Well, ladies and gentleman, we have made it to hometowns. This week we're given the chance to see inside the intimate home lives of our Top 4 contestants. And who are these special women? In order we have: The Girl Who Struggles With Death, The Girl Who Struggles with Nothing, The Girl Who Struggles with Relationships, and The Girl Who Struggles with forming-sentences.
(You have to be familiar with Passover to get the reference, sorry for any confusion amongst my gentile readers.)
First up is Kendall. Kendall is obviously a dark horse in the competition. Given her intro with the taxidermy and the uke-playing in a giant tree- I believe we all thought Kendall would go the way of the Chicken-Enthusiast, or the girl with the giant rose hat.
But no, Kendall, like a phoenix taxidermied from the ashes- has made it to hometowns.
Kendall greets Arie with the traditional Bachelor Hello- an enthusiastic welcome wherein the legs of the greeter wrap tightly around the center of the recipient - like a boa constrictor suffocating a rat with it’s own body and then swallowing it whole. Speaking of dead rats- WELCOME TO HELL, Kendall style.
Kendall opens the door to her personal storage unit and we are immersed in a macabre freak show the likes of which this show has never season.
Well, it's been a while, anyway...
Arie remarks that the taxidermied animals “look so real”. ARIE, SWEETIE.
Kendall shows Arie around and plays barbies with Arie- except instead of barbies, it’s rat skins and stuffing and an endless supply of nightmares for all of us watching at home.
Kendall says that she loves taxidermy because it’s a way to “keep things alive forever”. I don't think Kendall totally understands life and death. Now most of us struggle with the idea of our own mortality- but I think Kenny doesn’t really get it on a basic level.
Those animals are dead. Taxidermy does not keep them alive. It’s unnatural to stuff dead animals and shape them into life-like poses. Tangentially- eating people is also considered unnatural. It’s just something most of us don’t do. It feels wrong. FOR A REASON. Anyway...
We meet Kendall’s family, including Kendall’s twin-sister who is impossibly named Kylie. We're told that Kylie “reads heavily on energy”, so that’s cool. Kylie actually seems pretty hip to what’s going on and does some nifty reverse psychology on Arie. She peaks his interest by telling Arie that Kendall probably isn’t ready to get engaged. Arie clearly has a fetish for losing things- the love of Bachelorette contestants, every professional race he's ever entered, and the respect of the tattoo community, so naturally, he's into it.
Let’s move on to Joke-About Penis-Town, Arkansas, ancestral home of The Patron Saint of Junior Witches, Raven, and of course, Our Lady of Relatabality, Tia.
After being home for 24 hours, Tia must start to subconsciously realize that Arie is a dip and not worth her time. So, she sets up a date that shows him off to the best of his ability. (Meant to be singular, not a typo.) They “race”, we pretend to care, rinse and repeat.
I miss Raven and Nick’s sexy The-Notebook-Style Mud Romp. At least with Nick Viall, we could hyper-sexualize him. In theory, I really appreciate how normal Arie’s body is, but times are getting desperate and an ab or twelve would really help my "journey" to the end of this season.
Arie meets Tia's parents and Tia’s brother- an intimidating figure who closely resembles a recently released from prison Mr. Clean. Meanwhile, Mrs. Tia looks like the mother witch of the Weiner Coven. Sorry if that’s harsh, but so is her center-part.
From Tia’s conversation with her mom, it seems that poor Tia has dated a lot of Weiner frogs and not enough Weiner Princes. She tells Arie she loves him and he responds by saying, “I’m having such an amazing day. I won’t forget this”. I think we can all see the mustard on the wall, folks. Countdown to Free Tia in 5….
Now we’re off to Prior Lake, Minnesota: Apple capital of the world! “I love apples!” Arie exclaims. Finally, I have something in common with Arie. Also, Prior Lake, Minnesota is certainly not the apple capital of the world- I’m just bored with this place and this activity and this MAN WHO SPEAKS YET SAYS NOTHING.
