It’s the most obvious opening in the history of reality television.
And, yet, it must be said:
On Tuesday night, the Fantasy Suite episode of The Bachelor turned into an absolute nightmare for Clayton Echard.
He may never recover as a result.
“This is the most important week for me,” Clayton said on camera about what lay ahead this week for himself, Susie, Gabby and Rachel. adding of the remaining trio, who were out with Echard in Iceland.
“I think I might be falling in love with all three of these women, and I also might already be in love with Susie.
“I don’t know, can you fall in love multiple times at the same time? I don’t know.
“But I know it’s time to let my walls down, quit being guarded.”
Cut to Rachel’s fantasy suite date, as she and Clayton took off in a helicopter after Clayton hyped their “physical connection” to the camera.
“I don’t feel like I was able to be 100 percent transparent when I was with your family,” he told her that evening.
“I’ve kind of come to terms with what I am feeling and I kind of wish I had told you earlier.
“I was kind of holding onto it so I’ll just come out and say it, like, I’m falling in love with you. I am and I have been.”
The duo then made out and Clayton invited her to the Fantasy Suite, prompting Rachel to say they should “definitely” spend the night together.
“I feel like I have searched my whole life to feel this way,” Rachel told the cameras.
The next morning, Clayton called his time with Rachel “near-perfect,” adding:
“Everything went exactly as I hoped it would go. We talked about so much. We had a strong connection. Felt like a dream.”
They both dropped the L-Word before saying goodbye, too.
Next, Clayton took Gabby to explore the beach in a dune buggy.
“It’s because of days like this I can see myself with Clayton for the rest of my life,” the ICU nurse said in a confessional.
At dinner, Clayton complimented Gabby’s ability to help him open up.
“You’ve really allowed me to get there as well because I was so afraid and because of that I’ve realized that like I’m falling in love with you,” he said.
“I am. I really am. And it wasn’t just like something I came to today, I’ve had these feelings, I just wasn’t allowing myself to admit it because I was so fearful from like my past relationship.”
Cue another kiss and another trip to the fantasy suite, which was an igloo with a hot tub this time around.
“Last night really was just so special. It didn’t feel like the first time with somebody new, it felt like the comfortability of home,” Gabby said in an on-camera interview the following morning.
As Clayton headed to his car, after bringing his lover breakfast in bed, he shouted back to Gabby:
“I am falling in love and it feels so good.”
Before meeting with Susie, meanwhile, Clayton had a revelation:
“I told two women I’m in love with them. I also know that I could feel that way with Susie and so now 1,000 percent I’m going to absolutely shatter somebody. I just don’t want to hurt anybody.”
Susie said via confessional that she was “all in” with Clayton, but also “in the dark” about what happened between him, Gabby and Rachel.
“The more that we’ve spent time together and spending time with your family, I realize, like, how serious things were getting,” Clayton told his third date over dinner.
“And the more I thought about it [I] realized that it was that night I was also falling in love with you. You’ve made me feel what I haven’t felt in so long and this was so exciting.”
The former football player then took Susie back when he dropped the following:
“I am in love with you and I’ve wanted to tell you. It scared me to think the longer I wait, she doesn’t know how I feel. I want her to know.”
Susie then admitted she had to know what transpired between the sheets between Clayton and his other finalists.
“Yes, I have slept with someone else here, and yes, I’ve expressed feeling towards someone else with falling in love,” Echard confessed.
“If you feel like you’re in love with me, it doesn’t make sense to me to sleep with somebody else,” Susie replied, sounding way too rational for someone on The Bachelor.
“I have such strong feelings for you, very strong feelings,” Clayton tried to argue in his own defense. “And I can tell you that right now I am the most in love with you. And I really felt like this can be it.”
But Susie didn’t feel she could continue on with Clayton.
“This is something very big to me and like I don’t think I can get past those things,” she told him. “I just don’t think I can.”
Clayton was aghast.
He said he wished Susie told him about her feelings on the subject sooner.
“I feel like I did what I did but had I known how important that was to you, that that was absolutely a dealbreaker, I would’ve changed the way that I approached things because I know what we have,” he said.
“I mean, I’m sorry that I went and did that.
“I ask for your forgiveness because I don’t want to throw something away that we have.”
Susie got up, walked out — and then reiterated her stance when they reconvened, telling the Bachelor:
“I probably should’ve had that conversation just about what sex means to me earlier on but I didn’t know that you were feeling so strongly. I don’t feel like I can leave here with you.”
Realizing Susie had made up her mind, Clayton walked his lost love to the car.
“I don’t even know who I’m looking at anymore,” he said to Susie.
After a heart-shattering and bitter farewell, Clayton said he lost faith in the process:
“My heart’s not in it anymore.”