‘Bachelor’ recap Week 8: It’s time for Matt James to meet the families

Matt James, a Raleigh native, with Michelle Young on the Feb. 22 episode of “The Bachelor” on ABC.

Matt James, a Raleigh native, with Michelle Young on the Feb. 22 episode of “The Bachelor” on ABC.


Last week’s “Bachelor” was quite a ride.

We started that episode with 11 women vying for Matt James’ love, and by the end, Matt had culled the group down to four: Rachael Kirkconnell, Michelle Young, Bri Springs and Serena Pitt.

This week, the families of those women travel to Pennsylvania to meet Matt and grill their daughters regarding how sure they could possibly be about this particular method of finding true love. (Traditionally, these “hometown” dates take place in each woman’s hometown, but because of COVID-19, all of the “Bachelor” action has taken place at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania.)

In light of Rachael’s racially-problematic social media posts, first reported by a TikTokker named FeministMama, America will be reading a whole lot into every interaction with her family tonight. Speaking of reading into situations … ABC provided photos of Matt’s dates with Michelle, Bri and Serena P., but not his date with Rachael.


The final four women on Season 25 of “The Bachelor,” starring Matt James (L-R): Rachael Kirkconnell, Michelle Young, Bri Springs and Serena Pitt. ABC

Before we get to Monday’s episode, though, let’s dip back into something we mentioned in last week’s recap.

Last week we summarized the ongoing controversy involving Rachael (see above), and about host Chris Harrison’s unfortunate “Extra” interview regarding Rachael’s behavior — an interview which led to Chris announcing that he’s stepping away from the show for awhile.

Monday night, barely an hour before the East Coast premiere of “The Bachelor,” Matt shared a statement about that situation on social media.

It’s long, so see the embed below for the whole statement. But to summarize, Matt says the whole experience has been “devastating and heartbreaking,” adding that “the past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life.” He describes the photos of Rachael as “incredibly disappointing” and Chris’ interview as “troubling and painful.”

Matt says he is still reevaluating and processing his “Bachelor” experience, and will say more on the matter later.

Now, on to the show.

Matt James, a Raleigh native, with Michelle Young on the Feb. 22 episode of “The Bachelor” on ABC. Craig Sjodin ABC

Hey Matt, we love Michelle’s mom and dad

Michelle, a school teacher from Edina, Minnesota, gets the first date of the episode.

She tells Matt that she and her family liked to go on bike rides, so that’s how their date starts. Then they visit an auditorium where some of her fifth-grade students are on a video call on a big screen to meet her “boyfriend.” They are here to ask “Mr. James” some questions, and they are not softballs.

“Have you kissed yet?” “How many girlfriends do you have?” “Are you going to have babies?” “Are you going to marry her?” Matt artfully dodges most of them, but seems genuinely touched by how much the kids adore her.

At the end of the date, Michelle says she’s falling in love with Matt and thinks her family will love him, too.

Then we meet Michelle’s family. Like Matt, Michelle’s mom is white and her dad is Black. Dad notices that she looks happy, but tells us that she’s had some relationships in the past that were not good, and you know, dads worry.

She tells her dad that she loves how Matt works with kids and wants to give back and help people. But dad’s concern, naturally, is that there are other women involved. Dad asks her if Matt proposed today, would she says yes, and Michelle nods. Dad says OK, but he just doesn’t want her to be let down if Matt picks someone else.

So Dad talks to Matt, and while Matt doesn’t ask for permission to propose, dad volunteers that they will support whatever Michelle wants, and Matt thanks him.

Then Michelle tells her mom that she thinks Matt is “the one” and mom asks Michelle something very important: does Matt treat Michelle as well as her dad treats her? With tears in her eyes, Michelle says yes.

Matt James with Rachael Kirkconnell in the Jan. 4, 2021, Season 25 premiere of “The Bachelor” on ABC. Craig Sjodin ABC

Matt meets Rachael’s family

Next we get Rachael’s date. She starts off telling Matt that he needs to trust her — so she blindfolds him, puts him into a convertible and drives him to a spot where they will go skydiving.

Matt loves it! He says he’s a thrill-seeker and he’s “stoked” for the date, and super excited that she would think of something like this for them. They do tandem diving, which means they are each connected to a trained diver, who controls the dive. They jump at the same time, along with a camera person, and Rachael tells the camera that she is “literally falling” for Matt.

Matt lands first, then Rachael lands a little hard. Matt runs to her and she says her back is killing her and her mouth is full of grass. After a few minutes sitting in the grass, she’s OK, but Matt tells her that his “heart hurt” when he saw her fall that hard, and it made him think about how he could have lost her. It scared him!

I mean, Matt is talking like he thought she was dead, and then Rachael cries because it shows her how much he cares.

That night, we meet Rachael’s family. Matt and Rachael bust in on her dad while he’s literally saying that he hopes they aren’t moving too fast. “What’s the rush?” he asks. Along with her dad, we meet her mom and sister.

Rachael talks to her mom first and tells her that she’s serious about Matt and can see spending her life with him. You don’t see anything bad? her mom asks. Everyone has a bad day, mom says. Nope, Rachael said. He’s perfect.

