It’s The Bachelor finale! We made it! Who will become the future Mrs. Zach Shallcross? Who will go home in tears? Does anybody even care at this point? Apparently, even the last two women standing, Gabi Elnicki and Kaity Biggar, are “questioning everything.” As host Jesse Palmer told us, “Buckle up, cause anything can happen!”
Oh, look! Sean Lowe and his lovely wife Catherine Giudici Lowe were in the audience as proof that sometimes this show actually works!
Ariel Says She’s “Hurt And Disappointed”
The first person welcomed to the stage with Jesse was Ariel Frenkel, Zach’s most recent reject. Uh-oh! Ariel had no idea of the Fantasy Suite drama until she saw it on TV when everyone else did. I guess Zach didn’t have that talk with everyone then.
When Ariel was joined on the couch by Zach, she called him out for leaving her “in the dark” and not being honest with her. “Why were the other women given grace and honesty . . . when I wasn’t given that same respect?” Ariel asked.
Zach expressed a lot of “regret” about how he handled “that week” (you mean “Sex Week,” right, Zach?). He admitted that he should have had a conversation with Ariel and apologized to her.
“By taking sex off the table, you made the entire week about sex,” Ariel told him, “And it didn’t need to be like that.”
By attempting to make things less messy, he made things much more messy and complicated than they should have been. He confessed that by setting the rules for the week, he hurt others and he regrets that.
Ariel really nailed Zach about taking away “her agency.” They should have made a decision “as a couple” about whether or not to be intimate in the Fantasy Suite. By making that decision for her, he didn’t give them the chance to discuss it and come to a decision together. “You would have found out that I was on the same page as you,” she told him.
In the end, Ariel was grateful for the time she and Zach had together. She said it made her look forward to having a relationship in the future, hopefully without all the other women.
Zach’s Family Arrives
Back in Thailand, Zach’s family had arrived and were waiting to see him. Zach admitted to his family that in trying to make things less complicated, he actually made a mess of things that ended up biting him “in the ass.”
Despite having narrowed the field to his final two women, Zach confessed that it’s “not a clear path.” He was still not sure which of the women would be his final choice, but Gabi would be meeting the ‘rents first.
Gabi Clears The Air With Zach
While getting ready for their date, Gabi expressed mixed feelings about her relationship with Zach. Even though he’d told her he didn’t have any regrets about getting intimate with her on their overnight date, at the Rose Ceremony all his talk about “regret, disappointment [and] failure” had caused her major insecurity.
Though he said he didn’t regret anything, Gabi suspected “there’s some regret there.” Before meeting Zach’s family, she needed to have a conversation with him. And if it didn’t go well, she said she probably wouldn’t be meeting them.
When Zach had expressed so much negativity at the Rose Ceremony, Gabi worried whether that “negativity” included her. She was feeling like she’d been an accessory to a crime, and it weighed heavily on her.
Zach reassured Gabi that he had no regrets about their relationship and even told her he was “feeling love” after their overnight. So Gabi was happy and smiling again. Let’s go meet Mom and Dad!
Gabi Meets The Shallcross Family
Gabi’s own parents were engaged after only a month, so the Vermont native knows it can happen. Zach’s dad pulled her aside for a private chat.
Zach’s dad Jim told Gabi that he and his wife’s marriage grew stronger by facing adversity, rather than just “having a great time.” Zach had not been expected to live when he was born, and his parents got through it as a couple. Gabi told him she was ready to face hard times, as well as good, with his son.
Gabi loved Zach’s family and could see herself being a part of the Shallcross family. Afterward, she admitted that she is in love with Zach, even though she doesn’t know “what happens after this.” Gabi felt ready to start her life with Zach, and he was really happy. “You’re awesome!” he told her. As she was kissing him goodbye in the van, Gabi told him, “Love you!” So that went well.
RELATED: Bachelor Zach Shallcross Feels “Confident” About His Final Pick; Admits “It Wasn’t Pretty All the Time”
Kaity Is Up Next
Having a cup of coffee on her balcony, Kaity was deep in thought about Zach also having feelings for Gabi, especially since they’d been intimate on their overnight date. Worrying that Zach could be falling in love with Gabi, Kaity was being very “cautious” with her own heart.
