Season 21 of The Bachelor is off and running! Each week, Terri — who has seen every episode of The Bachelor and the spinoffs — and Rachel — who is watching for the first time — will be recapping the latest episode of this epic season. We missed last week because Terri was at the Westminster Dog Show, and Rachel was off/just couldn’t get it up for two straight hours of non-action after Episode 6.
The episode starts off with Nick “romantically” handing out roses to the remaining four women he didn’t unceremoniously dump mid-episode: Raven, Rachel, Corinne, and Vanessa. And with that, it’s off to their hometown dates, which we’ve distilled into the most memorable moments for your entertainment:
4. Raven’s hometown date: Swamp humping and ATV jumping.
Best moment: Raven greets Nick in her hometown of Hoxie, Arkansas, on an ATV, and announces that the only fun things to do there are “mudding, frog digging, and climbing grain bins.” After this episode, she’ll have to add “frolicking around in bog water like she’s in a Nicholas Sparks movie,” because she and Nick sure do make that look like an enticing activity on their date.
Most WTF moment: Raven watches Nick drive away at the end of the date and opines that not saying “I love you” might put her behind the other contestants. Uh, Raven? You already told him that two weeks ago. Methinks the swamp water’s seeping into her brain.
Biggest grab-the-Kleenex moment: Five seconds after Nick meets Raven’s parents, his mother divulges that Raven’s father’s latest cancer screening came back clear and HOO BOY, that’s all it took to open the floodgates.
Most “have you watched this show before?” moment: It’s not a hometown date without an ex or a paid actor dropping in to make things awkward, and this time, Raven’s brother does the honors by crashing their date in his cop car. We are divided over whether or not Nick actually believed he was going to get arrested.
The answer to the inevitable “may I have your daughter’s hand in marriage?” question: Nick has the requisite — and, quite frankly, ridiculous — talk with Raven’s dad to ask for his blessing to propose. Mr. Raven’s dad spits out a veritable word salad before settling on, “I could live with that.” Somehow, when he says it, it actually sounds sweet.
5. Rachel’s hometown date: Take me to church.
Best moment: Putting aside our instinct to simply say “everything,” the moment that did us in is a tiny exchange at dinner with her family when Rachel says okra is nasty, to which Nick retorts, “I would believe you, but you don’t like anything.” It was the kind of natural, affectionate repartee a real couple, not a TV couple, would have. Sigh. Second-best moment: Rachel takes Nick to her predominantly black church at home in Dallas, which Nick legitimately seems to enjoy and appreciate — “Amen is amen,” he says to Rachel when she asks him how he liked it afterward.
Most WTF moment: OK by now, we know that no one on The Bachelor actually eats on-camera, but watching Nick and Rachel leave FULL PLATES OF FOOD at their lunch physically hurt. At least that means a put-upon PA had a nice meal that day.
Biggest grab-the-Kleenex moment: Watching their entire date and knowing they don’t end up together (WHY DID YOU ALREADY ANNOUNCE SHE’S THE NEXT BACHELORETTE, PRODUCERS? WHY?) was a huge bummer; everything good that happened felt so bittersweet.
Least impressed family member: Rachel’s entire family — particularly her mom — is tough but fair with Nick; they ask insightful questions about how he feels about dating a black woman and being in an interracial relationship, and expect real answers from him. (To Nick’s credit, he holds up pretty well under the pressure, and actually wins her mom over! Awww but also UGGGGGHHHH.) And Rachel’s sister and brother-in-law (who look like Rachel and Nick from the future and it’s weird) also have a sit-down with him; the brother-in-law opens with “So I noticed you’re white.” It’s as real-life as The Bachelor has felt in a long time.
The answer to the inevitable “may I have your daughter’s hand in marriage?” question: We don’t know because it NEVER HAPPENED. Rachel’s dad, the federal judge who Nick DEFINITELY had in mind when he dressed in nice slacks and a button-down for this date, is conveniently busy with “work obligations” during this meet-and-greet. And apparently Nick is woke enough to say “I’m not colorblind,” but not woke enough to ask a woman’s mother for permission.
