Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey only have one guy left each, but not everyone gets a happy ending as things get tense and hostile in this three-hour finale to their journeys.
Well, that was uncomfortable. And if we're being completely honest, this exhausting three-hour "Bachelorette" finale has left us feeling a bit conflicted, too.
After a tumultuous season, both Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey were down to one guy each, so this finale should have been pretty straightforward. All we needed to know is if anyone would actually propose and get engaged, right?
Not so fast.
Well yes, that was part of it, but it was only the beginning of both stories, which played out one by one. Rachel was up first, down to just Tino in the end after she'd dumped Aven for saying he wasn't ready to propose after the season ended, but definitely saw a future forever with her. That wasn't good enough, and he was gone.
Erich had told Gabby the same thing, but he was already her last guy, so she had to decide if that was a dealbreaker for her. It was the cliffhanger that left us wondering if anyone was going to get a happy ending on this journey.
In an almost startlingly early reveal that had us going "uh-oh," Rachel was suddenly at her Final Rose pretty early in the broadcast. Tino came in, said all the right things and they got beautifully engaged, even riding off on a horse together. Fairy tale ending?
Well, that ending was just the beginning, as host Jesse Palmer told us. Of course, watching Rachel's face and the faces of her parents throughout that finale told us everything we need to know. This engagement turned bad, and we do mean bad!
In the live studio segment, Jesse finally pushed Rachel to open up about what was really going on, and she revealed that Tino had cheated on her. But before he came out so she could confront him about it, we learned that she'd already done that -- and of course it was on film.
We cut to that segment, where Gabby first showed up in support of her Bachelorette sister, and then Tino showed up for the conversation from Hell. He even brought receipts, though Rachel wasn't impressed with those.
So, here's where our opinion might start to stay into controversy. Look, we're not going to begin to try and defend Tino's actions, or the fact that Rachel said he never fully owned up to them nor did he apologize to her properly before this.
But we're also not entirely sure that Rachel was giving him the chance to provide the answers she said she was looking for. At one point, looking confused, he even told her he thought she was looking for context as to why what happened happened.
There's a difference between making excuses for bad behavior and providing additional context to explain bad behavior. For one, you take no ownership. For the other, you can be taking full ownership, but you're also trying to explain the thought processes you had that led to those mistakes.
Rachel didn't seem to acknowledge that the second was possible. Any time Tino tried to add context and explain why he was where he was in his own headspace, she said he was blaming her for what happened. But it wasn't quite coming across that way to us.
She'd accused him of being more concerned about his image to America than owning up to his actions, and there may have been some truth to that in the pre-taped segment. But the argument continued during the live broadcast, and he seemed like he was fully owning his errors.
The mistake he made was in again trying to provide context to how he got to where he made that choice to kiss another woman, and that's where Rachel again interpreted this as him trying to put the blame on her. We've not been impressed with this side of Rachel for a few weeks now.
It's as if she has this narrative in her head about how something should go, and as soon as it doesn't go that way, she shuts down completely. She feels betrayed and outraged over this one thing and she loses the ability to hear anything that might explain that thing or provide additional context and understanding to that thing.
Tino and Rachel were going round and round in circles and getting nowhere, and by the time it was happening live, we found ourselves starting to see that Rachel wasn't really listening to Tino or hearing him out at all. Again, it was as if she expected a total apology full stop, and when he didn't full stop, that was it for her.
Again, we're not making excuses for TIno kissing another woman while they were together, even if he alluded to confusion in his own head about that over Rachel saying she didn't want to wear the ring if they were only dating. Honestly, we're not really in a position to judge the entirety of the situation.
When Tino tried to bring up his context live, Rachel revealed that there was context from their personal lives left out of the pre-taped conversation, and she asked him if he really wanted to go there on live television. He did not, and we suspect this is pretty key information as to what was fully going on between them and with them individually.
Without it, we can't truly speak to what went down, so we can only speak to what we saw. What we saw was a man who made a mistake, and a woman who wanted something very specific from him. He took too long to own up to it fully, and his thought to keep it a secret and call it "little" were pretty abhorrent.
