Matt decides what to do about Heather Martin as he whittles the women down from eleven to just four before next week's Hometown visits.
As Matt James is enjoying being the first Black Bachelor and has the most diverse cast in the history of the entire franchise, it's a shame that race issues are overshadowing these huge steps forward.
As Chris Harrison continues to come under fire from Bachelor Nation alums and fans -- with some calling for his upcoming "stepping away" from the show to become a permanent vacation while others are hoping rather for outreach and education -- it was strangely business as usual for Matt's season.
We've already been told Chris won't be there for the upcoming "After the Rose" special, but he was in all his usual places for this episode, including doing the voiceover for ads inviting viewers to participate in upcoming seasons.
We get that it's a complicated issue and decisions are probably still being discussed and made, but there was absolutely no messaging at all about everything going on during this episode. Maybe they were hoping that the episode itself would speak toward their continuing strides toward better inclusivity and representation.
It was certainly a wild night of television, kicked off by more disheartening "mean girl" behavior from several of the ladies after Heather Martin crashed the party to turn their ten into eleven.
By the time the night was over, one contestant would walk herself out while Matt would walk three others out. And two Rose Ceremonies later, we emerged with our Final Four and the four women who would get to enjoy Hometown Visits with Matt.
Be honest, did producers invite Heather Martin (from Colton Underwood's season) to come crash Matt's party in Week 6 solely to see if the remaining girls could behave better than they did when Round 2 of contestants showed up?
While some of the worst instigators have been mercifully excised from the competition, Matt never quite got all of them. And right away, some of the worst offenders were at it again. In particular, Serena C and Kit were boldly nasty directly to Heather's face -- which was both disappointing and not a surprise.
More of a surprise was the fact that Jessenia (who confronted MJ about her bullying) and Pieper chimed in. It was just not a good look on any of the ladies and again confirmed to use that we really didn't want any of them to advance much further. Bad behavior shouldn't be rewarded.
As for Heather, her own bad behavior -- crashing a season so deep in is tactless and selfish all at the same time -- didn't do her any favors. Despite Hannah Brown saying she was good people, Matt had to acknowledge that the timing just wasn't right.
As quickly as she walked in, Matt escorted her right back out the door. It was indicative of where his headspace was heading into Hometowns. And we would see it play out throughout the night as he poked and prodded each relationship to see what was working and what just wasn't there yet.
What a harsh blow to both Jessenia and Abigail when the second-to-last one-on-one date card arrived and it was for neither of them. Of the remaining ladies, they were the only two who'd yet to go one one.
So after it went to Serena P, scoring her second of the season, the pair knew that one of them would never get one. How can they possible move onto Hometowns without having had a single one-on-one? Could they?
We got a little worried when Serena bristled and pulled away from the intimacy of her tantric yoga session with Matt. She was upfront about being extremely uncomfortable with it because she likes to move slower in her relationships.
But there's something about this woman that Matt likes, even as she has been more reserved than most of the other ones. In fact, he appreciated her honesty about how much she hated it and did not feel that same level of connection between them during it that Matt was.
And so, Serena emerged with the first rose of the night, and a Hometown Visit in her future.
We started getting vibes of Clare Crawley by the end of the night's Group Date as Matt arbitrarily decided that one of the lucky ladies -- who'd already just scored the Group Date Rose -- should also be treated to a private concert by Aloe Blacc.
Are producers really going to be this heavy-handed about who the probable winner of this season is? With this rose, Rachael -- yes, the same one with the antebellum formal controversy in her past that Chris tried to defend -- has earned three roses on the season.
Add to that a private concert and makeout session after a Group Date (effectively giving her a second one-on-one) and we've got a clear front-runner here. It was such a devastating blow, that we can't help but feel it was the emotional fallout of this moment that led to what came next.
Kit was absolutely confident after opening up to Matt about her expectations regarding the future, and how well he responded, that the Group Date Rose was hers. After seeing Rachael get it instead, and then get a private follow-up date, it appears Kit reached her breaking point.
Coming to Matt's room late at night, Kit told him that he deserved someone who was at the same place emotionally in the relationship as he was, someone who's ready to get engaged, and that's just not her. But is that really what this was?
It's possible, as Kit is only 21 years old and definitely on the younger side to be thinking about being ready for marriage. At the same time, though, with as hurt as she was to not get the rose, was this instead a defensive measure to protect her heart.
Kit has admitted before that she built huge walls and has had to harden her heart a bit growing up in the spotlight. We can't help but wonder if she eliminated herself from the competition to protect herself from what she felt at that time was an inevitable heartbreak at the Rose Ceremony.
Honestly, we can't even say with confidence that Kit would have been eliminated. One of the ladies who made it through seems to have had way less screen-time than the other three, or at least she doesn't pop and resonate nearly as memorably.
