The Bachelor Recap: And Matt's Final Rose Goes To...

Guys, we made it to the final rose!

What a JOURNEY this has been! We laughed, we cried, and just about everything in between. Chris Harrison promised an “emotional season finale” and oh boy, did this finale deliver. Let’s dive in.

We begin with Matt’s mother, Patty, and brother, John, who are meeting our final two contestants, Michelle and Rachael. 

Michelle is up first. Patty started crying (in a really sweet way) within 5 minutes of Michelle's arrival, which I think is a great sign! Michelle had nice conversations with both Patty and John, who grilled her just a bit 😉–basically, Michelle was crushing it the entire time. To sum it up: Matt’s mom ended the visit by saying “I could totally see her being part of the family.”

Next up was Rachael. She was clearly really nervous (Michelle was much more at ease), but overall, the family seemed to like her. John asked Rachael all about her past relationships, while her conversation with Patty really just revolved around the fact that Rachael is in love with Matt. And again, Patty shed tears–a good sign in my book!

After meeting the girls, Patty tells Matt that love isn’t the “end all be all,” AKA you need more than just love to make it through marriage, and it spooked Matt. He suddenly wasn’t sure if he was ready to propose in just a few days time. So Matt did what every Bachelor contestant does in a time of crisis: he sought out Chris Harrison.

Matt opened up to Chris about his new doubts, and Chris's response was sort of shady! He was surprised that Matt now feels this way, and he wasn't buying Patty's very realistic take that marriage requires more than just love to work. Chris (and I imagine the Bachelor producers) seemed like they were trying to push Matt to an engagement, even though he repeatedly said he wasn't ready. It's not a great look for them as a whole. Hmm...let's see how this plays out.

Image by ABC Press/Craig Sjodin

Now let’s get to the dates. Matt and Michelle rappel down a side of a building to get to their cute date setup. They haven’t had a ton of “extreme” Bachelor dates this season, so I guess this technically counts as one, but it really just looked uncomfortable. Michelle and Matt seemed into it–they coached each other down the building and it was sweet.

But the entire vibe quickly shifted later in the date. Michelle gave Matt a “Mr. James” jersey and gave herself a matching “Mrs. James” jersey. At that exact moment, Matt confesses he has doubts about their relationship. Uh oh.

Did Michelle come on too strong? Yes, the "Mrs." jersey may have been a bit premature, but Matt had only given her positive signs over the last few weeks, so I don't really blame her. But Matt ended up being honest and open with her about his doubts.

Michelle is noticeably confused in their conversation and asked Matt for clarity. And then he drops the breakup bomb: “I don’t think I can get there with you.” I audibly gasped. I don’t think that phrase is how he wanted to say it, it kind of seemed like it just came out. And just like that, Michelle is gone and we’re down to just RACHAEL! 

Image by ABC Press/Craig Sjodin

Matt was really torn up about the breakup with Michelle, and about the fact that he doesn't want to get engaged. He’s been confused all episode, and I feel like he just needs to take some time to figure out what he wants. I know the producers have a tight schedule, but I think Matt could use a few days of self-reflection here. Maybe we need to bring Tyler Cameron back for guidance and a dose of “bro” time?

While all of this goes down, Rachael is totally clueless about Michelle’s sudden departure. Instead, she’s getting ready for her last date with Matt. She admits to the camera that she’s madly in love with Matt. Now we have to see if the feeling is mutual.

But before we get anywhere, Chris pops up and tells Rachael her date is canceled. To say she is not pleased is a massive understatement. At this point, Matt knew he wasn’t ready to get engaged but still wants to be with Rachael.

It took a bit, but eventually, we moved past the canceled date and it was finally time for the last rose ceremony. Rachael received a date card from Matt asking her to meet him at the lake. Matt and Rachael got all dolled up, and headed to their romantic proposal spot. There, Matt gives Rachael his final rose and does NOT propose, but both Matt and Rachael were excited and hopeful for their future together. They rode off into the sunset while kissing and saying “I love you.”

Now they get to live happily ever after, right? Wrong.

Image by ABC Press/Craig Sjodin

Post-finale, we got a glimpse at where things stand now in After the Final Rose, and Rachael's racially insensitive past was at the center of the discussion. Our hunky new host Emmanuel Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, invited Michelle, Matt, and Rachael into the hot seat to address a lot. Michelle was looking for closure after their breakup, but the real focus was on Rachael.

First, Michelle confronted Matt about their seemingly sudden breakup. Matt apologized and praised Michelle for how gracefully she handled the season. Michelle seemed satisfied with his apology, and got one last epic line in before leaving the hot seat: "I hope you move on with kissing with your eyes closed, and I hope you come up with more phrases than just 'thanks for sharing.'" Michelle for the win! 

Then, it was on to the Rachael situation. Matt said the revelations about Rachael’s past have been heartbreaking, and at first, he supported Rachael until he learned the rumors were true. And then, he made the heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to her because ultimately, she didn't understand his experience as a Black man in America.

His pain was so vivid and real in this moment–you could feel it jump off the screen. This was clearly an incredibly intense, traumatic, and devastating situation for Matt, and he handled it with such grace.

The most fitting way to wrap up this summary of their emotional conversation is just as Emmanuel did–he recognized the fact that Rachael was taking accountability for her actions and praised Matt for his authenticity and vulnerability.

After the Final Rose ended with the introduction of our new Bachelorette. Make that TWO Bachelorettes–both Katie and Michelle in two separate seasons!

And we'll have new hosts guiding them along the way: former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe have been tapped to replace Chris Harrison. They’re two of my all-time favorites and it's a huge deal to have two women serving as hosts! I, for one, simply can't wait.

Main Image by ABC Press/Craig Sjodin; Bracket design by Sydney Mastrandrea