“You’re talking about Mom leaving you, I thank God that she had the courage to stand up and do something for herself,” Matt tells his father.
It was an emotionally brutal week for “Bachelor” Matt James ahead of next week’s season finale.
He started it off with a tough, but necessary, conversation with his father and then spent three consecutive nights with three women who all told him they were in love with him — before blindsiding one and sending her home.
Fantasy Suites arrived, meaning three very intimate and meaningful dates with three incredible women, but only two could survive the week. There was virtually no way for Matt to come out of this without breaking someone’s heart.
Those of us at home have had an idea who that might be for weeks now, but the women obviously don’t get to see everything we see. In particular, they don’t get to see what’s going on when Matt’s with the other women.
They don’t see those conversations, they don’t see his hand on their thighs, they don’t see him weird open-eye kissing all these women. They only have their own experiences to go on, and his reassurances.
To his credit, Matt has been pretty honest with the women about his own emotional journey, responding more with silence and kisses when one of the women tells him that she loves him. Well, except for one woman in particular.
For weeks now, Matt has been expressing that he is falling in love with Rachael. But those declarations actually caused her to go even more in her head this week than ever before. And we can’t help but wonder if it’s because he’s said that to her.
More than likely, the women don’t share that level of detail with one another about their time spent with the Bachelor. So while Bri and Michelle know that Matt has not said such declarations of love to them as he has with Rachael, Rachael has no way of knowing that.
Him not saying things like that to them probably has them feeling pretty confident he’s not saying things like that to anyone. Rachael, on the other hand, might be thinking he’s telling all the women that he’s falling in love with them, just as he keeps telling her.
Whether it’s that or not, she was such a mess throughout the week as first Michelle and then Bri enjoyed their Fantasy Suite dates with Matt, that by the time her turn came along, she trudged up with a dour look on her face and couldn’t even enjoy their time together, finally having to confront him.
Before Matt could even feel ready to go on these important dates with his three finalists, he needed to finally rid himself of one of his own emotional demons. He credits his father’s tumultuous relationship with his mother and himself for many of the walls he’s built around his heart.
His father was unfaithful, building other families than a relationship with his son or his wife. And when Matt first confronted him about this, his father got defensive, attempting to deflect Matt’s pain with his own loss of his father at five years old and how awful Matt’s mother was to him.
But none of that, from Matt’s point of view, excuses cheating on her — and how was she supposed to react after discovering this? — and choosing to be absent through much of Matt’s life.
It was only when Matt made it clear to his father that he’s not trying to attack him or make him feel bad, but rather sharing his own experiences in that story that his father softened and seemed to hear him. It wasn’t an easy talk, but it ended in a positive place.
And we applaud Matt for knowing that this isn’t any kind of solution or a fix for their relationship, but it was an important step toward healing. And it helped make clear to him that he’s not haunted by his father’s mistakes, nor is he destined to repeat them.
That made him feel free enough to believe in himself as a future father and husband to give himself fully to these Fantasy Suites and continue this journey with an open heart and mind to possibly marrying one of them at the end of this whole thing.
Pennsylvania Dutch Michelle
These were very unorthodox and interesting Fantasy Suite dates, with Michelle and Matt kicking things off by enjoying a very rustic “Pennsylvania Dutch spa day,” complete with oatmeal foot bath, butter rubbing and an overall milk bath to wrap things up.
The pair then talked about Matt’s experience talking with his father, contrasting it with her great example of lasting love from her own parents. We also kind of fell in love with her talk about the important work of “staying in love” once you’ve done the easier part of falling in love.
We love how grounded and real Michelle is in her life; she always comes across as so genuine and such a deep thinker. It might be because she’s a hair older than the other two finalists, and because of her profession, but she has a wisdom that’s really quite impressive.
We love the randomness of Matt and Bri enjoying a campout date during the day, as well as just how much he left her in the dark about how he’s just as inexperienced as she is about the whole experience.
He also let her think for awhile that their overnight date might happen in the tent they pitched themselves, which is even more hilarious.
They again talked about how they share an estrangement and complex relationship with their father, with Bri wanting her father to see what a strong, confident and independent woman she is despite his absence, if only to give him peace of mind that she’s fine.
It was a powerful statement from her, but like Michelle, Matt did not respond in kind to Bri’s declaration of love. But at this point, we’d have to say it wasn’t looking quite as good for Bri in this three-way love triangle. She might be falling into that “Matt respects her but doesn’t love her” category that Abigail fell into.
Probably the most shocking revelation for us in Matt’s conversation with Rachael is that she seemed to have no real idea about his insecurities in this process, or some of the demons he’s been battling in relation to his father and his upbringing.
Michelle and Bri and even some of the women already gone have been all over this, checking in on Matt throughout this journey, so how did Rachael miss that boat? Have their conversations been more about her? Surface level? If so, they must have the strongest physical connection.
We will say that her language going into the Fantasy Suite was the most blatantly (while still being somewhat vague) sexual, suggesting she knew exactly what this night was going to be about and that’s what she was ready for. This could confirm a strong physical attraction between the two.