When they walked in to meet Jim and Megan, Zach felt confident that Kaity would be great with his family. He’d had a strong connection with her from the start and couldn’t wait for them to meet her. As soon as they sat down, Zach’s dad joked, “Tell us everything right now!”
Overall, Zach’s mom wanted him to have a “best friend,” whether it was Gabi or Kaity. Megan took Kaity outside to have a talk and get to know her a little better. Getting right to the point, she asked the travel nurse how she was dealing with not being the only woman Zach was dating. Kaity got a little teary thinking about possibly not being Zach’s final pick.
A few minutes later, Zach’s sister twisted the knife a little more by asking, “Are you prepared if it does go the other way?”
“Like if it goes sour?” Kaity finished for her. “It would be heartbreaking and very tough. I honestly didn’t think that I could find somebody so amazing. I just want him to be happy and to follow his heart.” And pick me, she added in her head. Not having had a “traditional” family herself, Kaity was picturing herself being a part of Zach’s family, and she was excited about the future.
During their time together, Zach’s dad told Kaity that he hadn’t had the greatest role model of a father, but the “lack of having something turned out to be my greatest strength.” Kaity wanted Jim to be her dad at that moment and told him she was in love with his son.
Kaity Professes Her Love To Zach
After meeting his family, Kaity told Zach, “They were amazing. I’m so in love with you. Hearing your family talk about you just made me even more in love with you, and I’m very, very happy.”
I don’t know. I think Kaity just seems needy. Gabi seems more confident, but maybe it’s just that I like Gabi better for some reason. And it’s really going to piss me off if Zach had sex with her and doesn’t pick her at the end.
Kaity’s Final Date (Before Someone Gets Engaged)
Gosh, Thailand is beautiful! I would love to go there someday. As Zach walked through a bamboo forest, he admitted to still being “torn” between the two remaining women, even though he expected to be engaged to one of them in the next few days. Better make up your mind, Zach. Tick tock!
When Kaity met him on the path, Zach told her they were going for a “little hike” through the forest. Even though she was nervous about being his final choice, Kaity still felt Zach was a good fit for her, and she loved his family.
They ended their hike with a swim in a pond at the base of a waterfall. Gorgeous! “I’m very happy with you,” the registered nurse purred in Zach’s ear. All Kaity wanted was a life with Zach. “Going into tonight . . . I’m just going to soak in every second with him,” she said.
As they had one final evening together before the proposal, I was struck by just how weird this show really is. In a normal relationship, a couple would be happy and comfortable with each other just days before an engagement. But in this environment, everyone seems to be freaking out and terrified of what’s coming. Rather than being sure of their love and looking forward to the future, Kaity and Gabi were both thinking, “What if he dumps me?” What a sad prelude to what’s supposed to be a magical time of your life.
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Gabi’s Last Date (Before Someone Gets Engaged/Dumped)
As Zach walked to meet Gabi, he was remembering how awesome his “Last Chance Date” with Kaity was the day before. Is it okay to be thinking about one girl when you’re on the way to meet another? See what I’m talking about? This show is wack. And he still doesn’t know which one he wants to marry!
As Gabi arrived, Zach told her they were going on a “very special date.” They were going horseback riding! Fun! But while Gabi had ridden a horse before, Zach admitted to it being his first time.
Where Kaity was a tearful, anxious wreck, Gabi said Zach made her feel “warm and fuzzy and happy and giddy. He makes me feel safe.”
As they rode the horses onto a beach, Zach said, “I love my time with Gabi. She’s so funny, quirky, silly and she puts the biggest smile on my face. She gives me butterflies!”
For her part, Gabi thought it had been a natural progression for her and Zach. “He gets me,” she said. “And I get him. We’re in a really good spot.”
Everything was going great until Gabi asked Zach how he was feeling. He bluntly admitted he was still torn about the decision he was going to make in a couple of days. And with that, all of Gabi’s optimism and confidence disappeared. Poof! Poor Gabi was back in her head and feeling like she’d “never be enough.”
