Also on Monday's episode, two other contestants butted heads when one called the other "toxic" — and told Matt about her concerns

By Dana Rose Falcone
January 11, 2021 10:00 PM
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This post contains spoilers from Monday's episode of The Bachelor.

Matt James entered his first week of dates feeling like his wife could be in the group of 24 remaining women.

"It's hard to fathom that one of those women who I handed a rose out to last night could be my wife," he said on Monday's episode of The Bachelor. "I feel like today, right now, is where the journey is official beginning for me."

Host Chris Harrison informed the ladies that this week would consist of two one-on-one dates and a group date, but that not all of the women would end up on a date because of the large size of the group.

FIRST ONE-ON-ONE DATE

Bri received the week's first one-on-one date, and Matt was feeling nervous about it. "I haven't been on a date in a long time," he admitted in a confessional.

The date began with ATV rides — while the other women looked on from the resort. "I'm literally so sick of you guys," Victoria told the group. "I want to hang out with Matt."

While many of the ladies expressed their excitement for Bri to spend solo time with Matt, Victoria called them "fake as s---" to the cameras. Later on, Victoria complained that she didn't like the camaraderie amongst the women. "I hate this girl power bulls---," she said.

After each riding on their own ATVs, Bri hopped on the back of Matt's and they set out together. Not long after, they toppled into the mud. "The first thing I'm thinking in my head is like, Bri's mom is going to kill me," Matt said. "This is our first date and I'm launching her daughter off an ATV."

Matt and Bri
| Credit: Craig Sjodi/ ABC

Afterwards, they headed to a wood-fired hot tub to enjoy some champagne. When Matt took off his shirt to chop wood, Bri couldn't help but deem him "the most gorgeous man I've ever seen."

In the hot tub, Matt apologized for tossing Bri off the ATV and they had their first kiss with one another. Then, at dinner, Bri shared with Matt that her mom had her at 13. And in quarantine, Bri learned that her mom was engaged and expecting a child. "There was a moment in time where I was like, I don't feel like I have a home to go to anymore," Bri said.

She and Matt proceeded to bond over having gravitated towards friends with large, traditional families since they both grew up in single-parent households. At the end of the meal, Matt gave Bri a rose and they spent the rest of the night kissing under a fireworks display.

The women back at the resort noticed, and when some of them mentioned that they wished they were in Bri's position, Victoria called them out. "Well, now you guys know how I felt this morning. Because you guys were just so rude to me. This was the issue I had all day. I'm here to spend time with Matt. That's important to me, so if it's not important to you, that's what's perplexing to me."

Self-proclaimed queen Victoria took offense when the group accused her of having "negative energy." She then called her roommate Marylynn out for being "rude" to her and decided she would instead sleep on the couch.

RELATED VIDEO: Matt James Reflects on Being the First Black Bachelor

GROUP DATE

Even though Victoria said she didn't want to go on a group date because "I don't feel like I can be my most authentic self" around Matt's other suitors, she ended up on one with Chelsea, Serena P., Abigail, Sydney, Illeana, Kristin, Lauren, Jessenia, Serena C., Kit, Kaili, Katie, MJ, Mari, Pieper and Rachael.

"I don't know what it's like to have a healthy marriage and today I'd love to see what that looks like," Matt teased of the date.

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The ladies learned they'd be shooting wedding photos with Matt to visualize what their special day together could look like. They had 10 minutes to put on their bridal best.

Once the photo shoot started, Victoria jumped her place in line for a "royal wedding" and asked Matt to take a garter off of her leg. After he obliged, she leaned in for the kiss.

Matt and Victoria
| Credit: Craig Sjodi/ ABC

"I feel like Victoria putting the garter belt around her leg is kind of a reach for attention," Serena C. said in an on-camera interview. "I think it was a little strange, honestly."

With about half the ladies left to pose with Matt, Chris interrupted to tell the women they'd have to "truly fight for Matt's heart." Still in their wedding dresses, Matt's suitors split into two teams and competed in a game of "Capture the Heart," in which they could tag each other with paint. The winning team earned more time with Matt at the afterparty, while the losers went home.

The group date participants fight for Matt's heart.
| Credit: Craig Sjodi/ ABC
Credit: Craig Sjodi/ ABC

The outdoor event got predictably messy. Ultimately, MJ "took a purse to the face" and won it for the red team. But Mari on the gold team received the MVB (Most Valuable Bride) honor because of her competitive performance and scored an invite to the afterparty.

Once there, Lauren talked to Matt about putting God first and accepting a partner for their flaws.

"I couldn't have put it any more perfect than that," Matt replied. "Growing up in the church as I did, I've never led in a relationship with the fact that I am a Christian because I feel like it's … there's a preconceived notion with it. It turns a lot of people off. And it's not something I've done. You saying that is affirming. That's what I would like a healthy relationship to be built off of."