Meanwhile, Rachael’s dad is telling Matt that he doesn’t see how they can “get to that point in such a short period of time,” and encourages him to take more time to get to know each other more. Matt tells him that his “end goal” is to get married and that he and Rachael have a relationship built on trust, and that he and Rachael have a special connection.

Dad brings up the “but you’re seeing other people” point — which is valid (but also, all y’all knew what show these women were coming on before they got here, right?).

Dad tells Rachael that he thinks Matt is telling all the women the same thing he’s telling her. Rachael said maybe she’s naive, but she doesn’t think so. (For what it’s worth, Matt has told Rachael that he’s falling in love with her, and he hasn’t said that to the other women, at least not as far as “Bachelor” editors have shown us.)

In the end, dad tells Rachael that the family will support her.

But we end on a sad face because Rachael really wanted Matt to ask her dad for his blessing, but Matt tells her that he’s not asking any dads about that right now — that when he makes his decision, he will call that dad and do that. She is visibly disappointed.

Matt meets Bri’s family

Matt meets up with Bri for some “off-roading,” saying she wants to revisit their first date and that it’s “payback” (their first date was four-wheeling through a bunch of mud — this time they’re in a Jeep).

Then there’s a picnic with champagne and some conversation about meeting the family.

Bri warns Matt that her mom might be “a little tough” because her mom has always had to play “mom and dad” roles. Bri said it scares her that she wouldn’t be able to give him a “conventional family” with a mom and dad and siblings, but Matt assures her that his family isn’t conventional either, but they love each other and that’s all that matters.

They meet her mom and her best friend Bree — and Bri meets her newborn baby sister for the first time.

Matt tells her mom and best friend that he and Bri have similar life experiences, and when mom asks him if they can talk privately, he says “yes ma’am.”

Mom asks Matt if he’s in love with Bri and he says “I’m falling for her” — and acknowledges that it’s probably not the answer she’s looking for.

(You guys, it’s gonna be Rachael. Sigh.)

Bri tells her mom that she’s falling in love with Matt, and that she’s scared. Mom encourages her to be herself and to be vulnerable.

“Worst case scenario is we’re mending our broken hearts together, and we’ll survive,” mom tells her. Well, there’s a story there, mom.

Bri tells Matt hat she feels like she’s falling in love with him and she wants more time with him. He thanks for her sharing.

Matt puts on a toboggan and meets Serena’s family

Finally, we get Matt’s date with Serena P., who is from Canada, so that’s the theme of this date.

There’s some geography, a lingo quiz, foods of Canada and a little hockey (he won’t be getting any calls from the Canes).

But the absolute best part is when Serena asks Matt what Canadians call a beanie-style hat and Matt, because he is from North Carolina, correctly answers “toboggan.”

Serena laughs at him and says “do you know what a toboggan is?” and he confidently says “yes” (it’s a knit cap) and she says “it’s a sled!” and Matt is absolutely shook. “Is it really? A toboggan is a hat!” he says, even miming the action of pulling a toboggan onto his head.

So yes, in Canada, they call that a toque, but Matt is not wrong that in North Carolina, a toboggan is a hat (but the preferred pronunciation is TOE-boggan).

When night falls, Matt and Serena meet her mom and dad and sister.

Serena’s family seems very nice, and he tells them that when he first met Serena he was reassured that she was “normal.”

Matt chats with Serena’s mom first, and tells her that he likes that she’s smart and she challenges him. Serena tells her sister that Matt “checks every box” and that she’s falling for him. Sister tells her she thinks Matt is very cool but something seems off. That “something” is that Serena doesn’t seem “smitten” — possibly because she’s “in her head” too much. Sister doesn’t think “they’re quite there yet.”

Dad reminds Serena that an engagement is a strong commitment, and Serena now has a lot of doubts and has more thinking to do.

Serena knows something is missing and she can’t put her finger on it (we think that “something” is that she can sense that he’s in love with Rachael!). But mom hints that Serena has a previous relationship that hurt her very badly, and now she’s struggling to trust her feelings.

Serena tells Matt that she’s struggling and he tells her to just think about “now” and not anything else (like a proposal).

This recap will update through the evening.

More about ‘Bachelor’ Matt James

James, who made news this past summer when he was named ABC’s first Black “Bachelor,” is 28 years old and works with a real estate investment firm in New York City. He is also involved in a program in New York that helps children affected by homelessness.

We will recap the show each week.

Catch up on our previous Matt James coverage:

Raleigh’s Matt James named ABC’s first Black “Bachelor”

Durham woman is a contestant on “The Bachelor”

See Matt James in middle school yearbook photos

Episode 1 recap: Meet, pray, love with Matt James

Episode 2 recap: Matt James is a prince, but there’s an evil queen, too

Episode 3 recap: The Sarah Show finale

Episode 4 recap: A (literal) battle for Matt James

Episode 5 recap: Matt James ousts bullies Victoria and Anna

Episode 6 recap: Matt James loves the State Fair

Episode 7: Matt James picks the four women whose families he’ll meet

How to watch ‘The Bachelor’

New episodes of “The Bachelor” air at 8 p.m. Mondays on ABC.

You can also stream “The Bachelor” the next day at or on Hulu.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Brooke Cain is a North Carolina native who has worked at The News & Observer for more than 20 years. She writes about TV and local media for the Happiness is a Warm TV blog, and answers CuriousNC questions for readers.


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