‘The Bachelor’ ends its messy season with betrayals, apologies — and a final rose

A man in a suit smiling, holding a rose, on a pink chair
“The Bachelor” star Clayton Echard.
(Pamela Littky / ABC)

The following contains major spoilers for Part II of “The Bachelor” Season 26 finale.

A few weeks before this week’s shocking season finale of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” one contestant delivered a cryptic message about how star Clayton Echard’s search for true love would end.

“I’m in a unique position where I do know a lot of things, and I think I’ll leave it at that,” nurse Teddi Wright said to Echard during the show’s “Women Tell All” episode reuniting most of the former contestants. “I hope you’re ... OK.”


He may be OK — Echard, who became perhaps the most controversial lead in the franchise’s history, ended the season happily in a committed romance with Susie Evans, the finalist who left him after he admitted that he had been intimate with two of her competitors.

But legions of Bachelor Nation fans may feel different about whether Echard deserves a happy ending. Fans may also have strong feelings about the way the show’s producers milked, manipulated — and possibly even misled — viewers during the twisty drama filled with heartbreak and trauma.

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s episode.

The uproar over Clayton Echard’s behavior toward contestant Susie Evans has marred the show’s hopes of a scandal-free season. Here’s what to know.

March 14, 2022

1. Echard’s epiphany

In Monday’s Part I finale episode, Echard had persuaded the other two finalists — Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia — to stay in Iceland, insisting he was still in love with them. Although they were upset, they agreed, and each met his family individually. But Echard realized afterward that he was still in love with Evans, and that he could no longer continue with her rivals.

He went to a hotel room where the two women were, and told them his heart “is no longer here, but with Susie.” Windey angrily walked out of the room, telling Echard she felt betrayed. Recchia tearfully told Echard: “This is going to haunt you that you let me go.”

2. Two confrontations

Windey and Recchia confronted Echard during the live broadcast in front of a studio audience. Both encounters were tense, with Echard looking down somberly as they both blasted him. When he tried to apologize and said he didn’t mean to hurt her, Recchia said, “I just don’t believe you’re sorry. You disrespected me, as someone you love and as a human.” Relatives of both women were also in the audience, glaring at Echard.


3. A last-minute plea

After breaking Windey’s and Recchia’s hearts, Echard made a last-minute plea to Evans, who was still in Iceland. While she was more welcoming toward him, she was hesitant. And when they met for what should have been the proposal ceremony, Evans said she could not move forward: “I don’t think you’re my person.” She departed, leaving Echard alone and shattered.

4. The final rose

Host Jesse Palmer said “Bachelor” history had been made: “For the first time, our Bachelor was rejected on the final day and was left alone — or is he?” Moments later, Evans came out on stage and sat next to Echard. They said they had been working for the last several months on having a relationship. Although there was no proposal, Evans called Echard “my boyfriend,” and he presented her with the final rose.

5. The next Bachelorettes

Windey and Recchia wound up with a significant consolation prize. They will be co-leads during the next season of “The Bachelorette.”