Part 1 of the show's season finale didn't lack in the drama department.
Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia's journey is winding down. On part 1 of The Bachelorette's two-part, live, season finale, the ladies introduced their suitors to their families and made some tough choices about their futures, all of which ET is breaking down in the recap below.
Ahead of the episode, host Jesse Palmer told viewers and the live studio audience that the upcoming episodes will be "so emotional, so dramatic, so controversial."
Then the ladies joined him live, in-studio, where Rachel admitted she was "definitely nervous" about what's to come, and Gabby called her journey "bigger and more life-changing than I could've imagined."
Zach and Rachel started things off with a goodbye, before Aven shocked both Rachel and her family with his confession. Things went well with Tino and Erich as they met with Rachel and Gabby's families, respectively, but all was not well with either relationship by the end of the episode.
Keep reading for a recap of part 1 of The Bachelorette's season finale.
Zach and Rachel Call It Quits
The episode picked up right where last week's left off, when Zach pulled Rachel from the rose ceremony to discuss their less-than-ideal Fantasy Suite, which he previously called "inauthentic."
"That Fantasy Suite felt a little off," Zach told Rachel. "... Since day one I've always been honest with you... I thought what I was seeing wasn't the real Rachel, what I was seeing was Bachelorette Rachel."
Zach added that he's given his "absolute love" to Rachel, and said that feels "upset and disappointed that I wasn't able to get that from you."
"You were picking up on a little bit of a different vibe," Rachel admitted, adding that she "did find" clarity as a result of their Fantasy Suite.
"I did really love you. I saw a future with you," Zach said. "But I need to go." With that, an emotional Zach was driven away.
"It's over just like that," Zach told the cameras. "I could just see in her eyes that it really meant something different to her than it meant to me. I don't know what I missed... This still doesn't feel real, because she was, in my mind, the future Mrs. Shallcross."
He went on to describe Rachel's goodbye as "cold," lamenting, "I thought maybe I meant more, but I guess I didn't. One of the things I fell in love with was she made me feel special and cared for. I question if that was real."
Meanwhile, Rachel said the situation was "really sad," before telling her remaining men, Tino and Aven, what happened.
"For people who say they care about me to... question my character, it's obviously disappointing," Rachel said, before awarding the other two men roses.
In a live segment, Rachel and Zach hugged when they reunited, before apologizing to each other.
"I just want to say that I do apologize for ever making you feel like I called you out for your character," Zach told her. "... I was really in shock and disbelief... and I am so sorry."
"I'm sorry too," Rachel said. "That was really hard for me to watch back... Those feelings that I had, they were real and I don't want you to ever feel like I was putting on an act."
As for Rachel questioning Zach's readiness, she explained, "I was never accusing you of not being ready... I really just wanted to know if you were ready in general... I do know that it was awkward for both of us."
In the end, Zach said he doesn't "really have any regrets," adding that "everything happens for a reason."
"You are such an incredible guy," Rachel told her ex. "... I appreciate you and I really do appreciate this conversation, honestly."
"I want the best for you, always," he replied.
Rachel and Aven Have a Heartbreaking Goodbye
While Rachel's relationship with Aven has been light on drama in the past, it didn't work that way on Tuesday night's episode.
Before Aven arrived, Rachel told her parents and two best friends that he "is someone I trust completely."
At first, Aven impressed the group, telling them, "To be at this point is very special... She's very special to me, and it's an honor to meet you all." He went on to win over Rachel's dad, by gushing over his "shared values" with the pilot and the "progression" of their relationship. Rachel's mom was likewise impressed, telling her daughter, "He seems very sweet."
It was the conversation with Rachel's friends that turned things in a negative direction, as Aven admitted he may not be ready to get engaged just that.
"I want to be with Rachel at the end of this. I want to have a life with her. I want the engagement aspect of it to be perfect," he explained. "... I can 1,000 percent see myself getting there... My feelings are very strong... As far as wanting to be with her, there's no doubt in my mind."
When Rachel's friends told her about Aven's comments, she called the situation "shocking," telling them, "I'm not coming out of this not engaged."
She went on to talk to Aven about the situation, and he tried to assure her that his feelings for her hadn't changed at all.
"I just want to make sure that it's 100 percent right for both of us right now," he said. "... I know that there's somebody still involved in this, that's another thing... I really care about you and I really care about us. This is a big deal. I have no doubts in my mind about us getting there, whether that's in a few days or not... I'm falling in love with you. I'm not going to sit here and throw words around at your face because it makes me happy."
Rachel asked Aven, "After overnights, you change your mind?"
He denied as much, telling her, "I want you in the end of this. I just want to make sure that engagement is the right thing for both of us."
The pair shared several kisses before parting, and Aven made sure that Rachel was OK before he left. "I had a really good conversation with all of them and I love all of them," he told her of her family.
While Rachel told Aven she was alright, in a confessional, she expressed her true feelings.
"I just feel shook up. At this point, I'm just not sure how Aven and I move forward from it," she said. "I just feel really confused and blindsided... How am I supposed to trust anyone? Everyone's lying to me. Is it better to leave by myself? What am I supposed to do?"
