7:08pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor' Finale Breaks Format to Deliver Another Twist, No-Proposal Ending
[This story contains spoilers from the second night of ABC's Bachelor finale.]
Arie Luyendyk Jr. started the trend. Colton Underwood and Hannah Brown continued it. And now, The Bachelor's Peter Weber becomes the latest star of the ABC franchise to shock viewers with an unpredictable, twist ending on After the Final Rose.
Tuesday's conclusion to the 24th cycle of The Bachelor saw Weber get engaged to Hannah Ann Sluss, only to call it off one month later and, with a little help from host Chris Harrison, attempt to pursue a relationship with runner-up Madison Prewett — all despite the vocal protests of his mother, Barbara Weber.
"Realistically, there was no way for me to 100 percent put all those feelings that I had built up those last two months — those don't just disappear two days later for an engagement. That's what I struggled with, for sure," Weber told Harrison during the live show after viewers watched his pre-taped proposal to Sluss (and were treated to tense glances from his mother, who was in the audience with her husband and who was a fan of Sluss throughout the process). "I couldn't match what [Hannah Ann] was giving me and that wasn't fair."
The show once again broke format to follow Weber after cameras wrapped on the season back in November to document his roller coaster relationship saga in the time between his final week in Australia — when Sluss accepted his proposal — and up until this week's live finale. Going into Tuesday's live show, Harrison had said that even Weber was unsure about how the night would play out, as it was finally revealed that he has spent the last few months being torn over his unfinished feelings for Prewett.
Typically, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette will end with a proposal and the happy couple will date in secrecy during the off-camera months between their final week and the live show. But Luyendyk's 2018 season of The Bachelor kicked off an unprecedented format when cameras captured the star calling off his engagement to Becca Kufrin in those months between. (He then proposed to current wife Lauren Burnham on the live After the Final Rose show.) The 2019 Bachelor, Colton Underwood, ended the show so he could pursue his frontrunner, and current girlfriend, Cassie Randolph; and 2019 Bachelorette Hannah Brown also called off her engagement to Jed Wyatt in the months between. In both of those cases, cameras were also there to capture the up-and-down journeys.
On Tuesday, Harrison steered a live show that included pre-taped footage of Weber's final week in Australia, as well as footage of his post-proposal breakup with Sluss and pursuit of Prewett in recent weeks. First, cameras caught up with the newly engaged couple when Sluss visited Weber in Los Angeles one month after accepting his proposal, where they were surprisingly seeing each other for the first time. While Weber said there is "no doubt" that he had fallen in love with her, he said he was still struggling over Prewett. "It kills me to put you through this and see you give everything and have me be where I'm at," he told her about stringing her along. "I never intended to give my heart to two people." She replied through tears: "If you can't give me that love in return, then that's not a relationship."
After his teary apology, Sluss stood up for herself. "You took the most precious moment that I could ever imagine away from me, because you selfishly just did not want me to walk away, or to send me home, whatever the case would have been," she told him — a point he agreed on before she returned the ring. "I can't even look at you anymore. I need someone who is going to be true to their words, not be torn and conflicted 90 percent of the time. Because this affected a lot of people. I don't need anything more from you. You've done enough damage."
Sluss watched the breakup with pride from backstage and Barbara Weber clapped after Sluss' speech.
The shocking update comes after a cliffhanger ending to the first part of the finale, which aired Monday. During Weber's final week in Australia, the star was jilted when frontrunner Prewett eliminated herself from the dating competition over differences stemming from their faith and approach to sex (Prewett is saving herself for marriage and gave Weber an ultimatum in regards to being intimate with the other women during Fantasy Suites week).
After Prewett's exit, Weber was heartbroken but forged ahead in his relationship with Sluss. Monday's episode ended with Sluss unsure where Weber stood, but the star was seemingly readying to propose to what he called a "perfect woman."
When Tuesday's episode continued with the Australia footage, Harrison dropped a bombshell on Weber: Sluss was now considering walking away from their relationship as well. "I don't want to keep giving and giving and not feeling like he's there. You can only keep it up for so long until you're at your absolute breaking point, and that's where I'm at. I want someone to be sure of me, and it doesn't seem like he's there," she confessed to the camera while Weber, at the proposal site, asked for her father's blessing on FaceTime. "I can't go through with this unless I am sure that I am the only one that he loves."
