Well, this is where we are, rose lovers.
ABC and the producers of The Bachelor have yet to make a public comment about everything that’s gone down with Rachel Lindsay, Rachael Kirkconnell, Matt James, and Chris Harrison. Perhaps this onscreen disclaimer — which essentially says, “Hey guys, we know some of you don’t want Chris on your screens right now, but we filmed this before he really stepped in it” — counts as their official statement? (That, and announcing a new host for After the Final Rose.) Either way, this whole thing is very depressing.
But hey, (some of) the women are here, and they’re ready to Tell All™. Let’s recap!
It’s nice to be back at the Tealight Candle Thunderdome, even if it does seem awfully lonely and quiet without the shrieking studio audience. In attendance are Katie, Pieper, Serena C., Chelsea, Abigail, Serena P., Jessenia, MJ, Anna, Kit, Brittany, Ryan, Mari, Khaylah, and Victoria.
Part 1: The Mean Girl Chronicles
Katie versus Victoria! MJ versus Jessenia! “JV” versus “Varsity”! As we all know, this season was jam-packed with petty, toxic BS. Harrison starts with the MJ-Jessenia rivalry, and neither of the women has really changed her story: Jessenia says her big problem with MJ was that she never owned up to her role in the “bullying,” while MJ insists that she did tell Matt everything and apologized for it. (She didn’t.)
On to “Queen” Victoria! Mari, who just piped up to defend MJ, begins by saying that while Victoria is a “girl’s girl” and “funny,” she also can go too far sometimes: “I don’t think that, for example, calling other women disgusting or a slur is okay under any circumstances.” (Side note: I had to listen to this three times, because Mari pronounced “slur” like “sloor,” and I thought maybe she had come up with a new word — a combination of “slut” and “whore.”)
Ryan the dancer once again reiterates that she did not enjoy being called a “ho” on national television. True to form, Victoria’s first response — at least, that we see — is not to apologize but to play the “what’s the big deal?” card. “Do you think you’re a super-sensitive person, though?” she asks Ryan, before listing all the mean things she’s had to deal with: death threats, “memes about my eye that was swollen, the memes about my bra straps… I’ll laugh it off.” In her flat, dead-inside monotone, Victoria goes on to say that she’s “puzzled” as to why Ryan is “holding on to all this emotional anger.”
Man, I wish there was a studio audience in the house, because they would be murmuring hard with disapproval right now. Ryan simply wants Victoria to accept the consequences of her on-camera behavior (“sit in the seat and just take it and own it”), but the Queen declines. “I have been called way more horrible things on the internet and I brush it off,” she shrugs.
Once Harrison invites Katie into the conversation, Victoria changes her tune a bit. “It did suck to watch it and hear you call me ‘disgusting’ over and over again,” Katie tells the Queen. “Name-calling is completely unacceptable,” responds Victoria. “But I think it’s important to remember we all did the best we can do. Life is a learning experience… Again, I’m just so sorry.” Are you though, hon? It sounds more like you’re offering a verbal shrug emoji, like, Welp, I did my best! Sorry if it wasn’t good enough!
Katie, who was in the running to be the next Bachelorette, accepts Victoria’s tepid apology and says she just wants to move on with her life. “I know some of you guys are experiencing backlash right now, and that’s your own karma,” she says. “I think death threats are unacceptable, body shaming is unacceptable, but we all said what we said. No one made you say anything, and some of you can’t accept what you did in the house.” (One more time for the people in the back: “No one made you say anything”!)
Chelsea, who Katie says was “blind” to the bullying in the house, does not appreciate being lumped in with the “karma” crowd. “The house was not toxic until you made it toxic by bringing the situation up to Matt,” she informs Katie. Mari agrees: “You came at Sarah harder than almost anybody, and you flipped the switch the next day… That’s fake as hell!”
And now it’s a full-fledged pile-on. “I would like to know how you felt like bringing up anything in the house was gonna help your relationship with Matt,” asks Pieper. Katie’s on the defensive, but she tries not to get defensive. “We had to live in this house for up to two months, and what I was experiencing personally, it sucked,” she says. Katie says she owed it to herself and Matt to speak up, but Khaylah is all, Why didn’t you talk to the “ladies” before running to Matt? It’s a valid question, and the answer is about to get her time in the hot seat.
