Warning: This recap of The Bachelorette Episode 8 contains spoilers.
The final four, rose lovers! Hometown dates are here, the time in the Bachelorette’s life where she visits four families and chooses to eliminate the one she least wants to visit on major holidays. Let’s get to it!
Date No. 1: Eric
No. of Family Members Present: 9
Rachel meets Eric in a park alongside Baltimore’s waterfront (the focus of many episodes of the best TV show of all time, The Wire), aka “the nice part of the city,” notes Eric. “But this is not the realness of where Eric comes from.” They hop into the car and head into Eric’s old neighborhood, which has a far more inner-city feel.
Fun fact: Even in heels, the Bachelorette can ball.
Eric’s old friend Ralph drops by the court and praises his buddy for taking “a different path” and being a “stellar student” growing up. When the time comes for Rachel to head to Eric’s aunt’s house, she’s feeling a lot of “pressure,” because she’s the first woman Eric has ever introduced to his relatives. And she’s got cameras in tow! Shouldn’t be weird at all. On the other hand, they sure get a warm welcome:
Aunt Verna sits down with Rachel first, and she wants to talk about “r-a-c-e” — specifically, how did Rachel deal with being the first black Bachelorette? “I’m getting judged by black people, and I’m getting judged by everybody else,” admits Rachel. “Love doesn’t have a color, so my journey for love shouldn’t be any different than the other 12 Bachelorettes that were in front of me.” Verna likes what she hears, and is very pleased to see how “thrilled” Eric is in this relationship. “He’s not a person who’s afraid of commitment.”
We also get to meet Eric’s mom, Karen, who is the one he says didn’t show him love as a child. And her explanation is pretty heartbreaking: “There are a lot of great men in our family, but a lot of them didn’t reach their stars because they always reached for what was next to them, which was their mother. And I didn’t want that for you.” They’ve moved past their issues now, though, and their conversation ends with a sweet hug.
Things get even more moving when Eric sits down with his dad, who apologizes for some of the mistakes he made when Eric was younger. “Yeah, man, I love you, man!” says dad. “I’m gonna love you forever!” And they share the father-son version of a hug: a handshake.
Before Eric bids the Bachelorette goodbye, he tells her that earlier in the day he thought to himself, “Damn, I really love this girl,” which he translates to mean, “I really care about you, like a lot.” So it’s not exactly a full L-bomb, but the Bachelorette doesn’t seemed too fazed by it. “I reaaaally like Eric,” says Rachel. “I’m definitely falling for Eric.”
Date No. 2: Bryan
No. of Family Members Present: 5
¡Bienvenido a Miami, rose lovers! But not the touristy parts, mind you — Bryan wants to show Rachel “the real Miami,” so he meets her at Domino Park. After getting their butts beat in dominoes by two cute old dudes, Rachel and Bryan sample some local cuisine and do a quick impromptu salsa. But a cloud hangs over the day — in the shape of Bryan’s mother. Will she deem the Bachelorette worthy of her only child, or will she rain on Rachel’s love parade? Let’s find out.
Olga, Bryan’s mom, greets Rachel and her son (aka “the most precious thing I have in my life”) warmly, but she’s obviously feeling a little stressed out.
“We really have such a wonderful relationship, that for me a woman that separate him from me — that would be terrible,” Olga tells us. So she’s not about to let her baby boy walk off with some reality TV star.
“You have gone out with so many girls, and you go to a show, and you fall in love with the girl of the show?” says Olga, with a wry laugh. “I’m in shock!” Mom wants Bryan to take his time and “get to know” this woman before doing anything rash. “And she knows if she messes with the mother, that’s not good,” warns Olga. “That’s not being smart. Because we are blood.”
Over in another room, Bryan’s stepsister (or cousin? family friend? Bryan referred to himself as his mother’s “only child”) is filling Rachel in on why things didn’t work out with Bryan’s last girlfriend. “She was threatened by the relationship that he had with his mother,” says the unidentified brunette. “She wanted him for herself, so that was her demise.”
Is it me, or is it starting to sound like Bryan’s family is in the mafia? Case in point: “I want to give you a warning,” says Olga when she sits down with Rachel. “You are marrying the family too.” And in case you’re still not convinced:
Rachel chooses to believe that Olga’s joking about this…
…but she really, REALLY isn’t. Anyhow, mom tells us that it was “very, very nice, a pleasure,” to meet Rachel. “Maybe she’s the one.” But it still makes her cry to say it.
