Spoilers for The Bachelorette below.
In the sage words of Olivia Rodrigo: God, it’s brutal out here. That was the prevailing sentiment to emerge from Tuesday night’s live three-hour finale of The Bachelorettewhich contained a number of excruciating events—some entertaining, but many far from it.
Heading into the season-ender, dual Bachelorettes Rachel Recchia duck Gabby Windey each had only one suitor standing—Tino Franco duck Erich Schwer, respectively. But given ABC’s decision to devote five hours (last Tuesday was labelled part one) to the finale and host Jesse Palmer‘s ominous tone in front of the studio audience, viewers gathered that they were in for more than a pair of Neil Lane-sponsored engagements.
In a bizarrely suspense-zapping move, Palmer kicked off the episode by disclosing exactly what bombshells were on the docket. “Maybe tonight Tino can convince Rachel that his indiscretions were just a momentary lapse in judgment,” the host said. “And maybe Erich can explain away those damning text messages he sent to his girlfriend just a few days before stepping out of the limo on night one.”
The partially-spoiled festivities kicked off with Recchia and Franco, whose engagement was broadcast alongside picture-in-picture footage of the Bachelorette and her dutiful parents reacting in real-time to the lovey-dovey scene with stoic agony. Minutes after their fairytale engagement ending aired, Palmer asked Recchia about the couple’s post-show challenges. While living apart and keeping their engagement a secret had caused turmoil, Recchia dropped the real bomb just before the commercial break: “He cheated on me.”
Bachelor Nation was then treated to footage of Recchia and Windey meeting at an undisclosed location some time ago to discuss Franco’s infidelity. Recchia is understandably wounded and Windey is unflinchingly supportive, but the real takeaway from their conversation is that our other Bachelorette is also engaged. During their chat, which aired prior to Windey’s final rose, one can’t help but notice the giant sparkler on her ring finger, draining any juice out of Schwer’s apparent resistance to proposing.
Armed with a notebook and looking like he crammed for a big test the night before, Franco arrives in the pre-taped portion to talk things out with Recchia. But any goodwill unravels immediately, as the pair talks in circles about—thank you, Ross and Rachel—whether or not they were on a break when Franco kissed another woman. Franco reads from his notes, claiming that Recchia was resistant to therapy and wanted to give her engagement ring back. Recchia, jaw often dropped, begs Franco not to lie. At one point, he storms outside and attempts to remove his mic, pleading with a producer, “Tell her to break up with me. Let me out.”