But we also think he wasn't even given a chance to speak his full truth live because he didn't give Rachel what she wanted. For all her talk of his concern about how he'd look in the public eye, she seemed deeply concerned about how she came across. Without context, it's hard to say much more.
As if Tino wasn't being torn apart enough by Rachel and the live studio audience -- we're not sure if he thought he'd get a fair shake here, but the audience follows the lead's, ahem, lead -- Jesse then poured salt into his open wounds.
With him still sitting right there, Jesse told Rachel that someone "demanded" to be able to come out and say something to her, and that someone was Aven. Now that her engagement was off, perhaps she'd be open to dating him? ... which is what he'd wanted them to do all along (date after the show).
He asked her if she wanted to get out of there and catch up, again with Tino sitting right there. Rachel enthusiastically accepted and they were seen backstage a few times but never again on the stage. Catching up went pretty well.
A beaten-down TIno could be seen asking if he was done and if he could leave, but his mic was no longer on as he stood there awkwardly before Jesse threw to break so we could gear up for Gabby's finale. After this one, we needed a couple of shots to even think about moving on.
As it turns out, in recent weeks there's been more than one controversy that emerged about Gabby's final guy, Erich. There's the Blackface incident back in school that he's publicly apologized for -- how are so many people still doing this? Then, there's the text messages.
But before we got to all (or some) of that, we had to see how their journey ended. Did Erich decide to pony up and propose? Did Gabby even give him that chance?
After talking with producers, she decided he deserved one final conversation to see if they could be on the same page. Unlike Rachel unceremoniously dumping Aven despite his declarations of undying love for her, Gabby decided that the love is more important than anything else.
And so, she kept Erich (maybe because he was the only one left) and headed off for her own final Rose Ceremony with no certainty that he would propose. We did get a shot of him looking at rings, so it was at least a possibility.
In the end, Erich did get down on one knee and declare his love for Gabby, who reciprocated. As always with Gabby, it was full of funny jokes and asides (she really is just too precious), and it ended with smiles and so much making out it continued into the live show.
That's right, unlike Rachel's last-minute debacle derailing things, Gabby and Erich are still very much a thing, as Erich came out live and he and Gabby swapped spit so aggressively that Jesse had to remind them this was a family show on a network owned by Disney (nice plug there).
So what about all of Erich's controversies? What about the Blackface? Well, what about that was nothing at all because it wasn't even discussed. It was an interesting decision, but maybe producers felt it was covered enough in the media already.
Plus, the text messages were certainly juicier and more recent. So, was it worse than Nate dating two women and lying about it? Was it worse than Tino kissing a woman he'd been talking to before coming on the show?
In Erich's case, he was actively dating a woman before coming on "The Bachelorette," and she claimed that he broke up with her to go on the show. She also said he told her the show wasn't real and he wasn't going there to find love, but rather to try and get more career opportunities. He certainly wouldn't be the first.
Well, with Gabby supporting him and by his side, Erich owned every single on of those things. He admitted that he'd used the show to take the cowardly way out of ending things with this woman. Rather than man up and break up with her as he knew there was no future there, he enjoyed the fun they were having too much to be honest with her.
Erich wasn't booed or vilified by the studio audience, and neither was Nate when he talked about his scandals during "The Men Tell All." So was what they did not nearly as bad as what Tino did? Or was it that, like Rachel, the studio audience didn't like the way TIno responded to it as much as they did how Erich and Nate did.
Ultimately, it was a happy ending for Gabby and Erich, who navigated through their ups and downs. To Erich's credit, she did say that he told her about those texts and that woman well before it made it's way to the media, so it also helps that he got out in front of it and didn't try to hide anything. Growth?
We thought the three-hour run time had to do with how messy the final chapter was for our Bachelorette leads, but it was actually so that our new Bachelor's journey for love could get a jump-start before the actual season begins in January 2023.
But first, we needed to find out who it was. With Aven having skipped town with Rachel, it clearly wasn't going to be him. But it was another guy who didn't make it all the way with her, though it wasn't Rachel who ended their time together.
Zach Shallcross ended his time with Rachel on his own terms because he said she seemed "unsincere" during their overnight date. We couldn't help but think of this tonight when it seemed that she was being so polished and controlled about making sure she came across a certain way. What is the real Rachel. Have we seen it?