Becca is sweet and kind and has no defining story line. Yes, her Dad’s death is tragic and Arie’s meeting with Mean Pastor Gene was actually surprisingly moving, but Becca is seemingly conflict free. She just seems like a really sweet, simple girl. She can do so much better than Arie.
Also - how awkward was Arie’s response to Mean Pastor Gene’s question about his religious beliefs. He said he wasn’t “as far along spiritually”as Becca is. Say, what? Religion isn’t an obstacle course- it’s totally ok if it’s not your thing. What a weird non-answer answer.
Last and least, we have our golden girl, aka Florence Lawrence aka Lauren B Volume II aka Emily Maynard: The Sequel. Arie’s type is officially The Withholding Blonde. With Lauren B’s poreless skin, robust eyelashes, and "amazing" yet to be seen personality- she has clearly won Arie's heart. And his endocrine system has showed up to say “thank you”. That’s a contrived way of saying Arie loves Lauren so much it gives him the sweats.
Arie and Lauren ride horses on the beach and then eat a delicious seaside lunch of crab legs and champagne. Maybe Lauren is amazing? No, sorry, I just love crab legs. After the sun sets Arie and Lauren stroll up to the Lauren B Compound-a very large, very serious looking brick home. You could call it a brickhouse, even.
Lauren’s family is about as comfortable with conversation as she is and so the night is on-brand, i.e. awkward. We meet Commander General Lauren B who describes himself as,“not as scary as everybody says I am”. Well- that’s always reassuring to hear.
He asks Arie if he’s ready to “protect my daughter with your life”. Arie reluctantly agrees. Sidenote: What??? And also, is it that bad in Virginia Beach? No, no it’s because Commander General Lauren B is clearly an army guy and that’s just kinda where the conversation starts for guys like that.
Luckily, Arie immediately mentions his distant association with the troops in Iraq, and suddenly Lauren’s Dad goes from Jack Nicholson in A FEW GOOD MEN to Lieutenant Dan in FORREST GUMP (once they become buddies and run the shrimp business together.)
Lauren’s mom questions if Lauren B can trust what Arie is saying and Lauren responds by saying that she could be in a room with him with 15 other girls (speaking hypothetically of course) and just by looking at him, she can tell what Arie is thinking. Ya know, honestly, I believe her. These two seem to operate on *exactly* the same wavelength. A really low, non-verbal wavelength. As far as I’m concerned, Lauren has already won, so if that’s the case I wish them every (boring) happiness.
But let’s not get head of ourselves here. We still have an excruciatingly awkward rose ceremony to get through. Arie is ready to give out the roses when he starts to have a panic attack and leaves the room. Classic Arie. This guys has never seen a room he didn’t like to abruptly, without explanation, leave.
Arie eventually returns and asks to speak to Kendall. He asks Kendall if she could be ready for an engagement and Kendall basically cries and says “not yet, but like maybe?” and Arie is relieved enough that he can dump Relatable Tia with a clear head.
With her tearful goodbye, poor, sweet, relatable Tia cements her status as the only viable option for The Bachelorette next season. Also Arie needs to be better at pretending to care. I’ve been more torn up saying goodbye to a plate of food I didn’t finish than Arie is saying goodbye to Tia.
And so, Our Lady of Relatability rides off into the night. First stop LAX, followed by the 17 connecting flights needed to make it to wherever Weiner, Arkansas actually is. Once in Weiner, Tia is greeted by Raven the Junior Witch and her mother, the high priestess of center parts. Together, they gather the sacred coven as practiced by Weiner Witches since at least 1635. In the cauldron that night- 4 Gillette razors, 3 spritzes of Ax Body Spray, a tendril of Sean Lowe’s son's hair, and a few fossilized fried frog legs that Tia kept as a memento from her romantic date with Arie in the Everglades.
The incantation, one as old as time, is read allowed by the coven:
“By the power of Chris Harrison,
I ask to find a suitable man for marriage
(or at least a 6-month engagement)
May he be beautiful and not wholly inarticulate
May he join me on TV to find love as well as a social media following
And in this time away from the camera, may I find the perfect dermatologist to heighten my natural charms without resembling a broken doll