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‘The Bachelor’ Recap: The Queen Is Dead

Matt James finally expels the bad vibes from the resort, while Kit bakes cookies and Rachael gets a pair of expensive, bloody shoes

ABC/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Rest in peace to Victoria, self-appointed Queen of The Bachelor, whose sloppy reign of terror lasted from January 2021 to February 2021. In Monday night’s episode, the much-hated monarch proclaimed that if Matt listened to any of the women who were accurately accusing her of being mean, she would “LITERALLY DIE.” Matt finally sent her home a few minutes later; appearances on Good Morning America notwithstanding, we can presume that Victoria is literally dead. “The whole house is going to feel like shit when I’m gone,” Victoria said in her last few minutes of life. “I brought so much joy.”

I’m going to need a fact check on that.

Every sentence Victoria ever spoke was said with the tone, delivery, and logic of an over-served woman convinced she could somehow appeal and overturn a bouncer’s decision to throw her out of the bar. But Monday night, the bouncer got tired of fooling around. It became clear that Matt was on to Victoria’s mission of being unnecessarily mean to everybody for no particular reason. Victoria’s first self-preservation strategy is a failed attempt at niceness. It doesn’t suit her. She apologizes to Catalina for stealing her pageant queen crown, and tries to explain to Matt that the time she called Ryan a “hoe” was taken out of context. (We never heard Victoria calling Ryan a hoe in any context, but we did hear her calling Catalina “the dumbest hoe I’ve ever met” and calling Brittany “a slut-slash-whore,” so the shoe fits.) When Matt calls her bluff and asks what the proper context is for calling someone a hoe, Victoria has no answer. It’s weird how the bouncer is often less drunk than the woman getting kicked out of the bar, and therefore better at arguing.

Next, Victoria tried lashing out. She calls as many women as she can remember by name “disgusting,” and explains that “there’s no one with a working fucking brain in this room.” This also doesn’t work, and so her closing argument is that she is actually great. “I’m actually kind-hearted, honest, genuine, hard-working, fun, loyal—I’m like the MOST loyal—and I’m not, like, fake!” (If you’ve seen the photo of Victoria with that flag, you can probably guess where she learned this tactic.) Because she just argued that sometimes it’s reasonable to call someone a hoe, this full-on denial of reality also fails. Matt dumps Victoria, at which point she proclaims that she’ll never date another man named Matt again. This is tough, since roughly 74 percent of all dating-aged men are named Matt. (It also echoes her belief in nominative determinism, such as claiming that she is somehow linked to Queen Victoria because her name is also Victoria.)

As a fan of the Bachelor franchise, I demand a full-scale investigation into Victoria’s run on the show. She somehow went from being a stand-alone villain to leading a cabal of mean girls in a week’s time, but even more bewildering is the mere fact that she was able to stay on the show. It was clear that she never had anything resembling a connection with Matt. They talked, like, four times; half the time, Victoria was “warning” Matt about perfectly nice women, and 100 percent of the time, Matt seemed bored with her. The general consensus is that she was kept on the show at the insistence of producers, but producer picks rarely last this deep into a season. Either Matt actually liked Victoria more than he let on (unlikely) or he was just more willing to let producers stir things up than the average Bachelor.

Victoria’s departure is part of a general meanness purge by Matt. Also gone is Anna, who started the rumor that new contestant Brittany is an escort in Chicago. Anna tries to apologize, claiming that it was a “mistake” and “out of character,” and that she’s embarrassed to have had her all-time worst moment on national TV. But she seemed pretty happy trashing Brittany, and also did it multiple times, which makes her defense pretty hard to buy. Later, the episode ends with MJ hanging on by the last thread of her massive hair in a two-on-one date against Jessenia, with MJ claiming she likes to “preach harmony” while Jessenia points out that MJ was the one who started calling new contestants “the JV squad.” It doesn’t seem like it will go well for her.

Yes, we watch The Bachelor for drama, but the drama caused by Victoria’s clique was harsher and uglier than what we’re used to. The drama on The Bachelor should feel inconsequential; it shouldn’t hinge on full-throated bullying and slut-shaming. Nobody gained from it, including Victoria’s clique, who found themselves doomed when Matt realized they offered little but cruelty. I just hope our next monarch is kinder.