Well, Zach isn't sure he ever did, and so he said goodbye. He also didn't like her suddenly thinking his age was going to be a deterrent to him being ready for an engagement, considering he's just a few years younger than her. Clearly, it's not, as here he is ready to get started on that journey.
What he didn't know was that the journey was going to get started right away, and that's what the extra hour was for. Not only was Zach going to meet the first five women of his season on live television, which has been done before, but a First Impression Rose was going to be given to one of them.
But in a new twist, it wasn't going to be Zach who makes that choice. That was left up to America in a live Twitter vote. Right away for us it became evident which woman was probably going to nab that honor, because she was the most adorable and honest in her entrance.
Since America got to make their first impressions known, we'll do the same. Brooklyn Willie came out and made a huge impression on Zach and the live studio audience, but we missed most of it because apparently she cursed and wound up silenced. We still want to know what she said, because that silence lingered!
Next up was Brianna, who adorably admitted that she "literally almost fainted on the way out" before taking a Polaroid selfie with Zach and leaving the image with him to remember her by. She was perky and memorable.
Bailey seemed pretty normal and down-to-earth, engaging in small talk before dropping her rhyme to help him remember her, rhyming her name with "daily." Note to Bailey, it didn't work even in the short term as Zach hilariously forgot all of their names moments after meeting them. Off to a great start there, buddy!
Cat came out next and we were immediately terrified and wondering if she might get the "villain" edit. She screamed high-maintenance and then admitted as much, asking if he was "up for the challenge" as dating her is "not for the weak." That sounds like ... fun?
Christina came out and got her last name on the chryon, so does that mean she's related to the Mandrell Sisters? None of the other women got their last names shown. For her first impression, she shared that she was from Nashville and shared a shot. She seems straightforward and fun, but not all that memorable.
In fact, Brianna was the only one that showed personality and really appeared to be living in her truth, revealing that she almost fainted. Cat had personality, too, but the kind that left us a little scared, and maybe America, too. Their vote went to a very deserving Brianna.
That means she's already safe for the first night, so she'll at least have a little longer to make more of an impression on Zach, as will the other four women as they're still part of the cast. Hopefully, they have more personality to show, and the rest of the ladies as well, when "The Bachelor" returns in 2023.
The last thing we have to say about this season ... does anyone know where Aven and Rachel are?
"We're gonna see your final moments as Bachelorettes." --Jesse
"Thank god." --Gabby
"He said I want to leave here and I want to date you. No one can tell me I'm crazy." --Gabby (to producers about Erich)
"I want to be someone who wants to be with me. So in that moment, I wanted to hear him out, in case I wanted to f---ing walk away." --Gabby (in confessional about giving Erich one last chance)
"I just feel like if we were to end right now, I would be f---ing destroyed." --Erich (to Gabby)
"I really want us to work. Let's figure us out. Let's try." --Erich (to Gabby)
"We came together and realized how much we love each other, and that's what matters most to me." --Gabby (in confessional)
"This was a really hard way for us to find each other, but I wouldn't change a single second of it." --Tino (to Rachel)
"You are the only one here. It's you. I've been so excited to tell you." --Rachel (to Tino)
"I would literally bet everything I have and everything that I am that Rachel and I are forever." --Tino (in confessional)
"I cannot believe where we came from to where we're sitting now, literally about to be engaged to our dream guys." --Rachel (to Gabby)
"After everything you've been through, the last thing I want to do is break your heart, but there's something I gotta say. This is never going away." --Tino (proposing to Rachel)
"Obviously, there's a lot of emotion watching that back. I remember exactly how I felt. I truly felt like I had found my person." --Rachel (live about proposal)
