SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched the Season 19 finale of “The Bachelorette,” which aired on Sept. 20...
Did Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey find their happy ending?
Heading into the second half of the two-part Bachelorette finale, both women maintained one final suitor. Rachel with Tino Franco — her first impression rose recipient whose family disapproved of their relationship — and Gabby with Erich Schwer — who Gabby worried was not ready to propose.
Adding to the on-screen drama, both men had been tainted by off-screen rumors in real life, which host Jesse Palmer alluded to at the top of the live segment.
But prior to those rumors were addressed, viewers flashed back to Mexico where Gabby and Rachel attempted to wrap up their happy endings. They both briefly touched base with their men and with each other, before they headed into engagements.
Rachel was first. She prepared to give out her final rose and gave a passionate speech to Tino, before he got down on one knee. But even during the proposal, there appeared to be trouble in paradise. Rachel’s live reactions were aired simultaneously, and her angst set the scene that the bliss was short-lived.
In studio, Rachel confirmed that she and Tino had struggled after the show. She explained that things had started strong, but the growing pains of reliving life on-screen proved too much. The two had never broken up or taken a break, but Tino confessed that he had kissed another woman during their relationship.
Flashing back, Gabby came to comfort Rachel after hearing Tino had cheated, and encouraged her to confront him directly. Rachel was disappointed by Tino’s reaction, where he had failed to apologize and asked Rachel “not to tell anyone” in an attempt to save face. When Tino and Rachel reunited in person immediately after learning the news, he said he messed up. It was a woman he had met before filming, and they kissed after running into each other at a bar.
In an attempt to justify his behavior, he blamed the state of their relationship. He pulled out his journal and started quoting what Rachel had said during the premiere week; he accused her of refusing to go to therapy, threatening to return the ring and her wanting to be alone. She called him a liar and told him to provide context for the statements. She wanted to skip therapy because she was exhausted from the premiere, and said she would give the ring back if they decided to backpedal from an engagement to dating.
“Is there a way this works out?” he asked. And after she asked if he thought he deserved her after what he did, he walked away from the conversation.
Outside, Tino covered up his mic when talking to a producer, and accused Rachel of trying to make him look bad. “Tell her to break up with me. Let me out,” he pleaded to a producer. He returned to her again, then stormed off once more.
But between the tantrums, he tried to reconcile the relationship. “We can make it through this. I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you,” he said. The groveling continued, but Rachel was done. She handed the ring back once-and-for-all.
The two reunited onstage, where Tino attempted damage control. He apologized and flattered Rachel, but continued to rationalize the headspace he was in that brought him to cheating. He referenced a conversation that she challenged him on — asking him if he really wanted to bring “that” up. There were conversations that allegedly happened and were unaired, and he was dangerously close to airing out their assumed dirty laundry. “You and I both know the truth of what happened,” she said.
The two moved past the never-disclosed topic, and continued to talk in circles. Tino tried to rationalize, but Rachel pushed back on him. Rachel ended the conversation with finality, but as her engagement concluded, another relationship potential sprouted. Jesse told her that someone “demanded a chance to talk to you,” before he reintroduced runner-up Aven Jones on stage. Rachel then abandoned Tino on the couch and left with Aven.
A happier ending followed. Back in Mexico, viewers reunited with Gabby and Erich, and their version of happily ever after. Despite hesitations about his readiness to get engaged, Erich got down to one knee, and Gabby agreed to marry him.
While live on stage, the two swooned over each other. When prompted, he credited the hesitations about a proposal to the world of “The Bachelor” and not having enough time, but was confident in his decision.
Not everything was idyllic though, as Jesse confronted Erich about rumors of his behavior pre-show, which recently surfaced on social media when a woman who claimed to date him, prior to him joining the show, shared messages between them. In-studio, screenshots of text exchanges were shared with the woman Erich dated before he met Gabby, and he admitted to going on the show for opportunities that didn’t involve falling in love. He said he was seeing that other woman until the time he left for filming, and that he left her to go on the show.
Erich was far more polished than Tino in his apologies. He took accountability for leading on the other woman, and called himself a coward for his behavior. They had been seeing each other for about a month before he left for filming, and he used the show as an easy way to get out. He admitted that he didn’t know what the show would entail, but he had come full circle since meeting Gabby.
Gabby first called him out for what he did — but then praised him for taking accountability, sharing that he had actually shared the news with her, even before the text exchanges were leaked. The two have since moved passed it, and are still happily in love.
Gabby and Rachel were supposed to recap with Jesse one last time, but Gabby was alone as Rachel had disappeared with Aven. Gabby reflected on her journey and received advice from former “Bachelorette” stars and her fan-favorite grandpa, before Jesse wrapped up her chapter as “The Bachelorette.”
And while one chapter ended, another began. Jesse introduced Rachel’s second runner-up Zach Shallcross as next season’s Bachelor (for more on that, click here). Zach received advice from “The Bachelor” alum Sean Lowe, before he learned that he would actually be starting his journey as “The Bachelor” tonight — five of his contestants were there, and America awarded the first impression rose via Twitter, which went to a woman named Brianna, guaranteeing her presence through week one in the mansion.
With two leading ladies for the first time and two chaotic endings for both Rachel and Gabby, this season of “The Bachelorette” had a double dose of drama, certainly to fill the rest of the year — but fear not, Bachelor Nation: prior to Zach’s journey on “The Bachelor” airing in 2023, a new season of “Bachelor In Paradise” begins next week.