7:00pm PT by Jackie Strause
'The Bachelorette' Hints at Major Shake-Up After Intense Episode for Clare Crawley
[This episode contains spoilers for ABC's The Bachelorette.]
In the final moments of Tuesday night's The Bachelorette, the ABC reality series gave a big wink to Bachelor Nation.
At the end of a trailer for the following week's episode — which will air on Thursday night instead of Tuesday, due to election night — Tayshia Adams makes her appearance. In the teaser (watch below), the former contestant, clad in a bikini, dramatically exits a pool and smiles at the camera.
Viewers who avoid franchise spoiler news might be confused by the teaser, as Adams has been at the center of widely circulated reports that suggest the former star, who hails from Colton Underwood's 2019 season of The Bachelor (and the subsequent Bachelor in Paradise cycle), steps in to lead this season of The Bachelorette after the current star, Clare Crawley, exits early after finding love.
ABC has leaned into the theory in season marketing and weekly teasers. Before Adams' pool moment, the footage again shows host Chris Harrison telling Crawley that she has "blown up The Bachelorette" and telling the men that "we have never dealt with anything like this in the history of our show," as the frustrated contestants are seen packing their bags. In addition, the editing of Crawley's journey has made no secret that she has fallen for one of her contestants, frontrunner Dale Moss. Most of Tuesday's episode focused on the pair's relationship, much to the dismay of the other contestants. "This might be a short season!" she says at one point. In another, rare behind-the-scenes conversation with a producer, Crawley refers to Moss as her fiancé.
For her part, Crawley had this to say at the start of the season to The Hollywood Reporter when asked about reports of her early exit: "I can promise you I did not leave early. I stayed for my entire journey and the entire process for what worked for me. Whether or not there are spoilers out there, I think people will be pleasantly surprised to see what they don’t know." Harrison, meanwhile, told THR of the reports, "Some of it’s true; some of it’s not true."
ABC has yet to officially respond to the reports. As a new press release makes clear, the network is staying mum because all will be revealed in the next episode: "Clare shows up to tell Dale how she feels, but will he do the same? Chris then delivers more astonishing news to the remaining men — if they are willing to take a second chance at love, there’s a surprise waiting for them," reads the synopsis, in part.
For her part, after the episode aired, Adams cheekily captioned a photo of herself on Instagram, "You rang...?!"
If Adams indeed steps into The Bachelorette's starring shoes, she would become the second-ever Black lead on the female franchise, following star Rachel Lindsay in 2017. Her season also leads into a historic cycle when Matt James becomes the first Black Bachelor for the 2021 season. Both seasons are the result of filming in a bubble due to COVID-19 era safety protocols (The Bachelorette filmed in Palm Springs, while production on The Bachelor is underway in Pennsylvania.)
Tuesday's trailer nod for the show's viewers, who are collectively known as Bachelor Nation, came after another intense week for the star. Earlier in the episode, Crawley sends home contestant Zach Jackson after she says she is triggered by his behavior during their one-on-one date. Crawley had revealed during the premiere episode that she is a domestic abuse survivor. "That woman compared to the woman I am today is a complete 180," she explained to Harrison about her ex, who motivated her to sign up for The Bachelor in the first place back in 2014.
During Tuesday's one-on-one date, Crawley goes to kiss Jackson, but stops when she interprets him as pulling away. Jackson insists he was not pulling away and, multiple times, grabs her face and attempts to kiss her again to no avail. Crawley is seen visibly uncomfortable and pulling away. "Zack just made me feel extremely uncomfortable. The second I just try to walk away, he grabs me. That kind of triggers me and kind of scared me. I didn't want to be near him in that moment. If I want to walk away because I'm uncomfortable, let me walk away," says Crawley to the camera. "I might be a little extra sensitive about it because I have done all the work these last few years on healing my traumas. But I don't want to figure it out, I don't want to ask. I don't even want to talk about it. This is not something that needs to be discussed."
Harrison later steps in to tell Jackson that Crawley won't be attending the rest of the date, and he sends him home. Since the episode has aired, Johnson has taken to his Instagram Stories to share posts with the message #JusticeForZach. (THR has reached out to ABC for comment.)
The episode also opened with Crawley arguing and sending home another contestant, who accused her of being "classless," among other things, for hosting a game of strip dodgeball in the episode prior. The group date, which saw the losing team walk home completely naked, was the subject of viewer criticism over the "double standard" of Crawley laying out the game rules. "If this was a Bachelor season, no way this happens, no way they get away with it, no way it's appropriate, no way this just becomes a weekly topic," said former Bachelor star Ben Higgins on his Almost Famous podcast. "They push the envelope every season, but this felt like a lot." Crawley responded to the criticism by sharing a photo on Twitter of contestants from her Bachelor season posing nearly naked for a group challenge.
Watch the trailer for the Nov. 5 episode, below.
Oct. 28, 10 a.m. Updated with Jackson's posts; new press release information from ABC.