ABC’s Bachelor franchise looked forward to the future on the same night it gave closure to its recent storylines involving The Bachelorette co-leads Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia.
During the three-hour season finale of The Bachelorette that aired Tuesday, Zach Shallcross — who was let go in last week’s episode as the second runner-up for Recchia — was announced as the lead on the forthcoming season 27 of The Bachelor that premieres Jan. 23. Viewers had seen the 26-year-old tech executive from Anaheim Hills, California, leave the show brokenhearted after their fantasy-suite date made it clear that Recchia was more interested in eventual pick Tino Franco and runner-up Aven Jones.
“I really needed to take some time away and reflect and heal that broken heart,” Shallcross told host Jesse Palmer. “What I learned from that experience was, it didn’t change how ready I was. I am now more ready. That was fuel to the fire. I am ready to find my person, my best friend.” He later met multiple women who were competing to participate in his season.
The rest of the evening featured plenty of the tense and dramatic moments that the franchise’s finales typically deliver. During the final scenes taped in Mexico, Recchia got engaged to Franco in a romantic display, and Windey accepted a marriage proposal from Erich Schwer. However, Recchia told the in-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 was going to spend the rest of my life with and start a family with,” Recchia told Palmer, adding that she remained devastated about the relationship falling apart. “It’s just broken trust at the end of the day, and it’s really heartbreaking to watch back and have to relive it.”
Footage of the pair airing grievances at her home included Franco admitting that he kissed a woman whom he met before going on the show but hadn’t started dating at that point and that he reconnected with the woman after shooting ended. Franco claimed that Recchia’s previous comments led him to believe she was moving on, including her saying she contemplated not wearing her engagement ring to the show’s After the Final Rose special due to difficult post-shooting moments they had endured. Recchia disputed his account of her saying she wouldn’t wear the ring.
After Recchia said that Franco never apologized, he exclaimed, “Rachel, I’m so sorry about this. I thought I’ve told you this every single day.” He continued, “It was a one-time mistake, and I realized immediately that I needed to be with you.”
Franco said he still wanted to work things out with Recchia, but she responded by taking her ring off and placing it on the table, leading the crowd to cheer. “This is such a big deal for me,” she told him firmly, ending the relationship. “I wanted to do this one time. I’m done.”
After watching the footage of their painful exchange, she told Palmer that she has love for Franco but is no longer in love with him. Franco then took the stage to speak with Recchia for the first time since their split, telling her, “You were amazing to me, and you didn’t deserve what I did.” After a heated conversation, Recchia abruptly left the taping when runner-up Jones surprised her on stage 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 that their relationship has been tested. The tough moments have been due, in part, to someone he dated before the show recently sharing texts 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 clearer to the woman that he wasn’t interested in her, and Windey said she had forgiven him.
During the previous installment of the two-part finale, Shallcross apologized to Recchia for having questioned her character on camera, explaining that he felt hurt during their fantasy-suite date upon realizing that she had lost interest in their relationship. “It was a tough pill to swallow that it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be because I saw a future with you,” he said at the time. “The reality of it was that it just wasn’t going to happen.”
The Bachelor season 27 premieres Jan. 23 on ABC.