When Rachel and Aven met up for their final date, the sales executive told the pilot about her "really hard" time since meeting her family.
A tearful Rachel admitted that she's "really struggling with the situation," telling Aven, "I think the one thing that I wanted out of this was that when you sat down with my family that we were on the same page. I feel so blindsided by you."
Aven said he "might have been caught up a little bit" in the situation when he previously expressed his readiness to get engaged, but tried to assure Rachel, "My feelings toward you haven't changed at all and a life after this is something that I want with you."
That wasn't enough for Rachel, though.
"I want to be engaged. I want someone who's sure about me. I'm not willing to sacrifice that at the end of the day," she said. "... I could see this life with you outside of this... I feel like if this was any other situation it would be you and me... I ultimately feel like I just can't move forward. It's over."
In a confessional, Aven lamented the end of his relationship with Rachel.
"I failed. I have no idea where I'm going from here, because I didn't think I'd be leaving here without Rachel," he said. "I saw a life with her. I will always think that if I did something different things would've been different with us. I'm upset that I wasn't there. I know that we would've gotten there."
In a confessional of her own, Rachel said, "It's just hard to know it's over. I did see it being him and I at the end."
The pair reunited live in-studio, where they discussed their split in front of host Jesse Palmer.
"I'm super nervous right now. I've been very anxious to see you," Aven admitted after hugging the pilot. "... I'm extremely, extremely sorry about the way things ended between us... I cared about you too much to do that to you. I definitely feel like I let you down in that moment."
"We never had a problem, at the end of the day you just knew what was right for you and that's OK," Rachel replied. "... I respect that you were able to be honest with me."
While Rachel said that her relationship with Aven ended because they "weren't on the same page at the end of the day," the sales executive still had a hard time putting their romance behind him.
"I was trying to fight for our relationship, I wanted to continue, I wasn't giving up on you," he said. "... Maybe the timing was off."
In the end, Rachel told Aven, "I'm really happy to see you. I really just wish you nothing but the best. I'm really just happy we had the chance to sit down and talk."
Erich Wins Over Gabby's Family... But His Relationship Isn't a Done Deal
Erich, who previously expressed his love for the nurse, was thrilled by the development, especially as it meant he'd be the only guy to meet her family.
Gabby went into the day wanting her family and Erich to accept each other, and she got her wish.
"They were obsessed with her," Erich told Gabby's loved ones of his family. "... After that, I was pretty convinced that I was falling in love with her."
The confession made Gabby tear up, telling the room that the public reveal "means the world" to her.
Gabby's grandpa, who previously met Erich on a different date, told the nurse, "I like Erich. I think he's a keeper... Your grandma would be tickled pink."
Erich continued to impress, telling Gabby's other family members, "We had this crazy connection from the beginning, and I was honestly intimated by her... I'm obsessed with her. I think she's an amazing person and I can't imagine my life without her at this point."
Gabby shared her love for Erich publicly too, telling her dad, "He just loves me in a way I haven't had before... I think when something is that good, you're afraid to lose it."
In a confessional, she added, "I love Erich more than I ever thought I could love someone."
When the pair met up for their final date, Gabby prepared to find out once and for all if Erich planned to pop the question.
"He makes me feel safe. He makes me feel seen. He just has everything that I look for in someone," Gabby said in a confessional. "... If he's like, 'I'm not ready,' I think that would make me think, 'Is it me?'"
Gabby told Erich she feels "more than good" about the state of their relationship, adding, "I honestly came here not knowing what was going to happen at the end, but everything along the way... has led me to you."
"I didn't expect to ever be here, in this position," Erich responded. "... It's been crazy, but I truly love you and I do want to spend the rest of my life with you."
As for a proposal, Erich told Gabby that he "wish I knew better" about getting down on one knee.
"I feel pretty good about a life with you would be like," Gabby said. "... The last thing I want to do is pressure you... We have to listen to ourselves."
"I really want us to work... I want to date you in the real world," Erich replied. "Getting engaged before that is not how things usually go."
In a confessional, Gabby said that, while she doesn't want to "force him into a decision," she does "want him to propose.
"I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want anyone to be forced. I'm so sick of this," Gabby said as she walked away from Erich. "... What am I supposed to do walk away because he's not ready to propose?"
Tino Gets a 'Big Stamp of Approval' From Rachel's Family
While Tino and Rachel had a great night in the Fantasy Suite, the pilot still had fears about his family's apparent dislike for her. It's with that in mind that the pair went to meet Rachel's family, an introduction that did go better than Tino's meet-and-greet did.
Things were shaky at first, as Rachel had told her family that Tino's family didn't like her. Tino tried to assuage their fears, telling Rachel's mom that his family would "absolutely" come around."
"I'm a million percent confident that they'll love Rachel because I do," he added.
Then, to Rachel's dad, Tino admitted that their Hometown date was "shocking" to him, but assured him that "they'll fall in love with her like I did."
"Your daughter does mean the world to me. Life's hard, but I want to be that person to her," Tino told Rachel's dad. "... I'm going to make your daughter happy forever."
"I like you," her dad replied.
In a confessional, Tino celebrated his successful day.
"I feel like what I've wanted for weeks now is really going to happen," he gushed.