When five new women join Matt's "journey" on The Bachelor, one of the original contestants spreads a nasty rumor about the competition.

By Kristen Baldwin
January 25, 2021 at 10:00 PM EST

Is that a summer breeze I feel, rose lovers? I know it's still January, but this week, The Bachelor pulled out a very Bachelor in Paradise twist and invited five new "ladies" to join Matt's "journey." It did not go over well.

Let's recap!

Though he only knew Sarah for a few weeks, Matt is still sitting outside moping about her departure. "We talked about a lot of stuff that I hadn't shared with anybody," he says. "What if there are going to be more women that don't want to be part of my journey?"

Unlikely, sir! In fact, you have more than a full softball team's worth of potential wives back at the hotel, and they just can't believe Sarah decided to peace out. "You're telling me, the first time things get hard, you pack your bag?" marvels MJ. Adds Victoria with a sneer in her voice, "The trash took itself out."

But Katie's had enough. "Can you stop?" she snaps. "She's gone, there's no point to keep talking about her or saying negative things." The "Queen" (of Publix, the finest chain of grocery stores in Florida) is taken aback. How dare one of her disloyal subjects criticize her choice of insults? "No I won't stop, Katie," she snaps back. "I'll keep doing whatever the f--- I want!" Oh girl, I'm sorry, but you might want to rethink this — Katie has you outmatched and outclassed in pretty much every way. (And yes, this is even though she brought a giant vibrator on night one!)

Brace for a jarring and abrupt cut to the evening portion of a group date that we didn't even know was happening! Looks like the group consists of Jessenia, Chelsea, Mari, Magi, MJ, Pieper, and Abigail. They're all grateful to Matt for not canceling the date after the devastating loss of Sarah, and they all make sure to let the Bachelor know how very, very here for him they are.

Chelsea, however, comes prepared with some actual thoughts in her head. After showing Matt a photo of her and her mom, back when Chelsea used to have long hair, she starts talking to the Bachelor about how "emotional" hair can be for Black women. "I literally have been chemically straightening my hair since I was two years old," she says. "All my friends are white. My school was white, and I literally didn't even feel comfortable leaving my house without my hair being straight… So when I finally decided to shave it, it was such a, like, emotionally freeing experience."

The Bachelor, who definitely tried to appear like he was listening really hard, assures Chelsea that she looks "great" (correct), and then leans in for a kiss. He even gives her the date rose. Go on with your glamorous self, Chelsea!

Credit: ABC

(Also, you can do better than Matt.)

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Victoria summons Katie and basically tries to demand an apology. "I just really didn't like the way you shut me down during group conversation?" she scolds in her upspeak-y way. "And I feel like you've done that on multiple occasions?" When Victoria continues with, "I just really would like an apology…" Katie doesn't even let her finish her sentence. "You're not gonna get an apology," she scoffs, as viewers across Bachelor Nation cheer.

Katie wants the "Queen" to know that her version of "expressing herself" is "toxic" and "rude." Victoria tries to rally back with a dig at Katie's vibrator, but she fails to elicit even a modicum of embarrassment or shame from her rival. "I love my vibrator!" Katie announces. "I'm very confident in what I want to do with my life, and [this] is showing how insecure you are." For a moment, rose lovers, Victoria is rendered speechless — and it's glorious.

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Thank you, Katie, for shutting this wench up… if only for a second.

Wow, is it time for last week's cocktail party and rose ceremony already? Serena P., Rachael, and Chelsea already have roses, so the focus is on the "ladies" who are still at risk of being chopped. Pieper talks to Matt about being a strong woman, and Kit gushes to him about their "chemistry" (ummm…). Then the Bachelor lavishes praise on Katie ("I like what I see") and Bri ("what I felt with you is real").

Oh Lord, now he's sitting down with Victoria, and she's… crying? "I'm used to, like, knowing if a guy's interested in me," she whimpers. "So it's, like, scary." Wait a minute… who's that lurking in the background?

