Ladies and gentlemen, hurry, hurry! Step right up, folks! To see the greatest, most amazing, biggest and most fuckboy-ish sights and sounds! Be prepared to witness the whimsical, the romantic, and the utterly baffling. Set your eyes on our wonders! See The Woman Who Falls from the Sky! See The Woman Who Drives a Jeep! See The Woman Who is a Teacher, I Guess? But the scariest, freakiest, most outrageous attraction of all is The Man Who Has Never Been Dumped!
Gaze in awe at a grown man who has absolutely no idea what to do when someone says they don’t want to go out with him anymore! Behold a 28-year-old dude who has just never had to deal with this before! Lay your eyes on a tall boy who has to process with his feelings of rejection on national television for the first time! How is this possible? How did he get this far without knowing how to react to a woman breaking up with him? Did he imagine the whole relationship in his head? Maybe he did! That’s a big ol’ yikes for someone who is about to get engaged! So step right up and see The Man Who Has Never Been Dumped!
Let’s get to it.
I’m about to damn this episode, so let me first give the faintest of praise: It began with a shot of the beautiful scenery of the Nemacolin Resort, and it ended with a rose ceremony. Finally, the natural order of The Bachelor episodes has returned. We have returned the Eon Gem to its rightful place in the Temporal Throne, and have righted the timeline. Praise be to the Eon Gem and the powers that it wields. It would have been cool to see Matt James entering the Elemental Realm to place the gem in its proper spot, but you gotta edit something out!
Okay, let’s get to the damning.
Can anyone name more than one fact about any of these women? Michelle is a teacher, Serena P. is Canadian, Bri gave up her job, and Rachael was born in 1845 on her family’s plantation, Tara. Name one more thing about any of these women. Just listing outfits that they’ve worn doesn’t count as a “fact.” In this episode, multiple women talk about devastating break-ups that bring them to tears and are the reason for them to either doubt their relationship with Matt or serve as a reminder about what they’re looking for. What relationships are these? I certainly don’t remember hearing any specifics about anyone’s past relationships.
I don’t know if Matt knows exactly what questions to ask to find what he needs in a relationship, and if he does, the show isn’t showing us that. He’s more interested in having each woman tell him that they gave up something in their life for him than asking about the possible hurdles or negatives that could stand in the way. Serena P. has been feeling weird since her tantric yoga session, but Matt decided that he liked her too much to ask her any follow-up questions. It’s hard to imagine anyone is ready to get married when they can’t even manage to say “Tell me more about that.” Instead, Matt sits down with each family and tells them that their daughters are human women with whom he’s had fun.
So where do we begin? Matt is working out at the Apartments at Fat Bird when he’s visited by a formless, shapeless ghost, undetectable to the human eye, who leads him through the week. The unknowable ghost then goes to visit the ladytestants, who now have a lot of room on that big sectional, and lets them know exactly who is going to be visiting them. Serena’s mom, dad, and sister will be visiting. Rachael’s mom, dad, and her sister, Trinity, will be stopping by. Michelle’s parents will be there for her hometown date, and Bri’s best friend, Bri, her mom, and her baby sister. The fact that an infant will be meeting Matt James is a delightful prospect, and I’m ready to meet this baby. All the women are crying. Let’s fucking do this.
The first date of the week goes to Michelle! They’re wearing the same baby-blue color, and people who can pull off pastels should be feared. Michelle wants to take him on a special day of Minnesota fun and they bike ride to a lecture hall that exists at this hotel to see HER STUDENTS ON ZOOM. Oh man, this got me. This is cute as hell and the most emotion I’ve felt all season. Michelle introduces Mr. James to her students, and the kids immediately launch into deeper and more probing questions than Matt has asked all season, including, “What have you learned from Miss Young? How will you inspire her everyday like she inspires us? Are you going to marry her?” I was waiting for a kid to ask, “After participating in a show that is racist and exerts undue pressure and stress on contestants and leads of color, has this radicalized you, and if not, why?” Matt tells the kids that he’ll call them if he’s going to propose to Ms. Young and, honestly, I would prefer the “Did you ask my father for his blessing?” segment to be replaced with the lead having to face a tribunal of the children in the women’s lives.
It’s time to sit down with Michelle’s parents, who are the most Minnesota-looking people I have ever seen. They say that Michelle looks really happy, and her dad asks her what she sees in Matt, and we’re all fucking waiting for the answer on that one, too. She says that his charity where he has kids grow their own food in hydroponic gardens is an example of him walking the walk. Y’know what? Okay. That is a clear example of a thing he actually does and why she likes it. Matt, please pick Michelle. She’s the only one that seems to moderately know you. She has had a difficult relationship that we know nothing about other than that her parents had to pick her back up afterwards.
Meanwhile, Matt tells her father that Michelle has strong convictions, the things that are important to her are important to her, and those match his values. He also claims that he’s willing to move to Minnesota, and that’s rich. At the end of the night, they play a little basketball like all families do while meeting their daughter’s new boyfriend and wearing dress shoes. Michelle is able to tell Matt she’s falling in love with him.
It’s time for Rachael’s hometown date! She has decided that the best way to show Matt that she loves and trusts him is to ask him to jump out of a plane. This is what you get when you date a white person, and if Matt wants to be a thrill-seeker, can’t he just walk around her actual hometown after sundown? The editors keep including clips of Rachael saying, “What could go wrong?” and, “If I die, at least I died with you, Matt.”
