The two-night live finale kicks off with Rachel and Gabby watching with everyone else as things start to go off the rails on one date after another -- how is this going to end?
It was just the first night of a two-night "Bachelorette" finale and it was already so packed with live and pre-taped craziness that it bloated 16 minutes beyond its two-hour runtime!
While the story won't wrap up completely until next week's two-hour final finale, there was an unbelievable amount of drama in this first part. This was the week that the final four guys were poised to meet Rachel and Gabby's families, but would they all even get there?
Gabby was down to just one guy, so spoiler alert, Erich does get to meet her family. And, in fact, things seem to go pretty well for him. But, as with apparently every guy left on this show, that doesn't last.
On the other hand, Rachel had three guys at the top of this show. Picking up immediately from last week's finale, Zach had just pulled her aside seconds into the Rose Ceremony to again talk about why she felt fake during the Fantasy Suite.
Another twist for this episode was that rather than us just watching the episode, Jesse Palmer and the Bachelorettes were also sitting live at home base for Bachelor Nation, watching right alongside us. Thus, they were able to offer instant reactions to what we saw -- and even bring out some guys along the way.
The first instant reaction came after Rachel's conversation with Zach, where it quickly became clear that the reason she seemed off was because she was really trying to assess where they were as a couple, trying to "get there" with Zach.
She'd eliminated past contestants for that same reason, just not feeling it, but in this case, Zach beat her to the punch, eliminating himself before she was probably going to do it at the Rose Ceremony.
In a very nice moment, though, we then cut live and Zach came out where he and Rachel had nothing but nice things to say about one another and both apologized -- Zach for making Rachel believe he was questioning her character and her for leading him to question her sincerity.
Honestly, can we get live reactions and bring guys out throughout the season, rather than trying to pack it all in during "Men Tell All." The live reactions after guys are booted is a really great way to get instant closure and be able to move on. At least, it's great for us -- the gap is still months for them.
With Zach gone, we were down to three guys meeting the families, and the returns of Rachel's dad, Big Tony, and Gabby's Grandpa John -- two fan-favorites from the last season of "The Bachelorette."
Once again, Big Tony proved more teddy bear than intimidating presence. As it turns out, it was Rachel's besties Nate and Sam who did the real digging, leading to a bombshell revelation that left Rachel shaken to her core.
Everything was going great, with her family loving how much she was smiling and gushing about Aven. It seemed pretty clear that she was leaning in the Aven direction, as he was everything she wanted in a life partner.
She opened up about how they'd talked extensively about how they're both ready for an engagement, which is all she could ever want, and that he's admitted he's falling in love with her.
Unfortunately, apparently being ready for an engagement to Aven doesn't mean being ready for an engagement right now ... or even in the next five days or whenever this season is going to end. Had he ever fully communicated this with Rachel?
Apparently not, or at least not in a way she got what he was saying, because it was like a bomb went off after he told Nate and Sam and they shared it with Rachel. They tried to assure him that he absolutely saw himself with her forever at the end of this, but that was too little too late.
From here, a devolving conversation began between Rachel and Aven where he tried to explain what he meant by being ready for an engagement not being ready for an engagement at the end of this show.
Her angle seemed to be equal parts feeling led on or outright lied to when he told her he was ready for an engagement and being embarrassed that she told her family one thing and then he said another.
Ultimately, Aven tried and tried to fight for them to have this chance to continue, but it was to no avail. His vision was for them to continue their relationship after the show and watch their love deepen, confident they'll get to a marriage eventually. She wants it at the end of the show, which is kind of the whole point.
And so, she broke up with him, leading to another live confrontation on the big stage with Jesse. Here, Aven apologized and said he hadn't taken the time to fully understand what Rachel was wanting out of this experience, or he may have better understood that they were not on the same page.
And just like that, Rachel is down to one guy left, as is Gabby. Should be smooth sailing from here, right? Well, things actually went pretty well with TIno, despite Rachel being convinced his family still hated her after her disastrous Hometown with him.
She told her family and they grilled him pretty hard about it, but Tino was adamant that they would come around and come to love her, just as he has. In the end, they seemed pleased with his devotion to Rachel.
She was nervous going into it, afraid that they'd turn up something about him. And her mother Mary Anne noted that Rachel wasn't nearly as enamored with Tino before he came in while talking about him as she'd been with Aven.
This was the very next day, and before she and Aven had resolved thins by breaking up during their final date, so she definitely had a lot of uncertainty on her mind. Does that mean she's all in with Tino, though, or is he just what's left and her heart was more set on Aven? Is she in it for the guy or the proposal?