The night goes well enough that Bryan feels comfortable hitting his emotional mark: “I’m very happy right now,” he tells our Bachelorette. “Rachel, I’m in love with you.”
Date No. 3: Peter
Location: Madison, Wis.
No. of Family Members Present: 6 (4 adults, 2 babies)
Our salt-and-pepper stud greets Rachel in a sunny downtown square, where they stroll through a farmers’ market before heading to a local joint to meet some of Peter’s friends. “I consider my friends an extension of my family,” he explains. “If [Rachel] can fit seamlessly into that group, it’s going be an amazing thing.” Rachel tells the group that early on Peter made sure to let her know that eight of his “really close friends” are black.
Awwww, they kid because they love. After a while, Peter pulls his two male buddies aside and confesses his deepest fear: “The idea is that three weeks from basically today, I should be able to get down on one knee and propose — and it’s f***ing terrifying.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is the appropriate response to this show and everything it stands for. Peter’s friends definitely have some thoughts on this matter too, but they’re either too polite or too intimidated by the cameras to speak their minds. Instead:
Instead, Peter’s buddies assure him that Rachel seems great, they seem to be “clicking,” and that he shouldn’t “be scared of the future.” That puts Peter’s mind at ease a bit, but he’s still not about to go ring shopping (until Neil Lane shows up at his door, that is). “I don’t make rash decisions,” he reminds us. “That’s not who I am.”
OK, Kraus family — you’re up! Peter introduces Rachel to his mom, Lynn; his dad, Gary; brother David; sister-in-law Brooke; and their two kids, Hudson and Charlotte. They’re a very welcoming group, right down to the marquee in their home theater.
“In my heart, I feel like he’s ready for this,” Brooke tells Rachel. “I hope that soon he’ll be able to show you that.” Peter hopes so too, but as he tells his mom, he’s worried that in three weeks when he’s supposed to propose, “I’ll still have my walls up, and I’ll regret missing an opportunity.” Mom supports him no matter what, of course, but she’s also not going to tell Rachel what she wants to hear. Let’s listen in:
As I mentioned before, I find this pretty confusing. So Peter’s ready “to start a family” and have “commitment to a person,” but “it may not be a marriage”? Once you’re ready to have kids with a life partner, what’s the barrier to marriage, pal? I suppose it could be any number of things, but again, try to remember this rule of thumb: If the idea of marrying someone makes you nervous, do not agree to be a contestant on The Bachelorette.
Testify, girlfriend. Rachel’s worries grow when Peter doesn’t offer the customary “I love you” or “I’m falling in love with you” or “I’m in love with you” that all Bachelorettes expect after the hometown visit. Instead, all she gets from him is, “I’m very happy right now.”
Date No. 4: Dean
Location: Aspen, Colo.
No. of Family Members Present: 6
At last, rose lovers, the main event. As we know from Dean (and from the “coming up” promos), this hometown date is not going to be of the warm-and-fuzzy variety. Dean hasn’t seen his dad in two years, so he’s not exaggerating when he says, “Today will be difficult.” But first, a picturesque picnic.
Rachel will be meeting Dean’s brothers, Brad and Ross; his sister, Skye; and Brad’s girlfriend, Ashley. And she’ll also come face-to-face with Dean’s dad, a “converted Kundalini yoga Sikh” whose name is Paramroop. (I’m not even going to pretend I spelled that right, but you get the idea.) “It means ‘divinely beautiful,’ and it’s a self-given name — so that speaks a little bit to his character,” explains Dean with a sad laugh. “This is new as of six years ago, so he’s not the father I had growing up.” Dean’s stepmom, Sintontaur (again, sp???), will be there too.
Dean also admits that he’s never really told his father how abandoned he felt after his mom passed away, and Rachel’s look says it all.
“Well, I’m just saying, like, maybe you should tell him he wasn’t.” (And do it on camera, yell all the Team Bachelorette producers from the control room.)
It’s hard not to feel for Dean as he and Rachel walk up the road toward Paramroop’s ramshackle house.