"Around the time of the premiere, we just started going through a difficult time ... I'm not saying I'm perfect. I've made more than enough mistakes, and I'll be the first to admit it. We definitely had some difficulties in our relationship, but throughout it all, I feel like I always tried. And that's all I wanted out of a partner, was someone who was just gonna stand next to me and support me. And around that time, I wasn't feeling that support. And if I'm not feeling it, I probably wasn't giving it, as well. We took some time and tried to figure out how to move forward and, for the most part, I thought we had. We were at such a great place again, kind of moving even farther than I thought we could sitting on this couch today. But it didn't turn out that way." --Rachel
"He brought forth to me some concerns about relationships from the past coming forward and alluding to certain things. I told him, if it happened in the past, let's talk it through, let's get past it. He didn't really want to tell me." --Rachel
"I think everyone knows, obviously, it didn't really work out. He cheated on me." --Rachel
"I do want to warn you, Bachelor Nation. This is rough, but this is what happened." --Jesse (about Rachel confronting Tino)
"It's so many things tumbling into a big problem that he lied about, and had the full weekend to tell me this." --Rachel (to Gabby about Tino)
And I think he's just acting out of a place, I don't even know, of selfishness, really." --Gabby
"Of literally only caring about how he's gonna look, that's the only thing he cares about. He literally was like, 'I regret telling you' ... and 'Don't tell anyone.'" --Rachel
"You can't be forgiven when you're not sorry what you did." --Rachel
"Honestly, f--- him and kick him in the b----. You don't deserve this." --Gabby
"I messed up and I kissed another girl, but the second I did I knew I belonged with you. And this was the tiniest thing ever ... I'm not trying to take away from what happened at all and the emotional roller coaster it puts you on. I tried to just get past it." --Tino
"You said, 'I don't know how this is gonna work. I'm in a bad place and I can't put any effort into this.' 'I can't do happy couples this weekend like we planned, and if we do one, I don't want to sleep there.' Jokingly, 'Would you want to be the next Bachelor?' That hurt." --Tino (reading from his journal)
"Do you wanna bring that up when you answered like you would." --Rachel
"I absolutely didn't. I told you I wouldn't do it because if it didn't work out with us, I wouldn't believe in this process." --Tino
"'I'm giving back the ring, I can't wear it to AFR.' I don't want to go to therapy, I don't want to talk to anybody about this.'" --Tino (reading from his journal)
"Provide context if you're gonna pull these receipts out." --Rachel
I was going through a hard time and you know it had nothing to do with you or our relationship." --Rachel
"You said, 'I'm giving the ring back. I can't wear it.'" --Tino
"That's false, that's literally false." --Rachel (she said if they went back to dating, she wouldn't wear it)
"She just wants to beat me up. She's throwing me under the bus saying all this is lies? Oh my god, and she's just-- This is, like, nothing more than making me look bad. She's totally crucifying me and she just called it all s---. It's like she was working on it the whole time. Get me out of this. Just tell her to break up with me. Let me out." --Tino (to producer about his journal)
"Is this for real? I feel like my head is spinning right now." --Rachel (to producer)
"I totally get the emotional betrayal, but I didn't want to pile onto you." --Tino (to Rachel on why he didn't tell her)
"Tino, if you respect me at all, please just tell the truth." --Rachel
"I need to step out. I'm sorry." --Tino
"I'm done." --Rachel
"Then don't give up." --Tino
"I'm done." --Rachel (giving back ring)
"You deserve somebody amazing, who doesn't do this. That could have been me, but I let you down. I'm really sorry." --Tino
"I wanted to understand where it was coming from, but apparently it was my fault he cheated." --Rachel (live to Jesse)
"Is there any part of you that still loves Tino?" --Jesse (to Rachel)
"I mean I have love for him, but no." --Rachel
From the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry for what I did, I'm sorry it took me so long to tell you, and I'm sorry that that meetup came off like I was trying to put any responsibility of what I did on you." --Tino (live to Rachel)
"Came off as if? Or you completely put it on me?" --Rachel
"There is somebody here tonight who demanded they get a chance to talk to you." --Jesse (live introducing Aven)
"I want to just come by and say this is tough. YOu don't really deserve this, anything that's happened with any of us, and I was just wondering if you wanted to maybe get out of here and just catch up." --Aven (to Rachel)
"I would like nothing more." --Rachel
"You deserve somebody who's gonna give you 100 percent, who's gonna be there unconditionally for you. And so, the reason I'm standing in front of you, because I want to be that person for you." --Erich (proposing)
