The Bachelor recap: Suite and sour
Matt has Fantasy Suite dates with Michelle, Bri, and Rachael, but not before sitting down for an intensely emotional conversation with his estranged father.
We're down to the final two, rose lovers! After a Fantasy Suites week that featured oatmeal foot baths, a very cold-looking camping date, a pottery-throwing class gone wrong, and a very emotional father and child reunion, Matt James narrowed down his field of potential brides to Rachael and Michelle.
The episode began as per usual…
"You're gonna get that off-camera time to have tough conversations," Chris Harrison tells the women. "Use that time wisely." He drops off the first date card, which goes to… Michelle!
While she goes and gets ready, let's check in with Matt over at his place. Turns out he's feeling a little "conflicted" about this penultimate step in his "relationships" with Michelle, Bri, and Rachael. "There's still a lot of fear about what a long-term commitment looks like, based on what I've seen in my family in the past," he says. "For my relationships to move forward with these women, there's a conversation I need to have… [dramatic pause]… and that's with my dad."
Rose lovers, I was not prepared for the emotional intensity of this conversation. When we first saw glimpses of Matt's dad Manny in the promos, I feared that production had tracked him down without the Bachelor's knowledge and planned some sort of ambush. It was a great relief, then, to see that Matt was prepared for this meeting.
Things start out a little awkward as Matt gently tries to ease into the conversation about his fear of commitment. As he looks ahead to being a husband and father, Matt says he's "missed out" on having a father who was present in his life. "When I needed you, you weren't there to have those conversations," he tells Manny. "You started other families. That affected me, and I need to know where your head was at, so I don't make that same mistake going forward."
Though Manny says he doesn't want Matt to make those mistakes either, he also gets a little defensive. "If you had came to me in this past, I would have had this conversation with you," he says. Manny adds that he didn't have a father figure in his life either because his dad was killed when he was just five years old. (Damn, this family's life is a true saga!)
Then the conversation starts to get very real. "Do you know what I went through with your mom when you guys were like 2 or 3?" says Manny, visibly upset. "I came home one day, your mom was gone, brah!" Matt, understandably agitated himself, shoots back: "For good reason! Who wants to be with someone who's not going to be faithful to them?" Manny plays the "nobody's perfect" card (where have we heard that lately?), which doesn't go over well. "I don't want you to make excuses," says the Bachelor. "I just want you to hear where I'm coming from."
At this point, it really seemed like things were not going to end well. "I'm not here to discuss me and your mother's relationship and stuff like that," snaps Manny. "I'm here to celebrate your success." Incorrect, sir! The entire point of your visit is to help Matt get past his "demons," which stem from watching his parents break up. And now, for the absolute best sound bite of the entire conversation, from Matt: "If we wanted to go celebrate, we'd go to Chuck E. Cheese!" For a few minutes, he and his dad sit in sad, grim silence.
"I remember growing up, he'd come around every now and then, drop off some shoes, buy us pizza," recalls Matt in his confessional, before breaking down in tears. "I didn't need shoes, man… I needed a dad." Gah, this is heartbreaking! Somehow, Matt finds the strength to keep pushing his conversation with Manny forward. "We've all been through a lot. And I get that I don't know what it was like to grow up in Africa without a dad like you did, but I know what it was like to grow up here without a dad," says the Bachelor. "I'm trying to address all those things now."
Manny is silent for several seconds. "I agree with you, son," he says quietly. He wipes away some tears. "I'm sorry I hurt you, son… Whatever I can do to make it better, I'll work on it." Matt's eyes well up, and he smiles. "Thank you," he whispers. "I want you to be a part of any relationship I'm in going forward, and in my kids' lives going forward, because you're my dad… I forgive you." And then…
One second, just bawling my eyes out.
Aaaand we're back. There has been a lot of messed up and distressing stuff about this season (mostly off-camera), but man, this conversation between Matt and his father was a beautiful thing to watch. Of course, as Matt points out, they still have a lot more work to do towards reconciliation, but what an incredible start. "You're doing great, I'm proud of you," says Manny as Matt walks him out. Hooray! On to the Fantasy Suites.
Date No. 1: Michelle
What could be more romantic than a weird-ass spa date? Sorry, I mean a "traditional Pennsylvania Dutch spa day"? Either way, the answer is… "pretty much anything." Behold:
Ummm… okay! Michelle and Matt start with the oatmeal foot bath, which sloshes around in the tub grotesquely. Then they rub each other down with butter ("I made sure to cover all of Matt's surfaces," says Michelle) and wash it off, kind of, with a milk bath.
