don’t the men they didn’t pick deserve better too? (Recall Brandon from Michelle’s season.) When the women enjoy the fantasy suites they are applauded, when the men do they are called F—- Boys.

a13
a13
March 21, 2022 12:13 pm
Reply to  Jeet

I don’t think the outcry has been solely for the fact that he slept with multiple women? Multiple bachelors have done that without any criticism (this is not to say that I personally agree with it, but we all know what this show is by now). It seems pretty obvious that the outcry is due to a combination of things, which, yes, includes (but is not focused on) the sleeping with multiple people. It was the way he handled it, mostly afterward, but also before he did it (since he admitted he already knew Susie was the one). I don’t like when people use the double standard argument when that’s not the issue. It’s not the issue here.

Libby
Libby
March 25, 2022 8:12 am
Reply to  a13

I agree, a13. Not really here for “won’t someone think of the men!” arguments. I do think it wasn’t fair of Susie to make him sleeping with other women a dealbreaker but not inform him that was a dealbreaker. I agree that it’s the nature of the show and I kind of always expect the lead to sleep with 2-3 of the final 3, regardless of whether its bachelor or bachelorette. What the ISSUE was, was the multiple I love yous, in my opinion. It’s extremely possible to sleep with people you aren’t in love with, but I would find it extremely hard to say I love you to someone I’m not in love with. I think Susie made a mistake making her issue more about the sex than the I love yous. She was so obviously trying to set herself up for Bachelorette and I think she would have succeeded if she’d shifted her focus.

Lisa
Lisa
March 17, 2022 2:02 pm

Clay-en’s dad said it best – he screwed the pooch! Without lube! UGH! Thank you Lincee for your glorious recaps despite all you have going on personally. I look forward to the podcast…. Love & Light, BLESS!

Mike in Colorado
Mike in Colorado
March 17, 2022 2:23 pm

What a fantastic recap, Lincee! Well worth the wait.

I loved the Friends references, and the MC Escher Stair Museum line should be in a comedy writing Hall of Fame.

You have a gift – I don’t care at all about the outcome of this season, but am glad I watched the finale so I could enjoy your take on it.

Good luck with the balls, cans, and worms. I’m sure you’ll handle them like a champ!

cg57
cg57
March 17, 2022 9:35 pm

MC Escher Stair Museum….. yes! Thanks for the entertaining recap of this silly show!

Tracy
Tracy
March 17, 2022 4:23 pm

First, I had the feeling that EVERYONE forgot what this show is designed to do and what the Fantasy Suites are for! The only thing different here is Clayton felt he had to talk about it. Of course, Susie pushed him into it…and I wondered if she did it on purpose to have an excuse to back out. (Still will be surprised if they make it.) Second, this show has become so orchestrated by the producers that I have many doubts that much happens without their direction. (Please tell me again why Susie was still there after she was supposedly sent home!)

Raefae
Raefae
March 18, 2022 4:31 am
Reply to  Tracy

They always keep the final 3 there til the very end to avoid spoilers leaking. Granted #3 gets a lot of quality alone time with their hotel room service, but they all stay there.

Libby
Libby
March 25, 2022 8:20 am
Reply to  Tracy

Susie was 1000% trying to give herself a Bachelorette edit. It couldn’t have been more obvious. I don’t believe she ever wanted to be with Clayton. She just saw the fantasy suite stuff as an out that would give her a “wronged woman” edit and make the world want to see her redeemed as bachelorette. Her mistake was focusing on the sex, a dealbreaker she did not communicate, and which I agree is what Fantasy Suites are for and should be expected at this point, instead of focusing on him saying I love you to all three of them. I said it already in a comment above, but for many people it’s easy to sleep with someone you’re not in love with. I think it’s harder to say I love you to someone you’re not in love with.

ALSO. I don’t think he knew he “loved Susie the most” until she decided to leave because men always want what they can’t have (eyeroll). It makes him sleeping with the other girls make more sense. Sexual chemistry is important and if he was that on the fence about his decision, I definitely think exploring that realm of the relationship is important.

Kyrie
Kyrie
March 17, 2022 10:17 pm

“Rachel loses her eyelashes and a nail. It was a mess.” Oh my gosh Lincee I laughed ’til I cried on that line. Of course it was obvious Rachel cried her eyelashes off, but I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed a missing nail. Thanks for the hilarity!!!

Kathleen
Kathleen
March 17, 2022 10:21 pm

Ugh. Worst. Bachelor. Ever. Quite possibly one of the worst people in a reality show ever. When he became so angry because Susie wouldn’t sleep with him, and he stormed out of the restaurant and walked ahead of her on those icy steps and let her teeter out on her tiny stilettos without even bothering to take her arm, all I could think of was “Girl, you dodged a bullet.” And the entire season, I never would have thought it would be her. He seemed to be all over Rachel like white on rice. And yes, I agree with you that Susie has probably been paid off to “reunite” with him because the producers don’t want to have a “bachelor” end up alone, even one as repugnant as Clay-en. He clearly has anger issues and any girl should steer clear of him.

Ross
Ross
March 18, 2022 9:40 am

IMHO, If it weren’t for Cassidy and Shanae, the first 3/4 of the season would have been a total yawner. The last 1/4 was interesting in it’s Echard incompetence!

Gabby is an absolute gem!! Wife material at it’s best!

I can’t think of anyone less enlightened on the subject of romance than Clare and Nick…they both creep me out a little.

Lynn
Lynn
March 18, 2022 11:24 am

She looks like Hannah Brown!

Kerry
Kerry
March 18, 2022 1:38 pm
Reply to  Lynn

OMG I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who thought Susie looked like Hannah Brown’s younger sister!

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