The Bachelor finale Part 1 featured Clayton Echard realizing Susie Evans is a "once-in-a-lifetime woman" and a very special and unique love after he convinced two heartbroken women, Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey, to stay and keep fighting for him during the Season 26 broadcast that aired Monday night on ABC.

The Bachelor broadcast began with host Jesse Palmer teasing in front of a live studio audience "the most controversial finale in Bachelor history."

"What you are about to see will rock Bachelor Nation and all of America right down to its core. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can compare to what you're about to witness tonight -- including a Rose Ceremony I like to call 'the Rose Ceremony from hell,'" Jesse said.


Footage then picked up from Reykjavik, Iceland, where Clayton was shown sitting in a church, feeling badly hurt following Susie's departure. Clayton called himself "so messed up" and didn't know what was going to happen.

"I want to believe love is here, but it's all up in the air at this point. I want to believe it, but I don't know. I need somebody to help me because I'm so broken," Clayton cried in a confessional.

Clayton placed his face into his hands and bawled, and he just wasn't sure how to proceed in the process after losing the girl he had loved "the most" up to that point.

Jesse then sat down with Clayton, who explained how Susie had "blindsided" him and he felt everything they had now meant nothing. Clayton said Susie had "shattered" his trust, especially because she had allegedly told him multiple times, "I want you to explore the other relationships fully."

"And so you interpreted that as...?" Jesse asked.

"Fully," Clayton replied. "To me, that's a huge ask to say, 'Don't tell anyone else you're falling in love with them and don't get intimate with anybody else.' But I told her, 'All you had to do was tell me at any point beforehand.'"

Susie had told Clayton that she understood where he was coming from but still couldn't move forward with the show, which apparently really rocked his world and crushed him.

"I have no trust. My trust was ripped apart. I have all my walls up now, but also, now my question is, 'Could [Rachel and Gabby] not move forward as well if they heard this?'" Clayton questioned.

Clayton therefore planned to talk to both of the women while being "1,000 percent transparent" at the Rose Ceremony that evening. Clayton predicted that night could be the end of his whole Bachelor journey.
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Clayton -- who was prepared to tell the truth even if it meant risking both relationships -- said if Gabby or Rachel decided to stick it out with him after hearing about his time in the Fantasy Suites, it would be a testament to the love they already shared and he'd want to continue on with them.

Going into the Rose Ceremony, Rachel and Gabby were both feeling nervous and feared Clayton was falling in love with more than one woman. Rachel recognized that although Clayton had said, "I love you," he may have stronger feelings for someone else.

Gabby also hoped Clayton's profession of love to her would stand true through the Rose Ceremony and that he had figured out what he wants.

When Gabby and Rachel gathered together at the Rose Ceremony, Susie was nowhere to be found and the girls wondered if she had already gone or been sent home.

"Oh my God," Rachel whispered.


Clayton then approached Gabby and Rachel at the Rose Ceremony and unleashed everything he was feeling.

Clayton shared how he felt "shattered into pieces" in the moment and had been "questioning everything."

"The person standing in front of you now is not the person that you were last with," Clayton said. "What I'm about to say is not going to be easy to hear, but it's going to be very transparent, and I owe it to you all."

He revealed how Susie left the show earlier in the week because he had been intimate with more than one woman and had also told more than one woman that he was in love with them.

"She felt that it was over for us, and so it just had me questioning everything about what her and I had," Clayton said.

"And I felt at the end of it, I couldn't even really look her in the face. I didn't even know who I was looking at. I didn't want to go about it this way, but because it became a dealbreaker, I don't want that to be a dealbreaker with us."

Clayton then dropped the following bombshell on his Final 2 bachelorettes: "This is the hard part to say, but I was in love with her, and I was in love with each of you, too. I am in love with both of you. I also was intimate with both of you."

Clayton acknowledged how his news wasn't easy for them to hear but he saw a light at the end of the tunnel and envisioned one of them being in the end with him, although he didn't know which person that was going to be yet.

Clayton insisted, however, he'd never string either of them along and he'd be ready to answer any and all questions that they may have for him.

Once Clayton finished his speech, the girls asked for a minute to themselves -- and they both took off and began crying. Clayton could actually hear Rachel sobbing in the distance, and Rachel lamented about how the situation was "not fair."

"I don't want to end up in the end if it's going to be like this to make it there," Gabby cried.

Rachel couldn't believe that Clayton was in love with her as well as two other people, and she cried loudly into her hands in total disbelief. At one point, Rachel sprawled herself over a staircase and just bawled her eyes out. She said she couldn't breathe.

Rachel was also disturbed by the idea Clayton was heartbroken over Susie's exit.

"Maybe it's easier just to go," Gabby told a producer.

