A graphic of Bachelor Clayton Echard. (Hustler Multimedia/Alexa White) (Alexa White)
A graphic of Bachelor Clayton Echard. (Hustler Multimedia/Alexa White)

Alexa White

Here for the Wrong Reasons: Episodes 8, 9 and 10 of ‘The Bachelor’ Season 26

A recap of the most recent episodes of the latest season.

March 14, 2022

Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”s of the 26th season of “The Bachelor.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every week for episode recaps and updates on Clayton Echard’s journey to become an Instagram influencer find love.

Let’s talk about Bachelor Burnout. Though I’m a dedicated consumer of this franchise, I’m struggling to get through this season for several reasons. First, the powers that be at ABC will. Not. Stop. Giving us new seasons. Historically, each calendar year has featured one season of “The Bachelor” in the winter, one season of “The Bachelorette” in the spring and one season of “Bachelor in Paradise” in the summer, giving us the fall to decompress and return reinvigorated for the next cycle. Recently, though, this has been switched up: in March 2021, it was announced that there would be two seasons of “The Bachelorette” aired that year, one in the springtime as usual and one in the fall. This meant that loyal viewers had no time off from the franchise, since Clayton’s season of “The Bachelor” premiered promptly on Jan. 3, 2022.

ABC has been throwing new seasons at us left and right, and personally, I am tired. It doesn’t help that Clayton is a dud: he’s the personification of a slice of white bread, he has poor decision-making skills and not a single member of Bachelor Nation would have chosen him to be the Bachelor. Lucky for those with Bachelor Burnout like me, however, the end of the season is looking promising. Most recently, Clayton has been embroiled in controversy over his behavior during Fantasy Suites, and the franchise’s executive producer, Mike Fleiss, tweeted that this season is “spoiler-proof,” suggesting that the drama continues after the finale, like it did during Peter’s season.  

 

Episode 8: Hometowns

For those less addicted to the franchise than I am, every season sees the Bachelor visit his final four women’s hometowns to meet their families and see where they’re from. Generally speaking, there are two types of classic hometown dates: the first type involves an enthusiastic family that is all for their child’s decision to potentially get engaged on national television. The second—and arguably more realistic—type features a family that is highly skeptical of the situation.

 

Susie’s hometown date

Susie gets the first hometown date, so she and Clayton head to Virginia Beach. First, they do jiu jitsu, which is allegedly one of Susie’s favorite pastimes. In a prelude to the Fantasy Suite, we learn that Clayton likes to be choked, then he learns to “shrimp,” a tactic for escaping the clutches of an opponent. “We just can’t get away from shrimp,” Clayton astutely remarks. 

ShrimpGate never ends, does it?

Next, it’s time for Clayton to meet Susie’s mom Jean, dad Tom, sister Barbara and best friend Lauren. This is the first of two classic types of Hometowns—the easy one, when the family and friends are all on board with their precious girl falling in love on live television. It’s full of toasts, professions about how important family is to all of them and Susie’s father giving the Bachelor his approval. Smooth sailing all around.

 

Gabby’s hometown date

Gabby is up next, meaning that Clayton is headed to her hometown of Denver, Colorado. They go hiking, discuss how to scare off bears and visit a landmark called Proposal Rock. Subtle. Naturally, they conclude their time outdoors drinking champagne in a hot tub.

That night, Clayton is greeted by Gabby’s aunt Julie, uncle Rich, cousin Keira and grandpa John. Though Gabby tells him ahead of time that he won’t be meeting her dad, whose girlfriend has cancer and thus can’t come due to COVID-19 concerns, he surprises them outside with “Love, Actually”-inspired poster boards with a message that was clearly drafted by the producers (there’s no way in hell this man wrote “You deserve the best, and I hope that’s Clayton”). Like Gabby, her family is fun-loving and shares a laugh about Gabby’s innuendo-laden limo exit. They’re not as gung ho about a potential engagement as Susie’s family, but they’re still supportive, so this date falls into the “easy hometown” camp.

