Clayton Echard‘s roller coaster journey to find love came to a heartbreaking end when, for the first time in The Bachelor‘s 26 seasons, he was rejected on the final day and ended up alone — or did he?
Tuesday’s season 26 finale began with Clayton simultaneously breaking up with Rachel and Gabby, following his admission to his parents on Monday that his heart belonged to Susie — despite telling the two that he was in love with them.
When they were alone, Gabby expressed her frustration over how he’d handled everything. “I can’t believe anything you say — not one thing,” she said. Refusing to let Clayton walk her out, she got in the car and left, without shedding a tear for the cameras.
Rachel took the news a lot harder, tearfully explaining that the love she felt for him differed from the love he felt for her. After letting Clayton walk her out and before she drove away she said, “You gave up on us. I never gave up.”
Host Jesse Palmer then visited Susie, delivering a letter from Clayton in which he poured out his feelings for her and invited her to join him in the Icelandic countryside.
There, Clayton told her he saw himself growing old and having a family with her, but Susie responded by saying his letter and his romantic declaration meant a lot to her, but that she wasn’t on the same page with him.
“To me it’s not over until you tell me it’s over,” Clayton said, asking if she could ever see her feelings matching his.
Susie replied, “I feel like it’s over.”
However, Tuesday’s finale had one more shocking twist, when it was revealed that Susie’s feelings changed over the weeks following their split.
“That’s my boyfriend,” she confirmed, pointing to Clayton.
After teasing a potential proposal, Clayton handed her his final rose, which she accepted.
However, there was even more history to be made on Tuesday, when, during After the Rose, Jesse Palmer revealed a Bachelorette first — Rachel and Gabby would be sharing the upcoming 19th season as co-Bachelorettes.
Palmer will return as the host of The Bachelorette when it returns July 11 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.