Unfortunately, the smooth sailing with Tino we saw tonight is going to come crashing to a halt next week. The promo shows her accusing him of lying to her face, and something to do with a book -- hope he's not another creepy guy with notes about how to act on the show -- so it looks like all three of Rachel's guys have turned into a mess (or will soon enough). How does that translate to a happy ending?
Gabby was down to just one guy left, so all they needed to do was have him meet her family, go on that final date, get proposed and ride off into the sunset. Easy-peasy, right?
Well, things started off just great as Erich was charming and honest in meeting with Gabby's family. In fact, it was Gabby's insecurities that crept out again, due to her strained relationship with her mother, who used to withhold affection.
Gabby's aunt urged her to be open and honest about this side of her as well with Erich. If he's going to be her person, then she needs to share all of herself with him, even the raw and less glamorous parts.
So the visit with the family went well. Unfortunately, Gabby didn't even get to the part about herself and her mother and her feelings that she just might be unlovable, before a familiar refrain rang out in Mexico.
During their final date, Erich revealed to her that he's not so sure he could be ready for an engagement at the end of this show. In fact, he thinks it would be nice for them to leave the show together and continue dating on the outside.
The term "dating" definitely did not sit well with Gabby -- and it is a pretty casual term; couldn't he have at least asked her to "go steady"? -- who walked off and started questioning everything. Her insecurities crept in, too.
Rachel dumped Aven for this exact same situation, and had even already brought him out and talked to him before we'd even seen this. Gabby, however, has no one left. It must have killed Aven to see Gabby not ready to throw in the towel after Erich admitted where he was at.
What that does, though, is leave a whole lot of uncertainty about next week's big finale. Gabby has one guy left and he's not ready to propose at the end of this show. Rachel has one guy left and apparently she discovers he's been lying to her about something pretty major.
"I'm sure you feel that the Fantasy Suite felt a little off with us. Since day one, I've always been honest with you and upfront about my feelings. And to be honest, I thought what I was seeing wasn't the real Rachel. I thought I was seeing 'Bachelorette' Rachel, not the Rachel that I've come to know and love." --Zach (to Rachel)
"I do understand that you were picking up on maybe a little bit of a different vibe. I have been trying to gain clarity this week as well, and I do really feel like I did find it." --Rachel
"I did really love you. I saw a future with you. But I need to go." --Zach (eliminating himself)
"I truly need you to know that I do wish I could have gotten there." --Rachel
"A relationship is a two-way road; I can't make it any other way." --Zach
"I don't want anyone to speak ill, but for people who especially say that they care about me, I don't want them to kind of take things into their own hands and question my character, it's obviously really disappointing. I don't really have any other words." --Rachel
"She made me feel special and cared for. I question if that was real or just an act." --Zach (in limo leaving)
"First, I just want to say that I do apologize for ever making you feel like I called you out for your character. Watching that back, that's the last thing I wanted. I was really, kind of in shock and disbelief at what was happening between us, and I am so sorry." --Zach (to Rachel live)
"I'm sorry, too. I really want you to know that obviously that was really hard for me to watch back and see you emotional. I want you to know that those feelings that I had, they were real. I don't ever want you to feel like I was putting on an act, and I do apologize, as well." --Rachel
"When you see him, you're gonna be like, 'Why do you look like that?' It hurts your feelings." --Rachel (to her family about Aven)
"If you can make BIg Tony smile--" --Rachel's friend, Nate
"I'm trying. I gave him the cigar." --Aven (it works!)
