The agony of a bad breakup is twofold—the moment it happens, and the inevitable first run-in afterwards. This awkward meeting between Bachelorette Katie Thurston and her ex, Greg Grippo was the centerpiece of Monday’s Season 17 finale. Despite his frontrunner status, Grippo shockingly self-eliminated during last week’s episode, leaving viewers eager to see the fallout from his tearful exit.
Grippo’s departure stemmed from his dissatisfaction with the way Thurston responded when he declared his love for her. Even though she pleaded with him to remain on the show, Grippo left with some biting parting words: “I deserve more than what I’ve been given on your side.” And while she seemed remorseful at the time, Thurston shared a post about gaslighting on her Instagram Story after the episode aired.
Prior to their sitdown on the After the Final Rose reunion, Thurston told co-hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, “It’s disappointing to see the way I was spoken to, when I’m trying to understand and communicate and save our relationship.” She added, “To watch him talk down to me and twice walk away from me—that’s not a man.” Grippo, though, seemed intent on striking a more cordial tone. “I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, everything makes you stronger and she found her person,” he told the hosts, referencing Thurston’s engagement to fellow contestant Blake Moynes.
Despite Grippo’s well wishes and Thurston’s onscreen happy ending, the onscreen confrontation between them was decidedly heated. When the Bachelorette came onstage, she walked right past Grippo and launched into her remarks. “I am very happy, but that doesn’t take away the anger that I had watching this back and seeing the way you treated me, using me to get the experience and the exposure. Dare I say, the acting practice, at my expense,” Thurston said, referencing Grippo’s training at the William Esper Studio—a New York City school for the performing arts—in 2019.
Thurston continued: “It was pretty good, until the end when you kind of fucked it up and ran away. You can be an actor and want to be on the show, that’s not the problem. The problem is if you’re acting with me. What I’ve been hearing is that Greg’s not this ‘shy guy’ act that he was doing on the show. He’s actually this very confident, cocky boy from Jersey who knows that he’s hot shit. And, like, this is an act. So paired with those rumors and acting school, I really don’t know if I actually know who Greg is. You’re a liar. You did not love me.”
Grippo gamely responded, “As much as I wish I was, I’m no Meryl Streep,” to which Thurston responded, “Oh, we know. We know.” The once-aspiring actor apologized “if you feel like I was talking down to you.” Thurston, though, maintained that “gaslighting, I think, is probably a better word.”
For the next several minutes, Bachelorette fans were treated to a back-and-forth about just how much validation Grippo deserved while participating in a show with a built-in power imbalance. “A relationship is a two-way street. And, yes, I know you’re the Bachelorette, but still that doesn’t put you any higher on this relationship or me any lower,” Grippo explained. “I emptied it all out to you on that couch and all I got was a pat on the back.”
Thurston countered with the fact that Grippo received more positive reinforcement than any other contestant, from the season’s first impression rose to the first one-on-one date. “And in the moment, I’m not realizing this. But I’m watching it back, I am giving you validation every single week,” she said. “And for that Hometown [date] to go as perfectly as it did until the very end, and for you to do a 180, I feel like you were looking for the perfect opportunity to escape, because you were never ready for an engagement.”
One thing these two star-crossed reality show exes could agree on: they just weren’t meant to be. “My person was not Greg,” Thurston declared. “And when he left, so did everything I felt for him.” The pair eventually bid farewell by wishing each other a terse “nothing but the best.” Earlier in the otherwise formulaic finale, Thurston had eliminated runner-up Justin Glaze and accepted a proposal from repeat Bachelorette contestant Moynes. They celebrated their newfound love by dancing at the reunion while surrounded by Say Anything-style boomboxes.