Later, after taking a proper shower, Matt and Michelle recline on the fur rugs and discuss last week's hometown date. The Bachelor says her family made him feel "probably the most comfortable of anybody I was introduced to last week." Oooh, high praise! Michelle says her family has always operated like a "team," and adds that her parents exemplify what it takes to make a marriage work. "People talk about falling in love, falling in love, and being in love," she says. "But I think it's also super-important to talk about, like, staying in love. How do you plan to stay in love? Because it does take work."
Amen, Michelle! As the kids (probably no longer) say, we stan a realistic Bachelor contestant. Relationships and marriage aren't all helicopter rides and butter rubs. After a "great day" with Michelle, Matt says their connection "just took off." At dinner, the Bachelor Opens Up™ to her about how his parents' failed marriage shaped his own views on love. "When I thought about my mom and dad's relationship, I think about distrust, unfaithfulness, lack of communication," he explains. "I want to be the man he wasn't."
Oh yeah, Michelle is all in. "I do look at you as my person," she says. "That's where I'm at." In other words, yes, Michelle will forgo her individual room and she does choose to stay with Matt as a couple in the Fantasy Suite. Once there, she drops the L-bomb: "I love you, Matt." The music swells as they enter the bedroom… and Matt shuts the door. Bye, cameras!
Meanwhile, on the other side of the hotel:
Yep, Rachael is spiraling. "All of the weeks put together don't feel as hard as this one," she says to Bri. "The fact that he is with Michelle right now is just driving me absolutely insane." Bri just looks at her silently, like, Girl, what show did you think you were on?
Sorry, I need to interrupt this recap to ask a quick question: Is it me, or does this statue at Nemacolin look just like the Twitter bird?
Anyhow, it's the morning after. On a scale of one to 10, Matt and Michelle's happiness is at an 11. Sigh. She is obviously the right person for him, so of course, I'm totally stressed that he will choose someone else. For now, though, it's time for Michelle to drift on cloud nine all the way back to the suite, where things definitely won't be awkward with the other "ladies."
"You guys are struggling, I can see that," says Michelle gently. Rachael starts wiping away tears, and then they all sit in silence for a bit before Bri leaves to get ready for her date. She's feeling the pressure, after getting called last at the previous rose ceremony. "It's hard for me to not question if my relationship with him is enough," she says. "I have no idea how I'm going to keep my s--- together."
Date No. 2: Bri
What could be more romantic than spending the night in a flimsy tent in the freezing cold Pennsylvania woods?
"I am the least outdoorsy person," Bri admits. Matt, too, has no camping or tent-pitching experience. "I honestly wouldn't have been able to get it up," he says. "The tent?" Bri replies. Hey-ooooh!
Here's the good news, though: This is not Bri's Fantasy Suite. Instead, it's just another shoestring, trapped-in-a-COVID-bubble activity devised by the producers. The real Fantasy Suite will have central heating and running water. Bri and Matt warm themselves by the fire and chat about her hometown visit. The Bachelor says he was moved by how emotional everyone got when they first walked in, and he promises Bri that her mom did not scare him away. (Remember this? Dang, Bri's mom is the best.)
On to dinner! I'm sorry, but these antler light fixtures are creepy AF.
They're giving me some real American Horror Story: Asylum vibes. Yikes. Moving on! Bri says she'd feel very "lucky" to meet Matt's mother next week if she makes it to the next round. She also wants to know how confident Matt is that he'll be ready to get engaged at the end of this "journey." As he did with Michelle, Matt reveals to Bri that he was able to have a serious conversation with his dad about his family's past. That talk, he says, helped him get closer to being "ready."
Bri gets emotional thinking about her strained relationship with her own father. "I think him knowing who I've become and the woman that I've become without him would give him probably a lot of peace of mind," she says, tearing up. "If it's any reassurance to you, I still feel 100 percent ready for an engagement after this. What I'm feeling is that I really am so in love with you."
It's L-bomb number two, rose lovers! All rightie, Matt — pull that Fantasy Suite card out from under your plate and let's get this night moving. He does, and she says yes. Listen up, camera crew, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. Cut to:
Another successful morning after in the books. Bri and Matt make breakfast and cuddle some more on the couch, and then it's time for her to head back to the other women. "We connect on the deepest of levels," says Matt. "I can see a life with Bri after this."
Meanwhile, Rachael is still spinning out back at the hotel waiting for Bri to come back from her "intimate" night with Matt. "I don't want to see her," she whispers, just as Bri walks into the room, all smiles. "It was really nice," she says of her "uninterrupted" time with Matt. "Are you excited for your date, Rach?"