This is my daughter, you know? She's my pride and joy, and nobody's gonna take her away from me without a fight." --Big Tony (to Aven)
"I love that face. You're so happy." --Rachel's mom, Mary Anne (to Rachel)
"I want to be with Rachel at the end of this, I want a live with her. And I want the engagement aspect of this to be perfect, 'cause for me, seeing what my parents went through, I want it to be a one-time shot for us." --Aven (to Rachel's friends)
"Are you there?" --Rachel's friend, Sam
"I can one thousand percent see myself getting there." -- Aven
"But do you have enough time to get there?" --Nate
"I don't know. I don't know how much time we have left." --Aven
"How does it feel knowing I could be engaged in five days? ... I feel like he really is in that place where he is ready." --Rachel (to Tony about Aven)
"On paper, he's the perfect choice. Like, if you don't choose him, you're stupid." --Rachel (to Sam and Nate)
"He just said, he just was unsure there would be an engagement at the end. He couldn't give me an answer." --Nate
"I don't know if he's necessarily ready for an engagement -- let me finish before you freak out -- The way he words it is he knows he wants to be with you. I think he's being very logical about this. He said, 'I want Rachel in my life forever, that's not even a question.' It's, do we get engaged right away? He said, 'I'm being honest with her completely.'" --Sam
"Yeah, but this is shocking because this is, like, not what he told me." --Rachel
"Why would you say one thing to me and another thing to my friends and family. Like, I appreciate your honesty, but why'd you lie to me?" --Rachel
"I just want to make sure that it's 100 percent right for both of us in this moment and time." --Aven (after Rachel asks if he's ready for engagement)
"What if what I want is to get engaged? ... I'm not going to force you into something you don't want." --Rachel
"It's not about not wanting it. I'm trying to be honest with you and tell you where I'm at." --Aven
"I'm not going to sit here and throw words in your face because it makes you happy; I'm going to be honest with you." --Aven
"I know, but you told me you were ready for an engagement." --Rachel
"I am ready ... I want to make sure that the timing of it is right, Rachel!" --Aven
"Why are you yelling at me?" --Rachel
"I'm sorry, I'm not trying to yell. I'm being passionate, I'm not trying to yell at you." --Aven
"I know Erich. He's a [censored]. That's okay, I love him, anyhow." --Grandpa John
"It's gotta be 90-90, not just 50-50." --John (advice to Gabby about relationships)
"I was honestly intimidated by her because she was making a lot of jokes and picking points at my insecurities ... but what I didn't realize was I was going to fall for your daughter. I'm obsessed with her. She's an amazing person and I can't imagine my life without her." --Erich (to Gabby's dad and stepmom)
"If you truly feel like Erich is the one for you, let him be the one to understand you ... Let him see you for all that you are." --Aunt Julie (about Gabby's struggles with feeling unlovable over her relationship with her mother)
"If they see something that I don't, I don't know what I'm gonna do." --Rachel (to her family before Tino comes in)
"His family didn't like me." --Rachel (to her family about Tino)
"I really need their approval, 'cause that's something that's important to her." --Tino (about Rachel's family
"I'm a million percent confident they'll love Rachel, 'cause I do and they won't have a choice." --Tino (to Mary Anne)
"She'll have a job where she can be living in California and work out of Atlanta. But you aren't as mobile as she is. Is that gonna be a problem?" --Big Tony (to Tino)
"If she wanted to go to a foreign country, I would say, okay, we need at least like a couple years so I can be on a building." --Tino (talking about their different careers)
"Now we just have to win over your family." --Rachel (to Tino after he meets her family)
"I want to come visit you in Florida where you live, I want you to come visit me, I want to do life outside of this with you, and I just feel like that's so important to us at this point before that next step. And I want us to be fully, fully in love with each other, so ... when we get there, it can be so special for us and we can go right into a marriage." --Aven (to Rachel)
"I feel so blindsided by you, I can't even tell you. When I sat down with Sam and Nate and they said, 'You don't know where he's at right now?' Do you know how that felt to me? Because I thought when we talked that night that we were on the same page." --Rachel
"I think I got caught up." --Aven (about saying he was ready for an engagement)
"You can't give me what I need right now ... I can't move forward." --Rachel
"I'm never going to get over this. I did not intend for this to happen at all." --Aven
"I'm upset that I wasn't there. I know that we would have gotten there." --Aven (after elimination)
"I'm extremely, extremely sorry about the way things ended between us. I know that I hurt you and the way things kind of transpired I blindsided you with everything, and that wasn't fair." --Aven (to Rachel live)
"I know this is a big deal, an engagement and everything. I wish I knew better and I could just be like this is 100 percent everything and I've been here before and I know how to handle this situation, but it's just-- I don't know." --Erich
"I feel pretty good about what a life with you would be like. I hope it's like this. The last thing I want to do is put pressure on you, but I don't-- I'm not the one proposing. And that's why, I don't' know, you kind of like see, maybe." --Gabby
"What does that mean, 'see'?" --Erich
"I don't know." --Gabby
"I really want us to work. I know the odds are kind of against that, but, I just, like, I want to date you, in the real world, I want to date you. Getting engaged before that happens, it's not how things usually go." --Erich
"What am I supposed to do? Walk away because he's not ready to propose?" --Gabby
Season 19 of "The Bachelorette" wraps up next Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.