This week on The Bachelor, a group date causes tears, Matt referees the MJ/Jessenia showdown, and a new woman pops up out of nowhere.

By Kristen Baldwin
February 08, 2021 at 10:00 PM EST

Every week, it feels like Matt's "journey" on The Bachelor takes two steps forward and one step back. Just as it seemed like we had put the mean girl drama behind us (bye, MJ!), this week we had to deal with an out-of-nowhere new feud — and then another new woman showed up. It's madness, rose lovers!

 Let's recap.

Credit: ABC

Yep, MJ and Jessenia are still where we left them last week, waiting for their hastily arranged two-on-one date with Matt to begin. When the Bachelor finally arrives, he pulls each woman aside to plead her case. Jessenia tells the Bachelor that MJ "lied to your face" about the bullying: "She and Victoria were on the forefront of that… Everything she's done has come from a place of malice." What's MJ doing as this is going on?

Credit: ABC

"I just can't stand her!" whines MJ. "She's not gonna get away with this." After crying for a bit, MJ fluffs her hair and puts what she calls this "weak bitch moment" behind her. (Wow, even her pep talks are anti-woman. That's commitment!)

But when she sits down with Matt, MJ starts sniffling again, crying about how hard it was to have Jessenia question her "character," since her heart is obviously "so big." How could Jessenia accuse her of being a bully when all she's trying to do is "bring everybody together"? MJ assures Matt that she "never lied," before heading back to the holding pen to pick another fight with Jessenia. "You need to literally check yourself right now," she huffs. "You continue to be petty." Jessenia remains unruffled. The girl knows she's got it in the bag — even if Matt is "conflicted."

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Not that conflicted, though. "MJ… I can't give you this rose," he says at last, before walking the hairdresser to the Reject SUV. "I just can't believe this happened," she murmurs. "I don't know how she did this. She sabotaged me." I'm sorry, MJ — I think I misheard you. Did you say, "She sabotaged me" or "I sabotaged myself"? Because obviously the latter is true.

The "ladies" assemble for the cocktail party, and to be honest, they don't seem that psyched when Jessenia walks in with her rose. Not that they would have preferred that MJ stayed, but it seems like maybe they were hoping that both of them would be sent home. At this point, though, all the women want "Matt's fine ass" to walk through the door. Instead…

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That's right! The cocktail party is canceled yet again! And Serena C. is very, very unhappy about it. "I feel like all of this could have been avoided if the whole topic of bullying and toxicity wouldn't have been brought up in the first place [at] the last rose ceremony," she gripes. "Katie, I'm sorry, but you did bring it up. Pretty much every scenario where there has been drama, you have been a part of."

Dang, shots randomly fired! Is Serena C. really going all "snitches get stitches" on Katie right now? Katie is surprised, but she does not back down. "Why are you concerned about me?" she asks. "What the hell?" What the hell, indeed.

Rose ceremony roll call: Serena P., Michelle, Pieper, Bri, Chelsea, Katie, and Serena C. join Rachael, Jessenia, Abigail, and Kit in the Circle of Safety™. That means we must say goodbye to Ryan, Brittany, and — this one hurts — queen Magi.

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"It's tough. You know, I'm sad," says Magi. "My person is definitely out there, and I cannot wait to meet him." Guys, take a moment and go check out her charity.

The first one-on-one of the week goes to… Pieper! Congrats, girl. Before we can get to their date, though, Serena C. wants to spend some more time yelling at Katie. Apparently, she thinks it's Katie's fault that she didn't get the one-on-one or something?

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"I am just super frustrated of time continuously being taken away by your antics," says Serena C. "I don't think that you are truly here for Matt." Katie, who knows a camera hog when she sees one, is once again taken aback — and pissed. "I thought you were coming to apologize, to be honest," she replies. "If you have a problem with last night, take it up with Matt." At this point, voices are raised, hands are waved in faces, insults are shouted over each other. The noise travels downstairs, and the women are uncomfortable. "Do you hear that?" murmurs Kit. "They're, like, going at it."

Eventually, Katie reaches her limit with Serena and walks out.

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"I cannot reason with crazy," sighs Katie. Serena, meanwhile, heads back downstairs to give her spin to the other women. "She couldn't handle what I had to say to her," she whisper-gloats. "The way that she came in hella-hot with her sex-positivity, that was her 'shock and awe' performance." Just at that moment, Katie walks in. "You don't have to whisper," she snaps. If you didn't already think that Serena C. was full of crap, this next declaration should do it: "I was just telling them what you told me… That your main focus is not to be with Matt."

Girl, what? It sucks because even though Serena C. is lying through her teeth, she's successfully gotten a rise out of Katie and put her on the defensive. Still, the other women don't seem to be taking sides. "Yeah, last night sucked because a lot of ladies didn't get time with Matt, but I think that it's important that we just let it be," says Jessenia. "We don't want you screaming at each other, please."