Biggest Mystery: Kit’s Cookies

Going into this season, the most famous contestant was Kit, the daughter of mega designer Cynthia Rowley. Kit has her own clothing line, cohosts a podcast with her mom, and already had a pretty sizable Instagram following when she got on the show. (You may also recognize Kit from her star turn as Beth Harmon in the hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit.) But through four episodes, she hadn’t really done much, aside from the time she joined the Mean Gang in bullying Sarah off the show. That could’ve changed Monday night when she got a one-on-one date with Matt. The night before, Rachael tells her to get excited, because at long last, she’s going to get to spend a whole day with her man. The date card says “Dinner at my place?” which Kit correctly identifies to mean the date will be cooking-themed—something that means a lot to her, because she once told Matt her “happy place” is cooking with her famous mom.

Unfortunately, Kit doesn’t get to spend the whole day with Matt like most one-on-one dates. Instead, she shows up at Matt’s house at nighttime with an umbrella. You can read between the lines to understand what happened here: The show’s producers saw rain in the forecast, and probably had to cancel a more adventurous date in favor of an easy, indoor cooking date.

And despite the date card, there is no dinner. Kit walks into Matt’s massive kitchen, and the ingredients are already laid out—for baking cookies. Matt explains that when he goes to restaurants, he orders dessert first.

First of all: What? Is this even legal? How has this not come up on any of the other dinner dates? I mean, what? Are you telling me that this seemingly normal man goes out to dinner in restaurants and when the waiter comes around and says, “Can I get you anything to start?” he says, “Actually, I’m 7 years old, and would like to immediately see your dessert menu?” No wonder Matt has no idea what a charcuterie board is—he orders brownie sundaes as appetizers.

Kit sympathizes, explaining that she also doesn’t even need dinner, and that she also wants to focus on cookies. She starts to—

Wait, sorry—I just thought about Matt ordering dessert to start meals again. Does everybody have to stagger their meals along with Matt, or does he just end up eating his main course while the other person is on dessert? I don’t want to shame anybody for unconventional eating habits; I’ll eat breakfast for dinner and have leftover Chinese food when I wake up. But eating out in a restaurant features a strict social contract. How are you going to make me sit here and eat a damn salad while you go to town on tiramisu?

Anyway, Kit makes the cookies, and lets Matt eat a scoop of the dough, raw eggs and all. (Great, now Matt is gonna go to fancy restaurants and demand they start him off with a bowl of cookie dough.) They line a sheet with cookies and pop them in the oven … and that’s the last we see of the cookies. Matt and Kit spend the rest of the date talking and kissing by a fireplace. They never have dinner, and THEY NEVER EVEN EAT THE COOKIES THAT WERE THE WHOLE POINT OF THE DATE.

It’s a bummer for Kit. First of all, she got, like, a quarter of a date. Most one-on-one dates are daylong affairs with multiple settings and multiple outfits. Kit spent 20 minutes baking cookies. She didn’t get to put on a fancy cocktail outfit or wear the clothes from her fashion line on TV. But most importantly: The date card said they’d have dinner, and then they made cookies (which aren’t dinner to anybody besides Matt), and then we never found out whether Kit’s cookies are good. If cooking really is Kit’s happy place, she probably doesn’t want a guy who eats food like he’s in elementary school.

Biggest Bust: Beauty Pageants

In recent seasons, The Bachelor discovered a cheat code. The show learned that it could make the hard work of finding suitable contestants easier by banking on the work already done by America’s apparently massive beauty pageant industry, which already selects women who are attractive, comfortable on camera, competitive, and used to taking down any women in their path with a smile and a wave. If the feeder for The Bachelorette is washed-up college football players, the feeder for The Bachelor is beauty queens who have run out of contests to participate in.

A major plotline in Colton’s season pitted Caelynn, a former Miss Virginia USA, against Hannah B., a former Miss Alabama USA, as they worked through some unspecified beef from their pageant days. Caelynn finished fourth; Hannah became the next Bachelorette. A year later, Peter’s season was even more chock-full of pageant girls: an early season feud between Alayah and Victoria P. stemmed from their time as Miss USA contestants, while Kelsey, a former Miss Iowa USA, finished in fourth place and Hannah Ann, a former Miss Tennessee USA runner-up, briefly won before Peter decided to switch to Madison. (Peter’s mom, Barb, was not a judge for Miss Tennessee USA, or else Hannah Ann surely would have won.)