 

Serene’s hometown date

For the third hometown date, Clayton travels to Serene’s hometown, Oklahoma City. They start off with Clayton waxing poetic about the metaphoric meaning of the obstacle course they’re on. Next, it’s time for them to jump off an 80-foot-tall tower, and we learn that Clayton has a fear of heights. When it’s her turn to jump, Serene doesn’t even scream, like the badass she is.

There to meet Clayton are Serene’s mom Sherri, older brother Roland and best friend Melanie. The biggest takeaway of this date is that Serene’s brother can get it (Roland for Bachelor!). Serene tells her family that she and Clayton have discussed her grandma’s death and her cousin’s tragic passing, which suggests to Roland that she feels comfortable with Clayton. While he’s happy for his sister, he warns Clayton to be careful with her feelings. Roland is not thrilled that Clayton isn’t falling in love with Serene yet, while Sherri is dubious that Serene has been able to fall in love so fast. At the end of the date, Serene tells Clayton that she’s in love with him, meaning that Clayton is going to have to face Roland’s wrath if he sends her home. I’m placing this hometown in the first category, but at the bottom of the positive totem pole of this episode’s dates.

 

Rachel’s hometown

The final hometown date is in Rachel’s hometown of Clermont, Florida. She’s either been sick recently or went clubbing the previous night, because her vocal fry is even more, well, fried than usual. The two go kayaking and Clayton almost pees his pants when he spots a massive spider. They pass a sign marking the “Kissing Tree” that looks remarkably similar to the “Proposal Rock” sign. In lieu of a hot tub, they make out lying down in the marsh. 

That night, Clayton is introduced to Rachell’s mom Mary, dad Tony and best friends Sam and Nate. Rachel warns Clayton that her dad “has never really liked anyone I brought home,” so it’s a good thing that the white wine pours are generous. In her toast, Sam tells Clayton, “if you hurt Rachel, I’m gonna hurt you,” although she also remarks on how much Rachel is “glowing.” In a one-on-one conversation with Clayton, Sam echoes Rachel’s previous warning about Tony, telling him, “We’re Italian people over here. We’re very protective and her dad’s gonna be a tough, tough guy on you. I’m letting you know now—Tony doesn’t like anybody.” 

And sure enough, Tony does not like many people. He informs the camera that he offered to beat up Rachel’s previous boyfriend after the couple had a fight and tells a visibly nervous Clayton that at the moment, he’s just “another face” to him until his daughter says otherwise. 

When Rachel tells her dubious dad that she’s falling in love with Clayton, his eyebrows shoot straight up in disbelief. However, if there’s one person Tony does like, it’s his daughter, explaining that he behaved differently this time because “She was happy, so I wasn’t going to do anything to spoil the party,” which is code for: “I didn’t want to look like a jackass on national television.”

 

Rose ceremony

Back at the Bachelor Mansion, Clayton tells Jesse that he’s “falling in love with all of the women, in a different capacity,” like the bonehead he is. Susie, Gabby and Rachel get roses, meaning that Serene is sent packing. I’ll never understand why women who have just been dumped voluntarily hold the Bachelor’s hand and hug him goodbye.

 

Episode 9: Women Tell All

I’ll be honest with you: I skipped the Women Tell All, because after ShrimpGate and the Mara/Sarah age conflict, I didn’t have it in me to watch more woman-on-woman drama. From what I gathered on Twitter, Shanae is her same old self and accused Genevieve of sleeping with Aaron from Katie’s season; Cassidy stands by her decision to keep her friends with benefits on the hook; Sarah tries to save face; and Clayton’s brother slid into Teddi’s DMs.

 

Episode 10: Fantasy Suites

Clayton and his final three women—Susie, Gabby and Rachel—head to Reykjavik, Iceland, where each woman will get one-on-one time off-camera with Clayton and have the opportunity to have kynlíf with him (That’s “sex,” for those of you who don’t speak Icelandic). This episode of Fantasy Suites is special, because they actually say the word “sex” a couple times in addition to the usual double entendres.

