7:00pm PT by Jackie Strause
'The Bachelorette': Rachel Lindsay Heads Into Finale With a Twist
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the July 24 episode of ABC's The Bachelorette.]
Rachel Lindsay has paved her way on The Bachelorette.
Since becoming the historic first black lead of the long-running franchise, the ABC reality star has consistently done things differently than the Bachelorettes and Bachelors who have come before her — and the ending to her journey is no exception. For the first time ever, The Bachelorette welcomes three men into the finale.
Peter Kraus, Bryan Abasolo and Eric Bigger are all heading into the finale, which airs Aug. 7, after Monday's episode saw zero eliminations. Lindsay threw her final three men a curveball — once again switching up the traditional order of things — and brought them home to meet her family in Dallas before heading to Spain for the annual overnight dates in the "fantasy" suites. Lindsay's sister, Constance, is eight months pregnant and unable to travel, so the men met Lindsay's family for the first and last time before Lindsay's big decision.
Typically, only the remaining two finalists meet the Bachelorette or Bachelor's family in the finale and at this point on the show, the three men would all be separated and awaiting their one-on-one dates. Instead, the three men were all awkwardly together in Dallas as Lindsay told them the change of plans: “I know this is a little weird. We’re changing things up and doing it a little bit different."
To the camera, Lindsay said she was looking forward to having an outsider's perspective to help give her the clarity she needs to narrow down her three men. The show has famously featured its stars falling in love with two people at the same time — Bachelor Ben Higgins even told both of his finalists that he loved them — but a lead has never appeared to have fallen as hard as Lindsay has for three finalists.
"Never did I ever think I would feel this way about three men at the same damn time," she admitted to the camera after bringing the men home. Still, that doesn't mean the family dates all went off without a hitch.
Lindsay's father, who is a federal judge, was absent for the second year in a row when the Lindsay family opened its doors. Which meant the men had to ask for Lindsay's mother, Kathy, and sister Constance's blessings, first and foremost. Both Bigger, 29, and Abasolo, 37, asked and received hesitant blessings from Lindsay's mother. "I trust Rachel, so I’m open to wherever life leads her," she told Abasolo. "Wherever that leads, I trust her," she echoed to Bigger.
The family shared their hesitations about Bigger's lack of experience with relationships, but it was Abasolo who took the worst beating — putting Lindsay on the defense. Abasolo, after knowing Lindsay for nine weeks, had told her family that he was in love with her. "From day one, she was my girlfriend," he said. His confidence spurred rounds of questions from Lindsay's skeptical family.
"I'm really low-key annoyed," Lindsay flatly told her family at the dinner table when Abasolo excused himself. Constance summed up their feelings when telling the camera, "My gut is telling me Bryan’s a charmer. He’s direct and open, but I don’t think there’s the sincerity factor in it, so my guard is up." (The criticism that Abasolo is a "charmer" is also something that has been discussed between the contestants throughout the season, and even Lindsay herself admitted to her friends on Monday that she initially thought he was a "douchebag.") When Constance sat down with Abasolo and he told her he "loved" the family already, she quickly replied, "All of that is too soon — it's only been an hour and a half."
Ultimately, Kraus was the one who most won over Lindsay's mom and, ironically, it was for the same reason that her daughter has hesitations about their relationship. Kraus, who has been open with Lindsay about his reservations of getting engaged so quickly, told Lindsay's mom that he wasn't ready to ask for her blessing just yet. Kathy told him she was comfortable with that: “I would hope that the dating is as serious as marriage.”
Lindsay, on the other hand, wasn't as accepting. Again breaking show rules, Lindsay explained that she didn't have to send someone home immediately following the family introductions. "Now I get to take the three men overseas and have private alone time in Europe to focus on what I need from these men to eventually say yes to a proposal," she said, adding to her list of franchise firsts.
After a dreamy overnight date with Bigger — where he finally dropped the L-word and they spent the night together in the Fantasy Suite — the episode ended on a "to be continued" note before she was even able to ask Kraus if he wanted to spend the night. The annual Fantasy Suites are the first night a Bachelorette or Bachelor is able to spend the night alone, without the cameras, with her or his finalists.
The core of Lindsay and Kraus' argument was over their definition of being engaged.
"I didn’t come this far and put my life on hold and sacrifice everything I had to to do to just have a boyfriend at the end of it," Lindsay explained of the commitment she's looking for in the end. "For me, a proposal isn’t, 'Oh my god, you’re getting down on one knee and you’re proposing and we’re getting married tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.'"
Kraus said he respected her beliefs, but still staunchly disagreed: "Engagement is marriage. I want to do it just as many times as I do it in my life, which is once.”
The episode ended with Lindsay in tears, admitting that she had nothing to say to him. “I was hopeful for what Peter and I could be and then just like that, I didn’t see it," she told the camera. "It’s devastating, it’s absolutely devastating. Tonight, for the first time ever, I’m thinking Peter and I might not work out.”
The preview for the finale — which also included a preview for next week's Men Tell All reunion that teased DeMario Jackson addressing his Bachelorette experience — shows both Lindsay and Kraus crying. “What is wrong with me?” Lindsay is heard asking, saying she is forcing herself to do something she wasn't ready for while dressed in her finale proposal dress. “I just feel like I’m making a big mistake … I don’t want to repeat what I’ve done in every single relationship.”
The finale leaves Lindsay with three difficult choices:
Despite her and Bigger's slower pace, Lindsay was by far the happiest when spending time with the 29-year-old, and only black finalist, during their one-on-one. "Once again, I spend time with Eric and it takes our relationship to another level," she beamed after the date, calling it an "unexplainable" feeling that she no longer has to worry where he stands.
Then there are Abasolo and Kraus, who have battled for frontrunner status all season-long. Abasolo, who is Colombian, got the "first impression" rose, but Kraus, who has never dated a black woman, received the first one-on-one date. Lindsay's chemistry with each has been undeniable, and she confessed that she is falling in love with each of them.
Will Lindsay pick Abasolo, a man her family didn't seem to approve of, or go with Kraus, even if he's not ready to be engaged? Or could Bigger, the youngest and least experienced of the three, end up being the underdog? Though Bigger is the only one who, at this point, has had a successful overnight date, Lindsay — who is engaged to the winner — told ET that just because she went into the fantasy suite doesn't mean that she was intimate with "everyone." The star also told The Hollywood Reporter that race would not play a factor in her ultimate decision.
Tell THR in the comments below where you think Lindsay's heart lies, and head here for all Bachelorette coverage from now through the Aug. 7 finale on ABC.