September 26, 2023


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Clayton Echard Is Officially the Worst ‘Bachelor’ Ever After That Finale

Pamela Littky/ABC

Pamela Littky/ABC

Congratulations are in order! On Monday night, Clayton Echard officially beat out some stiff competition (hi, Juan Pablo and Pilot Pete) to secure the impressive title of Worst Bachelor Ever. The first episode of the excruciating two-part season finale opened with the aptly-dubbed Rose Ceremony from Hell, in which Clayton continued to show no remorse for his disastrous break-up from Susie last week. He was back on his self-pitying bullshit, claiming that he’s just trying to be honest while in fact lying through his blindingly white teeth.

Let’s get into it, shall we?

Last week, our former football player committed the mortal Bachelor Nation sin of telling all three of his final contestants that he is in love with them—and sleeping with two of them during Fantasy Suites.

Frontrunner Susie sent herself home after learning that Clayton was both in love and intimate with the other women, deciding that it was too big of an emotional hurdle for her to overcome. On the one hand, Susie never told Clayton that it would be a dealbreaker for her if he was intimate with the other finalists. But on the other hand, Clayton did himself no favors by foregoing empathy for a rage-fueled meltdown.

How Did Clayton Echard’s ‘Bachelor’ Season Become Such a Train Wreck?

To quell any fears that the finale would be lacking in drama, Monday night’s episode kicked off with a genuinely haunting performance by an Icelandic chorus and the camera panning around a church to reveal Clayton looking very solemn in a black turtleneck à la Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. After a few minutes of watching Clayton monologue to host Jesse Palmer about how unfair it is that he has to face the consequences of his own actions, we get to the highly anticipated Rose Ceremony.

The Rose Ceremony appeared to be taking place inside a supervillain’s fortress in the middle of a blizzard—an appropriately hellish setting for the train wreck that ensued. Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey arrived at the dark, unwelcoming building, with its concrete floors and walls made entirely of blue glass windows, having no idea that Susie self-eliminated the night before. One can’t help but wonder how long the producers made them stand there shivering in their Revolve gowns pondering where she was before sending Clayton out to deliver the news.

“As you can see, Susie’s not here,” Clayton told them, sweating bullets despite the fact that it was definitely freezing inside the giant dungeon where the ceremony was taking place. “I’m shattered into pieces at the moment and I’m questioning everything. The person that’s standing in front of you right now is not the person you were last with.” He explained why Susie left, finally getting to the kicker: “I was in love with her and I was in love with each of you too. I am in love with both of you and I also was intimate with both of you.”

At that point, the location choice started to make perfect sense. When both Gabby and Rachel walked away to process what they’d just learned, the empty, cavernous building turned into an echo chamber, amplifying the sounds of their sobbing for Clayton to awkwardly hear. Rachel pulled a full-on Cinderella, doubled over and weeping on the staircase.

Gabby, meanwhile, unwittingly turned in an epic Bachelorette audition tape, confronting Clayton and not holding back any frustration. She said that to her, exploring other relationships does not mean falling in love with multiple people. She also asked him how he could back up his claims that he loves all of them when the very premise of the show requires him to pick one person, and why wouldn’t he just wait until he has chosen that person to profess his love to avoid hurting anyone? Points were made.

In response to Gabby’s challenges, Clayton said possibly the dumbest thing he has said all season: “Ultimately, whoever I pick is who I love the most.” The most glaringly upsetting thing about this is that it is a blatant lie, because he already told Susie he loved her the most—a fact he conveniently left out in his oh-so honest and “vulnerable” speech to Gabby and Rachel. But beyond that, it is just a wildly uncompassionate thing to say to someone who loves you.

When it came time to dole out the roses, Rachel reluctantly accepted hers, but Gabby said she couldn’t. “Saying the woman you walk out with is the woman you love the most, like, wrong fucking answer,” Gabby fumed, later adding, “I’m not in the business of competing with anyone for love.” Sure, it’s a pretty ironic thing to say as a contestant on a dating competition, but it was still a satisfying “fuck you” to our unapologetic fuckboy.

This was, like, the hundredth chaotic and heartbreaking thing to happen in the episode, but it was by far the hardest one to watch as Rachel crumpled to the ground realizing that if she gets engaged to Clayton, it will not be because he chose her, but because she was simply the last one left. These poor women. ABC owes them at least 100K Instagram followers and a red carpet hosting gig in damages.

But of course, it all turned out to be a classic reality TV fake out. Gabby agreed to give the relationship another shot, surely at the behest of panicked producers realizing the show would be over with 80 minutes left if she actually left. She muttered the most half-assed, unconvincing “Yeah” in Bachelor history when Clayton asked for a second time if she would accept the rose. Again, I repeat, these poor, poor women. All they wanted was a Neil Lane engagement ring and a Flat Tummy Tea sponsorship!

The second half of the episode (yeah, we’re only at the halfway point) was devoted to meeting Clayton’s parents, who hilariously turned out to be his harshest critics. His dad was firmly Team Susie, saying that his son “screwed the pooch” and that it was understandable for her to be upset. Gabby and Rachel separately had their meetings with the Echard fam, both charming as ever and looking remarkably fresh-faced for two people who spent the entire previous night sobbing.

The day went shockingly well in light of the events at the Rose Ceremony, with Clayton successfully manipulating these two beautiful, intelligent women into fully trusting him again overnight. After putting them through the emotional distress of professing his love to both of them at the same time, pressuring them into forgiving him for it, and then forcing them to hang with his parents for the first time all in one 24-hour period, it was naturally a perfect time for him to decide that he still loves Susie most of all. I am sure I’m not alone in saying that I had to physically restrain myself from throwing my laptop across my living room.

Again, his parents tried to make him see the light while silently calculating where they went wrong in raising him, probably. “But Clayton, she left you,” his mom said. “Clayton, when somebody walks away from you, they’re walking away from you and they’re gone,” pleaded his dad. “It’s finished. I think you’re caught up in the one that got away.”

It was too late. Clayton was determined to go up in flames, burning any last shred of sympathy America might have had for him. The episode ended on a cliffhanger with the producers handing him the blowtorch by way of Jesse Palmer revealing that Susie was still in Iceland.

In tomorrow’s final episode, we get to watch Clayton kick some puppies and yell at an old lady. Just kidding. But with how this dumpster fire of a season has gone so far, the reality is not likely to be much better.

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