So of course there have been multiple pageant queens in the mix for Matt’s season. The first was Mari, who won Miss Maryland USA in 2019 and finished in the top 10 of the subsequent Miss USA pageant. (That’s the same pageant that Victoria P. and Alayah competed in; Victoria P. finished top 15 while Alayah didn’t place.) Mari seemed to be alone as a pageant queen, but when the show added five new contestants last week, in came Catalina, a former Miss Universe Puerto Rico. That puts her on a different level than most of the other pageant queens to reach The Bachelor—Puerto Rico doesn’t send representatives to the Miss USA and Miss America pageants, instead they go straight to the world stage, where they win often. For her Miss Universe pageant, Catalina had to wear a very large, very green outfit. (By the way? Calling it the “Miss Universe” pageant when only humans from Earth are featured is as arrogant as calling it the World Series when only American teams get to play.) Catalina led with her pageant background in her introduction, walking in with her sash and crown, which was promptly stolen off of her head by claimant queen Victoria.

After the success of Caelynn, Hannah B., Hannah Ann, and Kelsey, I figured either Mari or Catalina was a lock for a top-four finish. (Especially after the way Matt looked at Mari on night one.) But on Monday night, Matt eliminated both Mari and Catalina. Catalina lasted only a week on the show; Mari literally placed higher in Miss USA than she did on The Bachelor. I’m honestly stunned!

Most Questionable Claim: Matt the Farmer

The big group date on Monday night’s episode takes place on a farm, where the women are instructed in various tasks by a farmer named Ty. (A lot of range shown by the name “Ty” in this episode, between Beyoncé’s stylist and the farmer guy.) If only that girl who showed up in the goat feet in the premiere had lasted more than an episode—she was built for this. Matt starts the date off by saying that farmwork is important to him. “You know I live in New York City, but I’m from Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m a country boy at heart, and I grew up working on farms.”

For some reason, it is deeply important to The Bachelor to, at some point, identify every contestant as a farm guy. Last season established that Southern Californian airline pilot Peter loves going to the honky-tonk to square dance; Nick Viall’s season featured a farm date during hometowns even though he’s from the Milwaukee suburbs; and I’ll never forget that Ben Higgins’s season started with shots of him thoughtfully gazing out at a cornfield like he wasn’t a software salesman who lived in Denver.

Just so we’re clear, Raleigh is a city. It has 500,000 residents, an NHL team, and is best known for being close to a lot of important universities. At best, I’m calling Matt suburban. Matt went to the same high school as the current COO of Apple, as well as David and Amy Sedaris. Did David and Amy Sedaris work at the same farm as you, Matt? What did you guys grow, witty observations?

Of course, it’s definitely possible Matt did work on a farm. There are lots of farms in North Carolina, and I don’t know his life. (Halfway through his season of The Bachelor, I don’t think anyone does.) But his argument for saying that he is a “country boy” was naming the city that he comes from. You can’t just say a place in the South and claim you’re from the country because you’re from the South! I hope this has raised Not Every Place in the South Is a Farm Awareness.

Best Prize: Louboutins

Rachael gets the best date of any given Bachelor season—the one in which the contestant just gets to go absolutely nuts in a fancy clothing store, and apparently keep all the clothes. The two are guided in their process by stylist Ty Hunter. I thought this was a situation like the one with the “celebrity photographer” who pops up every season who isn’t actually a famous photographer but is great at acting like a famous photographer—but this is actually Beyoncé’s stylist. And I feel like Beyoncé is the no. 1 person you can be the stylist for?

Rachael and Matt both put on a bunch of Ty-suggested clothes, but at the end of the date, Matt pulls Rachael aside and gives her something truly special—better than any of the mega-expensive Beyoncé-adjacent clothes. He pulls out a shoebox and opens it up and yep—they’re red bottoms. I don’t know a thing about women’s shoes, but even I know that these are an expensive, top-tier gift, because I listen to rap music. Rachael, meanwhile, is no amateur: Upon pulling one of the heels out of the box, she almost immediately turns it over to see what color the sole is. Then her eyes light up like she just saw what’s inside the briefcase in Pulp Fiction.

Screenshots via ABC

Rachael returns to the hotel with all of her shopping bags, an incredible moment set up by the producers—like, they actually made all the other girls gather for the sole purpose of making them extremely jealous. Everybody is drooling over all of the clothes Rachael got—but they’re most interested in the shoes. As soon as Rachael sits down, someone asks, “Are the bottom of your shoes red?” She smiles, nods, and lifts her shoes so everybody can see the soles. High-pitched screeching ensues. (Apparently, Louboutins are such nice shoes that nobody is fully sure they’re nice until you look at the bottom of them.) Even Kit, who is literally the daughter of a mega-millionaire fashion designer, looks devastated.

This is actually the second time the show has used Louboutins as a plot point/knife to twist in the sides of all other contestants: Future Bachelorette Becca got a pair on the very first one-on-one date of Arie’s season. Legitimately, this may be the greatest prize one can ever win on The Bachelor. It’s not like you can resell a rose after the show is over!