In the end — following an unpredictable season that concluded with the temporary ousting of the only host the show has ever known — The Bachelor ended in the most predictable fashion imaginable.
Matt James chose the woman everyone knew he would choose, almost since Day One.
While everything else surrounding the series went into upheaveal, the earliest Bachelor spoilers proved prophetic.
Matt James gave his final rose to Rachael Kirkconnell.
Before arriving at this decision, though, Matt’s mom, Patty, and older brother, John, joined their loved one at Nemacolin Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania.
Once there, they meet the two women with whom James was allegedly in love.
“I think it’s a long shot that Matt would be engaged at the end of this,” Patty told the cameras, perhaps hinting at the conclusion to come.
Michelle ended up making quite the impression, however, telling Patty she was “very much” in love with her son.
That was seemingly all it took for Patty to be convinced Michelle could be part of the problem, which prompted Jams to gush in a confessional:
“I’m extremely excited about where we’re at in our relationship. Today couldn’t have gone any better.”
What about Rachael, though?
“I’ve loved people and I’ve cared for people but I don’t think I’ve ever been truly in love with someone to where I can see my future with him,” Rachael told John, adding:
“This probably sounds crazy but I just feel like he is the other half of me that I’ve needed.”
Heck, Patty even cried listening to Rachael gush over her child.
“I just want to let you know that I really, really, truly do love your son,” Kirkconnell said to Patty.
Despite the rave reviews both women received, and despite Matt saying he cared deeply for both Michelle and Rachael, Matt told Chris Harrison that he wasn’t sure about proposing.
“I know that the easy thing for me to do would be to tell Rachael and Michelle what they want to hear and [that] is I’m ready and I’ve been through with this whole process and get down on one knee and do something that I’m not ready for,” he explained.
“And then what happens?
“It sets off our relationship course on something that neither one of us are ready for.”
Cut to Matt’s final date with Michelle, which featured the pair rappelling down a building.
Later on, after confessing to the camera that he had some doubts, Matt had to come clean after Michelle gave him a basketball jersey and pulled out a matching one for her that said “Mrs. James” on the back.
“I’m just like, having doubts,” he told Michelle.
“And I shouldn’t be having any doubts about that. We’re like, a day or two away. This is the first time I’ve felt any type of thing outside of wanting to be with you forever and having just any doubt in my mind at this point for me is just like, scary.
“I’ve been pushing through that feeling today and trying to get there because of how I feel about you and what I know life could look like with you.
“And I think the easy thing for me to do would be to tell you what you want to hear.”
Young, heartbroken, wondered how Matt could just “flip a switch” and no longer be in love with her.
But Matt simply apologized and said it wasn’t like that.
He then told Harrison that he wasn’t in love with Michelle.
Which brings up to Rachael’s final date on the finale… sort of.
To build drama, Matt actually canceled the date… pondered how he was feeling… and, of course, picked out an engagement ring as part of the network’s advertising deal with jewelerr Neil Lane.
Rachael and Matt ended up meeting by the lake, with the former speaking first.
“I want to be there for you when you’re hurting,” she said. “And when you’re hurting, I’m hurting. And I don’t know what happened yesterday, but I do know I’m not going to run just when it gets tough.
“I don’t know if you still want this but regardless, I feel so unbelievably lucky just to have felt what I have felt for you.
“I never felt a love like this in my entire life and at the end of the day I just want you to be happy, but I just know with all my heart that I love you and I will choose you every day from here on out if you’ll let me.”
Matt responded by telling Rachael she’s “everything that I came here looking for.”
“I want to be everything to you, I want to be everything for you that my dad wasn’t to my mom,” James continued. “And as I’m wrestling with what I’m going to do today, the easy thing for me to do would be to brush those feelings and emotions off and make you happy.
“That’s to propose to you today.
“But I couldn’t live with myself if I put you through what my mom has been through. I’ve seen what rushing into a proposal, a marriage can do in my family and it’s ugly and it’s not something I want for you or for us.
“And that’s why I can’t propose to you today.”
Kirkconnell said she understood and both sides dropped the L-Bomb. Matt also added that he did see a future with Rachael.
“I do see you as my wife,” the Bachelor concluded. “I see you as the mother of my kids.”
Matt gave Rachael the final rose and, naturally, she accepted.
Then, Matt picked her up and they left together in a horse-drawn carriage.
And they lived happily ever after?
On the After the Final Rose special, hosted by Emmanuel Acho, James explained how he and Rachael were on an “extended honeymoon” after the finale wrapped.
Untill those social media photos were leaked online and Kirkconnell had to acknowledge mistakes she made in the past that were “racist and wrong.”
“You hear things that are heartbreaking and you just pray they’re not true,” James told Acho of how he felt when he first learned Kirkconnell had attended a plantation-themed party in 2018.
“And when you find out that they are, it makes you question everything.”
Mat then said the entire incident and scandal made him think “Rachael might not understand what it means to be black in America.”
He referenced her apology and how she said in it that “there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” emphasizing for the audience:
“I have to step back and allow her to do that work.”
So you’re no longer together? Acho asked.
No, Matt replied.
And there you have it.
James bristled at the notion that some viewers might be “triggered” by his reaction to Rachael’s past actions, adding that those folks simply do not understand his experience as a Black man.
In the end? Neither does Rachael Kirkconnell.
And therein lies the whole problem.