The Evening Portion of Gabi’s “Last Chance Date”
As she was lighting candles in anticipation of Zach’s arrival, Gabi recapped her day for us. “After the date today, I’m a mix of emotions.” Zach’s admission of having a “very tough decision to make” had sent Gabi into a tailspin, but she’d managed to pull herself out of her slump and was excited to see him again.
Gabi told Zach how much she loved his family, and that she’d been so happy and in love with him after meeting them. But on the other hand, it was tough for her to think, “What if I’m not the one?” Even though she knew it was tough for Zach, it was “really scary” for her, too.
Zach assured her he was “trying really hard to figure this out.” He knew it wasn’t fair, but he was doing his best. “I’m so torn . . . my heart’s being tugged in two [directions].” But he assured Gabi that he was taking his decision very seriously.
Nevertheless, Gabi was feeling insecure because she didn’t get the reassurance she was hoping for. “He can say he’s falling in love,” she whispered sadly, “but if his heart is in two places, he’s also falling in love with Kaity. He has to make a tough decision between two incredible people, but he leaves with a full heart. One of us [will leave] with a heart broken.”
Sean And Catherine Bring An OG Perspective
After the break, Sean and Catherine made their way to the stage. Jesse asked Sean, “How do you think Zach’s handled being the Bachelor this season?”
Sean blurted out, “Not well, Jesse.” Preach, Reverand Lowe! “I know his heart’s torn in two different directions. I mean, honesty is crucial in any relationship but, dude, you’re being way too honest with her right now.” All joking aside, Sean finally admitted Zach was doing really well, under the circumstances.
Having been in their position, Catherine understood what the two women were going through. “The final two are consumed with trying to figure out their future,” she said, “But it’s really not in their hands. It’s a humongous challenge for both of them to know . . . you’re either going to be dumped or you’re gonna spend the rest of your life with somebody. It’s really hard.”
Zack Picks A Ring
Uh-oh. Going into the final segment, Jesse warned us, “Brace yourselves, ’cause this is a rough one.” My stomach hurts.
I guess Neil Lane couldn’t make it to Thailand, but he sent some nice rocks for Zach to choose from. And Jesse was there to guide him in his choice of a ring, not which woman to give it to.
After choosing a ring, Zach claimed, “This is the biggest day of my life. I’m proposing to my best friend, and this is the start of the rest of our lives. But it’s also the day I’ll have to break someone’s heart.” I hate this part. Has he even made his decision yet? Flip a coin, already!
Who Will Be First Out Of The Van?
The two women were riding toward the proposal site in their vans. Who would step out of the black van first? Oh no!!! It’s Gabi! I recognized the hem of her bright yellow dress as she stepped out. Okay, I already don’t want to watch the rest of this show.
When Jesse greeted her and asked her how she was feeling, Gabi solemnly told him, “I think I know what’s about to happen.” Jesse wished her the best of luck and sent her off to meet her fate.
“Gabi,” Zach began, “we started this journey as strangers.” He listed all the things they’d been through over the past few weeks, summing up with, “There’s so much I love and adore about you . . . but . . . ”
Gabi Says Goodbye To Zach
And there it was. You could see all of the air go out of her. “I know,” she said. “You don’t have to say it.”
Even though Zach tried to continue his speech, Gabi interrupted him, “I don’t want to hear it.” Every time he tried to tell her “you deserve a man who picks you first every day,” she insisted that he just stop. “I’ll be okay. I want you to be happy. Kaity is a really special person, and she’s really lucky. So good luck . . . goodbye.”
“I’m sorry,” Zach said, but Gabi told him, “I don’t want an apology and I don’t need it. I really do wish nothing but the best for you.” She was done with him. She didn’t want an apology or for him to say anything just to make himself feel better or less guilty.