When they finally get up in the airplane, Rachael jumps first and manages to land incredibly hard and bust herself up, and I had the same thought I did when I hate-watched the first five minutes of There’s No I in Threesome: “Boy, this sure feels like a metaphor.” Matt pulls Rachael up to a sitting position after she just crashed her whole entire face into the grass, which doesn’t feel like a medically sound move. Seeing Rachael get her shit rocked makes Matt realize just how much he cares for her, and they cradle each other in the grass while a medic makes sure she doesn’t have a concussion or whiplash. Rachael says that seeing him care so much that she wasn’t dead is what a marriage is all about and that she can’t imagine life without Matt.
It’s time to meet Rachael’s parents, who look exactly like you would expect them to. No one’s parents or family is a surprise on this episode. Everyone was born out of their parents’ skulls like Athena. Rachael tells her mom that she hasn’t seen any red flags with Matt, and her mom says, “Well, everyone has a bad day.” True, but you’re less likely to see him on a bad day when you only see him every three days and, in between, he’s making out with other hot 23-year-olds.
Rachael’s dad’s line of questioning is a figurative shotgun above the fireplace, and Matt tells her father that he’s falling in love with Rachael. Rachael sits down with her dad, and he basically says, “What is he telling these other women? He could be telling them the exact same thing,” and Rachael says, “Maybe I’m a little naïve, but I’m different.” Ah, to be that young again, to say that and really mean it. But Rachael leaves the day feeling a little insecure because Matt didn’t ask for her father’s blessing, but he promises to call him up and do it if that’s going to happen. I’m a little surprised Matt doesn’t try to ask each woman’s father for their blessing or permission to propose, since he’s been sold to the audience as a bit of a traditional guy. Or is it just more likely that Matt hasn’t really processed what an engagement really means and he’s just trying to get through these dates with as little turmoil as possible so he can get to the fantasy suite?
It’s time for Bri’s date, and she takes him off-roading to pay him back for that time they were on an ATV and he flipped it over. The universe is telling these women that romance with Matt means being thrown onto the ground at a high speed. Please, someone listen. They head to meet Bri’s mom and her best friend Bri and a BABY!!!! Bri tries to stop her baby sister from crying, and Matt looks fucking terrified but ultimately lets the baby hold his finger.
Bri’s mom asks Matt the hard questions like, “How do you feel about my daughter?” and Matt says they both have single parents, so he can see it working. Her mom is also not impressed with the Bachelor parlance of “I’m falling for your daughter” and tells him that Bri is a realist. When her mom sits down with Bri, Bri says she’s scared of her feelings for Matt because she could end up with a broken heart. She also says if that happens, they’ll mend a broken heart together. Bri tells Matt she’s falling in love with him but she knows her head and her heart still need to align.
Finally, it’s time for Serena P.’s date, and she has prepared him a completely non-romantic, non-sexual Canada quiz day! Time to learn all the amazing things about Canada, like what a hat is called (Matt thinks it’s called a toboggan)! At one point, Matt just says “Geography!” when presented with a map. They also eat poutine that looks like it was prepared by someone who saw a drawing of poutine and made their best guess. Matt is all in on Serena P. and she’s just watching him eat cold poutine. If he dies today, at least he’ll die with Serena P.
Serena P.’s family is immediately like, “Oh. Oh, no. Honey, no.” Her sister says “Umm … he’s a cool guy and everything, but do you love him?” and Serena P. immediately crumbles. Serena realizes she doesn’t want to end up in a situation where Matt is proposing and she’s realizing she fucked up. She sits down with her parents and tells each of them she might be making a huge mistake. She was completely sure when she had no contact with the outside world, but now that she’s looking at other people, she’s not so ready. Again, she was in some nebulous last relationship that is giving her doubts of whether she can move forward. Sure would have loved to hear about that in great detail! She tells Matt at the end of their date that she has a lot to think about and it’s her stuff to sort through. Matt does everything he can to basically tell her, “I want to give you a rose. Just hold it together for like 12 more hours and then we can bang, please.”
The next day, a man with no face asks Matt how the hometown dates went, and Matt says he had three great visits but he’s still confused about his interaction with Serena P. The man with no face tells him to find answers. So Matt heads off to Serena’s room while the other women are getting ready for the rose ceremony and he says he wants to help her work through her doubts. He’s given her the most time and the most reassurance so, like, what gives? Serena P. lays it out as simply as she can and tells him that she doesn’t think he’s her person. And now it’s time to watch Matt’s face struggle to hide the feelings of shock, indignation, and utter confusion. The most profound thing he can say is, “This stinks.” Imagine if you were in the middle of a break-up and the other person said “This stinks” and neither of you were in the eighth grade.
Matt tries to scramble to say “Yeah yeah, I felt something was off with you. I felt that too.” You didn’t feel shit, dummy. You had no idea this was coming because you’ve clearly never had someone break up with you before. You’re tall and wear turtlenecks, this isn’t supposed to happen to you! So Matt asks Serena P. to walk him out. Everything is upside down for this man right now.
Matt heads to the Rose Ceremony and tells everyone that they have to like him because Serena P. didn’t like him and that made him feel feelings. He’s only interested in giving roses to the women if they’re also willing to get engaged to a man with no significant romantic history and little ability to show interest in them. Rachael, Bri, and Michelle all get roses.
Next week, the women tell all! Step right up! This will be excruciating!