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After The Bachelor's 'Rose Ceremony From Hell,' Clayton Made A Shocking Choice For The Finale

Clayton Echard on The Bachelor
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoiler alert! This story contains spoilers for Part 1 of The Bachelor Season 26 finale, which aired March 14.

Jesse Palmer warned viewers that we were about to witness “The Rose Ceremony From Hell,” and he really wasn’t kidding. In fact, the first hour of Monday’s episode — Part 1 of The Bachelor’s Season 26 finale — was spent with neither Clayton Echard nor his final two women, Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey, knowing how to even proceed with the show. The second hour looked to be getting back on track, with Recchia and Windey both meeting Echard’s family — until Echard made a shocking decision to set up Part 2 of the finale.

Clayton Echard Almost Lost Both Remaining Contestants In "The Rose Ceremony From Hell"

Viewers have been seeing promos for “The Rose Ceremony From Hell” all season, and we finally started to get answers about what happened when Clayton Echard said he was “so broken,” and admitted to Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey that he was in love with both of them and had slept with both of them as well. He also admitted that he had been in love with Susie Evans, who he eliminated after their controversial Fantasy Suite date.

The two remaining women were understandably upset by Clayton Echard’s admissions, and they both walked off-set, leaving Echard to listen to their cries echoing through the huge room he was in. He eventually spoke to each woman, and the rose ceremony began again. Rachel Recchia accepted the rose, however, Gabby Windey said she couldn’t, and asked the Bachelor to walk her out. The NFL cheerleader said she didn’t want to be the one he loved “the most” because you can’t measure love: 

I’m not in the business of competing with anyone for love.

Spoken like a true candidate for The Bachelorette’s next lead, am I right? However, after she spoke with Clayton Echard for a while longer, Gabby Windey decided to stay and accepted the rose — much to Rachel Recchia’s relief, because she did not look pleased at the prospect of being the only woman left by default.

After Gabby And Rachel Met His Family, Clayton Echard Chose ... Susie Evans?!

Following that wild (and long) rose ceremony, Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia each got a final date with Clayton Echard to meet his family. The dates were a little more tense than is usual in The Bachelor franchise, as the lead apprised his parents of the whole situation beforehand. His parents were ridiculously kind and understanding of what the women had gone through, with Clayton’s dad winning over America in the way he expressed concern for Recchia and Windey. 

In the end, however, Clayton Echard told his family he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Susie Evans. Despite his parents’ objections, Echard told Jesse Palmer that he wanted to try to win Evans back, which he will apparently try to do when the Season 26 finale continues Tuesday.

By the end of the two hours, it was hard to believe we experienced that hourlong rose ceremony, during which Clayton Echard had to convince both Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey not to leave, only to decide he didn’t want to be with either of them. And it’s still far from over. On Tuesday’s finale Part 2, Echard’s got to wrap it up — one way or another — with all three women, and Jesse Palmer still insisted that nobody knows how this season is going to end. The Bachelor Season 26 finale in the continues with Part 2 at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, March 15, on ABC in the 2022 TV schedule.

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.