She's got a point, "ladies." Why scream at each other when you could be screaming at…

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Here she is, rose lovers. Miss "Never Been Kissed" from Colton's season of The Bachelor. The Nemacolin security guard is just as confused as we are. "We are closed to the public right now," he explains, but Heather just bats her eyelashes and tries again: "Is there any way I can get in there?"

Once producers find out what's going on at the gate, they quickly send Harrison down with a two-person camera crew to figure out what the heck is going on. So, here's the short version: Heather Martin is good friends with former Bachelorette Hannah Brown. And Hannah knows Matt James from their time together in the quarantine crew. At some point after that, Hannah told Heather that Matt "is, like, the perfect match for you." Know this, says Heather, "I couldn't let him get engaged and not meet him, or not try my best."

Okay, so why did it take Heather so long to crash this party? Certainly she could have reached out to producers and finagled a spot on the show, either as part of the original group or the Bonus Five? Alas, rose lovers, we're not going to get answers to these questions. An incredulous Harrison informs Heather that he will take her request to meet Matt to the producers. "Even if we said yes, it wouldn't even be close to today," warns the host — meaning, of course, that Heather would need to quarantine and all that jazz before joining the show. "Why don't you go back to your hotel, and I'll be in touch."

Oof. Enough with this tomfoolery. Pieper and Matt, you're up!

The Bachelor picks her up in some kind of swank SUV and drives her out into the dark woods. "What's something you would do at night?" Matt asks as Pieper quizzes him about where they're going. Luckily, her first guess ("get mauled by a bear") is incorrect. Instead, Matt — and let's hope some licensed carnival operators — have set up a cute little amusement park just for them.

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"Me and Pieper already have our relationship. We already have common ground," says Matt. "We're really trying to explore what life would look like with each other." They have a "blast" on all of the vomit-inducing rides, like the spinny pendulum ride and the spinny Graviton thing and the spinny swing ride. Blech, I'm turning green just watching them. But for the couple in question, this whole evening is very romantic. "Getting to know him has shown me that falling in love is possible here," gushes Pieper.

We interrupt this "journey" to inform you that Heather Martin has "officially" been invited to quarantine at Nemacolin.

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Wow. Great. Yay. So excited.

Back to Pieper and Matt. At dinner, she Opens Up™ to the Bachelor about growing up in a family where people don't express love verbally. "It's all through actions," Pieper explains. "Sometimes I want my mom to just call me and be like, 'I'm really proud of you. You're doing a great job.' But I know that's not really her style. I know that's never going to happen." Oh man, that's really sad. Now Pieper's crying, and I feel the urge to go wake my 10-year-old up to tell him I'm proud of him. (But I won't. It takes him forever to fall asleep.)

Anyhow, Pieper's telling Matt all of this to explain why it's hard for her to "let people in." The Bachelor understands. "We can work on that together," he says sweetly. "It's something that I've struggled with." With that encouragement, Pieper feels confident enough to drop this bomb: "Matt, I am falling in love with you." Though the Bachelor doesn't reply in kind (like he did with Rachael), he gives Pieper the date rose.

Side note: Matt's suit is giving me Harold and the Purple Crayon vibes… and I like it!

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No, we will not be discussing the "private" concert by Temecula Road. I refuse.

On to the group date! Bri, Kit, Rachael, Michelle, Jessenia, Serena P., Abigail, Chelsea, and Serena C. join Matt at a local bowling alley (or some pop-up situation production built at Nemacolin), for a "Bowl for the Bachelor" extravaganza. And sorry, "ladies," but there will be no bumpers on this date — so own your gutter balls!

Just when it seems like the afternoon will be all fun and games (and hot wings), in walks Chris Harrison to announce that the women will have to divide up into teams and compete. You know the drill, rose lovers: The winners get "an amazing, romantic evening" with Matt, while the losers must endure a "long walk home in the rain." But on the bright side, the shirts are cute!

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Though the "Pink Petals" (Michelle, Chelsea, Jessenia, and Serena P.) take an early lead, the "Blue Bombshells" battle back… and only lose by six points. Sorry Abigail, Rachael, Kit, Serena C., and Bri, but it's the walk of shame for you. "I feel for the blue team," says Matt. Then tell producers you don't want to send them home! Bachelors and Bachelorettes have done this before — no one is forcing you to follow these absurd rules! As Kit says, do you really need your wife to be an expert bowler? Ugh, Matt. You blew it, and now Abigail — who, as the internet says, must be protected at all costs — is crying!

Wait a minute. What's this?

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Another date card? And it's addressed to the blue team? Matt is inviting them back to the cocktail party so he can spend time with them? It's a miracle! Our Bachelor has a spine, rose lovers!

