Do you remember that episode of Sex and the City where Samantha dates that guy who owns a salsa club and he spends their entire date talking about how they’re going to take a vacation in the Hamptons together? We’ll get to Victoria’s bra straps hanging out and MJ’s Business Bitch dress in a second, because we could spend conservatively 48 minutes talking about that latte-colored dress and when MJ said “Big hair, big hoops, big energy” like she’s a tote bag sold by an Etsy shop called “Witch Please!” Anyway, Samantha was with this guy and on their first date, everything was, “We can do this and we can do that,” and in a rare moment of vulnerability, Samantha Jones herself caught feelings for a one-episode Sex and the City day-player boyfriend. That li’l dude was a We Guy. Matt James … is a We Guy.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, this season feels so frustrating because he’s basically repeating the same type of lovey-dovey “I can see a future with you” babble with every single woman he sits down with. There’s still a lot of people left and he’s talking about “seeing a life together” and saying he’s falling in love. THAT’S FUCKBOI BEHAVIOR. What else is fuckboi behavior? Running off in the middle of a group date to bomb someone’s in-the-moment interview and make out? Yup, that too. Telling a woman that her insecurity is either really hot or doesn’t exist because she seems so confident with you? Uh-huh. Wondering what your life is going to be like with a 21-year-old when you’re 28 and have never been in love? Fuckboi behavior. Combined with any and all of Matt’s offscreen behaviors and rumors, how invested can we be in this turtlenecked man and the 22-year-olds he hopes to marry? Can someone, anyone, approach this thing with a modicum of seriousness and integrity?
The answer is no. Let’s get to it.
ABC attempts to start the episode off with what amounts to flash-forward. I spent the entire first ten minutes convinced that this was some spiritual sequel to Inception. Instead of Leo washing up on a beach, it was Victoria crying behind a pillar and next to a fat bird.
Okay, now we’re in the Alpha timeline again and Victoria and Kit are taking a stroll around the grounds of Nemacolin before the rose ceremony, I guess? Hang on, we’re just letting the ladytestants out now? They can just go on a charming little stroll in narratively convenient pairs about the town (pronounced “ton”)? Victoria and Kit are still on some anti-newbies bullshit and they pass two new girls promenading. The ladytestants are getting ready for the cocktail party while the reasonable women are freaking out about the rumor Anna started, and Anna is just upset she hasn’t gotten more time with Matt. Cool priorities, there.
Matt comes into the cocktail party and does his best impression of a math teacher who just found a burn book. This classroom is a safe space for geometry-based mini-golf puzzles! Not tearing each other down, ladies! Matt says if you have to belittle someone else in order to shine, you don’t have the Qualities that he wants. He takes Brittany aside first, and all Victoria gets out of Matt’s monologue is “Someone snitched.” Anna is also starting her completely conceptual redemption arc where she reframes everything she did as an out-of-character mistake that she totally didn’t do at least four times in college and three times since then.
Brittany tells Matt that Anna told everyone she was an escort. She’s really upset for completely obvious reasons and even says that her mom watches The Bachelor. Matt says he wants her to be able to bring her burdens to him and that he can see a future with her. You just met her, dude … but sure. He decides to head out and avenge Brittany’s reputation. He grabs Anna and she can’t believe she made a stupid mistake and she’s given up so much of her life to meet Matt and she is sooooo mad at herself for getting caught. She launches into a whole defense that she’s such a horrible person and, ugh, isn’t she the worst! She unleashes the tears. She can’t believe it’s the consequences for her actions! Matt says he doesn’t think she’s a horrible person, because of course he doesn’t, but he says he can’t see Anna as part of this journey anymore. Everyone rushes to the big porthole windows to watch Anna get walked off the grounds.
Here’s the problem with all of this — The Bachelor wants to have it both ways. They want to capitalize on all the drama and use clips of Anna calling someone an escort in their ads. But they want Matt to appear noble and principled for escorting Anna out. You don’t get credit for removing the people who spread rumors when you’re actively promoting those rumors. You didn’t have to air Anna calling Brittany an escort, but now the damage is done.
Suddenly everyone realizes that being a total bitch on a nationally televised dating program is a bad look, so they corner all the new women and aggressively apologize to them. Victoria says what she did was all in silliness. Calling other women psycho serial-killer sluts is so silly!
Matt sits down with Ryan and she says that Victoria called her a ho because she was a dancer. What kind of Degrassi Junior High nonsense? Well, Matt is pissed so he finds Victoria and tells her and her exposed bra straps that Katie brought up the toxicity in the house. He asks if she called Ryan a ho and Victoria says “It was taken out of context.” When I said “she a ho” what I meant was “She a ho…norable friend.”
The cocktail party is over and Victoria is seeing the writing on the wall, so instead of calmly filing into the rose ceremony room, she stalks around crying. She winds up outside and we’ve joined the Omega timeline. She starts ranting that everyone is a stupid moron and if Matt sends her home, she’ll literally die. She’s the only one who can be a wife!!
