The episode began with a disclaimer as host Chris Harrison took the stage, noting it was previously recorded on February 4. The 49-year-old incited controversy on February 9 when he downplayed racism allegations against contestant Rachael Kirkconnell during an Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay. Harrison announced on February 13 that he would be “stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.” Emmanuel Acho will fill in as host in his absence.
“This really has been a wild season filled with more exhilarating romance, shocking surprises and explosive drama than any of us were prepared for,” Harrison said during the Women Tell All, adding that the season delivered more “controversy than ever before.” While the oft hyperbolic statements are commonplace in the franchise, they took on new weight after the scandal that has surrounded season 25 in recent weeks.
For his part, Matt, 29, spoke out about Harrison and Rachael, 24, ahead of The Women Tell All — which the graphic designer did not attend since she could still receive the real estate broker’s final rose — airing. Bri Springs and Michelle Young also made the final three.
Matt wrote via Instagram on February 22 that Harrison and Rachael’s actions had been “devastating and heartbreaking” for him. The former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire host’s reaction to the Georgia native “liking” photos with a Confederate flag in the background and attending an antebellum-themed party was “a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years,” according to the lead. (Rachael has since apologized for her past behavior and urged fans not to defend her.)
The North Carolina native promised that viewers will “hear more from me in the end,” adding: “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
While The Women Tell All focused more on Matt’s reason for growing a beard — he felt it reflected the wisdom he gained during the process — and unaired dates than the recent controversy, the episode still included several revelations. Scroll through the gallery below to find out what the Bachelor and his exes talked about, from bullying to kissing with his eyes open: