It’s impossible to watch the latest episode of “Bachelor” without thinking about it explosion inside the franchise this week.
Chris Harrison, host of the franchise since debuting in 2002, announced Saturday that he would be “stepping aside” from the show “for a while” and will not appear in Matt James’ “After the Final Rose” special in March after setbacks to defend current front-runner Rachael Kirkconnell, who last week apologized for “offensive and racist” actions.
A stream of prominent former franchise stars and contestants has since spoken out and pushed for Harrison’s resignation and welcomes Rachel Lindsay – the franchise’s first black star who interviewed Harrison when he made the comments – and urged those working on and watching the show to take greater steps to combat racism.
All this off-screen controversy provides a weird viewing experience, especially in a later scene where singer Aloe Blacc, an outspoken social justice activist, performs a private show for Kirkconnell and James.
But first: Heather Martin, the former participant from Colton Underwood’s season, who crashed pre-rose ceremony cocktail party last week in an attempt to get to know Matt, do not get the chance to join the cast. Matt says he already sees his wife in the remaining contestants and does not think it would be fair for any of them to add another woman to the mix.
At the praise ceremony, Matt says goodbye to Serena C. and Chelsea, which means we are actually down to the last 10 now (Matt does not promise more additions at the last minute).
Serena P. gets the first one-on-one date, an awkward tantric yoga session that she hates. He feels horrible that she was uncomfortable, but loves that she was honest with him, and that’s enough to give her the praise that ensures she’s coming to “hometown” week, which this season takes place on the spot at Nemacolin Resort for COVID -19 security purposes.
Pieper, Michelle, Rachael, Bri, Kit and Abigail join Matt for a cocktail party group date. Abigail is afraid they still haven’t had a one-on-one date. Although she received Matt’s first impression rose, he now feels that his other relationship is stronger and decides to send her home.
The Rachael nabs group rose, meaning she gets some solo time with Matt, and they head off to the private Aloe Blacc concert. What should be a romantic moment is now marred by controversy outside the show, after news came that Rachael “liked” Confederate TikToks with a flag theme, and a photo reappeared that appears to show her participating in a Formula One fraternity formula in 2018.
“I am in love with my head. Get on one knee right now, it’s a done deal, ”Rachael said in a confessional interview.
More unexpected eliminations are to come: Kit shows up at Matt’s door and says she does not have the clarity she needs to go on hometown dates before deciding to send herself home. And after a one-on-one date with Jessenia, Matt reveals that he can’t give her the praise because he lacks that compatibility.
The ending of the episode brings us to another praise ceremony – finally outside of this up-and-down schedule to begin each episode with last week’s eliminations! – where Matt says goodbye to Pieper, which means that Bri, Michelle, Rachael and Serena P. (the last standing Serena) will be his Final Four and will go to their “hometowns” in next week’s episode.
A highlight we did not see coming: Michelle’s push-ups after the ceremony. She jokes just before the Final Four gives a toast that she should look good in front of the camera and falls down for a few push-ups – in excellent shape and a ball gown, we might add – as the rest of the women and Matt laugh.
In a teaser for next week’s episode, we get a glimpse of these “hometown” dates: Serena’s family wonders if she’s really in love with Matt, while Rachael worries that she can not get to know anyone within such a short time frame. Meanwhile, Matt is worried that everything he has “worked for is starting to crumble.”
Outside of the show, it feels that way too.
Chris Harrison talks about ‘awakened culture’ ‘Bachelor’ Matt James opens up about his groundbreaking cast as the first black bachelor
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