We’ve known Clare Crawley was destined to “blow up The Bachelorette” for months, ever since the first trailer for the series’ sixteenth season debuted in September. In the sneak peek, host Chris Harrison drops those heavy words on Clare as she appears to tear up on her hotel couch. Even then, the contours of that dramatic phrase seemed clear, considering rumors of Tayshia Adams stepping in as the Bachelorette following Clare’s unexpected exit. It felt obvious Clare would choose her winner early (with all signs pointing to now-obvious frontrunner Dale Moss), production would come to terms with the twist, and Chris would approach Clare with the idea of leaving.
With Thursday’s episode, “Week 4,” The Bachelorette fans finally get the full context of the high-drama moment, as Clare exits La Quinta Resort and Tayshia enters. Host Chris Harrison told Refinery29 what was running through his mind when the shocking reality TV moment went down during Bachelorette production this summer.
“You dread those [moments]. But at the same time, you live for them as a producer and as a host,” he admitted to Refinery29 ahead of the season premiere. “This is the great thing: I’ve done this show so long that I have the leeway to have those moments with Clare or with whomever the Bachelorette is. To just speak our truth; to just go with it and lean into it. And not try and hide it — not try and cover it up.”
The Bachelorette certainly doesn’t hide a single moment of the excruciating process of Clare deciding to leave the series. During prior episode “Week 3,” Clare cannot stop indulging her exponentially growing feelings for Dale. After her devastating confrontation with early season 16 villain Yosef Aborady, Clare jumps into Dale’s arms for comfort. Cameras zoom in on her confident hand placement on his broad back as she weeps. “Literally all I’ve ever wanted is a man like Dale,” she cries in a confession. Later in the episode, Clare spends her eventually disastrous date with Zach Jackson wishing he were Dale. In Clare’s final appearance in the episode, she refers to Dale as her “fiancé.”
“Week 4” serves as the conclusion of Clare’s unmistakable desire to leave The Bachelorette with Dale. The episode opens with Clare’s men still reeling from the previous night’s date, which closed out “Week 3.” During the earlier date, Clare refused to give any man a rose, which left them confused about what she wanted. Kenny Braasch, Demar Jackson, and Jordan Chapman are all infuriated.
Chris, recognizing the deteriorating attitudes of the cast, goes to Clare’s suite for a “serious, honest, just him-and-her” talk, explaining the current path of production “can’t continue.” Clare admits that although she respects the process of The Bachelorette and recognizes some “amazing guys” on the show, she is “totally head over heels for Dale.” Although Clare swears on her late father’s grave that she never spoke to Dale before filming began, she admits her social media research into him fueled her intense romantic interest. This is especially true because Dale was grieving the anniversary of his mother’s death as she was dealing with her own mother’s debilitating health issues.
“It was definitely built up before we got here,” she continues, saying Dale even reminds her of her beloved dad. “[He is] everything I want out of a relationship. Everything I want out of life.”
When Chris asks Clare what her dream outcome is, she finally suggests she wants to stop the Bachelorette ride and start a solo relationship with Dale. “I would so just love to spend as much time as I can with him,” she says. “I want to be able to let him how I feel. And see if it’s something he feels as well.”
Despite the shock of the twist, Chris looks overjoyed that Clare thinks she has found “her match,” and he officially tells her she “blew up” The Bachelorette.
“It’s like, ‘Hey, if you’ve blown up the show, you’ve blown up the show. Here we go! Let’s see where we go from here!’” Chris Harrison explained to Refinery29. “That’s the exciting thing about this show now. We lean into it. And you get to see it as a fan of the show, warts and all.”