Sometimes everyone speaking their truth still ends in disaster.
The seeds of impending finale disaster were beginning to bloom as Clayton Echard's season of "The Bachelor" moved into the Fantasy Suite segments, which are all about intimacy and honesty.
After one of the most explosive fights in franchise history, it's still not easy to pick a side definitively. Everyone was speaking their truth, which is to be commended, and standing by their convictions, which is to be commended. But sometimes even in a world of truth, everybody loses.
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By the end of the night, Clayton was ready to throw in the towel and walk away from the whole show. And we didn't even make it to the final Rose Ceremony!
It was a cold week in Iceland, and we don't just mean the weather. It was down to Clayton's Final 3 women, and he'd expressed privately that he was falling in love with two of them (Gabby and Rachel) and was fully in love with front-runner Susie. But he hadn't told any of them yet.
As he told fourth-place-finisher Serene during "The Women Tell All" on Monday night, seeing her leave after telling him she loved him helped him realize he needed to be honest with his feelings with the remaining women, and going forward in life.
On the one hand, it's great advice and definitely the way he should handle himself in relationships. On the other hand, that honestly immediately proves a recipe for disaster as Clayton's truth does not sit well with all of the remaining women.
We'd already seen in teasers since the premiere episode that Clayton admits to having fallen in love with all three of his finalists, and being intimate with two of them. We also saw that those admissions absolutely destroyed all of the women involved.
So what is the answer? If honesty is absolutely disastrous, then should he withhold that information from women he might potentially marry? One argument may be that he shouldn't have fallen in love with all three of them, but he's certainly not the first to do so.
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There are polyamorous relationships and cultures out there that accept love beyond just two partners, so it's certainly possible. And this is a very weird and intense experience he's going through. Can he be faulted if those feelings do develop? Should he be disingenuous about them? Should he have not told any of the women he was in love with the others? Or so long as he was in love with all three, continue to tell none of htem his feelings?
As for sex in the Fantasy Suites, Clayton is by far the first person to have hooked up when the cameras went off. The whole segment was built with that in mind. So what should he do? Are they like Las Vegas, and what happens in them stays in them? Or should he be honest?
Clayton has apparently chosen abject and brutal honesty and it blew up in his face spectacularly. He also may not have been the most tactful in his approach to it when it finally came down to it, but he was also extremely emotional and rocked to his core in that moment. We may need an abundance of grace for all parties here.
That said, we also have to acknowledge that Clayton was not at all graceful in how he ended the evening, letting his anger and frustration erupt into some pretty needlessly cruel language -- that we doubt he entirely felt.
We're also a little concerned with how the conversations went right before the Fantasy Suites. We're not saying there was emotional manipulation going on intentionally, but looking at things on paper, it was pretty sus ... and that's putting it kindly.
We also have to acknowledge that Clayton has seemingly been leading with his libido too many times this season, which could be indicative of where sex plays in relationships for him. He has made out with every woman that has come close enough for him to grab in a way that's a bit much even for a Bachelor.
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Going Deep with Rachel
The week started off on a high note, with Clayton and Rachel enjoying a helicopter ride over Iceland before landing atop a dormant volcano and then riding down into its depths. It was a very cool and memorable looking experience that brought them closer together.
Rachel had the benefit of the first Overnight Date opportunity, which means she wasn't left to stew and fester. Every season, we see some of the finalists struggle at this point of the competition because intimacy is so very much on the table.
During the evening portion of the date, Clayton finally opened up to Rachel about his feelings, sharing with her that he was in love with her. It was the first time he'd admitted to anyone how he was feeling and her face lit up immediately. It was the validation she was looking for.
He then followed it up with the Fantasy Suite invitation, which is a little creepy to us, if we're being honest. He gives Rachel the validation and love she needs right before dropping an offer of physical intimacy on her lap. It's like softening her up for this big decision.
Again, we're not saying this was some nefarious and evil plan on Clayton's part. We genuinely feel that his decision to finally tell these women how he feels has to do with how Serene left and his desire to be transparent and vulnerable with them. The timing, however, was horrible in that it definitely looks a little manipulative -- especially as it happens more than once.