As for their conversation, they did get into some of Matt’s insecurities this time around, as well as Rachael’s throughout the week. She assured him that he’s become the man he is despite his father’s absence, and that his life shaped him in the best possible way, even if it’s not how he might have liked it to be.
Look, Rachael was our pick to win this whole thing after the very first episode, and she’s still in the running down to three women. There was a palpable connection shared between the two both in their conversation and, yes, physically that remains as strong as ever.
At this point, there was nothing to do but prepare to feel for one of these women. All three had professed their love (though only one got it back that we saw) and all three believed they were in a better place in their relationship than the other two.
Bri went so far as to say as much in a confessional. They were all so confident in their relationship, somebody was going to be blindsided. After Michelle scored the first rose, we kind of found ourselves hoping that someone would quit the way Serena did last week.
At least then, we’d know that it was their decision to have their heartbroken, rather than see them crushed as Matt called out another woman’s name. But no, they had to make him go through with it.
Of course, it was a no-brainer by this point to everyone watching at home. Rachael — she of the racist antebellum South formal controversy that’s resulted in Chris Harrison stepping aside — is one step closer to winning Matt’s season.
A woman with problematic racist posts and photos from her social media now has a 50/50 shot of getting engaged to the first Black Bachelor in franchise history. There is no way this is the ending producers could have imagined when they conceived this groundbreaking step forward for the franchise.
It should certainly make for an interesting “After the Final Rose” event next week as Emmanuel Acho takes over for Chris and surely (hopefully) tackles all of the problematic things that have happened thus far very aggressively off-screen.
That comes after next week’s two-hour finale where Michelle and Rachael meet Matt’s parents and we finally get to see that Matt breakdown they’ve been teasing in promos all season long. Then we’ll see what happens when Rachael wins — if Rachael wins.
- “I want to be a dad, I want to be a father. And what that means to me is showing up, having tough conversations, being there– I’m getting emotional talking about it because I’m thinking about my life and the things that I feel like I’ve missed out on, because I guard my heart and I guard my feelings and emotions because of what I’ve been through with you and what I’ve been through with our family.” –Matt
- “You can’t do that. You just gotta let that go, Matt.” –Dad
- “I think part of that for me is having this conversation with you.” –Matt
- “When I needed you, you weren’t there to have those conversations. You started other families.” –Matt
- “I hate to stop you. I didn’t have that, either. My father was killed when I was five, Matt. So, yeah, I’mma take some of that blame of me not showing up as a father figure much … but do you know what I went through?” –Dad
- “You’re talking about Mom leaving you, I thank God that she had the courage to stand up and do something for herself.” –Matt
- “I didn’t need shoes, man. I didn’t need any shoes. I didn’t need pizza. I needed a dad.” –Matt
- “I’ll try, Matt. I’ll try. I’m sorry I hurt you, son.” –Dad
- “I love you, Dad. There’s no hard feelings for me. I just wanted you to hear me out.” –Matt
- “Yeah, and you’re right about everything you said. You’re completely right.” –Dad
- “Everyone talks about falling in love, falling in love and being in love. And I think those are important conversations, but it’s also super important to talk about staying in love. How do you plan to stay in love? Because that does take work.” –Michelle
- “I want to be the man he wasn’t” –Matt (to Michelle about his father)
- “It feels right to say it, so I’m going to say it. I love you, Matt.” –Michelle
- “I am in love with Matt. And he’s with another woman right now. My heart is gonna explode. I don’t want to think about it but it’s all I can think about. I’m going insane. My worst nightmare is, like, him spending the night with someone else.” –Rachael
- “On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you right now?” –Michelle
- “11.” –Matt
- “What’d you guys do?” –Rachel (after Michelle got back)
- “I’m battling between being jealous and I’m battling between being hurt and excited and happy and in love and…” –Bri
- “I’m sure the last thing that Bri wanted to do was be out in the woods, but the truth is I’m not letting her in on the secret that I’ve never been camping in the woods.” –Matt
- “Thanks for helping me pitch the tent.” –Bri
- “You’re welcome. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to get it up.” –Matt
- “The tent?” –Bri
- “If Matt got down on one knee tonight, I would one thousand percent say yes.” –Bri
- “Bri’s the second woman who’s told me she’s in love with me. As incredible as that is to hear, it’s not gonna be easy sending someone home after spending this time together.” –Matt
- “I don’t wanna see her.” –Rachael (as Bri arrives)
- “I have to sit him down and get answers. I don’t want to wait around for the heartbreak.” –Rachael (cutting ceramics portion of date short)
- “I’m gonna continue to tell you where I’m at and how I feel as I’m falling in love with you.” –Matt (to Rachael)
- “If you had a ring in your pocket right now and pulled it out, I would say yes.” –Rachael
- “All three of us have very high hopes going into tonight’s ceremony. And one of us is going to be completely blindsided.” –Bri
- “I believe Matt and I’s relationship is different, and what we have, he can’t have that with two other women.” –Rachael
- “Someone’s gonna go home brokenhearted. There’s nothing any of these women have done to deserve that.” –Matt
- “I can’t be upset, I can’t be angry, but I can be really sad and disappointed and hurt, but … I don’t know that that’s at you. I don’t know what that’s at.” –Bri (after getting eliminated)