Clayton told Jesse that he was hurting terribly and hated listening to the women cry. Clayton said he loved both of those women, who couldn't even look him in the eye, but no one could understand his position as the Bachelor unless they've been through it.

"They have every right to be hurt... and I knew it was going to, but they deserve to know. I don't really feel good right now about where this is about to go, but I can't be in a relationship with secrets. I just want to continue with the both of them," Clayton shared.


Gabby appeared to be the first woman to confront Clayton and have a conversation with him. She called the situation "so much," but Clayton promised her that what they had was real.

Gabby asked Clayton to help her understand what was happening because Susie's absence was concerning, and Clayton repeated the story of Susie's departure and explained how he was only in this position because he had opened himself up and allowed himself to explore every relationship fully.

Gabby said "exploring" is not "definitively loving" -- and "love" should be a big word, and Clayton apologized. Clayton noted how he didn't want to build a relationship on half-truths and he didn't want Gabby to have a single question about them going forward.

Gabby asked Clayton how he could justify sending her home after expressing love to her, and he replied, "Ultimately, whoever I pick, I love the most... That's what I'm figuring out, is who is the best fit for me?"

Clayton added, "And once I make that decision, all of the other love -- it was real -- but it ends there... It just means I had a stronger love with somebody else."

Gabby noted how that was hard to hear and she wished Clayton would have just saved his "I love you" for one person, but Clayton admitted that he felt it and was experiencing real feelings of being in love.

Clayton said he planned to leave the show with only one love, but Gabby noted how it would be difficult for her to stop loving him if she ended up in second place.

"How would you feel in my position?" Gabby asked. "This is f-cked up."

Gabby didn't think Clayton was being fair, adding, "I don't think you tell multiple people that you love them thinking that there would be no consequences, knowing there would be steps along the way we have to get through."

Gabby complained about how Clayton's explanation he would leave The Bachelor with the woman he loved most was "the wrong f-cking answer."

"Love isn't measured. You can't measure it. So, like, don't say that," Gabby lamented in tears. "I don't want to be loved the most; I just want to be loved for who I am."

Meanwhile, Rachel could barely compose herself, saying she never thought there was a chance Clayton could be "in love" with three women.

"IN love?! It feels like it meant nothing, and I'm supposed to have my heart broken over a chance he might love me a little bit more than the other women? Because he still loves Gabby and Susie!" Rachel cried.

Rachel was desperate for some clarity and/or reassurance, and so she spoke to Clayton next.

Rachel was afraid to put up walls, saying their time together in the Fantasy Suite no longer felt special. She was nearly hyperventilating, but Clayton explained that the love he felt for her was not like the love he felt for Gabby.

"It's different. It's not the same, it's not. You both are two different people and I have different feelings. I love you in different ways," Clayton said.


Rachel didn't know how to express how much pain she was in, and she just cried about being so in love with the Bachelor when his heart was clearly torn.

Rachel confessed that her heart was "breaking," and she fell into Clayton's lap and cried more. She couldn't understand how Clayton was feeling love for three people, but Clayton assured her, "We could be at the end of this [together]. It isn't over!"

"I feel like this is worth fighting for. And I love you, I do... and there's no question about it," Clayton noted.

But Rachel admitted she was terrified and didn't know if she could handle another breakdown like this if Clayton ended up choosing someone else.

Clayton told Rachel that he wanted her to meet his family, and so he asked her to trust him and continue on in the process. Rachel said she didn't know what to do because she was so in love with Clayton, but Clayton hoped he had done enough to convince the two women to stay.

Rachel and Gabby both appeared back at the Rose Ceremony, and Clayton apologized for having put them both through this. Clayton expressed how they didn't have to accept his roses, but he hoped he had said enough to sway them into meeting his family.

Clayton then handed the first rose to Rachel, and she sweetly accepted it. Clayton whispered to Rachel about how he stood behind everything he had told her and their relationship was real.

And then Clayton called out Gabby's name and muttered a similar sentence about how he had been intentional with his words and actions -- but Gabby declined the rose and said, "I can't [accept it]. I'm sorry. Do you want to walk me out?"

Rachel appeared totally shocked and bewildered, and her jaw even dropped to the floor. Rachel clearly didn't want to win the show by default and she wanted to be "chosen" the right way, but she was the only bachelorette left at this point.

When walking Gabby out, Gabby explained how she and Clayton had something very special and she pictured them ending up together. Her trust had carried her forward in the process.

On loving his ultimate winner "the most," Gabby acknowledged, "I'm not in the business of competing with anyone for love."

"It's not meant to be a competition, and I'm sorry if that's the way that it felt," Clayton said, adding how he had compartmentalized each relationship and what he had with Gabby was different from the other two relationships.

Clayton said he didn't have all the answers but he saw something in them and was speaking from his heart. Gabby didn't know what she was supposed to feel and asked Clayton to put himself in her shoes.

