It's safe to say this actually was the most dramatic finale in Bachelor Nation history.
On Tuesday, March 15, fans saw the conclusion of Clayton Echard's journey on The Bachelor, during which he said goodbye to contestants Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia—before attempting to win back Susie Evans' heart.
So, did Clayton and Susie end up back together...or engaged in Iceland? After receiving a heartfelt note from Clayton, Susie met up with the Bachelor in the Icelandic countryside, where he asked Susie to take him back.
"I told you from the beginning that I was looking to get down on a knee," he begged while showing a glimpse of a ring box. "I want that, and with you I see that. And I see so much beyond that: To grow, have a family, to go through all the stages of life together. If you just give me the chance, if you allow me to love you for one more day, to take one more step with you."
Sadly, during the final rose ceremony, Susie was not quite ready to move forward with Clayton and chose to leave Iceland alone. "I don't feel like the kind of love I have for you right now," she explained, "is the kind of love that you have for me right now."
"I feel like it's over," she then told a heartbroken Clayton.
So how did they get to this point? Well, rather than accept the key to stay as a couple in the fantasy suite, frontrunner Susie left the competition during the March 8 episode after learning Clayton was in love with Gabby and Rachel...and that he'd been "intimate" with both women. Following Susie's turbulent departure, Gabby and Rachel met Clayton's family on part one of the season finale, which aired March 14.
And although both meetings went well, Clayton confessed to his parents and brothers at the end of the episode that his heart was still with Susie. That's when host Jesse Palmer stepped in to inform Clayton that Susie was still in Iceland, leaving room for a potential reunion.
On March 9, hours after Susie and Clayton's messy breakup aired on The Bachelor, the 28-year-old former football player went on The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast to address criticism from viewers. "I'm embarrassed. I knew that this moment was coming," Clayton said. "I'd kind of alluded to it in previous weeks. I'm not exactly shocked by the reactions online."
"People are very much against me and favoring her," he noted, "but I totally understand that. I totally get what I'm seeing."
However, he also defended his actions. "[Sex] is such a critical part of a relationship," he said. "I cannot get engaged to somebody if there's no sexual chemistry. It's just me. Maybe that's not everybody else's. But for me, that's so incredible. If I'm going to get engaged, that has to be there."
And as for those accusations of gaslighting, Clayton said on the podcast, "It's tough because I've seen what everyone's saying and they're using some pretty descriptive terms. Some pretty heavy-hitting terms that I couldn't disagree with more. But I understand that it appears that way. I don't agree that I was gaslighting because I looked that up, and it said gaslighting, the definition is to try and convince someone of a different reality than what is actually the true reality of the situation."
As for his relationship with Susie now? During the After the Final Rose portion of the finale, host Jesse teased that Clayton may've gotten his happily ever after. The Bachelor confirmed that he and Susie rekindled their romance after leaving Iceland, telling the audience, "I left Iceland and went back to what I thought was my normal life. And I was reached out to by someone and it was the last person that I ever expected to reach out."
When Susie joined Clayton in the hot seat, she happily shared, "That's my boyfriend."
"We took time apart after the show and we reset," she continued. "We've re-laid the foundation. And we're really happy, and we're happy to be here today."
In fact, Susie told the crowd that she's in love with Clayton. She also told her boyfriend directly, "I love you." And while Jesse pushed for Clayton to propose to Susie on camera, an engagement didn't happen. However, Clayton did reveal that he's moving in with Susie in Virginia.
Hey, that's something!
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