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Wild Ride with Gabby
Before Gabby's date, she had an interesting and telling conversation with Susie. While Susie had begun expressing throughout the episode that she wasn't sure if she could move on with Clayton if he was intimate or had emotional connections with Gabby or Rachel, Gabby expressed the exact opposite.
Gabby said that she totally wants him to fully explore the other relationships in the House. She wants him to know exactly what's out there and then choose her in the end, if that's how it's going to be.
We're incredibly grateful that this conversation was shown because it emphasizes that sex and intimacy do not necessarily mean the same things to everyone. For some, it is sacred and for others it can be more casual. No perspective is more right than any other, and there will be no slut-shaming on this topic! At least, that's our perspective.
Gabby and Clayton went on a dune buggy ride across the black sand beaches of Iceland, which looked like a lot of fun, before a similar scenario played out. The two still share our favorite chemistry of the season, and Gabby is still the funniest person on the show!
Ultimately, though, Clayton expressed that he was falling in love with her, which again lit her face up and gave her the validation she needed, and then the edit followed it up immediately with the Fantasy Suite envelope. What woman could say no after hearing that declaration? Endorphins flying and heart soaring, of course that sounds great!
And their evening was great, with both of them agreeing the next day that it felt just right. The slightest difference here is that even as he walked away, Clayton had not moved beyond "falling in love" with Gabby. He was conversely "in love" with both Rachel and Susie at this point.
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Hot Then Cold with Susie
By the time we got to Susie, she'd reached her ultimatum. It was her truth, but we're still not sure if it was entirely fair. She can definitely feel what she feels, and if it's a deal breaker, than it is what it is. But it wasn't handled well by either party.
Uncomfortable conversations almost never are.
Like Clayton waiting to express his love for the dinner portion, Susie said nothing during their day portion, which was a cold/hot/cold/hot spa experience that had them shifting from one to the other as part of a rejuvenation experience. Everything went great there, and Susie was beaming.
That night, as if on script, Clayton again decided to finally be honest with Susie about his feelings and expressed that he was falling in love with her. But rather than just beam and take the Fantasy Suite key, she pushed back immediately, wanting to know if he'd expressed those feelings to any other women and if he'd had sex.
No one thought to ask those questions, so kudos to Susie for keeping her eye on the bigger picture. It's easy to assume that because he's saying this to you, he must not be saying it to anyone else, but Susie assumed nothing.
And kudos to Clayton for being honest about it, even if he did clearly hem and haw for a bit in admitting that he'd slept with both Rachel and Gabby prior to this Fantasy Suite. He also admitted to Susie that he had feelings for both of them, finally admitting he was in love with all three women.
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Understandably, Susie was gobsmacked by this revelation, as that would be hard to hear from anyone a week or so before a potential engagement. What was unfortunate, though, was how the explosive fight played out after that.
Susie said on multiple occasions that she would have never wanted to put an ultimatum on him that he couldn't have sex with the other women. Instead, she said she hoped he would realize how important it was and not do it. But that's expecting him to have the same values she does about sex, which isn't fair.
This is where we appreciate Gabby's conversation with Susie, because it keeps this from being a man-woman thing. People have different values when it comes to sex and intimacy, and Clayton's is clearly different. He explained that sexual compatibility is a component for him in finding the right person. He's certainly not the only person who feels that way.
What left him in growing frustration was Susie, who was his clear front-runner, telling him that she didn't want to place an ultimatum on him, but she kind of did anyway. She just didn't tell him. Instead, it was a retroactive ultimatum and he'd already failed and now she was saying that because he'd failed it was over between them.
He pleaded with her to talk this through with him and fight for their relationship. He asked her to take advantage of the seven hours of alone time afforded by the Fantasy Suite to talk this through and fight for it, but she kept insisting she didn't think she could.
Even after they separated, and she told a producer she felt like shit but this was her truth and it is what it is, when they came back together, she was still saying that she couldn't get past it. But then, she put it on Clayton that he was the one ready to eliminate her from the show?
That logic made no sense, as she was the one adamant that she couldn't go on. How was he supposed to take that? That she couldn't go on, didn't want to talk this through, didn't want to fight for their relationship, but he was the one ending her time on the show?
