[This story includes spoilers from the season finale of ABC’s The Bachelorette.]
ABCs Bachelor education franchise looked to the future the same night it ended its recent storylines with the bachelorette co-lead Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia.
During the three-hour season finale of the bachelorette which aired Tuesday, Zach Shallcross — who was let loose on last week’s episode as the second runner-up for Recchia — was announced as the lead character on the upcoming season 27 of The Bachelor which premieres on January 23. Viewers had seen the 26-year-old tech executive from Anaheim Hills, California, leave the show heartbroken after their fantasy suite date made it clear that Recchia was more interested in Tino Franco’s final pick and the song. two Aven Jones.
“I really needed some time to think and heal that broken heart,” Shallcross told host Jesse Palmer. “What I learned from that experience was that it didn’t change how ready I was. I’m more ready now. That was fuel for the fire. I’m ready to find my person, my best friend.” Later, he met multiple women who competed to participate in his season.
The rest of the evening featured many of the tense and dramatic moments that the franchise’s finales usually deliver. During the final scenes shot in Mexico, Recchia became engaged to Franco in a romantic display, and Windey accepted a marriage proposal from Erich Schwer. However, Recchia told the studio audience that Franco had previously admitted to cheating on her after the show stopped filming.
“It’s just heartbreaking — this is the person I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with and start a family with,” Recchia told Palmer, adding that she was devastated that the relationship was falling apart. “It’s just a broken trust in the end, and it’s really heartbreaking to look back and have to relive it.”
In footage of the couple broadcasting grievances at her home, Franco admitted that he kissed a woman he met before going to the show but hadn’t started dating at the time and reconnected with the woman after the shooting had ended. Franco claimed Recchia’s previous comments led him to believe she was moving on, including that she was considering not wearing her engagement ring to the show. After the last rose especially because of the difficult moments after the shooting they had endured. Recchia disputed his story about her, saying she would not wear the ring.
After Recchia said that Franco had never apologized, he exclaimed, “Rachel, I’m so sorry. I thought I told you this every day.” He continued, “It was a one-time mistake and I immediately realized I had to be with you.”
Franco said he still wanted to settle things with Recchia, but she responded by taking off her ring and putting it on the table, causing the crowd to cheer. “This is such a big problem for me,” she told him firmly and ended the relationship. “I wanted to do this once. I’m ready.”
After reviewing the footage of their painful exchange, she told Palmer that she loves Franco but is no longer in love with him. Franco then took the stage to speak for the first time since their breakup with Recchia, telling her, “You were great to me, and you didn’t deserve what I did.” After a heated conversation, Recchia abruptly left the recordings when runner-up Jones surprised her onstage and asked her to walk out with him.
As for Windey, she took the stage with Schwer, and the couple shared that they are still together, but their relationship has been tested. The difficult moments are partly due to someone he dated before the show, recently sharing lyrics in which Schwer suggested he wasn’t fully committed to finding love on the bachelorette and was more focused on it, leading to other opportunities. Schwer told Palmer that he should have made it clear to the woman that he was not interested in her, and Windey said she had forgiven him.
On the previous episode of the two-part finale, Shallcross apologized to Recchia for questioning her character on camera, explaining that he felt hurt during their fantasy suite date when he realized she had lost interest in their relationship. “It was a tough pill to swallow that it wasn’t what I thought it would be because I saw a future with you,” he said at the time. “The reality was it just wasn’t going to happen.”
The Bachelor Season 27 will premiere on ABC on January 23.