Part 2: It’s Brittany, Bitches
I think we can all agree, rose lovers, that it’s only fair that Brittany gets a chance to address the spurious “high-end call girl” rumors and confront the woman who started them. But first, let’s watch Brittany cringe as she watches her, uh, aggressive entrance out of the limo.
Still, it’s all fun and games until somebody starts a slanderous rumor. “You see me come in as this strong, confident, smiley girl,” says Brittany. “And in the first 24 hours, I was just completely tore [sic] down.” She was so devastated that she didn’t even want to be around her family when she got home. “It’s embarrassing because when you Google my name now, the first 20 results are, ‘The Bachelor contestant Brittany Galvin accused of being an escort.'” She’s not wrong, folks.
So what does Anna have to say for herself? Apparently not much. “She’s had weeks to reach out to me,” says Brittany, “but I didn’t get any of that.” Okay, but there’s no escaping now. Harrison turns the floor over to Anna, who agrees that what she did was completely unjustified. “After watching the aftermath, I am 100 times more sorry,” she says. “It just sucks that I did that to someone else… Everything I did in the situation was wrong. I’m sorry.”
Brittany doesn’t quite buy it. Why didn’t Anna reach out to her off-camera when she had weeks to do so? Then Mari jumps in (someone’s hoping to get a spot on Paradise!) and asks what Anna hoped to accomplish by starting the rumor. “I was insecure, and I lashed out,” Anna replies. “I was insecure about my time with Matt… I know that what I said can’t be unsaid, and the damage can’t be undone, but I would like to help repair some of that damage.”
Because she recognizes that two wrongs don’t make a right, Brittany says she’s not looking for people to destroy Anna’s life over this — she just wanted to say her piece. We’ve all said or done hurtful things. All Brittany wants the world to know from this experience is: Words! Have! Consequences! (Also: Sex work is work. No shame necessary.)
Part 3: The Missing Day Dates!
Remember episode 7, when we saw a bunch of women getting ready for a daytime group date… but then it cut right to the cocktail party? Turns out what we missed was a Fear Factor-esque challenge called “What’s in the Box?”
Yep, the “ladies” had to grab rings out of boxes filled with creepy crawlies, including “Killer Amazon Cockroaches,” “Fire Crickets,” and “Flesh-Eating Worms.” What a fun, totally-related-to-finding-a-life-partner activity for everyone! “You don’t think it’s real until you feel something crawl up your hand,” shudders MJ.
The next found footage comes from episode 4 when former Bachelor Ben Higgins stopped by to host the “Fall in Love Fest.” Though we did see part of that date, producers chose not to show us the part where the “ladies” had to stuff their faces with pancakes and then chug a huge beer.
I don’t really blame Victoria for cheating — pancakes and beer is a pretty disgusting combination.
Another never-before-seen date activity also comes from episode 7 I believe, and it’s an outdoor game of hide and seek. Bri, Rachael, and Pieper eventually found Matt and joined him in the hot tub, while Kit was left to roam around the cold woods, lost and alone. “I definitely felt very out of my element on that date,” notes Kit good-naturedly. “They were wrinkled up and pruny by the time I got there.” Our final cut scene is from the episode 4 boxing date, which originally came with a side of salmonella.
Of course Katie puked — that is straight-up disgusting. “I was hoping that wasn’t ever gonna air,” she says wryly. As if, girl! This show lives to make people uncomfortable. Speaking of which…
Part 4: Katie in the Hot Seat
It’s probably worth repeating that when this episode was filmed, Katie was (reportedly) the frontrunner to be the next Bachelorette. Since her role in the house “drama” was covered earlier, this segment focused instead on Katie’s “romance” with Matt and her “journey” to find “love.” But I think we can all agree that she and the Bachelor had zero chemistry. I’d also be really surprised if producers still chose her as the Bachelorette after everything that’s happened recently, so… next!
Part 5: Abigail, Pieper in the Hot Seat
Gah, after watching this highlight reel, I’m mad all over again that Matt sent Abigail home. Big mistake, buddy. Big. Huge. Abigail is an angel on earth. As someone who has cochlear implants and communicates vocally, Abigail says she’s neither a member of the hearing community or the capital-d Deaf community. “I’m kind of that gray space in the middle,” she says. “But the response has been incredible.” Case in point:
Dammit, producers, do NOT put this woman on Paradise. She is too pure.
As for Pieper, there’s not much to say about her interview. Pieper admits she was “definitely” in love with Matt, but she was too afraid to tell him the whole truth. Even though she left heartbroken, Pieper says she does not regret taking this Bachelor “journey,” because it’s helped her grow as a person. “I will never settle again,” she says. See, rose lovers? Reality TV can be a force for good in the world!
Part 6: Does Serena P. Have Second Thoughts?
“I’ll be honest, there was a point in time [that] I thought you were the one,” says Harrison. (Agreed, as I said in my recap last week.) So now that she’s had a few weeks to think about it, does Serena still think dumping Matt was the right call?
She’s definitely very emotional after watching the highlight reel of her “journey” with the Bachelor, and it takes her about 20 seconds to compose herself. At her hometown date, she was really hoping that her family would validate her “relationship” with Matt — if they had, says Serena, she might have been able to take the leap for at least another week. But as we know, that’s not what happened. “I wasn’t sitting there, 100 percent that Matt is my person, and he is the man I’m going to spend my life with,” says Serena. “That seed of doubt really grew.”
But when Harrison asks if she’s still “conflicted” about her decision, Serena is steadfast. “I care about him still so much and the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt him,” she says. “I would have done him a disservice by staying… I truly only wish the best for him.”
Part 7: Bachelor’s Back, All Right
First thing’s first. What is going on with Matt’s face? “James Harden in the building,” quips Pieper, upon seeing the Bachelor’s bushy new look. And the comparison isn’t totally off-base:
So… why? “I feel like I came out of this a little bit wiser,” says Matt, by way of explanation. “I’d gone through a lot with all these women.” (Side note: This was taped on Feb. 4th, and while we don’t know exactly when Matt found out about Rachael’s 2018 “plantation party” photos, he was aware of rumors alleging past racist behavior.)
Welp, okay then. Time to talk to the “ladies.” MJ tells Matt that she doesn’t have any hard feelings about the two-on-one, and Serena C. says she hopes he doesn’t think she’s a terrible toxic beeyotch after watching the episodes back. (I’m paraphrasing.) “I don’t think you’re a bad person. I don’t think anybody here is a bad person,” says Matt. “I know y’all’s heart. Victoria, I know your heart.”
Remember how Victoria would be a harsh bitch to all the women when Matt wasn’t around, and then become a weepy wounded bird the second he showed up? Well yeah, she’s doing it again.
“It’s been hard watching the show back because yes, I was involved in drama, and that was a really hard learning experience,” says Victoria through her tears. She goes on to say Matt hurt her feelings when he suggested she should reflect on her behavior: “I felt like I had done my best to open up and I just have, like, tremendous fear of rejection.” Even though he did nothing wrong, Matt apologizes to Victoria for offending her. “There’s a lot more there that I felt like I could have done for you that I didn’t get the chance to,” says the Bachelor.
At last, we get to something that Matt really does need to apologize for: Kissing with his eyes open. It’s freaking creepy!
Yikes. “I didn’t know that was, like, a no-no,” admits Matt, after sitting through the very cringe-worthy montage. “I didn’t know you were supposed to have your eyes closed… But when I’m watching it back, I’m like, that’s kind of weird… I should probably start kissing with my eyes closed.” Correct!
Part 8: Bloopers!
As per usual, we get a lot of shots of the women swatting at aggressive bugs and squealing. (So! Many! Bees!) There are some choice klutz moments from Matt: Tripping on his way to the dinner table, falling off a bike, wiping out hard on the skateboard ramp that has apparently been outside his “house” the whole time. Plus, an erection joke! Good times. Also, how come we never got to see this moment?
Matt eating dangerously spicy hot wings with two badass former Bachelorettes? Definitely would have preferred watching that over endless scenes of Victoria-related drama.
Well, it looks like it’s (almost) all over but the crying. And it’ll be a lot of crying if the super-tease for the next two episodes is any indication. (I’ll admit, seeing that Matt’s dad makes an appearance was a legitimate surprise.) Before you go, rose lovers, let me know how you felt about this audience-free Women Tell All. Was Anna’s apology sufficient? Would you want to see Katie as Bachelorette? (If not, who is your top pick?) And how much money would someone have to pay you to drink a raw egg? Post your thoughts below!
Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality competition series in which a gaggle of women vie for the Bachelors heart and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?