The Bachelor may have aired an episode on Valentine’s Day last night, but the latest installment of this ABC franchise didn’t open with an example of true love.
Instead, it opened with Clayton Echard pulling aside the one suitor who everyone pretty much hates.
Yes, we’re lookiing at you, Shanae Ankney.
"When we’re together, we have a very good connection, we do," Clayon told one of the show all-time villains.
"But obviously there’s been some tension.
"I know last we talked, you apologized to the group and I want to thank you for that, but I just want to know again since that point how things are going."
(NOTE: Shanae did apologize to the group on the previous episode, but then confessed to the camera that she was totally acting and lying.)
In this latest instance, Shanae cried to Clayton about being single for the last five years and never having been in love.
"It’s sad," she told Clayton, prior to eventually telling viewers that her tears were fake.
As it turns out, Echard perhaps finally realized this, choosing to give a rose to Genevieve and not Shanae.
"I’m 100 percent shocked, 100 percent like, what the f–k just happened?" Shanae said in an on-camera interview. "He chose an actress over me. Weird. Like f–k that guy. I’m pissed. Literally blindsided."
Back at the mansion, the women raised glasses of champagne to Shanae’s departure, with Marlena dropping the line of the night:
Cheers to finally curing the herpes outbreak.
At the subsequent rose ceremony, Clayton chose to keep Sarah, Serene, Susie, Teddi and Eliza around, meaning Marlena and Hunter were forced to their bags.
Clayton and his remaining suitors then headed to Croatia, where the Missouri native kicked off his time in Europe by taking Teddi on a date — and learning something very personal about her.
"So, I am a virign," the surgical unit nurse revealed.
"My mom had a baby at a young age, she was in high school, and like, I feel like growing up there was a lot of pressure placed on me just ’cause she wanted to make sure I didn’t make the same mistake."
However, Teddi explained she didn’t necessarily plan to wait until she got married to have intercourse.
"As I got older I realized that I kind of need to make decisions for myself," she told Clayton.
"And I am a sexual person and I enjoy that aspect of myself. I don’t like that I like felt like I had this pressure to wait.
"And I think that’s kind of where I came to the realization that I don’t need to wait until marriage, but I am going to wait until the first time that I am in love."
Echard appreciated Teddi’s candor and gave her a rose.
"I have never been in love but this does feel different and I could see myself falling in love with him," Teddi said in an on-camera interview. "I haven’t felt this way ever."
On this week’s group date, Mara ended up with Serene, Rachel, Susie, Gabby, Eliza and Genevieve, meaning Sarah received her second one-on-one of the season.
"He’s literally going for the youngest girl in the house who I couldn’t imagine is actually ready to get engaged," Mara said in a confessional.
At the afterparty — following some games and challenges with a pair of armored Croatian knights — Sarah told Clayton how she felt about him.
"I am falling for you so hard," she said. "And I’m terrified because I don’t know what’s going to happen."
On the flip side Mara expressed her discontent with the process to Clayton.
"I’ve been vulnerable, I’ve been sweet, cute, flirty.
"I’ve done literally everything that you say that you’re looking for but to get the last rose on the last rose ceremony and to not get a one-on-one, it’s hard to like still be giving that much because it is discouraging," she said.
"I’m just a little surprised, you’ve been adamant about saying that you’re looking for a wife, looking for children and long term. That’s the plan, right? But the roses that are given out, the one-on-ones that are given out don’t reflect that.
"And to see that somebody is getting a second one-on-one where I have yet to get my one…"
Clayton thanked Mara for her honesty ("I will do my due diligence and I will be paying attention more as we move farther in this process, so thank you.") and then gave Rachel the date rose.
When Clayton got home, he received a knock on the door and an unsigned letter asking him to meet the author at the clock tower.
"These last few weeks, seeing you form these connections, like I’m happy and I’m happy for you and everybody, but at the same time I think it made me put up walls that I didn’t really know I was putting up," Susie told him.
"Because I think for the first time, I feel like it’s really possible that I may get hurt in this.
"But before coming here tonight I promised myself to like be more vulnerable with you and so — oh my God, I’m so nervous — um, okay, even though I know there’s like so much more to go and there’s so much more to figure out I do feel as though I’m falling in love with you."
To the cameras, Clayton reached in glee to this speech:
"This might be the happiest I’ve been since I’ve been on this journey. This is exactly what I’m here for is to find love. I could see myself falling in love with Susie."
On his one-on-one date with Sarah, Echard brought up concerns about whether or not she’s prepared to settle down.
"I absolutely see myself being able to be engaged at the end of this if that’s what I want," Sarah said in her own defense.
"That is why I’m here, that is 100 percent why I’m here and I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t ready for that and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t see that with you."
After considering her response, Clayton returned and handed her a flower.
"We established trust early and I had fears that giving you the second one-on-one was going to put a target on your back and I think it may have done that," Clayton said to Sarah.
"I don’t question your sincerity. This is a strong connection, and I can tell you’re pouring in everything that you have into this.
"And that you’re here for me and that you want what I’m after."