The Bachelor Week 5 Recap – Matt James

Every so often during a season of the Bachelor, there is an inflection point so visceral, so gut-wrenching, that an Irish poet’s interpretation of a Sophoclean classic is the only location where the imagery exists to do it justice. At the heart of Seamus Heaney’s seminal work The Cure at Troy, is a conflict between personal integrity and political expediency. The chorus of the closing scene is perhaps the most applicable in sensibility and sentiment to this conflict but also to what we saw on this most recent episode of the Bachelor: “history says, don’t hope on this side of the grave, but then, once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme.” That tidal wave was a 30-foot Sumatran tsunami on Monday night and boy was some justice doled out… let’s jump in

Victoria is an incredibly interesting psychological specimen. I hate to keep bringing up her similarities to Donald Trump (what a refreshing fortnight it’s been now that the hands grasping the nuclear football are not so saturated with fast food grease that there is a constant fumble risk) but she has a startlingly similar ability to overinflate her sense of self-importance and conjure conflict and hatred out of thin air with a Houdini-like élan. Victoria’s villainizing campaign was not aimed at Mexicans or the free press, but like pigs to truffles, or McCarthy to Communists, she made it her prerogative to go after these new girls with all her energy. She labelled her Robespierre Reign of Terror “The OGs vs. Newbies” which sounds to me more like a Space Jam knockoff than a concerted bullying campaign, but her activities, as well as those of MJ and Anna, really caught the attention of Matt, who dominated the early proceedings trying to get to the bottom of the toxic culture within the ranks.

The idea that the Bachelor or Bachelorette has some kind of responsibility for the cultural conditions of the house is an interesting concept that resurfaces a couple of times every season whenever there is unrest. Whether it was Bennett and Noah, Caelynn and Hannah B, Hannah Ann and Kelsey (the list goes on and on), all of these conflicts are tied together by the false indignation of the bachelor in question, and their unwavering quest to try and resolve whatever dissension there is. Matt took his cultural responsibility very seriously last night, flexing his acting skills by seeming shocked that 32 girls cooped up together all dating the same man could ever lead to interpersonal resentment. He stated the blindingly obvious that he’s not looking for a raging bitch as a wife (“If you’re having to belittle someone else to shine, those aren’t the qualities I’m looking for in a wife,”) and then cycled through the women, judiciously evaluating their stories with the look of consternation that this could have happened under his watch.

Matt’s fact-finding conversations with Brittany and Ryan were a tasty amuse bouche, but really, they were just whetting our collective palette for what was a perfectly concocted mixture of remorse, contrition and begs for forgiveness from Anna for the main course. It’s amazing the paradigm shifts that occur when the existential insecurity of these ladies comes into question, and Anna’s claim that “she is the worst, most shallow person ever” and that she’s “so sad and upset with myself” are phrases that she was most certainly not wheeling out to Victoria when the two of them were seen spilling gallons of speculative tea last episode. Matt handled the situation with a surprising amount of compassion and decisiveness (although “when I met Brittany a few days ago, she was spunky” isn’t the best thing to say when you’re trying to defend someone accused of escorting) and made the call to give Anna the chop. This was the first wave of Seamus Heaney’s tide of justice.

Victoria’s ugly downward spiral was the next indication that nature was healing and that facts, truth and decency on The Bachelor were back in vogue. I must say, it was quite funny watching her scramble to play defense as she tried to completely rehabilitate her image from fiery dragon to cuddly kitten, but Matt seemed to see through it, confronting her about her role in systematically bullying all of the new girls in the house. One instance in particular was Victoria’s characterization of Ryan, a dancer, as “a hoe.” To be fair to Victoria, her assessment that the new girls were “hoes” was intended as a much more blanket statement, but Victoria certainly didn’t help her cause by admitting to Matt that she had said it and then referring to Ryan as “the shadiest bitch” for telling him.