 

Fantasy Suite with Rachel

Clayton takes pilot Rachel on a romantic helicopter ride and they gaze out on snowy mountains and even an ongoing volcanic eruption. The catch is that the two are going to go into the volcano—which is 400 feet underground. Appropriately, Clayton dives into his emotions and gets deep, telling Rachel that he’s falling in love with her.

At dinner, Rachel accepts Clayton’s Fantasy Suite invitation and the two spend the night together. In the morning, viewers are subjected to the sound of them making out with their mics on, and it’s clear that the two did go ~deeper~ the previous night. On his way out, Clayton yells up to Rachel on the balcony, “I love you too, Rachel!” Something tells me he might just pull a Ben Higgins and say “I love you” to multiple women …

 

Fantasy Suite with Gabby

Clayton pulls up to his date with Gabby in a dune buggy and the two speed around some muddy hills like kids taking a joyride in a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. In a likely attempt to secure a night in the Fantasy Suite, Clayton tells Gabby that he’s falling in love with her at dinner. His attempt is successful and the two do, in fact, “forgo their individual rooms” in favor of a cute little yurt. In the morning, Clayton brings her breakfast in bed, and, on his way out, yells up to Gabby on the porch, “I am falling in love, and it feels so good!” 

Does this script seem familiar?

 

Fantasy Suite with Susie

Poor Susie is going through it all week. For her, physical intimacy is something that comes with a committed relationship, and she doesn’t think she’d be able to move forward with Clayton if he had sex with one of the other women (the producers knew what they were doing when they assigned her the last Fantasy Suite date). Susie spirals further when Gabby returns from her overnight with what can only be described as “sex hair,” but she decides to go into the date with a positive outlook.

The two head to the Sky Lagoon, a hot spring, where they jump between a cold mist room and a hot sauna. The “hot to cold to hot to cold” pattern is a pretty great metaphor for how Susie’s been feeling this week. 

I warned you that this season’s drama was finally starting to heat up. At dinner, Susie tells Clayton that she’d find it “impossible to move forward towards an engagement” if he had told other women he was in love with them or had slept with one of them. As we all know, Clayton has expressed feelings of love and slept with both Rachel and Gabby, which he eventually admits to. Clayton is annoyed by Susie’s declaration, finding it unfair of her not to tell him about her boundaries beforehand. Susie, however, explains to him that she didn’t want to give him an ultimatum (we all know how that’s worked out on past seasons) and says if he were truly the one for her, he would only be intimate with and express love for her. 

It escalates from here, with Clayton becoming increasingly aggressive and, quite frankly, scary. He tells Susie that “you just invalidated everything that we had,” and “I don’t even know who I’m looking at anymore,” “Anything you say to me at this point doesn’t matter to me” and—as he’s putting her in the limo—“Because of my faith, I believe everything happens for a reason.” 

For a man who planned to sleep with all three women, I’m not so sure what kind of faith he’s referring to. 

This whole scene was honestly triggering to watch. On the one hand, there was Susie maturely explaining and sticking to her own boundaries despite him making her question herself, while on the other hand, there was an aggressive Bachelor raising his voice, slamming the car door and constantly shutting her down and belittling her. Sure, it is generally an expectation that the Bachelor will explore the Fantasy Suite with his final contestants—however he interprets that exploration—but his reaction was entirely inappropriate and incredibly toxic. 

I’m just hoping that Clayton gets his just desserts during the finale, and after watching the trailer, I think there’s a good chance that he does. We’ll finally get to see the frequently-plugged scene during which he tells his finalists that he’s in love with and has been intimate with both of them, causing them to spiral. 

 

Will one of the women bite the bullet? Will a previous contestant come back? Will Clayton leave single? Tune into the finale on Monday, March 14, and After the Final Rose on Tuesday, March 15 to find out.

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