"Knowing you told three different women with what I'm assuming -- because I don't have anything else to base it off of -- the same intention, volition, excitement that you told me, you're telling them," Gabby said. "And that's what made my week special."


Clayton repeated how he had fallen in love in different ways, but Gabby reiterated how she didn't want to be "the most love." Gabby simply wanted to be "accepted and loved" since love cannot be measured.

"I feel like I'm being measured, and I never, ever felt that way until I was standing right here. Did you regard what it would feel like? It just hurts," Gabby cried.

"I know, I know," Clayton replied.

"Just say you're sorry or something!" Gabby begged in tears.

"I am sorry!" Clayton responded. "I am very sorry. I'm not trying to create any turmoil. I'm trying to do this the right way. I'm trying to convince you because I believe what we have is special, so I don't want to let you walk out without at least trying one last time."

Clayton asked Gabby to follow her heart and hopefully give them another chance.

Gabby told Clayton that she couldn't go through this heartbreak again, but Clayton couldn't promise she wouldn't get hurt. Clayton repeated how what they had was genuine and real and it was love, adding, "It's as real as it gets... What is your heart telling you?"

With that being said, Gabby returned to the Rose Ceremony and Rachel comforted her.

"Are you okay?" Rachel asked Gabby.

"Yeah," Gabby quietly replied, before reluctantly and uncomfortably accepting a rose from Clayton.

Gabby said she had decided to stay and trusted herself enough to get this far. Gabby insisted Clayton hadn't changed her mind but rather allowed her to face what she was feeling. She was also thankful he acknowledged that what they had was special and unique.

"But I could kick myself next week," Gabby noted.

Jesse then discussed the episode thus far with The Bachelorette alums Clare Crawley and Michelle Young as well as former The Bachelor star Nick Viall.

Clare said Clayton had handled himself pretty poorly, and Nick pointed out about Clayton's alleged transparency and honesty, "He had left out the most important thing, which is he told Susie that he loved her 'the most,' and I feel that would be something these women wanted to hear, especially Gabby, when he was trying to convince her not to trust her gut."

Nick reasoned, "I don't think Clayton ever took the time to consider the position of power that he's in as the Bachelor and he never took the time to empathize with these women... and unfortunately, I think you're seeing a guy who is focused on finding love for himself and not finding love with someone else."

Nick was curious how Gabby and Rachel must feel watching the show back considering Clayton had never mentioned loving Susie the most, and Michelle noted how Clayton needed to handle these relationships with more care and make the women feel heard.

Clayton was then shown reuniting with his family -- his father Brian, mother Kelly, and two brothers. Clayton opened up about how he was in a bad spot and had fallen in love with three women.


Clayton shared Susie's position on sex and love in the Fantasy Suites and how he had been intimate with both Rachel and Gabby, which made Susie decide she couldn't continue with him.

Clayton said while he cared about Rachel and Gabby and loved them both, he was still in love with Susie and almost wished he had never fallen in love with anybody.

"I don't know how you can be in love with three people," Kelly pointed out.

Brian told Clayton that each woman wanted to feel like his No. 1 and had every right to be upset with him. Clayton said Gabby didn't accept his rose at first but he fought for her to stay, and Brian noted how he didn't blame Gabby for wanting to leave at first.

"You screwed the pooch, in my opinion," Brian said.

Clayton asked his family members to ask the tough questions but understand they were going through a lot at that point, and Kelly said it seemed like Gabby -- whom they'd be meeting first -- was Clayton's "consolation prize," but the Bachelor insisted that wasn't the case and either Gabby or Rachel could end up being his parents' "future daughter-in-law."

Gabby hoped Clayton's family would give her the benefit of the doubt since she had almost walked out on Clayton, but it didn't take them long to like her and sympathize with her point of view.

Gabby told Kelly that she couldn't give up a man like Clayton without seeing it through and she trusted her intuition as well as Clayton, knowing he'll be an amazing husband and father. She called Clayton genuine and open-hearted, and Brian seemed to appreciate Gabby's sense of humor and the joy she brought to his son's life.

Brian even told Gabby that he respected her bold move to nearly quit the show considering the circumstances.

"I don't think anything less of Clayton... and I want to be here so bad," Gabby told Brian.

Brian thought Gabby is a beautiful woman with a level head on her shoulders, and the gathering went very well. Gabby ultimately felt great about her decision to stay and told Clayton that she was so glad she had listened to him because she really loved him and had deep feelings for him.

"I do love him, and I think today helped me come to that realization and feel confident in saying that... I'm ready now, more than ever, to be with him," Gabby said.

Later on, Rachel said she was feeling really excited to meet Clayton's family, but she was also still feeling very hurt. She didn't know exactly where Clayton stood, and she noted he had broken her heart just a couple of days beforehand.