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Chris Harrison to the rescue! "Matt, I need to talk to you right now," he says gravely. He leads the Bachelor out of the room and, in fact, out of the building. Naturally, this causes a bit of a frenzy among the other "ladies." Serena C. hustles over to the front entrance. "They're walking out!" she reports. "Wait, wait, is Sarah here?" someone whispers urgently. Don't be silly! Why would producers bring back one "old" woman when they could import five brand-new vixens instead?

"We had a record response from women who wanted to be on this show," Harrison tells Matt. "And to that end, there are some more incredible women that are dying to meet you… And they're arriving right now." (Either that or production forgot about this limo and it's been idling in the Nemacolin parking garage for weeks.)

Let's meet the new "ladies"!

Brittany, 23 (Model, Chicago): Sparkling wit, dazzling intellect. Just kidding. She steps out of the limo and immediately forces a kiss on Matt.

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Inside, the other women watch from the window and fret: "I feel disrespected"; "I want to vomit"; "I'm, like, actually about to cry."

As soon as Brittany walks inside, Victoria goes right for the jugular: "So, you quarantined and then just stayed in your room as a back-up, and now you're coming in as, like, a back-up because some girls left?" (Emphasis entirely not mine.) Fortunately for Brittany, she's come prepped with a good (producer-suggested?) zinger: "No, they just wanted to save the best for last."

Michelle, 27 (Teacher, Edina, Minn.): Pretty dress. Nice smile. Doesn't accost Matt, so she's earning points already.

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Ryan, 26 (Dancer/Choreographer, Brooklyn): She gives off some bubbly vibes.

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Kim, 28 (ICU nurse, L.A.): Love that she bucked the trend and went with a multi-colored dress. (And thanks for being an essential frontline worker, Kim!)

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Catalina, 29 (Former Miss Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico): I guess if "Former NFL player" is considered a job for guys on The Bachelorette, there's no reason "Former Miss Puerto Rico" can't be a job, too. ¡Bienvenidos, Catalina!

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Unfortunately, Catalina does not get a very warm welcome from Victoria, who literally grabs the tiara off of Miss Puerto Rico's head.

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Reader, I am not ashamed to tell you that I yelled, "OH NO SHE DIDN'T!" out loud in my living room. Good Lord in heaven, even my 10-year-old knows better than to snatch a hat (or a crown) off another person's head. Victoria needs to go home, y'all. Her schtick is long past its expiration date.

As for the Bachelor, the new arrivals have left him shook — and not necessarily in a good way. "There is a hundred percent chance there will be hostility. There is a hundred percent chance there's gonna be drama," he sighs. "I'm in trouble."

Yes, yes you are, sir. With that in mind, Matt girds his loins for battle and heads back into the party to address his rankled harem. "I'm still in shock, obviously," he says, adding that the new arrivals were "a nice surprise." Maybe for you, pal.) The Bachelor then raises an invisible glass and offers a toast to the five new women. "Let's keep it moving!"

Immediately, Victoria asks Matt to head outside with her so they can finish the conversation that Chris Harrison so rudely interrupted. Sorry, before we go on, can someone explain to me what the hell an armless, legless mannequin is doing in the back of the room?

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Nemacolin's interior decorator must be into some freaky shiz. Anyhoo, Anna — who has been spiraling hard since the new "ladies" arrived — says she recognizes Brittany (a.k.a. the aggressive kisser). "We're both from Chicago," she says. "She's sketchy. She's not here for Matt!" Come now, Anna, you know what the Bible says: Let she who is not there for the 'gram endorsements cast the first stone.

Outside, just as Victoria is telling Matt that she thinks they'd be a "good match" (and he inexplicably responds, "agreed"!!!!!), in walks Brittany the allegedly sketchy Chicagoan. Looks like the new "ladies" are ready to claim their time with the Bachelor.

That said, we only see very brief glimpses of Matt's chats with the new women; instead, most of the time is spent cutting away to the OG contestants as they fret about losing out on time. "I'm pissed off right now because these new girls have come in and hijacked the night," huffs Mina. Here's what we do learn about the newcomers: Brittany says she can "talk to anybody"; Ryan has a younger brother who is 22; Kim has a Shar-Pei named Bosley who drools a lot; and Catalina thinks Matt is "way cuter in person."

