Bachelor Matt James Finale Recap
Bachelor Matt James Finale Recap |
To say that Bachelor Matt James’ season finale was the most dramatic is an understatement. Although most of us knew the controversy that swirled around Rachael, one of his final two picks, I can report that many other moments had me shaking my finger at the screen, sucking in my breath in shock, and shaking my head in disbelief.
I’m going to guess that most of you reading this recap already know the glaring revelations from last night’s show. There’s no need for me to break down every little detail, commenting on the episode’s ins and outs when all you really want to know is if Emmanuel Acho is as great as everyone is claiming him to be.
That answer, by the way, is yes. Yes, Emmanuel Acho is a fine man who enjoys riveting conversation and the snug fit of a jaunty plaid suit.
As the host of a YouTube channel called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” Acho was the perfect choice to maneuver the unchartered territories of this particular After the Final Rose. Acho is not a member of the Bachelor franchise. He can approach these people with a fresh, unbiased perspective with no personal relationships or ties with ABC.
Acho does have an agenda, and he opens the segment by disclaiming his intentions:
“There is a lot to talk about tonight, especially after racially insensitive images surfaced from Rachael’s past. And we certainly have to address Chris Harrison’s defense of insensitivity in his interview with Rachel Lindsay, for which he has since apologized. I hope that we can talk openly and honestly. We can take steps toward mutual understanding and healing.”
That’s a slow clap intro if I’ve ever heard one.
The first person to saunter through the sea of a thousand tea lights scattered all over the empty studio is Michelle. She looks phenomenal physically and has the appropriate amount of nerves interfering with her megawatt smile. Although Acho is a professional and handles himself beautifully for most of the episode, he falters and stumbles during Michelle’s hot seat time.
My roommate Lara thinks it’s because Emmanuel Acho has a huge crush on Michelle, and I AM HERE FOR THAT HYPOTHESIS.
Michelle crushes her time with Matt James’ mother Patty and his brother John during the finale episode. She even consoles his mother when Patty starts crying about Matt James’ propensity to be drawn to friends with cohesive and “normal” family units. She feels that Michelle’s family is a blessing Matt James needs since it’s something she, his own mother, can’t give him.
Once again, Michelle steps it up and tells Patty that Matt’s upbringing is not a disadvantage. It makes him the man he is today. And she loves that man.
You’d think that Patty is all about Michelle, but the same thing happens with Rachael. Patty cries just as hard and is just as impressed with contestant number two. And this is precisely why Matt James spirals into a pit of despair moments after Rachael leaves his side.
I believe Matt James was prepared for his mom to prefer Rachael over Michelle. And when she deemed both girls worthy of his affections, Matt James felt a little stuck. The precise moment when she warns her son not to do anything rash under the banner of love is when he turns into a petrified version of himself.
I don’t think Patty grasped what she was doing as she reminded Matt James that love isn’t the be-all-end-all. Love fades. There has to be more in a relationship than just love. Exhibit A: her marriage with his absentee father for the last two decades.
Patty kisses Matt’s cheek, and he wanders to his own forest-dwelling, eager to have a fireside chat with Our Host Chris Harrison. He didn’t like the pain in his mother’s face when she reminded him that people fall in and out of love all the time and that he shouldn’t propose until he’s ready.
Mild assurance has been replaced with major doubt. Matt James tells Hare that his mom told him that love isn’t something that can carry you through to an engagement. This takes him to a dark place. He knows the commitment is everlasting, but he feels like he needs to pump the brakes because he’s unsure if he’s ready.
Harrison presses, questioning that this reaction is not the same as the Matt James who was head-over-heels just days ago. Didn’t he say his wife was at the Nemacolin? Didn’t he say he was ready to get engaged? (Hare was one step away from having the ABC Intern fetch him the agreement Matt James signed in blood.)
OHCH: “Love changes. Love wilts. Love ends. What kind of greeting card is that?”
Matt: “My mother knows I’m taking this seriously. The only reason she would bring this up is that she knows feelings are involved. I’m not going to mess this up by doing something to make these women happy.”
Matt James reminds Harrison that his mantra this entire season has been complete and utter honesty. He owes it to Michelle and Rachael to stay open-minded.
And he does that by scaling down the freshly whitewashed facade of the main house of the Nemacolin. He leaps of faith with Michelle. He has her back. She has his. They are free-falling into love, trusting nothing but each other to help them through the hard times in life.
But that isn’t enough. Michelle handing Matt James matching “World-Changer Warriors” basketball jerseys with “Mrs. James” and “Mr. James” on the back isn’t enough either. It’s like the gift triggers something guttural in Matt James’ entire being, and he doesn’t even have the strength to hold his emotions in check.
Michelle can see the angst and drags the truth out of him. He doesn’t think he can “get there” with her, and it’s not fair to just tell her what she wants to hear.
BURN THE JERSEYS!
Michelle is gobsmacked. Matt James leaves to cry curbside with Our Host Chris Harrison, while Michelle sobs in the fetal position in her room. She later informs Acho that she begged producers to ask for a few minutes with Matt so that she could gain some clarity and was refused.
Again I say, “BURN THE JERSEYS!”
So, where does this leave us? Well, the next thing we know, Our Host Chris Harrison is knocking on Rachael’s door, delicately explaining that Matt James will not be sharing one last date with her before the final rose ceremony. She knows nothing, and Hare reveals nothing. Rachael is left to believe that Matt James is wavering, and she doesn’t know why since he’s given zero signs of trepidation before.
