It’s time for hometowns, y’all! And boy, oh boy, has Rachel picked some interesting hometowns/families to see. We begin with Eric. I will now give Eric an award henceforth known as the “Second Impression Rose.” I've never experienced such a turnaround with a contestant before. I never disliked Eric the way I immediately disliked Hill Billy HatefuLee or 76 TromBalls, but I wasn’t exactly a fan, either. But wow- what a difference a (7000 hour) season makes. I love Eric. And his hometown date only served to bolster my love.
Eric is evolved. Eric is really good at that thing where you can hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time. It's like cognitive dissonance. There’s a term for it, but I can't find it. BUT in my attempt to figure it out, Google told me that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that, “the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
Cool! So, yeah Eric can do that. He can come home and be quite honest about the hardships he experienced there AND he can still express gratitude towards his parents for ultimately making him the man he is today. That seems simple, but yeah no, it’s not, and I think Eric must have a really awesome therapist.
In Baltimore we meet Ralph, who I believe is Eric’s best friend. Eric referred to him as his “A1”, so I’m gonna assume he meant “best friend” and not a metaphor for my brother’s favorite steak sauce.
Ralph is cool. He says that Eric looks really happy and that the two of them look nice together. I agree! Eric and Rachel play basketball with Rachel playing really well, and in heels. What is this, a living Fred and Ginger quote?
We go to Eric’s place and the whole family immediately puts Rachel at ease. Eric’s aunt stands out for being awesome and for looking like the female middle-aged version of Eric. Genes! The conversation they had about race and perception and how Rachel is handling being the first Black Bachelorette was the first and only good conversation about the subject this entire season. Good thing it only took us 27 episodes to get there…
At the end of the night Eric and Rachel say goodbye and Eric tells Rachel that he realized, “I really love this girl.” And then he explains that loving her means caring about her well being, caring that she’s ok etc. etc. Now here’s where Rachel and I experienced this moment differently. (I mean, I watched it on TV- that's one slight difference.) I thought what Eric said was so beautiful.
He was detailing for her how his love manifested itself. The word “love” gets thrown around this show with great ease and flexibility, thereby losing all meaning. Given Eric’s background, (he says he’s never experienced love before)- I thought it made perfect sense why he was explaining it. It was like someone tasting a new food for the first time. It’s "sweet and salty", or "spicy", or "umami"… (that’s a flavor only people on Top Chef can experience, I think.)
But our girl Rach gets in her own way a little bit with this “love” business, I think. (See: reason why she’s on The Bachelorette in the first place.) She seemed to think that Eric was qualifying his love, thereby making it less meaningful or important. I object, your honor! Hopefully this gets figured out next week.
And… what would a hometown episode be without a trip to Florida. We’re back in Miami, folks. If you were hoping for a trip back to Corinne’s favorite “upscale mall”, you’re out of luck. Instead, Bryan takes Rachel to the “real Miami.” The neighborhood where they play dominos and Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. Or just dominos. Whatever.
And now we go to meet the infamous Momma Hombré aka The Decider of Relationships Past. Bryan walks in the door and Momma Hombré immediately hugs him and starts to cry. She describes him in her interview as “my life, my love, my passion, my everything.” And now, my friends, we have finally cracked the case. Now we know why Bryan is attractive, successful, 37, and SINGLE.
You see like nuns are married to Christ, Bryan is married to his mother. Whether he wants to be or not. You may think I’m exaggerating, but nope. Did anyone else pick up what Mrs. Hombré said about wanting Bryan to end up with someone? She said “when I’m GONE, there will be someone to take care of him.” Meaning- she’s super cool with Bryan marrying someone as long as it’s AFTER SHE’S DEAD. Until then, I don’t think she’s being replaced anytime soon. Mark my words- if Rachel marries Bryan, the polyamory of this show will continue. She’ll be in a throuple with Bryan’s mom.
There is a silver lining here. I still don’t want her to pick Bryan. But I feel better believing that Bryan’s biggest problem isn’t that he’s a shallow, dishonest player-type. Instead, he’s just a near 40 year old man who’s completely controlled by his mother. Much better!