She did admit this week that she actually resigned her job to stay and pursue this relationship with Matt, which really resonated with him. Plus, promotional material showed him really laughing with her as the ladies on the Group Date enjoyed some time together in a hot tub or pool.
It was the water and all of these beautiful people were in swimsuits and viewers got to see none of it for what? So we could see Heather's truncated and ultimately fruitless attempt to infiltrate the show? Couldn't we have just cut her instead?
Meanwhile, some of the season's more memorable ladies did find themselves cut before the night was through. When the Group Date card was read, it immediately became clear that Abigail was not ever going to get a one-on-one.
From First Impression Rose to forgotten, even Matt reluctantly admitted to her that he'd gotten too comfortable in their bond and allowed other relationships to advance more than theirs. We've suspected from the beginning, though, that his connection was more respect and admiration than romantic, and we stand by it.
Poor Abigail didn't survive the Group Date, getting walked out right after she opened up about being able to see Matt in her future and he realize he didn't see her in his.
There appears to have been a similar experience with Jessenia, who did get that one-on-one time with him. They bonded over their love of adrenaline, but when it came down to it, he had to admit to himself that he also wasn't there romantically with her, either.
The rest of the slaughter came during Rose Ceremonies, with the night's first one seeing the very sweet Chelsea and the very nasty Serena C get the boot. We really felt he and Chelsea were connecting (not so much he and Serena C).
By the time the final Rose Ceremony arrived, Serena P and Rachael already had their roses. So there were three ladies left standing and two roses. That made it particularly painful for Pieper, who became the odd woman out.
While we did see more of a connection between Matt and Pieper, we also have to acknowledge that she was one of those who'd bullied and been mean to other women in the house. She was even cold to Matt, hardening her heart intentionally, when he tried to walk her out.
None of the Final Four really stooped to that level of "mean girl" behavior in any major way. We're not sure if that's a happy accident, producer interference or Matt's intuition, but either way, it's refreshing.
And so, Bri (the boring one we mentioned above), Michelle, Rachael and Serena P are poised to introduce Matt to their families next week as this season moves into the home(town)stretch!
"I've been waiting all week to have a conversation with this guy and then this random-ass girl walks in and I'm like the invisible bitch that never existed in the first place." --Pieper (after Heather interrupts her time with Matt)
"When I see Heater, I'm just like, Hannah would be someone who's qualified to pick someone that she could see me with." --Matt (after Heather's arrival)
"I was on Colton's season." --Heather (to other ladies)
"You missed that one, so you tried this one." --Jessenia (to Heather)
"You're just Bachelor-hopping." --Serena C (to Heather)
"I would have rather gone on a date with him ... but that isn't the reality of the situation here." --Heather (to other ladies)
"I'm sorry. I don't really care, honestly, because you interrupted my time. You didn't address me, so first and foremost I would like an actual apology." --Pieper (to Heather)
"Like, bitch, what are you doing?' --Kit (to Heather)
"I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable. It makes me, like, really said because this isn't, like what I want to do." --Heather (to other ladies)
"Okay, just talk about it in [an] interview because I don't want to hear your tears right now." --Serena C (to Heather)
"If he chooses her over me then everything that he said he's felt for me has been a lie." --Rachael (about Heather)
"If the situation were different, it would be another conversation. But I'm falling in love with women who are here and I just gotta follow my heart." --Matt (dismissing Heather)
"And your name was..." --Pieper (as Matt is walking Heather out)
"I felt like, with that unexpected surprise, it was an opportunity for me to reaffirm how I felt about you all, and I just want to commend you all on how you handled it. It continues to give me reassurance that I really do see my wife in this group." --Matt (at the Rose Ceremony -- wait until he watches the footage back!)
"She is literally putting us in sex-like yoga positions This is not for me, not something I would have chosen for our date today." --Serena P (on 1-on-1)
"Maybe he feels bonded in the experience but, for me, I just was very in my head the entire time and kind of waiting for it to be over." --Serena P (not enjoying tantric yoga)
"I felt horrible Serena P was a little bit uncomfortable. I felt like we were really connecting during it." --Matt
"Cheers to never doing tantric yoga again." --Serena P (to Matt)
"I'm so excited. And so stressed out. I don't know why." --Serena P (after guaranteeing Matt will meet her family)
"I just feel like I'm constantly the person that makes men realize what they want next, but they never want that with me. So it's just a hard pill that I'm gonna have to swallow." --Abigail (after Matt walks her out)
"I'm head over heels in love. Get on one knee right now. It's a done deal." --Rachael
"Hometowns isn't a figure it out sort of situation, it's a rest-of-your-life situation, and you deserve someone who is 100 percent sure of you getting down on one knee tomorrow, and that's not me." --Kit (self-eliminating)
"I am not someone who just blindly follows feelings and emotions. I really should have stuck to that because it's better than feeling like your entire soul was stomped on. I should've freaking known." --Pieper