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Ultimately, he did just that, walking her to the car. But not after telling her that her actions here invalidated their entire relationship, which was totally unfair and uncalled for. She could have expressed her "ultimatum" earlier, or at least had the hard conversation about what sex means to her, but we're not sure what could have been done about him falling in love with three women?
Clayton didn't handle the situation well in that moment, but he must also be allowed to feel his feelings. And in that moment he was hurt and shocked as the woman he was probably planning to take to the end telling him basically that this past week had been a test about intimacy he didn't know he was taking -- and he failed.
Why did she wait until that night to tell him this? Why not open the day with this ultimatum to see if he'd failed and save them growing even closer before pulling the rug out right after he expresses his love?
Most of America will probably not side with Clayton on this one, but it's clearly not easy for him to navigate or understand either. And the teasers for next week, where he comes clean to Rachel and Gabby about his feelings and intimacy, show that it doesn't sit well with them, either.
This season may be analyzed for years to come, as Clayton is not the first to fall for more than one person and he's not the first to have sex with more than one person. But his entire season looks like it's going to blow up over those two things, so what went wrong?
Was it him being open and honest about it with them? Was it how bluntly and directly he said these things? Telling Gabby and Rachel at a Rose Ceremony is probably not the right place to drop something so shocking, as the ensuing disaster with both women running away and breaking down entails.
During "The Women Tell All," Jesse Palmer said that he was there and still doesn't know how Clayton's journey ends. Clayton looked beat down and has hinted many times that this was not a good journey for him, so we're going to speculate that it ends ... badly.
Could he be the first Bachelor to get down on one knee and get rejected in his proposal? That's certainly possible. It's also possible that his Final 2 women will react about the same way Susie did to his bombshell news and leave, leaving Clayton all alone in Iceland.
That would make all three of them viable candidates for the next Bachelorette, which will probably be revealed during the live finale.
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- "I do have a strong physical connection with each of the three women that are left." --Clayton (horndog)
- "If tonight goes really well for Rachel, obviously they would be sharing intimate time together and that would be a really tough pill to swallow." --Susie
- "I'm hoping he takes physical intimacy as seriously as I do. Sex is incredibly important in a relationship, but it's something that I only do with people that I have some form of commitment with. If I find out that he's falling in love with other women, or has been physically intimate with another woman, that would be devastating." --Susie (foreshadowing)
- "When it comes to Rachel. I realized I was holding back to protect myself. I have to go deeper with our relationship. That's what today's about, no matter how scary it is." --Clayton
- "I want him to open up, and he hasn't yet." --Rachel
- "I want the person I'm gonna be with to explore other relationships and to on purpose choose me. LIke, I want him to be able to explore everything. Like, I really do. Like, truly getting to know us inside and out just to see what it feels like. I'm like, 'Do it.'" --Gabby
- "I don't know that I feel the same way. I didn't even really, like, comprehend the gravity of it this second." --Susie
- "I cried the entire way to the hotel because I was like, I don't know where he's at. I don't know." --Rachel (to Clayton about Rose Ceremony)
- I definitely have had something kind of weighing on me. I don't feel like I was able to be like 100 percent transparent when I was with your family. And I've kind of come to terms with what I am feeling, And I kind of wish I had told you earlier. I was kind of holding on to it. SO I'll just come out and say, like, I'm falling in love with you. I am. And I have been." --Clayton (to Rachel)
- "If Clayton thinks it's me at the end of this, and then proceeds to sleep with another woman, anyways, I would have a really hard time moving forward with him." --Susie
- "I know how I feel now. I do love Rachel." --Clayton (after Fantasy Suite)
- "Intimacy is really important in a relationship, so-- yeah, it was a good night. That's all I have to say." --Rachel
- "I know this is awkward, and I respect you guys so much. I'm really sorry in advance. I think it's just going to be a tough week for all of us." --Rachel (to Susie and Gabby)
- "I don't know what's going to happen on these next overnights. There's the potential to be in love with all three of them. It's like, so then what? That's the scary part about it." --Clayton
- "I trust Clayton with my heart, but not so much when it comes to this buggy. He has this need for speed." --Gabby
- "I've realized that I'm falling in love with you. I am. I really am." --Clayton (to Gabby)