“It’s okay,” Gabi assured him. “I’ll find love somewhere, somehow. It’s okay.” And with that, Gabi opened her own damn car door, climbed in, and yanked off her fancy-ass shoes. You’re an ass, Zach. You slept with the girl and then kicked her to the curb, just like I hoped you wouldn’t.
Riding away from the scene of the ambush, Gabi said, “That was f***ing humiliating. I’ve been strung along now this entire f***ing time, and for what? Why am I so hard to love? I just want to go home.” Meanwhile, Zach sobbed alone in the parking lot.
Gabi Sits Down With Jesse Palmer
Next, we saw Gabi in the studio, wiping away tears. Someone in the audience shouted, “We love you, Gabi!”
When Jesse asked her how she was feeling after “watching that back,” Gabi took her time answering. “I know I’m strong for going through that, but it’s honestly worse watching it back. It just hurts, because I had a little bit of hope going into that day. I never thought that someone who said they were falling in love with me would make me go through that.”
Explaining that she’d spent all morning preparing a speech, going through “hours and hours of interviews,” getting ready and waiting, Gabi had told herself, “Zach would never make you go through this [for nothing].” She didn’t think someone who cared for her would put her through all of that “stress and anxiety” just to humiliate her. Oh, but he did.
After telling her that all of Bachelor Nation felt her pain and they had never seen such an outpouring of love and support as she was getting on social media, Jesse asked, “How hard was that goodbye for you?”
Gabi said, “It was harder than any goodbye I’ve ever had to go through because it’s goodbye forever. It’s not goodbye and maybe we’ll run into each other. It’s goodbye.” Even though she admitted she had expected those words were coming, part of her had hoped that maybe it would be her. “And when he didn’t [choose me], I kind of kicked myself. But I also prepared myself, because I did know in my gut.”
But knowing it was coming didn’t make the rejection and the heartbreak any easier. Sadly, Gabi said, “I had chosen him, and he didn’t choose me back.”
Regarding what happened between them during Fantasy Suites week, Gabi added, “It’s extremely violating that the entire nation knows everything.”
Gabi Faces Zach
After Jesse welcomed Zach to the stage, he walked out and gave Gabi a stiff hug. “Gabi,” Jesse asked, “what would you like to say to Zach?”
Gabi admitted to having a lot of emotions she didn’t even know she had until she watched it back. “I’m sad, I’m hurt,” she said. “I don’t even know where to start.”
Hoping to get more specific about those emotions she was having, Jesse plunged in. “Gabi, what was the most painful part of Zach disclosing publicly, what had happened privately, behind closed doors between the two of you?”
Gabi said that earlier that day on their date when she had told Zach about having been “chosen second” in past relationships, he told her he had her back, and she felt so “supported and protected.” But then she was “disappointed” with how everything in the evening portion was portrayed. They had spent “so much time talking about emotional health, mental health, therapy and how we both connected on that.” But none of that conversation was shown on TV.
When they consensually decided to be intimate, they had agreed “it was just to be between us.” Then when Zach came to her hotel room the next day, Gabi was blindsided. She understood that he was just trying to be honest, though she didn’t know he had told everyone else until she watched the episode on TV.
“So for me to see that on TV,” Gabi sobbed, “I feel ashamed [of] a moment that felt like love to me. It’s very painful. I wish you would have just sent me home and saved me all the pain. I get that it’s a TV show and sex sells, but now I’ve become a narrative. And it’s really painful.”
As usual, Zach went through a litany of excuses for treating Gabi like shit. But in the end, he apologized (again) “from the bottom of my heart.”
Wrapping up, Jesse thanked Gabi for coming and said, “I just know that you are gonna find the love of your life very soon. You’re an amazing person.”
Kaity Gets Her Wish
Back in Thailand, Zach had dried his tears and was looking forward to proposing to Kaity. He admitted that “breaking up with Gabi was harder than I could have imagined,” but it was just “the last thing I needed to do” before giving his heart to his “one special person.” Geez, Zach, you make Gabi sound like an obstacle that needed to be kicked to the side of the road before continuing on your merry way. I can’t wait to see the social media reaction to your callousness tomorrow.
