‘The Bachelor’ Recap: Matt James Tries to End Bullying Between Contestants

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the Jan 25 episode of “The Bachelor.”

Last week’s episode left viewers with Matt James’ commitment to getting to the bottom of the bullying between contestants. Katie Thurston brought the drama to Matt’s attention after Anna Redman circulated a rumor that newcomer Brittany Galvin was an escort.

The women maintained the “old vs. new” mentality when it came to picking sides with contestants, but were quickly brought down to Earth when Matt gathered them for a lecture. He referenced the culture of bullying, the mob mentality and the toxicity between the contestants: “If you have to belittle someone else for you to shine, those aren’t the qualities that I’m looking for in a wife,” he said.

Matt pulled Brittany aside to listen to her experience, and she emotionally discussed being harassed in the house. It was immediately juxtaposed with Anna’s conversation with Matt, where she confessed and apologized. Despite her apology, Matt sent her home in the middle of the cocktail party.

The rest of the evening was filled with apologies from the original contestants to the new ones (Brittany, Michelle Young, Ryan Claytor and Catalina Morales). During Ryan and Matt’s conversation, she questioned the sincerity of their regrets and shared her negative experiences with Victoria Larson.

Victoria immediately pulled Matt aside after those comments, where she attempted damage control. Despite several episodes of aggressive name-calling, she denied being a bully and continued to blame other women. However, Matt saw through her denial and sent her home during the rose ceremony. Catalina, Mari Pepin and Lauren Maddox were also released.

On Victoria’s way out, she confronted Matt in front of all the other women: “I honestly feel so sorry for you that you would listen to hearsay and not all of the facts.” Her digs continued through her exit interviews before she finally left the property.

The next day brought the show’s host Chris Harrison and announcements of new dates. Rachael Kirkconnell was selected for the one-on-one, during which Matt took her to a full day of “spoiling,” including a shopping montage, a la “Pretty Woman.” During their night, Rachael shared that she was falling in love with Matt, and he reciprocated the sentiment. He ended the night by giving her a rose and a horse-drawn carriage ride.

The group date included Katie, Ryan, Michelle, Brittany, Bri Springs, Pieper James, Serena Chew, Magi Tareke, Abigail Heringer, Chelsea Vaughn, Jessenia Cruz and MJ Snyder. They spent the afternoon on the farm, cleaning up after chickens and pigs. Much attention was devoted to MJ, but was overshadowed by a secluded make out with Matt and Pieper. The interaction rattled multiple women, prompting the emotional realization that they were all dating the same man.

During the evening portion, Abigail reemerged after a quiet few weeks. Her connection with Matt had been slow since she received the first impression rose, but she took the opportunity to share her experience with hearing loss. She shared her struggle with the idea of “disappointing” her partner, as there’s a genetic likelihood her own children would be born Deaf. Her father walked out on her mother after she received her cochlear implants, which Matt related to from his own experiences of being raised by a single mom. He was moved by their conversation and gave her the group date rose.

Before that, Matt took the time to confront MJ about the bullying rumors from the previous week. He accused her of being an antagonist, to which she responded by blaming the other women. Jessenia came forward as someone who had brought MJ to Matt’s attention, citing her identifying the old contestants versus new as the “varsity” and “JV” squad. MJ was defensive and insisted that she “led by example,” but Jessenia and Katie accused her of deflecting.

The second one-on-one went to Kit Keenan, and the two spent the evening baking and cooking at his apartment. Kit — the daughter of fashion designer Cynthia Rowley — shared that her life was often filled with exterior judgments. As someone who spent the majority of her life in the spotlight, she learned to build up walls as a defensive mechanism. However, her vulnerability over baking impressed Matt and he rewarded her with the rose.

Before the week’s rose ceremony, an unexpected date card arrived for a pseudo-two-on-one. Matt invited Jessenia and MJ to arrive before the cocktail party to resolve the she said, she said. Once they arrived, MJ continued to gaslight Jessenia with false accusations until Matt finally approached, ending the episode.

“The Bachelor” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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