The Bachelor Season 25 Premiere Recap: The Queen’s Gambit

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
The past year has been a lot to handle, and while we still have a long way to go as... all of humanity, there is one sign of normalcy. One small hint that the stars are aligning, that healing is on the way: The Bachelor premiered on the first Monday night of the year the way it’s supposed to.
The Bachelor’s 25th season is here. With it comes Matt James, who is brand new to the franchise, and who brings us something else brand new: not being a white man. AT LAST. We also get a new location. While Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams’ season was filmed at the La Quinta Resort and Club in Palm Springs, Matt’s season takes place at Nemacolin Resort in Pennsylvania. It’s more luxurious, the scenery is gorgeous, and it’s not a million degrees. 
The episode begins with an introduction to Matt: He’s from North Carolina. He played football at Wake Forest. He lives in New York City where he works as a commercial real estate agent and with a charity for kids. He isn’t afraid to wear a purple velvet blazer with mustard turtleneck. We also get to meet Matt’s mom when they have a quick chat about how he’s ready for this Journey and to open himself up to love. She seems nice. I hope she gets a nice private room to stay in at Nemacolin far away from the drama.
We then get introduced to a few of the women as they’re quarantining in their hotel rooms. The diversity of the contestants is immediately apparent and very welcome. We even get a clip of a contestant named Pieper talking about how representation in the media is important. (Yes, The Bachelor. It is.) The diversity extends beyond race, too, as there is an international contestant, Magi from Ethiopia, and a contestant who is hearing impaired named Abigail.
Before limo arrivals Matt and Chris Harrison step aside for a chat. Chris gives Matt advice about the show since he was never on The Bachelorette. Matt opens up about his worries about being the first Black Bachelor. “People want you to end up with a certain type of person,” he says, going on to talk about being mixed race. “I don’t want to piss of Black people. I don’t want to piss of white people. But I’m both of those.” They end the conversation talking about how Matt once thought he was in love, but as he’s gotten older (he’s 29), he realizes his idea of love have changed. They seem to want to push the idea that he’s never been in love, even though it sounds a little more complicated than that. 
The formalities out of the way, it’s time for the limos to pull up. As always, there are mostly normal introductions with a few wacky ones mixed in. Alana brings a plate of noodles and has herself and Matt eat one Lady and the Tramp style. Kaili shows up in her underwear with two gowns for Matt to choose from. (Surprise, he’s very into her “confidence.") Katie “brought something from home that is very special” to her: a vibrator. Kit, a 21-year-old “fashion entrepreneur,” rolls up in a Bentley because the limo had “a rideshare vibe.” I’m more impressed by the fact that she wore a short feathered dress and ankle boots — we so rarely get any unique limo arrival outfits. I also give a shoutout to Chelsea the 28-year-old model in this area, because she wore an edgy black gown. Lastly, there’s Victoria, who is carried in on a platform, wears a tiara, and greets the other women by saying, “The queen has arrived, bitches!” Oh yeah, and her job title is "Queen," too.
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Inside, Matt leads the women in a prayer and then gives a long toast in which he talks about wanting to be vulnerable. He says he always felt he needed to be the perfect person before looking for a partner, but he realizes now that he’s not perfect and that’s okay. It's so moving that some of the contestants tear up.
Matt has a number of good conversations with the women, but there’s a few “Can I steal you for a secs,” of course. Katie interrupts Mari’s serious conversation about the devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico by tapping her on the shoulder with her vibrator — read the room! Victoria, who is the manifestation of every girl you’ve met drunk in a bathroom line, interrupts two conversations, which is a Bachelor no-no. One interruption is acceptable and part of the game. Two or more make you an instant villain. 
Matt’s strongest conversations are with Rachael, Bri, and Abigail, the latter of whom gets the first kiss of the season (other than whatever the heck happened with that Lady and the Tramp spaghetti) and the first impression rose. People, we have a frontrunner.
At the rose ceremony, Matt sends home eight women: Alicia, Amber, Carolyn, Casandra, Corrinne, Emani, Kimberly, and Saneh. Obviously, we didn’t get to know them very well, but the loss of Alicia is a bummer because the show was clearly going to have the professional ballerina dance whenever possible. Victoria got the final rose of the night, aka the “we’re keeping you here for entertainment” rose.
It's only the first episode, but I feel comfortable with Matt already. We didn’t know him from The Bachelorette, but Matt and the show are doing a good job at making him easy to watch.
Coming up this season: Tears, drama, the arrival of new contestants — or as Victoria puts it, “random ass hoes” — the return of Heather “Never Been Kissed” Martin, more shirtlessness.
Winner of the episode: Abigail. She got the first kiss and the first impression rose. Plus, she seems super down-to-Earth. I’m already rooting for her. 
Loser of the episode: Victoria, who is laying it on way too thick. If Bachelor in Paradise happens this year, expect to see her and her Queen shtick there.

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