Though the pink team is not happy to see their rivals show up at the party, Matt has no regrets. "This process is too important not to get time with everybody," he says. "Everyone should be here." Still, the women who haven't had one-on-ones, like Chelsea, are starting to seriously stress out. "I'm trying to be patient," she sighs. "I don't want him to give up on me." (Honestly, why hasn't Chelsea had a one-on-one? She is a freaking goddess.) Meanwhile, the date rose goes to Michelle.

It's time for the final date of the week. But first…

Okay, sure. It's former Bachelorette contestant/Matt's roommate Tyler C., who's here to offer Matt some helpful advice about finding love on TV. "Just be you," he says. "That's why we all love you. That's why you're here."

Cool, cool. Very helpful, Ty. On to the one-on-one date! Here's the good news: It's with Katie! Now the bad news: The "date" consists of punking Tyler while he gets a massage at the Nemacolin spa. "Me and you are going to be in the ear of the actor who we hired [to play] his masseuse today," Matt tells Katie. "And we're gonna be ruining his massage!" Wow, so not only does Katie get to spend a day with Matt at a fancy spa, she also gets to watch someone else get pampered? What fun.

From their little control room, Katie and Matt give Rosario the masseuse a variety of silly commands: Twist his nipples! Rub his head with the roller! Mount him! That said, when Rosario fakes a phone call to gossip with her "friend" (actually Katie) about giving Tyler a massage — in the middle of Tyler's actually massage — I'll admit, that was pretty funny. Then comes the big reveal.

Ha ha ha, great. Can Katie have a real date now? The next time we see her, she's greeting Matt before dinner with her second run-and-jump hug of the day. (So wait, did she and Matt really not enjoy any spa treatments?) While the Bachelor has a lot of fun with Katie, he isn't sure the "romance" is there, which we all know is code for "he's just not that into her." From what we've seen, they don't have a lot of chemistry. As much as I hate to admit it, rose lovers, I think we're about to lose the season's resident grown-up.

At dinner, Katie fills Matt in on her last relationship: It lasted three years, she thought he was "the one," but he wasn't. Now, says Katie, she's more able to "recognize a red flag" rather than ignore it. Her goal is to find a partner who is comfortable with himself and is willing to "grow together" as a couple. "I'm here for you through it all," adds Katie. "I'm committed and I can see this continuing… I'm here 'til the end if you want me to be."

Unfortunately, Katie, he does not. "You've been honest with me, and I owe the same honesty to you," says Matt. "And the truth is, my relationship with some of the other women in the house has progressed further along than ours has... I can't give you this rose tonight."

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What a bummer. But I'm not worried about Katie. She'll be fine. The thing that bugs me the most about this having to look at the obligatory shot of Serena C.'s smug face when she sees the Suitcase Ninja take Katie's bag away.

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To be fair, she didn't celebrate as much as I thought she would.

But it won't be long before Serena C. and the rest of the women have someone new to resent: Heather's been let out of quarantine — just in time for the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party! Hilariously, though, the show doesn't even send a car to pick her up.

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Step on it, Heather. The party is about to start!

"Tonight should be literally a normal night," chirps Jessenia as she and the "ladies" wait for the Bachelor to arrive. Girl come on — you have to know you just jinxed everything! While the night starts off normally enough — Matt chats and smooches with Abigail, and then chats and smooches with Bri — things get suddenly and deeply uncomfortable when Heather walks through those revolving doors. Or tries to, at least.

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The women, who are all sitting a few feet away, watch in what can best be described as rage-horror. "Who is it? Who is it? Who is it?" one of them whispers. "It's too late for that!" hisses another. Once she makes it through the door, Heather walks right past the other contestants with a little wave and heads right to the room where Matt is chatting with Pieper. When the Bachelor sees her, he bursts out laughing. "Heather?" he says, shocked. "What the heck?"

Matt asks Pieper if he can Heather can have a few minutes alone, and she does her best not to explode while walking out of the room. (Did you see the vein popping out on her forehead?) Once she's back in the lobby with the other women, they all huddle together to try and make sense of what the hell just happened. "She's from Colton's season!" says Serena P. "She's friends, I think, with Hannah Brown." Pieper is "stressed out and pissed off," and Jessenia is just straight-up over it. "She's had her time," she sniffs. "Like, go home please." Serena P. agrees: "If she gets a rose tonight, I'll be rageful."

Hold that thought, Serena P., because the episode is over. We're all going to have to wait until next week to find out what Matt is going to do. From the looks of the previews, the women waste no time venting their anger at Heather — and I don't suppose we can really blame them.

Quite a week, rose lovers! Before you go, I've got a few questions: Who do you think is the best match for Matt? Were you surprised to see Katie go home? And can we please all send up a prayer to keep Magi off of Paradise? She's too good for this franchise. Post your thoughts below!

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