Ultimately, she decided to stay and when she arrived, Peter proposed — and she said yes.
"I've cherished every single moment that I've been able to spend with you. I know I told you that I was falling for you. I told you that my heart was being torn in two different directions. But now I have to follow my heart," said Weber before telling her that Prewett left two days ago. "My heart chooses you forever."
Weber's proposal to Sluss continued the common Bachelor and Bachelorette trend for the final rose to go to the contestant who received the coveted first impression rose during the first night of the competition.
But, when the show switched back to the After the Final Rose stage, the drama only continued from there as Sluss joined Harrison and Weber for the couple's first reunion since their breakup.
"Either you don't mean what you say or you don't understand the weight of your words and how they impact people. So, which one is it? Because you knew how serious I was about an engagement and you knew that me saying yes to you, I was always going to stand by you. And you told me things that kept me with you," she told him, adding that after their breakup he even reached out to her parents. "You told me these things that I held onto and put a fire beneath me that I could fight for us and I could stand by your side."
Weber told her he wished he could give her back the proposal moment he took from her and that he meant his words. "That last week in Australia was the most confusing and conflicting week of my life. I'm trying to process and grieve another relationship because of this [show]," he said.
"What would have been appropriate is that prior to our engagement, you would have sat down and told me the full extent of where your heart and head was throughout that entire week," Sluss fired back. "Instead, you waited until the very last moment to tell me I was the very last girl left. I was placed on the spot. But you downplayed your feelings about Madison, in the middle of a proposal, to the point where I had no idea what I was saying yes to. That's called being blindsided."
Sluss also revealed that Weber reached out to his ex, Bachelorette star Hannah Brown, for closure after he proposed. "So really, looking back on it, our engagement involved three women: Me, you still being in love with Madison and proposing to me, and you needing closure with Hannah Brown," she said. "Word of advice — if you want to be with a woman, you need to become a real man."
After Sluss exited the stage, Harrison showed Weber footage of the host secretly traveling to Alabama to sit down with Prewett, where she revealed that she felt like she made a mistake by walking away. "That was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I'll be the first to admit that if I was presented with the same situation, I would have done things differently," she said. Harrison then told her that Weber did propose to Sluss in Australia, but that he had since ended the engagement because of his feelings for her. "It breaks my heart; it's good. It's a bunch of things," she replied, saying her feelings haven't gone away.
Prewett then traveled to L.A. to take advantage of her and Weber's "second chance," and caught him by surprise. Weber was expecting Harrison to show up. "I looked like I saw a ghost, it was crazy. I hadn't seen her in three months," he said (bringing the timeline up to February).
Prewett told Weber that she hoped she would get closure, but that she never did. "I still have so much, so much love in my heart for you," Prewett said. He repeatedly said he messed up, "but I haven't, like, just fallen out of love with you."
But back at the live show, Weber revealed that he and Prewett hadn't seen each other since that day. Weber said he was indeed still in love with her and that's when she joined him onstage for his next, seemingly happier, reunion. "I love Peter and that hasn't changed since that day in Australia," said a beaming Prewett. "I think we were both kind of hoping after that day in Australia that we would be able to have closure and move on, but I think that those feelings just never went away."
When Harrison asked them to answer the "million-dollar question" of how this is all going to end, Weber did not have an answer. He said that while they haven't seen each other, they have talked in the weeks since they reunited. "I know how we both feel about each other and I think taking it one step at a time, one day at a time, is possibly the smartest way to go with this," said Weber. "The way I feel for [Prewett], that's never changed and I've never lost that. Whatever that means, whatever this turns into, do we have a million and one obstacles? Yeah. Is it all uphill? Probably."
Moments later, his reticence to clarify their relationship status became clear. When Harrison gave Barbara Weber a chance to weigh in, the Bachelor's mother revealed the behind-the-scenes reasoning for her eye rolls and visible disapproval throughout the night.
"It started on a rocky road because she had us wait three hours — she didn't want to meet us," Barbara Weber said of the family's meeting with Prewett back in Australia, which happened after Prewett first had a sit-down with Weber first about their relationship.
