By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jan 26, 2021 at 7:01 AM

Last week, with Sarah hiding in her room and failing to grasp the concept of the show, I noted that somehow Queen Victoria wasn't the most annoying or frustrating person in the episode. And she must've been offended by such a statement, because this week the Royal Pain found new levels of catty, diva-esque meanness on "The Bachelor." Yet somehow she STILL wasn't the worst person on the show! Indeed, from Anna to MJ to Harrison to whoever decided the best way to defuse the conflict would be letting the women beat each other up, there was an alarming amount of competition for the worst person of the week. 

Case in point: After our now-standard pre-show spoiler, Matt is all sad staring into the middle distance because Sarah left while the girls are all popping champagne, chucking confetti and throwing a party. That is, except for Katie who is wondering why they're all still talking trash about a person who isn't even in the house anymore. It's quite possible Katie is the only decent person on the show right now. She was the only one to check on Sarah and hear her story last week, she keeps Sarah's personal business to herself even when she has every excuse to share it with everyone and she's the only one standing up for a person who isn't even on the show anymore to defend herself. 

Somehow, Victoria gets offended by Katie's kind and empathetic behavior, and the two have a talk about how Victoria – VICTORIA! – is the one who feels attacked. Katie rightly points out that Victoria has the right to say whatever she wants, but she's not absolved from the consequences of her words. If she's being mean, she's going to get called out for being mean. Victoria tries to shift things to making fun of Katie's vibrator – but Victoria, catch up. That's so two episodes ago. And also "MJ" is awesome. Frankly, judging by how crazed, intense and cruel the ladies have been thus far, more people should've brought special buzzy friends to help settle them down and relax this season. 

But most of all, as Katie points out, she's happy with her choices and happy with how she's presented herself; she's confident in who she is UNLIKE SOME VERY DESPERATE ROYALTY-OBSESSED MEMBERS OF THE CAST. Victoria seems baffled that someone's actually standing up to her and not simply cowering to her toxicity – and I mean toxicity literally, because it feels like her lowering the bar for behavior in the house has given everyone the idea that it's chill to be a bully. Katie's got a lot of work to do. 

In the meantime, there's a group date – or more like half of a group date as apparently Harrison forgot to schedule anything for Matt and the ladies to do so they just hang out and chat. DOES KATIE HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING AROUND HERE THESE DAYS!? Anyways, Chelsea has a great night, opening up with Matt about her hair or current lack thereof and earning a kiss and a rose in the process. But anyone on a date that the show cares this little about can't be feeling that confident. 

Lo and behold, it's time for the rose ceremony. Victoria has plans to snag Matt right away, but there is a god, and he is a good and righteous deity, because while Victoria briefly does get to speak with Matt, she gets interrupted ... by Harrison. HA, YOU GOT "CAN I STEAL HIM FOR A SEC?"-ED BY HARRISON! Queen, you've got as much power and sway in this house as the actual British royal family – aka none. 

Harrison isn't just dive-bombing Victoria's time to be funny – I wish he was, though. He's got something very important to discuss with Matt – mainly that Matt is clearly not interesting or dramatic enough for his liking, so he's brought in five new women to amp up the tension. "The ultimate goal is for you to fall in love," Harrison says, LYING. The ultimate goal is drama because, right now, you've got a star who clearly is not comfortable in the process still and ratings are down because he got no introduction in a past season. So let's throw some kerosene on this fire in the form of five new arrivals – which seems rude to the ladies already there, as if the show's telling them they haven't been good enough for Matt or the drama, and seems rude to the new arrivals who are guaranteed to be hated and behind everyone else anyways. 

So we meet Brittany – a model who makes out with Matt immediately – ICU nurse Kim, teacher Michelle, choreographer Ryan and Catalina, a former Miss Puerto Rico compelte with a tiara. Well, that certainly won't break Victoria's brain – oh, would you look at that, she literally stole the crown off of her head upon first meeting the group. Victoria was already teetering on the edge of sanity, but the five new girls seem to snap her, going from catty and snippy to now just truly mean, calling people "back-ups," sluts, whores and more as introductions into the group.

Listen, I love villains on this show. I'm here much more for the petty drama than for watching people fall in fake love (before breaking up at best five months later because, go figure, this process is bad and unrealistic). But Victoria isn't fun right now. Demi was fun; she was clever and incisive, and she actually seemed to spark chemistry with the bachelor. Victoria's just relentlessly rude and cruel – with no connection with Matt to excuse her still being around. The blizzard outside my window right now has more heat than their interactions thus far. Here's to hoping the season pulls a Luke P. and at least sticks the landing by getting rid of a toxic personality with style and aplomb – but Matt doesn't look like he's got any of Hannah B.'s sass, so we'll see. 

The new arrivals don't just fracture Victoria's already unstable sanity. Anna also gets nudged to the brink of a breakdown as she complains she's already struggling enough with getting time – and now there's five new people. Maybe she should stop trying to hex him with her laser stares and actually consider ... talking to him? A concept! 

Even though the five newcomers just arrived, we still have the rose ceremony – which seems unfair. The whole thing feels very "Bachelor in Paradise" ... but with none of the fun of "Bachelor in Paradise." It's just the part at the end of the season when Harrison chucks a few random people on the beach in the final episode, only for them to arrive with nothing to do because all the connections have already been made and cemented. But surprisingly, only one of the new arrivals gets the axe. Poor ICU nurse Kim. That is no way to treat our frontline heroes, Matt. Khaylah is also gone – probably because she's a UNC Tar Heel and Matt went to Wake Forest. Also: Remember the woman who showed up on opening night in a robe and lingerie, wanting Matt's help to get dressed? She's gone too. I have still learned none of these people's names – but that's OK, AT LEAST THERE'S FIVE NEW PEOPLE TO MAKE THINGS EASIER!