"You know how many times I practiced that in my head?" --Erich (to Gabby)
"You did so good." --Gabby
"I do have one final question to ask you. Can I have your number?" --Erich
"We have a live show. Family TV, family TV. This is owned by Disney." --Jesse (live to Gabby and Erich, kissing)
"Would you ever consider, I don't know, being the Bachelor?" --Jesse (to Grandpa John)
"Gabby, what do you think about Grandpa John Bachelor?" --Jesse
"Definitely not." --Gabby
"The reality is, we went to California and started dating when I was 29 years old. When you go on dates, you try to find your person. I met this girl about a month before this all started; I had no idea I was gonna come here. Ultimately, I realized there was not a connection long-term. It was about the same time the show reached out. I handled it poorly, a hundred percent. I led her on and I want to own that. I have no hard feelings towards this girl at all. I understand her actions. I took the easy way out, in a sense where I didn't want to have the hard conversation." --Erich (about girl who said he broke up with her to go on the show)
"She also released some text messages exchanges a few days ago claiming that you didn't think the show was real, you weren't coming here to find love and that you were just using this platform to hopefully get a career opportunity." --Jesse
"I do think it's something that should be addressed. I was taking the cowardly way out. I led this girl on. I was using the show as an excuse to not confront her about our relationship at this point where I didn't see a future but we were having fun. It's easy, especially then, to just continue to have fun than make the decision to say this isn't going to work long-term. ... I came into this being like, make it past night one and see what happens ... What changed was I met Gabby on the first night." --Erich
"I do believe what he says. Not saying you were right in your actions, you were kind of an a--hole to her." --Gabby
"So, I want to be clear. You're forgiving this guy?" --Jesse (to Gabby)
"I guess." --Gabby
"Rachel was supposed to be here today, but she's now run away with Aven." --Jesse (live during broadcast)
"Could you have ever imagined things ending this way?" --Jesse (to Gabby)
"No, I hate men." --Gabby
"How does it feel to be the new Bachelor?" --Jesse
"There's no words. I'm just taking this in right now. This is pretty incredible." --Zach
"Catherine, you were swept off your feet by the Bachelor." --Jesse (to Catherine Giudici)
"Yeah, she was." --Sean Lowe (the Bachelor in question)
"Make sure you don't pee in the hot tub." --Sean (advice for Zach)
"Hi, it's so nice to meet you, I'm Brooklyn. [Curses] I know you live in Texas. I'm originally from Texas, so I'm looking for any excuse to move back, so I hope you're that excuse." --Brooklyn Willie (meeting Zach)
"Hi, I'm Briana, nice to meet you. So this is a really special moment, we're finally getting to meet and I wanted to do something a little special for you so that we could always remember this. So would you mind taking a picture for us? How are you feeling tonight? ... I literally almost fainted on the way out ... This is actually for you, a little something to remember me by." --Brianna Thorbourne (giving Zach picture they just took)
"Hi, I'm Bailey, nice to meet you. How are you feeling? I'm good, I'm nervous. Are you feeling good? I am from California. Well, I'm actually from Nashville but I just moved. I am a recruiter, but I know that you are gonna be meeting a lot of women so I want you to remember my name. So, my name's Bailey, so in the morning when you wake up, say this to yourself: 'On the daily, I'm gonna be thinking of Bailey.' Don't worry, I'll be thinking about you, too." --Bailey Brown
"Hello, oh a hug! Well, I'm Cat. How are you feeling? Are you excited? Okay, me too. I came all the way from New York just to meet you and, much like living in New York City, dating me is not intended for the weak. So, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Okay, up for the challenge?" --Catherine "Cat" Wong
"Hello. Hi. I'm Christina from Nashville, Tennessee, born and raised. And I'm like so glad it's you, first of all. Because it's you, I'm like freaking out a little bit, are you nervous at all? Well, I did bring something from home to help calm my nerves, so let me grab that for ya. I did bring one for you, I hope you don't mind, it's in my shoe; I did shower earlier. So, cheers, let's do it. Tastes like home. Cheers to a journey together." --Christina Mandrell
"Can you name all the women you just met?" --Jesse (to Zach)
"Oh shoot, Jesse, come on." --Zach (not even one)
Bachelor Nation rolls on with "Bachelor in Paradise" premiering next Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET and "The Bachelor" Season 27 coming Monday, January 23, 2023 on ABC.