The only new woman we spend any real amount of time with is Michelle. And yes, she still seems very nice. Michelle just wants a "down-to-earth person" who will "be there" for the people she loves. "I'm looking for someone who will change the world with me," she says. "I feel like we'd breed well." Somehow, it doesn't sound super creepy coming out of her mouth.

Tink tink tink! In walks Harrison with his Butter Knife of Bad News. Who will join Serena P., Rachael, and Chelsea in the circle of safety? Before we find out, let me please rescind my praise for Kim's multi-colored dress, now that I've seen this full-frontal view:

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Yikes. Also, why does Anna always look like she's smelling a fart? (Don't answer that.) Rose ceremony roll call: MJ, Pieper, Bri, Magi, Michelle (!), Mari, Ryan (!), Kit, Serena C., Abigail, Katie, Victoria (screams into void), Lauren, Brittany (!), Jessenia, Anna, and Catalina are sticking around. That means it's time to say farewell to Khaylah, Kaili, and Kim. So damn, four of the five new women get to stay! Good thing one of this week's group dates involves people punching each other.

But first: Filler!

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For the love of all that's holy, when will producers give up on these "wise old Bachelor/Bachelorette stops by to give advice" segments? Ben Higgins only managed to find a life partner after he left the cameras behind — what business does he have giving Matt guidance?

Oh great, Ben is sticking around for the group date. What a delight. Mari, Bri, Abigail, Brittany, Ryan, Catalina, Magi, Anna, and Victoria meet Ben and Matt out in the middle of a field for the "Fall in Love Fest," an autumn-themed obstacle course. First, the "ladies" must paddle across the lake in a giant, hollowed-out pumpkin. From there, they don a squirrel costume and dig for an acorn labeled with their name in a huge pile of leaves.

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Once they drop the acorn in the bucket, they race on foot to the finish line. Though Magi the pharmacist and Ph.D. student is obviously very smart, she's not great at paddling her pumpkin, and if editing is to believe, she never made it across the lake.

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(Side note: Magi runs a non-profit that provides shoes to girls in developing countries. Forget Victoria — Magi is The Bachelor's true queen.)

At the afterparty, Anna finally gets her one-on-one time with Matt, only to be interrupted by the kissing bandit herself, Brittany. "I'm actually gonna try to keep him for a couple more minutes," Anna says with a big I-hate-you smile. Though Brittany agrees to give Anna five more minutes, she continues to lurk nearby — and of course, that drives Anna crazy. "I'm pissed off," she fumes. "I almost wanna be like, 'Yo girl, I know some dirt on you, so don't mess with me!'"

Dirt? Ooooh, do tell, Anna.

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Woah, them's fightin' (and potentially slanderous) words. What are you basing this on, Anna? "There is a rumor because she knows all of the rich men in Chicago that Brittany may be an escort," she explains. "She may be having a transactional relationship with wealthy men." (Right. We know what "escort" means, honey.)

Perhaps Anna should stop worrying so much about the other women and be more like Bri, who uses her time with the Bachelor to assure him that she's "grateful" for the time they have together. "I feel it," she says with a flirty nose crinkle. And wouldn't you know it? This relatively non-crazy behavior — not the gossip (Anna) or the groping (Brittany) — is what wins Matt over. Bri gets the date rose!

In the grand old tradition of women blaming other women over things men do, Anna reacts to losing out on the date rose by confronting Brittany. In front of the entire group!

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"I actually was getting messages from people in Chicago, um, just kind of them saying, 'Watch out for this girl,'" says Anna. "That, like, you're an escort, and all this stuff." Brittany, who categorically denies being an escort, is displeased to hear that Anna's been spreading this rumor in the house. Anna stops her attack to offer a disingenuous apology — "I think that's an awful thing to say about someone, and I want to apologize" — but her intentions are pretty clear. (If she really thought it was an awful thing to say, why is she now saying it publicly for the third time?)

"No, I'm not an escort," replies Brittany, who remains calm even though she's obviously upset. "Making a conclusion about me before you even know me… that's s---ty. I just feel like everyone's against me right now." Victoria responds with a boozy sneer: "Okay then, get out the house!" Of course, she says it while refusing to make eye contact and hiding behind her champagne flute.