While waiting for Kaity to arrive, Zach mused, “I thought about who could I not live without. Who do I want to wake up with every morning? Whose face do I want to see every day? Who do I truly love with all my heart?” Ugh, I hope Gabi’s left the building already.
“Hello, Gorgeous!” Zach greeted Kaity. “You look beautiful.”
“Zach,” Kaity began, “Coming here I didn’t think it could be me. I’ve never experienced unconditional love but then you stepped into my life, and my walls came crumbling down . . . I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and honestly, if it’s not you it’s not anyone.”
“Kaity,” Zach said, “I was faced with a nearly impossible decision, and it’s been really hard.” Always all about you, Zach.
Kaity’s face fell when Zach told her, “I can no longer say ‘I’m falling in love with you’ . . . because I am so in love with you, and you are my world. I love you.” So, after kneeling, he said, “Kaity, will you marry me?”
What do you think she’ll say? I’m on pins and needles. JK! She jumped on it. “Absolutely!!!”
“Look at that rock [that I didn’t have to pay for]!” crowed Zach. I hate when they pick the wrong person. Can you tell I’m disappointed?
Zach and Kaity jumped into a little boat — wait, isn’t that the same launch that took Zach and Gabi out to their pirate ship?! That’s Gabi’s boat, Kaity! — and rode off into the sunset, screaming, “We’re engaged!”
Zach And Kaity’s First Public Appearance “As a Couple”
I do have to admit that Kaity looked beautiful when she joined Zach and Jesse on the stage. Someone finally bought her a pair of shoes that don’t look like she stole them out of her grandma’s closet.
After being the first to “publicly congratulate” them, Jesse asked Kaity and Zach, “How great does it feel?”
Kaity said they’ve been “counting down the days,” and Zach added, “Even going to a coffee shop or a restaurant together, just the littlest things, we just can’t wait for.”
Jesse wanted to know when Zach knew Kaity was the one, and he said, “It was at the Last Chance Date. I saw her, and I just knew. I want to spend the rest of my life with this woman.”
When Jesse asked if what happened during Fantasy Week had affected their relationship, Kaity admitted that it had been hard to watch back and that she never wanted to watch that particular episode again, but said, “We came out stronger in the end.”
“What happens next?” Jesse wanted to know. Zach said he’ll be packing up all his stuff, and they’ll be moving in together this summer. “Right now we’re just excited to be together,” Zach added. “We’ve talked about it, and we’re thinking about 2025 for a wedding. We’ll see what happens after that with little ones.”
Jesse commented on how special it had been to see the relationship, not just between Zach and Kaity, but between Ariel, Gabi, and Kaity. They all seemed to care for and support each other.
“I think we were all trauma-bonded,” Kaity joked. “Gabi and Ariel are both amazing, and I’m so thankful to have a friendship with them.”
A Peek At Charity’s First Night As The Bachelorette
Before saying goodnight to Bachelor Nation, Jesse treated us to a sneak peek at Charity Lawson’s first night as the new Bachelorette. As they were standing in the driveway of the Bachelor Manson preparing to greet the first limo, Jesse told Charity, “The man you’re about to meet is someone you already know.” Is it Jimmy Kimmel? He loves the Bachelor franchise.
“You both have a history together,” Jesse added. Oh, so not Kimmel then.
And as a handsome (but short) bald, Black man stepped out of the limo, Charity was laughing, “Oh my god!” While I was saying, “Who is that?!” It was her brother, Nehemiah Lawson (thanks for the graphic, Bachelor producers).
In a confessional, Nehemiah explained, “I’m on the lookout, ’cause men can be dogs. I have a plan. It involves a disguise, and it’s gonna help me really find out more about these guys.” Nehemiah is going to make sure everybody’s “here for the right reasons.”
Nehemiah is the Bachelor “Undercover Brother.” I love it! What a fun twist! The Bachelorette premiers June 26th on ABC.
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF ZACH’S CHOICE? WERE YOU SURPRISED OR DID YOU SEE IT COMING? ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO WATCHING CHARITY AS THE BACHELORETTE?
[Photo Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin]