Happy International Women’s Day, everyone. Let’s celebrate by watching three women get their hearts broken over what might be one of the strangest concepts I have ever beheld: Fantasy Suites. Can you feel my apathy?
Full disclosure here: I’m not interested in the scandalous and/or physical aspects of tonight’s episode. Physical intimacy is a part of relationships, yes, but I really only care about what tonight’s events means for Clayton Echard and these women going forward.
What happened last week?:Clayton Echard travels to hometowns, did he win over the families?
Women Tell All:Mizzou football alum Clayton Echard rides the apology carousel
We’ve reached the point in the season where emotions are very intense and the question of full commitment now comes into play. There’s real stakes here beyond silly games and staged therapy. With only three women left, Clayton now finds himself in three real relationships that will hurt and ebb and flow like normal ones. The biggest difference is that he is embarking on them all at once — and that dynamic is tricky to navigate. Someone is going to get hurt, and he seems to only just now be realizing it.
Heck, one of those hurt at the end of this all might include him.
More:Ryan Ferguson competing on ‘The Amazing Race’ with fellow Columbia native. Here’s what to know
More:5 things to know about Clayton Echard
Let’s dive in!
What happened on ‘The Bachelor’ this week?
Clayton, as he travels to Iceland, hopes that the overnight dates in Iceland will give him clarity in his three relationships — before revealing that he thinks he might already be in love with Susie.
Meanwhile, Gabby, Susie and Rachel bond over their shared nerves over the days to come, and the shared awkwardness over having to essentially share someone they are all falling in love with. The fantasy suites will be no cameras: uninterrupted time with Clayton, with no eyes watching (like normal dating).
Susie expresses discomfort over the idea of Clayton being intimate with the others. And honestly, who can blame her? What a freaking weird situation to be in! For both Gabby and Rachel’s nights, she visibly spirals (there is a spiral staircase to really drive it home) and cries over the thought of things ending.
Rachel and Clayton explore a volcano
Clayton takes Rachel for a scenic helicopter ride across the frigid Icelandic countryside for a trip inside to volcano. No, this is not “Fire of Love.” It’s a metaphor, you see, for Clayton realizing he needs to go deeper with his relationship with her. Yes, falling in love for Clayton is as scary as a 400-foot drop into a magma factory.
Clayton assures Rachel that, as hard as meeting her family was, he enjoyed it and appreciated meeting her family. But he doesn’t yet open up more to Rachel, who says that she needs something back from him. And you know what? She’s right.
At dinner, Rachel admits that during the last rose ceremony, she couldn’t read Clayton at all and legitimately believed she could be going home. She doesn’t know where he’s at.
After a very torturous, long-winded leadup, Clayton admits that he is falling in love with her. Seriously, though, I have worded it like a breakup. But somehow, his bumbling “I’m falling in love” is enough to convince Rachel to enter the fantasy suite with him.
The next morning, Clayton has decided that he is actually fully in love with Rachel. Wonder how that happened? When she says “I love you,” he yells it back.
Gabby and Clayton go off-roading
Gabby hopes for a whale-watching cruise, but instead gets a Far Cry-esque ATV ride. I’ll admit, I’d be super game for a date like that. The two have a blast, laughing it up while adventuring through a sunlit beach and trading turns at the wheel. Later, Clayton tells her how much fun he had meeting her de ella family and wise-cracking grandpa de ella while she admits the possibility of heartbreak scares her de ella, but she wants him to choose her de ella having explored all of his options from her. In context of the show, I think Gabby might have the healthiest mindset.
At dinner, Clayton thanks Gabby for loving him (*cringe*) and tells her that he’s falling in love with her, and has been for a while. They go to an igloo-esque suite, and we fade to black.
Walking away the next morning, Clayton says “I am falling in love, and it feels SW good!” Hours later, he’s spiraling at the thought of being in love with multiple women and knowing he has to hurt someone. Soon.
Susie and Clayton spend a day at the spa… and then things go south
Susie is rewarded for her week of agony with a relaxing spa day with Clayton — and she deserves it. Oh, but wait, it starts with freezing cold water. But things look up with an exfoliating body scrub and hot steam. Susie seems on edge at first, but she relaxes into the date. Susie proclaims she’s hopeful and all-in, and I dread the moment she finds out how he’s spent his last few nights of her.
At dinner, Clayton opens up and tells Susie that he’s in love with her. He’s wanted to tell her for a while (all week … while with other women …) and he is so excited about her. Susie sticks to her de ella guns de ella and point-blank tells him that she needs to know if he’s in love with the others and if he’s been physical with the others. She admits she wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing him.
Clayton stammers and stumbles, but says that he has been with someone and has said that he’s in love with someone else. Susie says that it does not make sense for him to say he’s in love with her, and he responds that his feelings for her are different. He is the most in love with her, and if he had known it would have been such a big deal for her he would have changed things. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t help. She doesn’t know how they can move forward. He then tries to tell her that relationships are about going through hard times (who is he to lecture her?!).
“This is shattering me,” Clayton says to her face, blaming her for not telling him earlier not to be with other women. “How could you do that?” Susie has to walk away in tears, and Clayton declares that he doesn’t believe in anything anymore.
Clayton brings Jesse over and is still upset that Susie wants monogamy. Susie pulls him aside and tells him that she didn’t think to ask him not to be physical with the others because she didn’t know how strongly he felt about the others. She feels awful and like she’s ruined things — girl, please respect yourself more — and Clayton tells her that if she cared so much about him, she would work through “something like this.”
He walks her out, and she apologizes for causing him pain. I am spiraling. I don’t understand how this show expects me to root for Clayton to find love when he treats Susie this way. Would it have been helpful for Susie to have told Clayton her expectations of her? And it is. But she did she deserve to be talked to that way? Absolutely not. That is not how you talk to someone you’re in love with.
What’s next for Clayton?
Clayton’s father tells Clayton this is on him. Gabby and Rachel do not appear happy with him being “in love” with multiple women. On next week’s finale, Clayton is supposed to walk away engaged, but we’ll see what happens now that he’s made a massive mess of all of his relationships with him.
When will the season finale of ‘The Bachelor’ air?
The next episode of “The Bachelor” will air on Monday, Mar. 14 and Tuesday, Mar. 15 at 7 pm CT on ABC.
How do I stream ‘The Bachelor’ online?
You can watch it on fuboTV with a 7-day free trial, on Hulu + Live or through YouTube TV. If you have cable, you can also stream the show on abc.com/watch-live/abc or on the ABC app available on iPad, iPhone, Android, Roku, Chromecast, Samsung SmartTV or Kindle Fire.
Who is Clayton Echard?
Vanilla bean Clayton Echard is a man who must feel an absolute whirlwind of emotions watching these episodes back with the benefit of hindsight.
The former Missouri football player has lived quite the life. After going undrafted in 2016, I have signed a free-agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks. I have played in all four of Seattle’s 2016 preseason games and made it past the first round of cuts. As NFL teams shaved down rosters to 53 active players, Echard was cut.
According to Echard’s LinkedIn page, he’s worked in sales for medical device company Stryker since July 2016. His first 18 months with the company were based in St. Louis, but he has been based in the Columbia area since January 2018.
Thanks for following along. I’ll be back next week with a #TeamSus. See you then, Bachelor Nation!
Gabriela Velasquez is a planning editor for the Springfield News-Leader and Columbia Daily Tribune, based out of Columbia, Mo. Follow her on Twitter at @not_gabriela.