The episode begins with Matt reflecting on Sarah’s departure. Meanwhile, MJ and Victoria are still talking crap about her. Katie — the only one who knows that Sarah left in part because of her dad’s terminal illness — asks them to stop. Victoria responds, “No, I won’t stop, Katie. I’ll do whatever the fuck I want.” And we’re off to the races.
The second group date of the “week” is next, but it’s only the nighttime portion, presumably because all the stuff with Sarah leaving took so long.
Matt’s most meaningful conversation of the evening is with Chelsea, who shows him a photo of herself when she had longer hair. “I think people don’t realize how emotional hair can be, especially for Black women,” she says. For years she chemically straightened her hair. Now, she rocks a shaved head and feels more confident than ever. I hate to have to point out every time this show makes the choice to feature a conversation that is explicitly not about white people, but after years of the show avoiding people of color and their stories, it’s worth noting when the show makes these choices. Just think, if they’d done it sooner, it wouldn’t stick out so much. Chelsea gets the group date rose.
Back at the hotel, Victoria asks Katie to say sorry for asking her to stop “expressing myself.” Katie points out that Victoria wasn’t “expressing herself,” she was talking shit on a person who wasn’t present. “I can express myself with name calling when I choose to,” Victoria says. Katie doesn’t apologize.
The pre-rose ceremony cocktail party is next, and it goes normally until Chris Harrison suddenly appears. (Does Chris appear any way other than suddenly?) He pulls Matt aside and explains that due to the “record response” of applicants to his season, some more contestants are arriving — right now. Matt laughs the most resigned laugh. We at home already knew this was coming thanks to the trailer.
As an SUV pulls up, the other women watching from inside the hotel think it’s going to be the return of Sarah. Nope, it’s five new women: Brittany, Michelle, Ryan, Kim, and Catalina. While no one is thrilled about this development, the strongest response comes from, who else, Victoria. She calls the new women “slut whores” and “random ass hoes” in her confessional, steals Catalina’s Miss Puerto Rico crown off her head (in case you managed to forget about the “Queen Victoria” thing), and tells Brittany that she must have been a “backup” who just sat in her hotel room waiting after passing the COVID test.
On the other end of the spectrum, my favorite reaction comes from Magi, who we’ve barely heard from and who simply says, “Oh, lord have mercy. This is, like, too much to handle.” Agreed, Magi. With so many women sitting there, it looks like night one all over again.
Anna soon mentions to Pieper that she knows of Brittany, because they’re both from Chicago. She has heard that she’s sketchy. Matt chats with all the new women. Shocker, but they’re regular contestants and not a bunch of jerks who chose to start their time on the show this way.
A group date is next, and it includes three of the new women and Ben Higgins. He's mostly just there as a sounding board for Matt's worries about the new women. The date is a fall-themed obstacle course that involves wearing squirrel costumes and rowing a giant pumpkin like it’s a boat. In another star turn for Magi, she can’t row her pumpkin boat properly and doesn’t make it out of the pond in time for the second part of the obstacle course. Mari wins the race — and that’s it, I guess? No special time with Matt? Victoria is glad that one of the original girls won, which is absurd. That means literally nothing. The point of the show is to find love! Or at least a few thousand Instagram followers.
At night, the tension between Brittany and Anna builds even more when Brittany interrupts Anna’s chat with Matt. Anna complains about this to Victoria, who calls Brittany “slutty.” Jeez, I guess Anna knew who would support her in this awful endeavor. At this point, Anna reveals what we’ve seen in a preview: “There is a rumor, because she knows all of the rich men in Chicago, that Brittany may be an escort.” Victoria, showing a level of restraint that we’ve never seen before, says, “That’s insane” and that she could see Brittany “playing Matt if that’s what she’s used to doing with men to get what she wants.” I would expect a much stronger reaction to this gossip from Victoria, of all people.
Bri — calm, chill, and drama-free — gets the group date rose.
After Matt leaves, Anna tells Brittany that she got messages from people in Chicago warning her about Brittany and claiming that she’s an escort. Brittany denies being an escort and is annoyed that this is even something she has to deal with. Victoria says, “Okay, then get out of the house.” It sort of seems like this was edited and Victoria didn’t say this right in front of Brittany, because she had no direct reaction, but who knows. Is this a good place to note that even if these rumors were true, no one should be shamed for sex work and that work of that nature doesn’t disqualify anyone from finding love or being on a reality show?
Providing some much needed respite, newbie Michelle has a one-on-one date with Matt the next day. They have an “extreme scavenger hunt,” which basically means they have to look for clues after ziplining and get to ride in a hot air balloon. Michelle and Matt’s chemistry is off the charts. I already like her, even though she said, “I feel like we’d breed well” when they first met.
At dinner, Matt and Michelle talk about her work as a teacher, and how her Black students were affected by the killing of George Floyd, which took place in her home state of Minnesota. Matt and Michelle really bond over working with kids, since he also works with a charitable organization for children. Also, she quotes Maya Angelou and is impressed when he recognizes it as one of his own favorite lines. As the old saying goes, we have no choice but to stan. Michelle gets the rose.
Another group date is next, and it's a boxing date hosted by professional boxer Mia St. John. I am a broken record about these competitive dates, but this is not safe! Eventually, Serena P. gets punched in the nose. Victoria, who is not on the date but in the audience, says she would have punched Katie in the face because she’s “annoying” her.
At night, some of the women on the group date — namely, MJ and Serena C., though others throw in little comments — talk badly about the new women. Ever the adult in the room, Katie tells them they should stop, and then decides to implore Matt to do something about the bullying going on. She's not being hyperbolic; it really is bullying and it started prior to this week. I will never forget Kit telling Sarah her time on the show would be "horrible." Everyone’s going to gossip on The Bachelor, but this has been direct and it has been harmful, particularly when it comes from Victoria and Anna. During this scene we even get a shot of them back at the hotel in which Victoria calls Catalina, “The dumbest ho I’ve ever met.”
Katie tells Matt that there have been rumors that “literally could ruin [contestants'] lives.” Matt agrees to talk about it when the whole group is together the next day. In the preview for next week, he says, “I owe it to these women to create a safe space for them, and that’s what I’m going do.” If he doesn’t clean house and kick off like half the contestants, I’m out — or more accurately, I'll be back to call him out. But I won't be happy about it.
Winner of the episode: Katie. Katie for Bachelorette. Has there ever been a voice of reason so strong? She arrived with her vibrator and she'll leave with Bachelor Nation's respect. And her vibrator.
Losers of the episode: Victoria and Anna. I don’t need to rehash all the reasons why.