6. Corinne’s hometown date: Olive you so much.
Best moment: Corinne often seems like a Bachelor producer’s fever dream on ecstasy, but seeing her family nervously watch Nick munch on one of her father’s marinated olives gave her a welcome ounce of humanity. Also, we finally get to meet Raquel! And she gets to sit at the table with Corinne’s family! Opa!
Most WTF moment: When Corinne took Nick on a Pretty Woman-esque shopping date and then whips out her credit card to spend more than $3,000 on clothing for him. Also, seeing Nick dressed in a $3,000 outfit but still wearing his Livestrong bracelet.
Biggest grab-the-Kleenex moment: The only thing that could come even close to inspiring tears during this date — Corinne’s awkward confession of love included — was knowing that she’s still on the show, which means there’s still a possibility she can win. Yep, the tears are real.
Least impressed family member: Corinne’s dad, who is…a character. He asks Corinne what Nick “plans on doing” for a career, and she says, “He used to sell software.” It’s the most beautiful euphemism for “D-list reality TV celebrity who shills DIFF Eyewear on Instagram” ever spoken, and it is *Italian chef kissing fingers gesture* beautiful.
The answer to the inevitable “may I have your daughter’s hand in marriage?” question: He’ll allow it.
7. Vanessa’s hometown date: Shit’s getting (Mont)real.
Best moment: Vanessa has the requisite wise younger sibling — in this case, a brother — who has an emotional sit-down with her to tell her how hard it would be to see her get her heart broken. “In my heart, you’re the greatest person in my life,” he says, and after seeing Vanessa’s interactions with every other person on this show, we know it’s real.
Most WTF moment: When Vanessa finds out that Nick asked all of the other fathers the same question, she is Not Happy. Girl, you’re so smart and mature, but how did you now know he would do this?! SMH.
Biggest grab-the-Kleenex moment: Where to begin? Vanessa introduces Nick to her special needs students, some of whom cry upon seeing her, which naturally reduces us to human mascara streaks. Her students then help make a scrapbook of Nick and Vanessa’s memories together, and one of them says he loves Vanessa in French, and we’re recollecting this as sentient puddles on the floor.
Least impressed family member: Vanessa’s sister, who takes a page right out of Corrine’s dad’s book and (rightly) asks WTF it is that Nick plans to do for work when the show is over. Vanessa doesn’t want to say “paid club appearances,” so she just shrugs. Second place goes to her aunt, who asks where they are going to live — a valid question, given that Vanessa lives in another country.
The answer to the inevitable “may I have your daughter’s hand in marriage?” question: Vanessa’s dad is positively floored when Nick asks for his theoretical permission to propose to her. Yes, it’s never a welcome inquiry from a young man you’ve just met with TV cameras around, but that is the name of the hometown date game, pops.
8. Final thoughts:
Rachel: I’ll admit, I’m losing steam with this show and had to really talk myself into watching last night’s episode; the only reason I tuned in was because it was hometown dates, and I figured that would be an improvement. (It was!) But I finished this episode utterly bewildered; after the hometown dates, Rachel emerged as the clear front-runner. Like, to the point where I’m wondering if the big announcement that she’s the next bachelorette is a red herring because 1) Why would ABC scoop themselves?, and 2) It is literally unbelievable that he’d choose any of the other women to marry. (Did you hear how uncomfortable he sounded when he was asking their fathers for permission to propose?! VERY UNCOMFORTABLE!) Vanessa cries every week (though, to be fair, so does Nick) and seems ready to just PTFO; Raven is sweet but is, like, 12; and Corinne is…Corinne. They all seem like women he’d date — and maybe even have relationships with! — but not marry! It’s so bizarre and I don’t like it one bit.
I also kind of can’t believe we still have several more weeks of this.
Terri: Ditto to everything Rachel said. In addition, usually, it’s easy to tell at the end of hometown dates who’s going home, but it’s not so clear this time around! One thing I do know for sure is that Andi’s pop-in at the end does not mean she’s going to profess her love for him, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that she has not been missed. Also, I’m devastated that the final episodes will take place in what looks to be Iceland, which means we won’t get to see Nick in any more short swim trunks 🙁