Brittany, Ryan, Rachael, Serena P, Magi, Kit, MJ, Jessenia, Katie, Abigail, Chelsea, and Serena C all get roses. Victoria’s reign is finally over. She hides behind the other ladytestants and decides to take her turn to hug Matt and say good-bye last. She does it in prime Victoria fashion, saying, and I quote, “I honestly feel so sorry for you and that you would listen to hearsay and not all of the facts of the situation, so good-bye.” There are three toasts to celebrate Victoria being gone.
It’s a rainy week and everyone is feeling a little dreary after learning that what they say might actually impact others. But Rachael gets the first date card! When did these two fall in love? Follow-up question, what do they have in common and has Matt seen the TikToks about Rachael? They have a shopping spree at the hotel gift shop with a celebrity stylist. Matt gives Rachael a pair of red bottoms and puts them on her feet for her. I hope that wasn’t a sexual choice and more of a courtesy choice. Matt also wears a blazer with a white obi belt and now we know he can’t pull off high-fashion looks. Rachael heads back to the ladies’ residence with a ton of bags and receives a giant blue box with a blue ballgown in it for the evening portion of the date and to destroy everyone else’s emotional defenses.
The next date card arrives. Serena P, Bri, Katie, Pieper, Serena C, Ryan, Michelle, Brittany. Magi, Abigail, Chelsea, Jessenia, and MJ are about to get dirty. So that means Kit is getting the one-on-one date. The fact that Kit has a one-on-one but not Abigail is a crime!
At dinner, Matt and Rachael reveal that they’ve never been in love. Rachael says she’s never felt deserving of love and she’s paralyzed by self-doubt. This is where Matt says he loves that about her, which is A PROBLEM. There are other ways to respond to women telling you about themselves than by just repeating what they say with the word “love” in front of it. “I suffer from social anxiety.” “And I love that about you.”
Matt also says that she has a quiet confidence and she’s so self-assured, which seems completely at odds with how she’s describing herself. She says that she’s already starting to fall in love with him and he says it back. OH NO. Not one of these again. Please dear God, someone tell him he’s not supposed to do that yet. She wants to start her life with him and he can see that happening too. He’s about to tell at least four more people the same thing. She gets the rose.
It’s time for the group date. They head out to the farm portion of the hotel. Matt claims that he’s a country boy because he’s from Raleigh. You know, the country part of North Carolina’s research triangle. I texted a friend to double check that people from Raleigh aren’t from “the country” and she sent so many laughing emojis that Verizon charged me an extra ten cents per text message. The actual farm portion of the date isn’t exciting except for when Matt sneaks off to make out with Pieper.
The evening portion of the date is when things get interesting. MJ completely spirals and one strand of her hair stands taller the more unhinged she gets. Matt takes Chelsea aside first and makes her feel special and says they have a deep connection. Abigail tells him that she needs to tell him something vulnerable. She talks about how if she has children, it’s likely that her children will be born deaf. She also says that her father left when her and her sister got their cochlear implants. Matt says, “I can’t imagine,” and makes her feel special and tells her they have a deep connection. He also makes Michelle feel special and tells her they have a deep connection. He sits down with MJ and makes her feel like an antagonist and tells her she has a special connection with being a total monster.
MJ decides that the other women are threatened by her and she needs an apology from whoever ratted her out. MJ preaches LOVE and FUCKING HARMONY, OKAY? And if any of you bitches can’t get that or follow her example, that’s your fucking problem. Jessenia tells MJ that she told Matt MJ created the JV versus Varsity taunt. MJ says it’s a joke! She leads by example! MJ is being attacked and is owed an apology. Ah yes, another fight between a white lady and a woman of color who is rightfully trying to call her out. Abigail gets the group date rose!
Back at the resort, Kit gets the last date card of the week and she’s heading to Matt’s house to cook dinner together. She gets there and Matt says he actually loves to order dessert first so they make cookies together. Kit talks about how her mother is a very successful fashion designer, so her life was full of golden Bentleys and red carpets. This is extremely relatable content. Kit also says it’s hard for her to let her walls down because of how rich and successful her mom is and how cool her life is. Matt says, “What would our life after this look like,” Kit says, “Tonight” and Matt says “No, I mean after this process. What would it look like?” Kit has to be like, “No, I know. It would look like tonight.” I’m surprised Matt hasn’t gotten lost in one of his turtlenecks yet. Matt makes Kit feel special and they have a deep connection. She gets the rose.
Instead of diving right into the cocktail party, Matt asks Jessenia and MJ to meet him at the cocktail party early to get to the bottom of this. Oh great, an actual showdown between a white lady who is talking over a woman of color and accusing her of attacking her and a woman of color who appears to be, let me check my notes real quick, telling the truth and sitting calmly. MJ preached harmony! There were a multitude of diverse voices, singing in union, all picking on the newcomers! That’s leading by example!
To be continued …
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