Jessenia opened up about experiencing infidelity in a past relationship and watching her parents struggle in their marriage. "If there's anything that I could do to make you more comfortable —" Matt began.

"A kiss would be nice," Jessenia responded. And kiss they did.

Victoria also landed a kiss after she assured Matt she has insecurities despite coming across so confident. "You're such a prize and there's so much on the line," Victoria told the North Carolina native.

Although Victoria thought that admission would earn her the group date rose, Matt awarded it to Lauren. "I really enjoyed our conversation tonight," Matt told Lauren. "I feel like we share a lot of similar values and you couldn't be more deserving of my rose tonight. I'm extremely happy you're here."

Lauren was delighted and said in an on-camera interview that receiving the rose made her "the happiest I've been since I've been here."

SECOND ONE-ON-ONE DATE

Sarah scored the last one-on-one date of the week. For the occasion, Matt took her up in a biplane. Freaking out over the experience brought their relationship to new heights.

After they safely landed, Matt and Sarah discussed the importance of family. Matt asked Sarah about her dad, at which point she called her father the "most awesome dad ever," though she didn't get into his ALS diagnosis. Matt sensed that Sarah held back.

"I had a great time with Sarah today but I could tell that Sarah was struggling with something," Matt told the cameras. "And she's slow getting started, but I need her to be open and vulnerable, because I have already had other women being authentic and real and that's what I'm looking for."

Sarah and Matt
| Credit: Craig Sjodi/ ABC

At dinner, Sarah confided in Matt about her dad being diagnosed with ALS and quitting her broadcasting job to move home to San Diego to take care of him. "Watching him trying to grapple with this disease and it progress and [him] not being able to express himself or to speak and losing the ability to talk, his voice changing over time, it was just, like, unimaginable," Sarah said, adding that the difficult experience "brought our family so close."

"I can't imagine what you're going through," Matt said. "But in my life, the only thing that's given me strength through any of the adversities I faced and tough times I've gone through is my faith and I'm going to be praying for your pops and your family."

Matt also felt honored that Sarah had taken the time to come on the show and get to know him. "He wanted me to go out and to find love," Sarah said of her dad. "I just felt this calling to be here."

Her intuition didn't fail her, at least after this first one-on-one, because Matt awarded Sarah a rose and they finished the night kissing in the pool.

ROSE CEREMONY

Matt spent the first half of the cocktail party engaging in meaningful conversations with his potential suitors. He established a non-verbal sign with Abigail to communicate with her in big group settings, chatted with Magi about enjoying an Ethiopian meal together and confirmed with Mari that they have "some connection."

The Bachelor impressed Marylynn when he gave her an orchid — her favorite flower — despite not inviting her on any of the week's dates. "I'm on cloud nine right now," she gushed.

That drew extra attention from Victoria. "Marylynn is toxic," Victoria claimed to the cameras. "I have so many things to say to Matt. I was not going to tell him about these issues in the house with Marylynn, but my ultimate state is of love. I don't want to be around her toxic energy."

Victoria; Marylynn
| Credit: Craig Sjodin via Getty( 2)

Victoria then spoke to Matt about what she perceived as a problem. "[Marylynn] just like cries to manipulate situations and she's just like, straight up toxic," she said. "[I] had to sleep on the couch temporarily because having that in the house, it's really hard, and I don't think you've had that experience."

Matt, who said it did seem "like Marylynn had been bullying Victoria," gave Marylynn a chance to share her side of the story.

Marylynn didn't bash Victoria, though. "I'm not the type of person that would spite anyone," she told Matt. "She's jeopardizing my time with you and that's not okay. I don't know what can I do to help you see that I'm telling you the honest truth."

Marylynn tried to speak with Victoria outside, but Victoria refused. The event coordinator attempted to extend an olive branch, telling Victoria she hoped they could work out an agreement. "I don't care to," Victoria responded, adding, "We're like oil and vinegar."

To the cameras, Victoria asserted, "Marylynn definitely needs to go home tonight because I hate her."

Matt acknowledged the drama ahead of the rose ceremony. "I did hear some things tonight that were concerning, but I've just got to continue to follow my heart," he told the women before handing out roses.

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Pieper received the first rose of the night, followed by Kit, Magi, Rachael, Abigail, Chelsea, Jessenia, Katie and Serena C.

But before he could continue, Sarah, who had already secured a rose on her one-on-one date, stepped away because she felt light-headed. The broadcast journalist told Matt she was "seeing stars."

"I'm blacking out," Sarah said. "I can't see."

The rest of the rose ceremony — and Sarah's health scare — continue next week.

The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.