SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the March 15 season finale of “The Bachelor.”
Reality host Chris Harrison coined the phrase “the most dramatic season ever,” but nothing has been more dramatic than the tension escalating off-screen during this season of “The Bachelor.”
Season 25 — featuring the franchise’s first-ever Black star — culminated in such a way that even the most twisted producers could have never imagined.
Following a racist scandal that exploded due to contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s resurfaced social media photos, it was none other Kirkconnell who ended up winning Matt James’ heart.
Before the titular Bachelor gave out his final rose, he spent his last days at the Nemacolin resort vetting each relationship. He was joined by his mom, Patty Cuculo James, and brother, John James, to meet his final contestants.
Finalist Michelle Young joined the family first, where she was quickly embraced for her fun and joyful demeanor. Despite concerns from Matt’s mom that it would be a “long-shot” he was ready for an engagement, she praised Young and welcomed her as a potential daughter-in-law.
Kirkconnell was similarly embraced. Matt’s mom responded to Kirkconnell’s relationship with God after she referenced Matt’s opening prayer during the first night on the show.
Despite both women being well-received, Matt’s debriefing with his family did not go as he planned. Instead of reassurance, he was met with doubt about his readiness to commit to either woman.
“There’s nothing like being in love. It makes life wonderful,” his mother shared. “But people fall in and out of love; love is not the end-all-be-all.”
The reaction rattled Matt, who left the conversation asking, “Am I ready for an engagement?”
Matt continued to process his family’s reaction and called in Harrison for further counsel. As Matt reflected, he realized his father’s abandonment was a leading cause in both his and his family’s concerns about commitment. His confidence faltered in his preparedness for an engagement.
“I’m not certain that’s something I’m ready for,” he said.
Young returned to Matt for their last date. The two spent the morning repelling down a building together before their evening took a turn. The night began with Michelle reaffirming her feelings for Matt, and talking about how much she loved their “team.” She even gifted Matt matching “Mr. and Mrs. James” jerseys – labeling the duo as the “World-Changing Warriors.”
Her generosity prompted a wave of guilt from Matt. He couldn’t match her confidence, and he was forced to share that he didn’t reciprocate those feelings. Both left the interaction in tears as they said goodbye for good. Matt was visibly emotional, breaking down in tears outside the resort.
Harrison joined him and listened as Matt processed the breakup and his feelings. It was an emotional continuation from their previous conversation and ultimately left Matt asking for more time to process. With that, Harrison arrived at Kirkconnell’s room the next day to deliver the news: Matt canceled their date. Kirkconnell was “blindsided” by the cancelation.
Despite the hesitation, Matt spent the afternoon picking out a potential ring with franchise jeweler Neil Lane. He considered not evaluating the options but picked out a ring with hesitation instead. Matt recognized the commitment that it represented, but also the symbolism of his parents’ failed relationship and “broken promises.”
Back at the resort, Kirkconnell was still reeling from Matt’s last-minute cancellation. However, a card arrived summoning her to the lake, where he’d provide “answers.” Matt arrived in proposal-ready attire but continued to express his hesitations with a proposal — but not with Kirkconnell.
“I love Rachael,” he told Harrison.
When she arrived, she shared the same sentiment and delivered a monologue about how much she loved him and how unsettled she was at the idea of him being upset. He countered by sharing that he didn’t feel like he could propose.
“But that doesn’t mean I want to lose you,” he said.
The two agreed to leave the show together, without the standard franchise proposal. He presented her with the final rose.
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