Bryan tells Rachel he’s in love with her. I think Rachel might love him back. Or, actually- I don’t know about loving him- but the two of them DEFINITELY need to have their fantasy-suite date. It’s been uncomfortable watching them kiss from day one. But now- it’s like watching two teenagers on prom night. JUST DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO, ALREADY!
And we’re back in Madison, WI hometown of Peter and Old Father Time, Nick Viall.
What do we learn about Peter from this episode? Peter goes to the Art Museum “every Saturday.” (Rachel “could see herself doing that!”) Peter has black friends. And Peter’s mom goes to the same hair salon as Nick Viall’s mom.
I’m not sure how to feel about this date. I think our takeaway is supposed to be how not ready Peter is for any of what’s ahead. I.e. proposing in two weeks to someone you've known for a month and a half. I hate to say this, but I think this episode may have revealed that Peter is kinda…boring.
If Peter wasn’t bizarrely attractive, would we really be that into him? (I’m using the royal “we” here, maybe I’m the only one late to the game on this.) What have we learned about Peter since their first date? Peter felt bad after breaking up with his last girlfriend. Peter lives in Madison. Peter’s had some self-described bad days on this show. Peter’s kinda…. not that interesting? I don’t know. Or maybe— and this is what I think might be going on— I don’t think Peter is that into Rachel. I really don’t. I think he likes her. But I don’t get the feeling that he cares about her the way that Eric or even Bryan (?) do. Just a hunch.*
*If I'm wrong and Peter "wins", this paragraph will self-destruct.*
And finally… the hometown date that Dean never wanted has arrived. This poor guy. Wow. He receives another award tonight called the “I Can’t Believe You Had To Do That” rose. Poor Dean.
Rachel meets Dean in another one those Designer Fields that the producers are so good at making. Rachel calls Dean her “beautiful surprise” which is sweet. And probably what most kind parents call unexpected pregnancies. They go ATV-ing, because...they can? And then despite Dean’s best wishes, they are forced to meet The Wizard aka Dean's dad. On the way to the house Dean says, “I am legitimately terrified”, and, “this is going to be awful”. Congrats, Dean on correctly predicting the future! #wizardry #genetics
Sidenote: Dean’s also really good at what in acting-terms we call “playing the opposite.” Example: When Dean says “I’m suppressing every emotion I’m trying to feel”- he says it a huge smile on his face. It’s fascinating and so sad. This poor kid.
And.... we’re inside the table-less house. Everyone lays down and listens to the gong. They eat some rice dish that The Wizard made. Dean’s not super hungry (he did just have a picnic in the Designer Field, lest we forget) and his father is offended. Nothing too eccentric about that response. Refusing meals in my parents' house is tantamount to treason!
Anyway- eventually Dean and The Wizard have a conversation that goes pretty badly. Dean tries his best to come to an understanding with The Wizard but it played more like an episode of Intervention where the subject refuses treatment, than an episode of The Bachelorette. Rachel asks to speak with The Wizard and he responds by saying, “if you must.” Ouch.
Then Rachel lays down with Dean (see: no furniture), and Dean tells her he’s falling in love with her. It’s hard to say where that comes from. Maybe he is, or maybe he feels closer to Rachel- the person he’s been making out with lately who took him to Europe, than to the family that emotionally abandoned him in his time of greatest need. It’s anyone’s guess.
Not clear on why Rachel responded by saying she was falling in love with Dean, too. That breaks the cardinal rule on this show of, “Thou Shalt Not Tell A Contestant You Love Them Before The End.” Ben broke that rule not once but twice, and you see how great that worked out. RIP Blauren.
And we’ve made it to the rose ceremony. Rachel looks beautiful in a gunmetal color dress that looked like a sexy knight's outfit, or a full length bedazzled chastity belt. I thought in a surprise twist that Peter would go home. But alas, Dean gets the chop. He looks pretty surprised since Rachel said the magic word to him. When confronted, Rachel says, “I meant what I said”. But, that response isn't cutting it. What does "love" mean if you say goodbye to the person you “love”? I’m not here for multiple definitions of love. I’m here for the version of love this show sells. The “I love you till the end of time” kind of love. And if “end of time” means the next 6-18 months, fine! But give it to me!
Dean departs. But I have a feeling we might see him again. Do we think The Wizard will sink his chances of becoming the next Bachelor? Only time will tell..