Rachel told Kelly during a private conversation that she didn't want to spend the rest of her life wondering what "could've been" with Clayton because she already knew what it was. Rachel said their relationship deserved for her to give it her all.

"I just really feel like he is perfect for me. I really, really do hope it's him and I in the end, because I do see him as my husband," Rachel told Kelly.


Rachel confirmed that she would accept Clayton's marriage proposal if he chose her in the end, and Kelly said Rachel's unwillingness to quit the show spoke volumes about her character and love for Clayton.

Rachel apparently surprised Kelly, who could see Rachel's confidence in her connection with Clayton. Kelly definitely awarded Rachel points for not ever threatening to leave her son.

Rachel also told Brian how she had never been in love like this before and losing him would be devastating.

"I know he's in love with Gabby, but I really want it to be us in the end," Rachel told the cameras at the end of her date.

Once the dates ended, Clayton told his father how his heart was starting to yell louder and louder at him. He felt "lost" and "confused."

"With Gabby and Rachel, I couldn't make up my mind today, if I had to, which between the two I would move forward with," Clayton admitted. "I love both Gabby and Rachel, but when Susie left, my whole life just got flipped upside-down. How am I supposed to just let that go?!"

Clayton realized from introducing Gabby and Rachel to his family that he couldn't stop thinking about Susie, and so he didn't know what to do.

Clayton shared with his family how he loved Rachel and Gabby and could see a future with both of them; however, he finally had some clarity given his family had told him to follow his heart.

"It just hit me. I just realized in my heart where it's at," Clayton said. "My heart was here with these women and now it's out beyond these walls with Susie. What I had with Susie was very, very special, and that's not to discredit what I had with Rachel or I had with Gabby."

Clayton noted how his relationships with Gabby and Rachel were "special" but it was "just a little bit more special with Susie."

"But she didn't think so," Brian noted.

And Kelly pointed out, "Clayton, she left you."

But Clayton insisted the situation wasn't that straightforward because his breakup conversation with Susie became too big for the both of them. Clayton said he understood why Susie couldn't see past his actions.

"I stopped listening with Susie. It's not that she stopped -- she was still talking, and I was the one who decided I was done," Clayton revealed.

Brian accused his son of grasping at straws.

"That's done, gone, and history," Brian said. "She made that choice to walk... She made the choice to walk."

"She talked all the way until I opened the door for her and told her to go," Clayton argued.

Clayton's family therefore asked him why he didn't stop Susie in her tracks, and Clayton explained how he felt overwhelmed and overcome with emotion during that moment.

"But now, talking to you all, I realize -- I do think I could get through to her," Clayton said of Susie.


Brian reminded Clayton how Susie had walked away from him and was done and finished. Brian thought his son was caught up in "the one who got away."

"I know you met these two women and you don't know who this third person is with Susie, but she had everything. She was somebody I was like, 'This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of woman,'" Clayton confessed.

"But then you were intimate with these other two women," Kelly said. "Why did you screw that up?"

Clayton acknowledged the door with Susie may be closed and maybe their connection wasn't as strong as he thought.

"Maybe these women are not that far behind [Susie] and maybe there's a chance... But you told me to follow my heart. And guess what?... If I break my own heart in the process, so be it," Clayton determined. "I know my heart is telling me to go do this, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work."

Clayton concluded, "All I need is a chance," and his loved ones were totally shocked although supportive of his desire to chase after Susie.

Clayton wasn't even sure if he could reach Susie, but then Jesse joined the conversation and revealed how Susie was still in Iceland.

Clayton told Jesse that he needed to talk to Susie and hopefully find closure.

"I feel that what we had was one of a kind, and I'm willing to see if there's still something there," Clayton said. "I just want one more shot, and that's all I can ask for. I just need an answer."

Jesse responded by saying Clayton would soon know how this all ends.

Jesse then welcomed former The Bachelorette star Kaitlyn Bristowe, The Bachelorette alum Rodney Mathews, and The Bachelor alum Cassie Randolph onstage.

Kaitlyn acknowledged how someone is always going to get his or her heart broken through this process and Clayton was a victim of getting caught up in the moment a little too much. Kaitlyn said Clayton must pursue the person he sees his life with and take the risk, even if it means getting his heart broken.

Cassie, who competed for Colton Underwood's heart, said she was having deja vu watching this footage back and she hopes Susie didn't feel pressure to take Clayton back -- pressure to make Clayton happy, give a happy ending to the show, or to be in an idealistic romance.

And Rodney said he felt for Clayton and wanted to see the Bachelor, "a passionate guy... who falls hard," follow his heart but also think before he speaks.

Jesse closed the show by teasing the "dramatic" finale on Tuesday night, when fans will also learn who the next The Bachelorette star will be.


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About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.