Sure, if by "excited" you mean "freaking out that she has the last overnight date." Rachael says she's getting in her head about things "feeling different" with Matt now that he's spent serious alone time with the other two women. Will it? Let's find out!
Date No. 3: Rachael
Before she gets ready for her date, Rachael sits by herself and cries. "I know that this is love because I don't feel like I can live without him," she says. "I'm just scared he's gonna hurt me." You should be, Rachael! You only have a one-in-three shot at "winning" this thing!
Matt, on the other hand, is feeling great about his final overnight date. He hopes Rachael is "fired up" for their day together, too, but from the moment she walks in, it's clear she is nothing of the sort.
There's no run-and-jump hug or happy laughter. There's barely even a smile! It's so quiet you can literally hear the wind whistling through the trees behind them. "I can see that Rachael has something on her heart and on her mind," says Matt, ever the perceptive observer. "I'm hoping that she's all right."
Well… define "all right," Matt. Rachael certainly doesn't seem to be paying much attention to their date activity. It's a pottery lesson from a woman named Lauren, who dutifully recites the simile about ceramics that producers asked her to deliver. (It "really is like building a relationship. You have an idea in your head of how it's gonna turn out, but things change, so you need to be flexible and understanding.")
Sorry, Lauren, but Rachael just can't get past the fact that she is on a reality TV dating show. "He was with two other women a matter of just, like, hours ago, days ago," she frets. "The thought of him getting intimate with another woman… it is absolutely excruciating."
Finally, Rachael steps away from the pottery wheel and tells the Bachelor that they need to talk. "I picture you as my future husband," she says. "And then knowing that you're spending really intimate time with other people, I really didn't think I would get through this week, honestly." Though she knows that Matt is doing what he needs to do for this "journey," Rachael needs him to tell her now that she's not going home.
Of course, the Bachelor can't do that. "There's no easy way to go about the next two weeks," he says. "But it's necessary." Matt promises that he's doing everything "as respectfully as I can go about it." He also reminds her about how scared he was when he thought she died during their skydiving date. "I'm going to continue to show you how I feel about you," says Matt. "Where I'm at with you is, I'm falling in love with you." Finally, Rachael feels reassured. "I'm completely in love with you," she says, and then they make out.
Great. Somebody cue "Unchained Melody," because the pottery date is back ON.
That night, Rachael slips into one of the fancy dresses from her Pretty Woman date and joins Matt for an evening of Opening Up™. She asks the Bachelor if he has any worries as he approaches the end of this "journey," and he fills her in on the important conversation that he had with his father earlier in the week. "I know that you would never walk away from a family," Rachael says, adding that she's completely ready to get engaged should Matt choose her at the end. "I am ready to take on life with you, and whatever it throws our way."
Oh girl. Be careful what you wish for.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Matt pulls out the Fantasy Suite card from underneath the charcuterie board, and of course, Rachael happily accepts. Before the metaphorical fireworks, Rachael and Matt are treated to a literal fireworks display outside their window… which feels like a show of favoritism by production if you ask me.
Why didn't everybody get pyrotechnics? Rude.
Rose ceremony (and the aftermath):
Harrison greets Michelle, Bri, and Rachael as they arrive for the final rose ceremony. They all believe they love Matt, and that they'll be devastated if he sends them home. Still, Michelle — who I love more and more every episode — reaches out to take Bri's hand when she arrives.
Sisterhood! (Though when Rachael walks in, things are a bit frostier.) Okay, Matt, let's get this over with. The first rose goes to… Michelle! And then — after a voiceover/dramatic music delay of 55 full seconds (no joke, I counted) — the Bachelor finally hands out his second rose to… Rachael!
Alas, it's poor Bri who must head home brokenhearted. Outside on the Bye-Bye Bench, Matt apologizes for the blindside and tells Bri that it isn't because of something she did. "It's just a feeling that you have when you're with somebody," he says sadly. Though she's "really sad and disappointed and hurt," Bri handles it with poise. "Obviously, I gave up a lot to be here," she says. "You are going to be moving on to someone else, and I think that's what makes it harder."
Hang in there, Bri. You'll be okay. And who knows… maybe they'll give you your job back?
And there you have it. Next week, a tear-filled final showdown between Michelle and Rachael. Matt's mom Patty and his brother John will be there to help him make this crucial (and likely temporary) decision. Until then, rose lovers, let me know your thoughts about tonight's episode. Were you sad to see Bri go? Does Matt deserve Michelle? And where do you stand on the burnt-vs.-lightly-toasted marshmallow debate? Post your thoughts below!