Because Uncle Neil has an ironclad contract with ABC, Matt James still has to visit with the tangerine jeweler to pick out a sensational engagement ring that he will hoard as his precious until the time is right.
We see Matt James push through the double birch gate doors that lead to a rustic proposal setting that would make wedding Pinterest boards proud. Rachael arrives in an ill-fitting forest green sequin gown, scared out of her mind with what’s about to go down.
Her soliloquy is lovely, full of wonderful sentiments. She’s never felt love like this. If he hurts, she hurts. She will choose him every day for the rest of her life — if he’ll let her.
Matt James trudges up memories from his childhood. He’s not ready to propose as a result of his upbringing. He doesn’t want to put her what his mom went through. So instead of a ring, he’s going to give her a promise to build on what they started here at the Nemacolin.
He is ready for a life with her and sees Rachael as his future wife and future mother of his children, but he’s not ready to put a ring on it because that’s a bigger deal than telling her the aforementioned wife/mom bits. Details.
And Rachael is one-hundred-percent fine with this declaration. Why? Because she’s twenty-four-years-old and has no desire to be married, either. Give her the rose and a carriage ride through the brisk Pennsylvania air, and she’s fine.
Then all hell breaks loose.
Back in the studio audience, Matt James has apologized to Michelle for not meeting with her for two minutes, and then he sits down one-on-one with Acho. They discuss the pressure of being the first Black Bachelor lead and how hard it was to represent Black men universally in this role. Then Acho inquires about the controversial photos of Rachael that surfaced, asking Matt James to walk us through his emotions.
Matt wanted them to be a rumor. He wanted it to be a misunderstanding. And when he learned that they were indeed a reality, he knew Rachael didn’t understand his life as a Black man in America. So he stepped back from the relationship.
Acho wonders aloud, “Isn’t she a different person now? Can you teach her? Help her grow? Can you still in 2021 condemn her for the actions in 2018 and let that dictate the love you shared?” Matt James doesn’t think so. Rachael must put in the work and do this on her own.
Rachael lands on the hot seat next and Emmanuel Acho says the following statement before he asks one question:
“There’s a difference between being racist and racially insensitive or racially ignorant. I’ve been very intentional about saying what you did was racially insensitive, it was racially ignorant, and it plays itself out as racism. But that doesn’t necessarily classify someone as racist. You have to pull back the curtains and look at their intention. Was their intention malicious?”
He then pulls up the controversial photo and asks Rachael to describe who she sees.
Rachael: “I see someone who was living in this ignorance, without thinking about how it would be hurting other people.”
Rachael explains that she never thought about the tradition behind an antebellum party and what it represents. She doesn’t blame anyone, and there is no excuse for her behavior.
When asked what steps she’s taking to be better or to learn, Rachael mentions books, podcasts, interviews, but she understands that it means nothing unless there is action behind the education put into play.
Acho then asks about the breakup. Rachael admits she felt confused at first, but once the initial reaction went away, she thought how strong their relationship had been. Matt had to feel extremely hurt for him to end things. And she feels awful that she is the one who hurt him.
Matt James comes back out to the stage and sees Rachael for the first time since the end of their relationship. He’s unwell and has a hard time putting into words what he feels. He lets the breakup beard speak for him instead.
Rachael apologizes, and Acho tries to lead Matt James in a discussion about his pain. Matt James claims he is heartbroken, devastated, and disappointed.
Then there is a whole big bunch of silence.
Like any good host, Acho lets the couple sit in that silence, confident someone will soon fill it. Neither do. Acho prompts Matt James to share what’s on his mind.
Acho prompts again. Matt repeats that Rachael has to put in the work and it’s something she has to do on her own. This is followed by another long silent beat.
Acho asks if Matt James considers the woman who he fell in love with the same woman who is sitting in front of him right now?
So Rachael takes over and tells him that he is the only reason she decided to do the show. That she loves every single part of him, which includes him being a Black man. She’s never experienced love like this and doesn’t see it happening again for her.
Acho asks Matt James point blank if the door is even slightly open for Rachael. Like someone who has been media trained within an inch of his life, Matt James responds, “The work and the reconciliation is something I can’t do for you. The last thing I want is for people to call you out to be canceled. I want them to call you in. That’s the best thing that can come out of this.”
And Rachael knows. She knows it’s over. She wants him to be happy and wishes him nothing but the best. She apologizes once more and thanks God for putting him in her life.
Acho invites Matt James to give Rachael one last embrace, and he doesn’t move an inch from his seat on the couch.
Fully embracing that hella awkward moment, Acho turns to the camera and asks the audience to GET EXCITED about his next announcement — our new bachelorettes for the upcoming seasons!
That’s right. Plural bachelorettes and plural seasons. Katie, who will hopefully leave her sex toy at home this go around, will be first up. Her season is currently filming in New Mexico. And our girl Michelle will be later this fall.
Even though I would have loved for them to put the two together in the same season (can you imagine?), I’m glad Michelle is ready and willing to find love again in this environment. My verdict is still out on Katie.
Well? What did you think? Was it everything you thought it would be and more? Do you think Acho should join Michelle’s season?! He’s totally smitten.
Sound off in the comments section!