"We had just come across the world and were exhausted," Barbara Weber continued. "When she did come in, we didn't get an apology and when I asked her if she was madly in love with my son, she said no and would not accept a proposal in four days. So how do you expect a mother who loves her son with all of her heart to take that? You didn't see that. As a mother, that wasn't what we were expecting. And therefore when I said I wanted Hannah Ann so badly, we just clicked right away. Unfortunately, we did not have a connection with Madison."
When the show cut to commercial break, Weber could be seen rubbing Prewett's back and presumably asking her if she was OK. Prewett politely smiled throughout the entire segment.
"I came into this journey and I said I was going to be unashamed of who I am and undeniably myself and that is something I've done throughout this entire journey," Prewett said in response to the awkward moment. "I know that I have love and respect for Peter and therefore I have love and respect for Peter's family. I will never say a negative word about anyone or anything."
When she turned to Weber to jump in, he defended his family's passion and said their biggest concern was that Prewett wasn't on the same page that he was. "I can tell you guys that I know how [Madison] feels for me and I know how I feel for her. And I just ask that you guys can give her that chance and trust me. This is someone that I love and that I fell in love with. She's one of the most amazing people I've ever met and I know that if you gave it time, you'd be able to see it," he said, speaking directly to his parents.
Still, Barbara Weber did not back down. "One was willing to compromise and the other has not. To me, you need both to compromise," she said of his finalists. Prewett then jumped in: "This wasn't just Peter looking for his wife. I totally understand as a mother you are going to obviously be thinking about Peter, but also this is my journey, too, and this isn't just Peter choosing me. This is me choosing Peter."
Barbara Weber said "everyone" knows it's not going to work and prompted boos from the audience when she said her son was going to "have to fail to succeed."
"I'm telling you that I love Madison and that should be enough," the star pushed back, creating a tense family scene on live television.
Weber's father, Peter, then took his wife's side, highlighting that there were "so many differences to overcome" with the pair, calling the beginning of their courtship "anything but" bright.
Prewett, however, received even more cheers from the audience when she said the rest should be between her and Weber. (Weber, a 28-year-old Delta pilot, lives with his family in California. Both of his finalists are 23.)
Monday and Tuesday's finale was broadcast from Los Angeles with a live studio audience. Amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, Warner Bros., the studio behind the ABC franchise, implemented precautionary measures and asked attendees to disclose if they had recently traveled to China, South Korea, Italy, Iran or Venezuela.
“In response to the impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are asking all guests to confirm they nor any member of their household have not traveled within the past three weeks to or through a location that has been deemed ‘Level 3’ by the CDC," said Warner Bros. in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "These new and temporary precautionary measures have been put in place out of an abundance of caution and out of concern for the health and safety of our guests and staff."
Tuesday's show also briefly welcomed the new star of The Bachelorette, Clare Crawley, to the live stage. Her season begins filming next week and is set to premiere May 18.
The Bachelorette has also taken precautionary measures amid virus concerns and will stick to domestic travel only during the season, instead of traveling out of the country after the first few weeks, which are set at the Bachelor Mansion in Agoura Hills, California.
"As the health and safety of our talent and employees are always our primary concerns, production travel is being evaluated on a case-by-case basis, factoring in the latest information from a variety of organizations, including the CDC, WHO, U.S. State Department and in-territory local health agencies," a spokesperson for Warner Bros. added to THR of the evolving situation on Tuesday.
At age 38, Crawley is the oldest-ever Bachelorette and was a refreshing announcement after several seasons of younger contestants. She is also the first star of the female-led series to not hail from a previous cycle. After appearing on three past franchise seasons — Juan Pablo Galavis' Bachelor, two stints on Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Winter Games — Crawley hopes the fifth time will be the charm. "As I've developed more self-esteem, more self-worth, even more so I'm deserving of [love]. Everybody is. So, why not?" she said of her turn in the starring role.
Tuesday's Bachelor finale capped a high-rated season that, for the first time in recent memory, enjoyed a finale that remained relatively spoiler-free. Weber had boasted all season long that spoiler bloggers like Reality Steve would not be able to predict his ending and, as this week revealed, the reason was likely because Weber still has to reconcile his feelings for Prewett with his family's disapproval and concerns.
Unlike the Bachelor and Bachelorette stars who have come before him, Weber will not be making the post-finale press rounds, THR can confirm, which means Tuesday's live show is the last time viewers will hear from the star about his sure-to-be divisive choices.