It’s difficult to believe Peter Weber’s Bachelor season ended less than a year ago. Since the end of Peter’s journey for love on the ABC juggernaut, viewers have watched him break his engagement with “winner” Hannah Ann Sluss, rekindle his flirtation with runner-up Madison Prewett, end his romance with Madison, begin a new relationship with midseason reject Kelley Flanagan, and break up with Kelley. No one enjoyed the whiplash of watching Peter search for romance, but at least it was over.
Unfortunately, fans likely felt Peter déjà vu during the most recent episode of Matt James’ 2021 Bachelor season. Monday night’s “Week 3” suggests the worst habits of Peter’s Bachelor-dom are alive and well with Matt — and only getting worse. If Matt doesn’t turn his behavior around soon, he’s destined to become the villain of his own season, just like Peter.
The fundamental issue in The Bachelor season 25 is that, as one person on Twitter smartly put it, Matt, a college football player, appears unable to “quarterback,” or lead, the circus that is this show.
The evidence of Matt’s core Bachelor flaw starts to pile up at the beginning of “Week 3,” during the rose ceremony. At this point in the narrative, initial season villain Victoria Larson has told Matt that her roommate, Marylynn Sienna, is a “toxic” person who “manipulates” situations. According to the footage, Victoria has given little information to prove these accusations beyond a teary act. Up until this moment, Matt has only had endearing interactions with Marylynn. Even her response to the baseless allegations are thoughtful and measured.
Stll, Matt eliminates Marylynn. To add insult to injury, Matt gives the final rose to Victoria, highlighting his choice to pick Victoria over Marylynn. It’s a devastating and frustrating decision that quickly reveals Matt’s inability to recognize, and defuse, the most obvious of Bachelor Nation games. Marylynn must pay the price for Matt’s failing.
It is initially possible to think Matt’s status as a Bachelor Nation newbie — with no prior Bachelorette filming to inform him — is the cause of his obliviousness. When Refinery29 asked Matt how he prepared to take over the Bachelor mantle, he emphasized his conversations with prior leads like close friend Hannah Brown. “I just wanted to get their feel on what to expect and if there’s anything they would have changed about their experience,” he said. Matt did not say he watched multiple seasons of The Bachelor. That knowledge would have opened Matt’s eyes to machinations — from both contestants and producers — that prey upon him.
Yet, the remainder of “Week 3” shows Matt simply shares some of Peter’s romantic selfishness. Sarah Trott crashes the first group date of the week and horns her way into a nine-woman cocktail party. Considering the fact that Sarah is able to find the soiree on Nemacolin’s sprawling grounds — and a camera follows her entire covert mission — it is clear the stunt is puppet mastered by drama-hungry producers. Sarah even enters the date through a private back door for maximum effect. Matt does not see these strings at play and allows Sarah, a woman who had a one-on-one date days earlier, to interrupt his conversation with Katie Thurston, someone he has barely gotten to know. Matt doesn’t apologize to Katie for allowing Sarah to sit down and monopolize his time on a group date she was not invited to.
When Katie correctly asks Sarah to end her conversation and allow Matt to return to the group date, Sarah brushes her off, saying, “Can I bring him to you in like five minutes?” “Maybe, like, two?” Katie responds. Sarah looks at Matt to mediate the situation. He is the Bachelor, and it’s his job to decide who gets his attention, especially during such an odd, high pressure interaction. Matt remains silent, tacitly supporting Sarah’s inconsiderate behavior and actively making Katie feel under-appreciated. When Katie checks back in, Matt once again fails to tell Sarah to go. Instead, he agrees to walk her out, giving Sarah even more time on date that isn't hers. Matt kisses Sarah outside, thereby disrespecting the group date contestants again.
These are not the actions of someone felled by a lack of education on reality TV antics. Instead, Matt is displaying a fundamental disregard for all of the women he is dating. This upsetting arc should look familiar to anyone who witnessed Peter’s frustratingly bungled management of season 24’s episodes-long Alayah Benavidez crisis. That case was defined by the multiple times Peter allowed Alayah to dominate events to the detriment of her fellow contestants, even when purposefully excluded from those events.
Matt makes this mistake one final time in “Week 3,” ahead of his date with Serena Pitt. He enters the women’s living quarters, seemingly trying to clear the air after Sarah’s party crashing. Audience members likely hoped Matt would apologize to the group date women he ignored due to Sarah’s appearance. Instead, Matt leaves those women to go see Sarah, cuddle in her bed, and reassert his support of her group date invasion — all while he is supposed to be taking Serena P. out for a special day.
“Obviously, the girls aren’t going to be happy, but at the end of the day, it’s me and your connection,” Matt tells Sarah, vocally recognizing how his choice to favor Sarah will hurt the other contestants. Serena P. is still downstairs wondering what her alleged dream date is doing.
Peter allowed his Alayah problems to drag on over episodes — and then picked up Victoria Fuller drama once Alayah was gone for good. Mercifully, Sarah permanently broke any tension around herself by a self-exit at the end of “Week 3.” If Matt can learn from his worse impulses, he could still be the hero of the season by “After the Final Rose.”