- "For me, sex is connective with somebody. I just hope that Clayton's on the same page and sees it from my perspective." --Susie (hoping Clayton is not sleeping with other women)
- "I don't know what to do. I'm so sad, 'cause I feel like it's ending." --Susie (in her head during Gabby's Overnight)
- "Where's yours?" --Gabby (holding breakfast-in-bed hostage)
- "I am falling in love and it feels so good." --Clayton (to Gabby)
- "I've now realized that I've told two women I'm in love with them. I also realize that I could feel that way with Susie, and so now, a thousand percent, I'm going to absolutely shatter somebody. I just don't want to hurt anybody. And I'm going to. I wanted to fall in love. I just didn't want to fall in love with multiple people." --Clayton
- "This whole week has been the most challenging of my life. I'm just in a dark place. I want to get to the bottom of everything." --Susie
- "I can't even make this cute." --Susie (trying to run to Clayton in wind)
- "I have so many questions that need answers, but I feel hopeful. I'm all in with Clayton at this point." --Susie (during spa portion of date)
- "The love for her is on another level. I have every expectation of telling Susie tonight that I'm in love with her." --Clayton
- "I know how I feel about him, but I don't know where he is with everybody else. And I know what I'm not willing to compromise on, so tonight is going to be a really big step for us." --Susie
- "That night, I was also falling in love with you. You've made me feel what I haven't felt in so lon and it's so exciting when I finally allowed myself to open up and feel those feelings and acknowledge them ... I had my own walls up. And I was so afraid to admit it. But since that point, it's no longer about me falling in love with you, like, I am in love with you." --Susie
- "Do you feel that same way with somebody else? Or have you, like, slept with another woman? Like, those are things that I think would be, like, impossible to move forward to an engagement." --Susie (too late)
- "I mean, I understand, like, that thought process, and it is, like for me I think the big thing that I'm shocked at is, you did say to explore the relationships. And I thought when we talked, it was about saying I want you to explore and I don't want to be the default at the end of it. I want you to pick me for me." --Clayton
- "To answer your question, yes, I have slept with someone else here and, yes, I've expressed feelings with someone else of falling in love." --Clayton
- "I thought, like, certainly if he knows or hopes, like has an inkling, like, a feeling of I hope that it's Susie, like, I hoped that you would protect me in that and-- And I know that's maybe cutting your experience short as well. I didn't want to ask you that. I just, like, if that were the case, I would have hoped that would have been your action." --Susie
- "I can honestly tell you I am the most in love with you." --Clayton
- "Honestly, to hear all this makes it so much worse. Makes me feel worse and makes me more sad for all of it." --Susie
- "I didn't want to give you an ultimatum. I didn't want to say, I can't move forward if you sleep with other people because I don't-- I didn't want you to cut yourself short in this process. It's heartbreaking to hear." --Susie (retroactive ultimatum?)
- "I did what I did. But, had I known how important that was to you, that that was literally a deal-breaker, I would have changed the way that I approached things because I know what we have." --Clayton (apologizing)
- "Me sleeping with-- both is because somehow I've fallen in love with three women and it makes zero sense to me." --Clayton
- "I don't think there's a single scenario in which those are true and I can move forward." --Susie
- "I see you in front of me and it's like, that's it. Everything we went through. If you felt this strongly about this, why wouldn't you have told me early on? You let us get all the way to this point and then you just don't tell me until now and it's after the fact and you're ilke, I'm not willing to forgive you, I can't move on. How can you do that?" --Clayton
- "Maybe it is asking too much, but at the same time, I'm not willing to accept it. I know that's, like, the truth for me, but it feels so awful. I feel so s----- right now." --Susie (to producers after walking away)
- "I'm just gonna be honest with you. In my eyes, you just invalidated everything that we had. If you cared so much about me, if you really actually thought I was the person, and I instilled, like, this belief in you that there are good men out there ... and your family said they'd never seen you happier. Like, if it was really true, I think you'd work through this." --Clayton
- "I feel like at this point, I'm going home for sure, now. You are committed to me going home at this point." --Susie
- "You're putting this on me now. You made this decision when I walked in." --Clayton
- "I thought he'd have more compassion for me at the end, regardless of what he thought at this point. I thought he would've been better about getting through that conversation kindly."
"The Bachelor" wraps next week on back-to-back nights, Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.