The 2-on-1 date is always one of the worst parts of The Bachelor. In a show that already pits women against each other week after week, it's the most blatant example of that tired trope. Matt James' 2-on-1 was a little bit different. Usually it's a formal date where the Bachelor talks to the two women individually and together, and then make up his mind about which one stays. But apparently the show is done pretending that this date is anything other than an opportunity to manufacture a fight. Jessenia Cruz and MJ Snyder were simply summoned to speak with Matt in the moments before to the cocktail party. No date, just a showdown. The show has done this before, on Peter Weber's season with Mykenna Dorn and Tammy Ly and on Tayshia Adams' season with Noah Erb and Bennett Jordan, but this time the Bachelor tradition felt even worse than it usually does.
Jessenia and MJ had butted heads earlier in the week after MJ found out that Jessenia told Matt about some of the rude comments MJ had made. Specifically, MJ had referred to the initial group of contestants as the "varsity squad" and referred to the five women who joined the show later in the season as "JV" or junior varsity. MJ insisted that Matt would learn the truth of her character and actions, which is that she supposedly only "preaches harmony and peace." But we all saw her say those things about the new women, so it certainly looks like MJ is just trying to gaslight Jessenia and all of us in the process.
Matt does want to learn the truth in both Jessenia and MJ's stories, so he decided to orchestrate a pseudo 2-on-1 to sort the situation out with both women present. (See also: the producers just lost Anna Redman and Victoria Larson and needed 50 CCs of drama, STAT.)
While Jessenia and MJ waited for Matt to arrive for their date (read: interrogation), MJ told Jessenia that she was furious that Jessenia talked to Matt about her. "You put my character in question with Matt," MJ said, as she raised her voice for much of the conversation. Jessenia let her speak her piece but also tried to explain her side — she wanted Matt to know that MJ was contributing to the toxic environment for the newbies. MJ then demanded that Jessenia "stop talking." If the fight felt familiar, it's because it brings to mind the confrontation between Marylynn Sienna and Victoria from earlier this season, which was the original example of a white woman claiming to be attacked by a woman of color in the house. It's not quite as egregious as Victoria flat out lying to Matt about Marylynn being "toxic" and effectively sending Marylynn home, but MJ doing something wrong (name-calling and singling out fellow contestants) and then playing the victim (telling Jessenia that she has done something wrong for speaking the truth) when she's called out is extra uncomfortable given the previous context of this season.
The episode ended on a cliffhanger before we could see Matt join the conversation and how he feels about all this, but based on how quickly he sent Victoria and Anna packing to create a safe space for the rest of the contestants, MJ might be next out the door. And we should have known that this show couldn't resist orchestrating a 2-on-1 date — this season has been the epitome of toxic. One thing will become even clearer next week though: No one ever wins on a 2-on-1. Not Matt, not Jessenia, not MJ, and especially not those of us watching this show.