Let's put a pin in #escortgate for a minute and move on to the week's one-on-one date which, naturally, went to one of the new arrivals: Michelle! It must have been unseasonably warm that fall day, because she shows up to their outdoor date in a cami-style tank top, and Matt's wearing a short-sleeve sweater. (No turtleneck, thankfully.)

Today's activity is an "extreme scavenger hunt," allegedly planned by Chris Harrison. (In between rounds of golf, perhaps?) First up is the traditional Bachelor leap of faith™… in this case, a zip line.

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Sure is pretty there in Nemacolin. Their next "clue" is actually just a bunch of giant balloons with "get to know you" type ice-breakers written on rolls of paper inside. From this, we learn that Michelle has flexible shoulder joints and that she and Matt both hope to have three children. At long last, we come to the hot air balloon kiss we saw in the super-tease weeks ago.

At dinner, we're treated to the episode's second (relatively) substantive conversation about race. Michelle talks about how hard 2020 has been for her students in Minnesota, with both the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Though she couldn't be with her students in person, Michelle says she did her best to support them and have the tough conversations that Floyd's death brought about. Apparently, earlier in the day, Matt and Michelle talked about "the achievement gap and the opportunity gap," both in relation to her work and his ABC Food Tours organization.

"I don't want to just pass the time," says Michelle. "I want to make a change so that when I'm not here anymore, I impacted people." Then she quotes Maya Angelou — and shockingly, Matt recognizes the quote! (Though there's evidence to suggest that Maya Angelou never said it.) Either way, Matt and Michelle are definitely really digging each other, and she gets the date rose. Then they make out in the back of a vintage car.

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Congrats, person who seems legitimately decent!

Okay, Katie, Pieper, Serena P., Rachael, Kit, Chelsea, Jessenia, Lauren, Serena C., and MJ — you're up! It's time to fight for Matt. With your fists.

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Yep, it's the "Battle for the Bachelor" date, coached by world boxing champion Mia St. John. That's Katie pummeling the crap out of Jessenia in the GIF above. Round after round, the women climb into the ring and just wail on each other, and Matt isn't sure if he LOVES it. "Fun and games are over," he says, as Rachael and Pieper trade brutal blows. "That emotion comes out and they started going… and it was kinda frightening." Damn right it was! Lauren almost broke Serena C.'s neck, for Pete's sake.

After watching Serena C.'s skull whiplash itself almost all the way off her spine, Matt decides to call the fight. Get some ice for that swelling, "ladies," and we'll see you at the after-party.

Rachael gets some quality time first, followed by Pieper, who — and correct me if I'm wrong — we really haven't seen with Matt much. "I feel like I could do a better job of letting you know how much I like you and like being around you," says the Bachelor. So could the editors, for that matter.

Back in the holding pen, MJ, Serena P., Pieper, Jessenia, and Serena C. are whiling away the hours by trashing the new women. Katie listens for a few minutes and then interjects. "I get it, we're entitled to our feelings, but at the end of the day, they live with us and I would hate to be on their side of this," she says. "At some point, we've gotta kind of get over it and welcome them into the house a little bit." A mature woman in a sea of mean girls — we have no choice but to stan!

But Katie's pleas are falling on deaf ears, so she makes the (potentially ruinous) decision to inform Matt about all the drama. She walks outside, where the Bachelor is chit-chatting with producers, and asks him for a few minutes alone.

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"There's some pretty bad rumors starting about the new girls that literally could ruin their lives," says Katie. "I'm not even exaggerating." She gently suggests that Matt address the bullying the next day when everyone is together (at the cocktail party, maybe?). The Bachelor agrees, saying he'll "never stand for" this kind of behavior. "Who's spreading these rumors, and why?" says Matt, adding that no one will be able to "bully their way to my heart."

Let's hope not! We'll have to wait until next week to see how Matt tackles the toxicity — and how Anna gets her hair to do that cutesy '60s flip — but for now, I have a few questions for you, rose lovers. Could Michelle be a front-runner after one date? Did Victoria really make a joke about giving Katie a black eye when she herself periodically looks like someone punched her in the face? And was that Matt's real dancing, or fake "funny" dancing? Post your thoughts below!

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