On a surprisingly emotional “Bachelor,” Matt James last night confronted his father about their relationship to heal himself as he searches for a wife.
But first, the spoilers:
And yes, we need to get them out of the way now.
In the final rose ceremony, Matt chose Michelle Young and Rachael Kirkconnell as his two finalists.
He sent home Bri Springs.
That’s important to note as you consider the episode as a whole.
Obviously, producers have been aware of Matt’s final pick for weeks and use this episode to goose the story to its inevitable conclusion next week.
Before Matt took the women vying for his heart into the fantasy suites, he got real with his dad.
Matt has talked about how not having his father in his life affected him, how that sense of loss has impacted his relationships with women, but he had never had the chance to share that with his father.
“When I needed you, you weren’t there to have those conversations. You started other families. That affected me,” he says.
His father at first tried to deflect that by saying how saddened he was when he came home one day to find Matt’s mother had left him.
“For good reason,” Matt replies. “Who wants to be with someone who’s not going to be faithful to them?”
“No one is perfect, son,” his father says.
He came for a celebration.
“If we wanted to celebrate, we’d go to Chuck E. Cheese,” Matt says.
Matt’s father apologizes for hurting him, and grabs him in a bear hug.
Matt promises himself that this will be the first in a series of conversations with his father.
“Just because I’m his son doesn’t mean I have to follow in his footsteps.”
After that painful encounter, “The Bachelor” shifted to three fantasy suite dates, three women declaring their love for Matt, and Matt reacting by kissing – and curiously, never using the “L” word himself.
Is he contractually bound to refrain from using it until the finale?
But in what now looks to be a spoiler for the finale, Michelle’s fantasy date featured a bizarre intrusion, courtesy of the producers – Rachael.
As Michelle and Matt get hot ‘n’ heavy, the producers decided to sweeten the moment with Rachael’s voiceover in which she acknowledges her jealousy, how the idea of Matt spending the night with another woman is her worst nightmare.
For a show that has faced so many challenges about diversity and failed most of them, highlighting a white woman’s anxiety – this white woman’s anxiety – as Matt makes out a woman of color is truly a rancid choice in storytelling.
Michelle and Bri never got their fair share of screen time. Their personalities, their back stories, were shorted for epic rounds of toxic behavior by some of the other women.
Every sign seems to confirm what is rumored: Matt will pick Rachael next week.
“I know that this is love because I don’t feel like I can live without him,” Rachael tells the camera.
But if spoilers are to be believed, she’ll be doing just that.
Matt has already released statements about how real-time developments have caused him to reassess his time as the franchise’s first Black male lead.
Those developments – perhaps referring to Rachael’s problematic past behavior – have been “devastating and heartbreaking, to put it bluntly,” he said.
It now makes sense why host Chris Harrison tried to defend Kirkconnell’s past actions on Rachel Lindsay’s podcast: He knows the outcome, and he was trying to salvage the season.
In the wake of widespread condemnation, Harrison has taken a step away from the show.
The “After the Final Rose” special will be hosted by Emmanuel Acho.
That special could well determine the future of the franchise.