So while the old and new ladies have a standoff, it's time for our first group date of the new week – this one organized by brief guest host Ben Higgins. And what better test of a relationship than an obstacle course involving pumpkin boats and squirrel suits. Because when I'm looking for a signficant other, I'm always looking for intelligence, beauty, humor and the ability to traverse across a small lake in a big pumpkin. This might explain my poor dating history. Look, there's always dumb competitions like this every season – and I'm not one to typically turn down squirrel suit-related shenanigans – but normally there's a thin tether to reality, some faint rationale like parenting tests or gauging one's fight and physical strength, for these obstacle courses. But this is truly some random Pumpkin Spice "Double Dare" nonsense.

Anyways, Mari wins – but does anyone win when they smell of old wet pumpkin and rented squirrel costumes? Meanwhile, Magi may still be stuck floating in the lake in a pumpkin. 

As for the rest of the group date, Anna finally tries to enjoy her rare time with Matt, but she gets cut off by newcomer Brittany – because of course she does. OK, this is standard "Bachelor" drama ... until it definitely isn't because Anna decides that now is a good time to start spreading unsubstantiated rumors, on national television, that Brittany may be an escort. That's, uh, quite the loaded allegation to make, all based on some wildly strange backstory. Apparently Anna got "info" from people back in Chicago that Brittany's not trustworthy and that she's friends with rich men in the city. But how did she get this info when Brittany literally just got here, wasn't a part of the original cast and outside contact isn't allowed? And how the hell do you make the leap from "knows rich men" to "professional escort"? (Sexism. The answer is sexism.) It's gross and super shaming and actively unpleasant behavior from Anna – who, worst of all, decides the first person who needs to know this information is Queen Victoria. CAN'T SEE THIS ENDING POORLY!

Anyways, Bri gets the group date rose, but the focus is all on Brittany and Anna, the latter confronting the former about interrupting her time and with the escort rumors ... all in front of the group date so everyone gets to hear Brittany get accused of being an escort. Again: BAD, BORDERING ON SLANDEROUS! Brittany is, unsurprisingly, taken aback by the wild allegations, and Anna apologizes ... while also calling her a rumored escort one more time for good measure, in front of the group and national television. Oh, that's good, very sincere; that definitely puts the ol' toothpaste right back in the tube. DEFINITELY NO RAMIFICATIONS FOR YOUR WORDS!

Speaking of being careful about one's words, back at the mansion, Pieper talks about how she really hopes Michelle doesn't get a one-on-one date because she's new and she's sincerely pleasant, and human decency is NOT ALLOWED at Nemacolin. (Ask your doctor today about once-daily Nemacolin for your restless leg syndrome!) And of course, those are the magic words so Michelle gets the date. So while the "OGs" fume, Michelle explores an extreme scavenger hunt with Matt, ziplining across the territory, popping balloons filled with icebreaker questions and ending with a hot air balloon ride ... complete with a random balloon operator in the basket with the two. ROMANTIC!

While she may be new, Michelle's date is great. The two have adorable, playful chemistry together – the way they answered "how many kids do you want?" at the same time, and their reactions afterward, was cute as hell – they talk about real stuff like George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, and they just seem authentic, something hard to come by this season. She may have gone from three episodes late to finale bound in record time.

Back at the mansion, things are still tense between the new girls and the original bunch. So obviously, what better way to cool things off than have the women punch each other! That's right: Some brain genius somewhere on this show figured that what these incredibly angry and annoyed women need is an excuse to beat one another up on a boxing group date. So the ladies meet Matt out in the woods to train for fight night, then take to the ring. And this may surprise you, but the women beat each other up rather viciously! WHO COULD'VE FORESEEN?! You almost get the impression that there's a lot of pent-up rage and aggression in the house! And the competitors are all original contestants; could you imagine if a newbie got in the ring? Tyson-Holyfield would've looked like an episode of "Caillou" in comparison.

So after maybe two matches and one straight shot to the face, Matt throws in the towel, shocked that his boxing date would involve punching. Way to read the room!

Well at least that certainly defused the tension, right? INCORRECT! In fact, the gloves are still on afterwards – just verbally as MJ and company continue to rag on the new arrivals. Why are they mad at the women?! They didn't finagle their way onto the show or ask to arrive late – it's technically a disadvantage anyways! If you're going to be mad at anyone, direct your rage at Harrison. It'd be more entertaining too! 

Anyways, being a human saint and the lone hope for humanity on this show, Katie eventually chimes in and says that, sure, bonus unexpected competition sucks, but maybe being rude and mean to the new girls isn't great and that they should try to imagine what it's like being them, strangers in a house filled with established connections, hated due in no part of their own actions. But Katie gets eye-rolled out of the room – quite literally as the ladies continue on their gossipping ways while Katie leaves the room to find Matt, who's ... hanging with a crowd of randos? I assume they were crew members, but it sure looked like Matt was just chatting with a random gang of local rapscallions. Maybe he was trying to plot his escape from this show he's not having fun on?

So Katie fills him on the fact that the house is toxic – to a degree that, in Brittany's case, it could legitimately affect their life and relationships outside of the show. Normally, I'm against telling the bachelor or bachelorette about the drama in the house, because the egg always lands on that person's face, but it's getting so ugly in the house that somebody's gotta do something before Matt and Harrison decide to take the women for a UFC match group date next week or maybe literal pistol dueling.

How refreshing to see a good, decent and selfless thing done this episode ... that will almost certain backfire on Katie next week as the other women, instead of thinking about their own actions and cruelty to others, will probably blame her for Matt being upset with them. Oh great. Should be a treat to watch. Please, Matt's random crew of local friends, take me with you when you break him out!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.