This season of “The Bachelor” has been tough to watch. Matt James’ personality has been cut out of the show, we barely know the women he’s with and we missed out on lots of really fun dates in lieu of drama.
But on Monday night’s episode, the producers finally got their act together. Matt got to spend camera-free overnight dates with his three final women: Bri, Michelle and the very controversial Rachael Kirkconnell. All three women are in love with him. There’s not a problem (yet) in any of the relationships.
For Matt, it’s not about which relationship is the strongest, but which life he would rather live after the show.
Here’s everything that went down.
Before Matt could have overnight dates with his top three women, the Bachelor called in his estranged father Manny to have a conversation about commitment.
“I guard my heart and I guard my feelings because of what I’ve been through with you,” he told his dad. “When I needed you, you weren’t there to have those conversations. I need to know where your head was at.”
It was a heavy conversation. Matt’s dad struggled to take responsibility for how he treated his son and ex, for good reason: they’ve never talked about their issues before. Matt was brought to tears.
Ultimately, they were able to reach resolution. “I agree with you son, because you have to make a lasting deicison about things you didn’t learn from me,” Manny told his son through tears. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”
Matt forgave Manny, and they embraced. (While watching the show on Monday night, Matt wrote a thread on Twitter about how difficult it was to re-watch this conversation back. It’s worth a read.)
The first fantasy suite date
… went to Michelle. During their last date, the teacher introduced her boyfriend her students. Knowing she could use a rest, Matt decided to treat her to a spa day, scratch that, a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch spa day. The couple put their feet in an oatmeal-ish mud, lathered butter over each other and relaxed in a milk bath. I hope no one was lactose intolerant.
After they dried off, Matt told Michelle that he was more comfortable with her family than any other that he met. Over dinner, Matt opened up to Michelle about the conversation he had with his father and why their relationship and his parents’ relationship has affected him so drastically. “I want to be the man he wasn’t,” he told his date.
“For you to sit down and have a conversation with him is such a huge step… I’m here for you,” she said. “I do see you as my person.” She’s not just falling anymore: Michelle is in love with Matt.
Of course, they opted to spend the night alone together, without cameras. Cut to the morning: The couple was joyed to be able to wake up next to each other. Even Matt admitted that Michelle set the bar really high, and her date would be tough to beat.
The second fantasy suite date
Bri met Matt with the classic jump hug. Matt took the San Fran girl hiking and camping in the Pennsylvania woods. It’s really cute that she pretended to be excited about this date. Matt also pretended to be knowledgeable out the local flora and fauna but oops! Silly Bachelor. He had never been camping before either. The city slickers struggled to pitch a tent, Matt made some solid jokes about struggling to get it up.
Later in the evening, Bri wanted to hear how Matt is feeling about a possible engagement. Again, Matt confided in his date about why he wanted to speak to his father and get clarity before making such a commitment. Bri, who also grew up without a father, totally understood Matt’s need. “I always wondered how my relationship with him would manifest down the line,” she said. Though she hasn’t gotten the closure Matt has, “I still feel 100-percent ready for an engagement after this,” Bri said. She, too, is in love with Matt.
No surprise, they also decided to spend the night alone together. (And not in a tent, in a romantic hotel room.)
The next morning, these two were all over each other, touching and kissing. “I’m in a state of pure bliss,” Bri said.
The third fantasy suite date
You guessed it, went to Rachael. Having to see the other contestants have such wonderful dates while she stayed home made her break down in tears. “I’m worried about how he feels, what he’s thinking,” she said.
When they got together, it was immidiately clear that something was off (and not just the weird cut-out top Rachael was wearing that showed off only her belly button.) Their date was a ceramics class, and Rachael couldn’t concentrate on her bowl. She pulled Matt aside to express how she felt. “I do want you to look into every single relationship… I know you have to do what you have to do,” she said, though she’s still worried Matt has changed his mind about her.
Almost immidately, Matt made her smile. He confessed to her that when she had a rocky parachute landing during their last date, Matt worried what life would be like without her. It was the pick-me-up she needed, and their date picked up on a much happier note.
They decided to spend the night together. Instead of a hotel room, they got an individual house — and a fireworks show.
The rose ceremony
Michelle got the first rose, Rachael got the second and final one. Bri was blindsided.
“I’m sorry, it wasn’t something that came up this week,” said Matt, explaining the breakup to her. “It’s just the feeling you have when you’re with somebody, it’s nothing to do with you.”
Fianally, it’s the finale. Matt’s going to get engaged next week. Michelle and Rachael will meet his family. (For the record, my money is on Rachael.)
But the most important thing is the After the Final Rose special, hosted by Emannuel Acho — not Chris Harrison. After weeks of wating, we’re (hopefully) going to get a frank conversation about the racism surrounding this season that Bachelor Nation deserves.