Any time you use “it was taken out of context” as a defense for something said – see every professional athlete who has had to defend calling their classmates racist and homophobic names on Twitter in middle school – you are guilty as hell, and Victoria’s constant impropriety, her blind insistence that she is “the best option for Matt,” despite only having spoken to him like three times, and her full-blown melt-down where she claimed that she “literally might die” if Katie was chosen over her were irreconcilable red flags for Matt. From a producer’s perspective, if you were gonna keep one lie-spreading, conniving, back-stabbing snake, then I would definitely have kept Victoria and not Serena C, but maybe Matt actually had a say in this one and his patience with Victoria was spent. I have to admit, despite her roaring character flaws and objective insufferability, Victoria is a blogger’s dream; I will miss her, and the joy that she “brought so many people.” (Her words not mine) To all you Matt’s out there, congratulations, you dodged a bullet!

Rachael got a 1-on-1 date, and Matt celebrated by greeting her in the same manner he greets all of the ladies: by licking his lips, rubbing his hands together and then saying: “I like that” after whatever the girl says to him. Rachael could literally have said that she wasn’t a fan of the Shrek franchise, or that the only music she listens to is underground Ukrainian screamo and I’m sure Matt would have repeated the same phrase. Rachael’s date was trying on some dresses under the watchful eye of Matt, and John Legend’s gay, Rastafarian, French cousin…

Rachael was forced to confront all of the other girls, 25 shopping bags in tow, upon her return to the resort. Given the reactions of some of the ladies, you would have thought she was wearing a Lady Gaga meat dress in the lion’s enclosure; Pieper in particular looked like her new puppy had been released in the enclosure as well!    

Full disclosure, I was otherwise engaged during Rachael’s dinner and the activities on the group date, so I will not be talking about them. The only analysis I could get from my parents was that MJ got freaked out by the chickens and rejected by the goats – great judges of character those goats!

My main takeaways from the group date were: Abigail is a real sweetie and actually has some of the best chemistry with Matt (despite his personality closely resembling drying paint); Michelle is definitely a contender, but she didn’t react well to being in the bullpen with the other girls rather than in a hot air balloon or the backseat of a car with Matt; MJ is toxic, maybe she should try baseball rather than the Bachelor; and I think that vulnerability is Matt’s aphrodisiac… I don’t think Matt could tell you a single hobby, college they attended, aspiration of any of these girls, his primary line of questioning is digging into their deepest darkest insecurities. “Thank you for being vulnerable with me” is almost as common a refrain as “I like that!” I’m not saying that Matt is an aspiring cult leader who preys on the weak and vulnerable… but my mother most certainly is!

Daaaaamn, no dust under those vases

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times but I cannot unhear “kid” whenever Matt says “Kit,” and so “tonight is Kit’s night” really threw me for a loop. With this is mind, when I found out it was a cooking date I was expecting dino nuggets and Kraft mac and cheese on the menu. Matt’s preparation was incredibly strange… he dusted underneath his vases… literally the most OCD people in the world don’t dust underneath their vases… I would sooner create a matrix that took into account authors place of birth, book length and spine color and organize my books accordingly rather than dust underneath the vases. “Kit is a little fashionista” was his justification for cleaning up his house… certainly not a possible future modelling contract with Cynthia Rowley or anything cynical like that!

I know COVID has done a number on the quality of 1-on-1s this season, but as dates go, this was possibly the worst of all time. Imagine a guy inviting you over for dinner and he subsequently forces you to make him chocolate chip cookies, you don’t get any food, and then you make out on the couch and he has his eyes wide open the entire time. Woof. Clearly understanding that vulnerability was the only thing Matt values, she started laying it on him how difficult it was that her mother had been stocking the shelves, not physically, at TJ Maxx for her entire life. Cry me a river Kit. Of course she got a rose because its literally impossible not to get one. Thanks Matt.

In other news, Jessenia and MJ are in a little tiff so will be interesting to see how that turns out. Tyler C is going to be back, and Heather (never been kissed) Morris is also making a celebrity appearance. Until next week folks!

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