Following last Monday’s dramatic episode of The Bachelor, Clayton Echard kicked off the latest installment of this franchise by trying to find some peace and quiet.
Far away from Shanae.
And up close to Serene.
The handsome 28-year old opened things this week by going on a solo date in Houston, playing fair games on the pier with Serena and riding a rollercoaster, the teacups and the swings.
Clayton also served Serene some ice cream.
After the pair got back to The Astorian hotel, Serene opened up about the recent loss of her cousin to drug use.
"It was pretty recent, so I still think about it," she said. "I’ve accepted it for what it is. Like the loss of it all is really hard. We have really good memories."
Clayton proceeded to offer Serene a rose.
"I was absolutely blown away by everything that you did today from the fun times that we had to you opening up and allowing me to get to know more about you," he said, later telling her:
"I could not be happier what I’m seeing out of you and where this could go."
It was then time for the cocktail party and rose ceremony — but not before Clayton gathered some women together to ask them about Shanae.
Sierra recounted all this villain did last week, which included screaming at her and Genevieve to "keep my name out of your f—ing mouth!" and then throwing their trophy in the pond.
From there, Echard confronted Shanae about her actions, prompting her to apologize to all the other women.
"I’m really sorry," she told them.
"It wasn’t my intention to hurt any of you guys and I know I took a lot of time away from you guys with Clayton.
"And I know this has been going on way too far but I know I’ve said something things I didn’t mean but I am really sorry and I hope we can get past this."
The mea culpa went over well enough with the suitors that Shanae celebrated by kissing Clayton… but then she said in a confessional:
"That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life, apologize to people that I wasn’t sorry for. I need an Oscar for that performance. Fake it ’til you make it."
The act fooled Clayton, and he gave Shanae a rose at the rose ceremony. He also extended roses to Sarah, Marlena, Genevieve, Mara, Gabby, Susie, Eliza and Hunter.
Jill, Lyndsey and Sierra were sent packing.
Following this performance, it was off to Toronto.
During one-on-one time with Clayton, Gabby grew serious about her vulnerability, which related to an up-and-down relationship with her mother.
"If my mom could stop loving me, why can’t anyone else?" Gabby wondered, adding that she didn’t currently have much of a relationship with this parent.
"It means a lot that you’re able to open up to me," Clayton replied. "Like you are very deserving of love. I hope you know that."
The evening ended with a rose getting handed out and with Gabby admitting she was "falling" for The Bachelor.
On the subsequent group date, Rachel, Sarah, Serene, Marlena, Susie, Hunter, Eliza, Teddi and Mara were asked to roast one another.
Some jokes got a bit personal, but most were relatively harmless. Unlike Clayton’s feelings for Rachel.
They appear to be pretty darn legit.
"I really don’t stop thinking about you," Clayton told this aspiring spouse.
To the cameras, he added:
"She’s almost on my mind at most times of the day. She is truly a wonderful woman and I really feel like our entire journey together has been damn near perfect."
In the end, Rachel received the group date.
In the VERY end, though?
Viewers were teased about next week’s Genevieve and Shanae’s two-on-one date, with Shanae Ankney making it clear where she stood.
"This the last time I’m taking the trash out," Shanae said in an on-camera interview.