The finale of The Bachelor aired on Monday night, and while the episode was full of drama and uncertainty, the After The Final Rose reunion special that follows the finale was the main event of the night.
At the end of his journey to find love, Bachelor Matt James picked Rachael Kirkconnell as his winner, giving her the final rose. While the whole point of this show is to end in an engagement, James wasn’t quite ready to get down on one knee, which ends up being a good decision because…they already broke up.
The controversy that plagued this season, behind the scenes, was Rachael’s racially insensitive past coming to light through social media posts from a few years back. Among other things, she was pictured attending an antebellum south plantation-themed party in 2018, to which she finally apologized for a few weeks back.
During the reunion, Matt explained that, at first, he tried to ignore all of the rumors surrounding Kirkconnell’s past, which were swirling for months before she actually addressed them.
“I dismissed them as rumors, because that’s what they were to me,” Matt told host Emmanuel Acho. “You hear things that are heartbreaking… and you just pray they’re not true. And then, when you find out that they are… it just makes you question everything.”
While some fans were surprised Matt actually ended the relationship over this controversy, it seems a big part of his decision had to do with the fact that Rachael still didn’t understand what was wrong with those pictures. She even admitted that she didn’t get why James was so upset when he first broke up with her.
“When I questioned our relationship, it was in the context of you not fully understanding my Blackness and what it means to be a Black man in America,” Matt told Rachael. “It broke my heart, because this is the last conversation I thought we’d be having. I didn’t sign up to have this conversation.”
Rachael expressed that she is committed to educating herself further, clearly hoping to rekindle her relationship with Matt, but he insisted that this was something she was going to have to do on her own.
“I had to take a step back for you to put in that work that you outlined that you needed to do, and that’s something that you gotta do on your own, and that’s why we can’t be in a relationship,” Matt said. “I don’t wanna be emotionally responsible for those tears, ’cause it’s like, the work and the reconciliation that needs to be done is work that I can’t do for you.”
When Acho asked Matt if there was any chance at a relationship in the future, he was silent. He also declined “one last embrace” with Rachael.