It’s the first time Dean’s whole family has been under the same roof in eight years, and he is definitely not ready. “This is going to be awful,” he whispers to Rachel. “Let’s just get through it.”
The welcome is a less than traditional one, in Bachelorette terms.
“Where’s the table at? Why are we all on the floor?” asks Dean with a nervous giggle. Rachel is unfazed, and begins greeting everyone in the family with hugs. Poor Dean tells us that his strategy for surviving the day is “suppressing every single emotion that I’m trying to feel, just keeping it down, buried far down as it can go.”
And that’s not going to be easy, especially when Paramroop presents Dean and Rachel with two feathers, as symbols of the love and spirit of Dean’s late mom, Debbie.
Oy, his sad face is just killing me. After dinner, Rachel and Skye retire to a swing in the backyard and talk about Dean’s “anger” toward his dad, and the need for the two of them to talk out their issues. “He’s been through a lot and he’s always been, like, the strongest person,” says Skye through her tears. “I really admire him about that so much.”
Inside, meanwhile, Dean is tentatively broaching the subject of the past with his dad. “Do you remember the disagreements we had when I was in high school, after mom passed away?” he asks Paramroop. “Did you understand my frustration at that point?” Dean’s dad says he was “absolutely” there for the family after Debbie’s death, but admits he was angry too. “It was horrible watching your mother die!” he cries. “That’s why I was angry.”
It’s an intense, raw conversation, and not easy to watch. The pathos of Paramroop’s situation — a grieving dad being thrust into the role of sole parent to three devastated kids — is tantamount to Dean’s. But unfortunately that pain doesn’t unite father and son — it just pushes them farther apart. “There were a lot of moments where I personally felt abandoned,” Dean tells his dad, and it seems that’s too much for Paramroop to bear.
“If you really feel that way,” he says, “there’s really no need to carry [on] this conversation is you — so whatever you think of me, is really what you think of yourself.” There’s nothing to work through, Paramroop continues — the real problem is that Dean has “one f***ing foot stuck in the past.”
With that, the conversation is over. Paramroop goes outside to cool off, but there he finds Rachel. “Can I talk to you for a second?” she asks. “If you must,” is the curt reply. Paramroop reluctantly sits down to talk, but then he remembers the cameras.
“No, no. I regret this,” says Dean’s dad, standing up. “This doesn’t work.” He tells Rachel that should she and Dean stay together, they are “more than welcome” to visit again, but he’s still reeling from the revelation that his son “has such harsh feelings” about him, and so tonight, he’s done.
The Bachelorette goes back inside to find a despondent Dean lying on a pile of pillows. Even with — or perhaps because of — all the evening’s emotional tumult, Dean still has the presence of mind to make one final sales pitch to Rachel. “I’m falling in love with you,” he murmurs, and Rachel seems happy to hear it. “I’m falling in love with you too,” she replies softly.
Or is she?
No. of Family Members Present: 1 (Papa Harrison)
The host has Rachel walk him through her feelings for each man after the hometown dates. Eric has a wonderful “energy,” but is he truly in love or is it just infatuation? Bryan is the only one who professed his love, though his family was a little “skeptical” at first. Peter remains a little too “reserved,” while Dean doesn’t know “what to do with all these feelings.” Still, Rachel says she’s “really struggling” with the idea of sending someone home.
Oh, girl, just rip the Band-Aid off already. “Making the decision that I have to tonight has not been easy,” says the Bachelorette. “I’m so sorry that I have to do this.” And the roses go to: Bryan, Eric, and … Peter.
Ugh, this poor kid. Stoic to the end, Dean walks arm-in-arm to the Bye-Bye Bench with Rachel. She assures him she meant it when she said she was falling in love with him, but she’s just not convinced he’s “ready” for marriage. “I hope you find what you’re looking for,” replies Dean sadly. As he walks out of the hotel to the waiting Reject Limo, it’s impossible not to wonder … why are his pants always so damn tight?
“I’m shocked and confused,” Dean tells us. “I think she’s an incredible woman. I just think that tonight she made a mistake.”
On that note, rose lovers, what do you think? Did Rachel make the right choice? Did Dean’s family scare her off, or did she truly think he wasn’t ready? And seriously, did Rachel forget that Bryan’s mom threatened to kill her? Post your thoughts now! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s behind-the-scenes blog here.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.