Monday’s episode saw the duo go skydiving on a date while strapped to individual professionals. After Matt makes his landing, his date comes in a little fast and ends up slamming face-first into the ground. Although she was a bit banged up, she didn’t suffer any serious injuries despite the hard fall back to earth. The terrifying moment, though, was a small boon for Kirkconnell as it made the Bachelor realize his affection for her.
However, after a controversy that saw photos of Kirkconnell resurface showing her attending an “Old South” themed party in 2018 prompted allegations of racism, some viewers weren’t sad to see her get hurt. The 24-year-old previously issued a lengthy mea culpa on social media for her “ignorance,” but viewers still found the face plant as a bit of just desserts for the contestant.
“the sky diving instructor slammed rachel into the ground because she attended all those plantation parties. #Bachelor,” wrote one sarcastic viewer.
“I’ve never laughed as hard watching the bachelor as I did watching Rachel slam into the ground from the sky #TheBachelor,” wrote another user.
“this is the most boring season of the bachelor watching rachel fall out of the sky is the most dramatic thing that happened,” wrote a more disappointed viewer.
“Watching Rachel eat it while sky diving was a top moment in bachelor history for me,” another wrote.
The resurfaced photos ended up having a much larger impact on the “Bachelor” franchise than just Kirkconnell and James. During an interview with former “Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay with longtime host Chris Harrison for Extra, Harrison defended Kirkconnell for attending the party, saying that the photos from 2018 only look bad through a 2020 lens. The ensuing backlash forced Harrison to both apologize and reveal that he would be “stepping aside” as the show’s host in order to take time for personal reflection.
Although the power landing made James fall even more for Kirkconnell, he spoke out about the controversy on social media during the episode.
In his lengthy statement, James — who is the Bachelor’s first Black lead — said that “the past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life,” and that he felt the need to address the matter now, despite his season still having several episodes yet to air.
He called the photos of Kirkconnell “incredibly disappointing.”
“The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly,” James, 29, said. “Chris’ failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining that the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch.”
Although filming on the current season of “The Bachelor” has wrapped, audiences still don’t know if James ultimately selected Kirkconnell as his winner.