SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched “The Bachelor” Season 27 finale, which aired on Monday, March 27 on ABC.
27 seasons later, “The Bachelor” is still handing out his final rose to the sound of tears, heartbreak and joy.
On Monday night, leading man Zach Shallcross had a big decision to make between his final two contestants, Gabi Elnicki and Kaity Biggar.
The finale followed last week’s very dramatic “sex week” episode where Shallcross, for some reason, felt compelled to discuss his sexual intimacy behind closed doors with Elnicki with his other finalists, only after telling them that he would not have sex with anyone. To no one’s surprise at all, that created high tensions with his final two women going into the proposal week.
Much of the episode dealt with that topic. But utimately, Shallcross proposed to Biggar.
“The love I feel for you is something I could never have imagined,” Shallcross said to Biggar, moments before proposing. “I love you so much. I love you with all my heart, and you’re the face I want to wake up to every morning. I want to go through life with you and only you. Kaity, I want to be with you forever.”
Biggar said yes. But first, he broke up with Elnicki on the beach.
“What a journey you and I have been on,” Shallcross told Elnicki. “All of our moments have been life changing, and there’s so much I love and adore about you. Knowing you and falling in love with you has made me a better man.” But then, he broke his runner-up’s heart. “As much as I’ve been falling in love with you, I’m sorry,” he said. “You deserve a man that picks you first every day.”
In the car, Elnicki sobbed and said she knew Shallcross wasn’t going to pick her. “I’ve been strung along this entire time now. For what? What really pisses me off is that I fucking knew. I fucking knew!” she exclaimed. “When your gut speaks, you should listen to it… Why am I so hard to love? Why am I always so misunderstood? I don’t know when someone’s going to choose me.”
Aside from the proposal footage that aired from Thailand, Monday’s three-hour finale event had Shallcross and the women in-studio with host Jesse Palmer to discuss all of the drama.
In front of the live studio audience, Elnicki told Shallcross that he handled “sex week” poorly, and she felt violated for him telling the other women (and, in turn, millions of viewers) that they had slept together.
“The way I handled things was completely wrong,” Shallcross said, apologizing to Elnicki. “My mind felt — which is wrong — that I needed to let everyone know that I went against my word. In reality, it hurt you. There’s nothing I can do to right that wrong, but I want you to know that the last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you like that. It was me purely trying to be honest, but that doesn’t matter, because it hurt you more. From the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry.”
Shallcross’ second runner-up, Ariel Frenkel, was also in-studio with Palmer. Frenkel — a fan-favorite contestant who brought Jewish culture and her New York City lifestyle to “The Bachelor” this season — was sent home last week after her “fantasy suite” date where Shallcross said he had a no sex rule and told her that he wouldn’t be sleeping with any of the women. What Frenkel didn’t know is that in his next fantasy suite, he would end up being intimate with Elnicki.
“It really hurts to find everything out on TV when everyone else does with a partner that you’ve shared so many intimate moments with,” Frenkel told Palmer during the live finale. “I was really disappointed in the way the whole week was handled. I was disappointed in the way that I was left completely not knowing anything from Zach.”
When Shallcross sat down with her, she grilled him, asking why she wasn’t “given that same respect” as the other women who were informed that he had broken his rule not to be intimate. “I should have not been left in the dark,” Frenkel said. “You had ample time to also tell me about everything before I left.”
Shallcross apologized to Frenkel. “I really made it one-sided and that was very selfish of me,” he said. “I did mess up and I wish I could make that better.”
Despite the residual “sex week” drama, Shallcross got a happy ending, appearing live in-studio with Biggar for their first appearance together as an engaged couple. The pair said they are thinking about getting married in 2025, and plan to move in together this summer in Austin, Texas, where they both resided before joining the reality dating show.
“We’ve been longing for this moment for so long,” Biggar said about coming forward publicly with Shallcross, who said he knew she was the one, raving, “It’s always been you.”
Shallcross and Biggar said that they are focused on being in a normal relationship, away from the cameras, for now. “This whole process was very accelerated, very quick,” Shallcross said. “And right now we’re just excited to be together — go to the restaurants, go to the coffee shops, the little things.”
“The Bachelor” franchise returns with Season 20 of “The Bachelorette” this summer, which will star another contestant from Shallcross’ season, Charity Lawson. Her journey to find love begins on Monday, June 26 with a new 9:00 p.m. time slot.