SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the Dec. 21 episode of “The Bachelorette.”
Last week, Tayshia Adam’s goodbye with contestant Ben Smith was less than satisfying. Disappointed at his lack of emotion, the titular Bachelorette sent him packing, leaving Brendan Morais, Zac Clark and Ivan Hall as her final three. All three headed to fantasy suites — the first real moment of potential privacy during an overnight date.
While Tayshia was still “riding the high” from hometown week, she revealed reservations going into fantasy suites to former Bachelorette (and fill-in host) JoJo Fletcher.
Meanwhile, host Chris Harrison filled in the men about the “more serious, more emotional, more intimate” week ahead. Ivan went first, leaving the other men reflecting on their own relationships.
“Hearing the other guys talk about where they’re at… I think I’m just in a different spot. There’s just been nothing to this point that has made me question what we have. And I trust that,” Zac said.
Ivan greeted Tayshia for their date, where they would spend the afternoon breaking a world record. The two settled into an ice bath and began smooching for six minutes and 35 seconds to become the titleholder for the “World’s Longest, Coldest Kiss.”
Going into the night portion of the date, the two settled into dinner and reflected on their relationship. Tayshia declared him as her “rock” and said that he was someone she felt comfortable being vulnerable with. Ivan expressed that he was falling in love with her before accepting an invite to the overnight date.
The two spent the night in an airstream and came out the next morning with clarity on their relationship. After talking through the night, they were able to have “silly” conversations, but also connect on religion, their future goals and plans. “I feel like we just would have a really good life,” Tayshia said.
After Ivan’s return, Brendan expressed his discomfort with the situation, and Ivan echoed. “This is just the weirdest dynamic [between the men].”
Zac’s date consisted of a painting party, where the couple stripped down and rolled around in paint to cover a blank canvas. They laid in their masterpiece and day-dreamed about their future before they headed into their night portion.
Going into the night, Zac’s primary objective was to tell Tayshia how he felt. He expressed to her that he had been lying to himself, saying he didn’t want kids and that he wanted to be the “cool uncle.” But time on the show and putting his life on hold changed his perspective.
“I know that I’ll be a good dad. I know that I’ll be a good husband,” he said.
He concluded his sentiments by telling Tayshia he loved her, which she reciprocated.
They left dinner for their fantasy suite, where they stayed until the next morning. Zac (who has consistently the most vocal in his affection for Tayshia) confirmed his feelings post-overnight.
Brendan had been the most vocal about his commitment concerns going into fantasy suites. After his divorce, he shared the pressure of only getting engaged/married one more time.
“Going into today, I have certain nerves and feel a little anxious… preparing myself to be ready for that next step in life and that next engagement, next marriage, is a concern of mine,” he said. “Just hearing Ivan and Zac, knowing how they felt about their dates and their overnights and how great they left that moment, it definitely puts a little pressure on me.”
Meanwhile, Tayshia shared her unwavering confidence in her feelings: “After our first one-on-one, I was like, ‘Brendan’s it.’”
The pressure was on during their date when Tayshia brought Brendan to Neil Lane — the franchise’s official jeweler. Brendan was a good sport, but appeared physically panicked as Neil went through bracelets and rings. His fear spilled over into their dinner date.
“Today definitely reinforced the gravity of that moment [proposal],” he said. “Giving someone that engagement ring is giving them eternity with you. This is a forever moment. I don’t take that lightly.”
“I thought I was ready. I knew I was ready in my own mind,” he continued. “But knowing you’re ready because you want something so bad… I want a wife and kids and a family more than anything on the face of this earth. But then coming to the realization that there’s a big part of me that’s still broken. There’s a big part of me that still needs time to heal.”
Tayshia listened quietly and told him that even though she’d love to be with him at the end of this, she understood. While she was hurt, she wasn’t going to force him or beg for his love. He left the property.
As Tayshia processed her Brendan elimination the next day, she confided in former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. In addition to being disappointed about Brendan, she expressed remorse for her relationship with Ben, noting that their goodbye felt off.
Ben seemingly felt the same, as he arrived at Harrison’s doorstep to ask for a chance to see Tayshia. After being eliminated, he also felt that their goodbye was “not like the relationship” and that he wanted to tell Tayshia he loved her.
“I’m in love with Tayshia and I need to tell her,” he said. “In the moment of the breakup, I didn’t feel it appropriate to be like ‘Oh, by the way, I also love you.’ Or like ‘Please don’t dump me because I love you.’” He worried that not articulating his feelings was received as not having them and wanted to resolve the breakup.
So, while the other two men were preparing for the rose ceremony, Ben arrived at Tayshia’s doorstep. This was the second time Ben came to her door and asked for time — the first was after a group date during which she accused him of not stepping up. While her immediate reaction was cold, she invited him in and listened to what he had to say.
He tried to justify his coldness during their breakup as shutting down in shock. He admitted that he loved her, and apologized for not telling her earlier.
“I see a life with you,” he told her. She listened but stepped away to collect herself.
“There’s a rose ceremony… what do I do with that?” she asked a producer.
“The Bachelorette” finale airs Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. on ABC.