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In Search of Magic: The Bachelorette, Season 13, Episode 9 Recap
07.25.17
Photo via Disney ABC Press
Bachelorette Recaps
Bachelorette Recaps

This weekend, my friend Kat cornered me at a party. “Do you believe in the magic?” she asked. Regular house party conversation over here. NormalSaturday.org. Kat, an OG Bachelor/ette fan, has been reading these recaps and wants to know if I, like her, am a true believer. “Do you believe they can fall in love in eight weeks? Do you believe in the magic of The Bachelorette?” I hedge, like Bryan will do in this episode. I believe that love is magic; I believe it could happen. I want it to happen for Rachel and Peter, but as this episode begins I realize that if I really believe, I have to acknowledge that it could happen for any of these guys. That’s the thing about magic; it can happen anywhere.

Anywhere, this week, is Dallas, where Rachel is introducing the guys to her family. Oh, honey, here we go. I have been waiting all season for Rachel’s mom and sister to come back into my life. As we learned on Nick’s season, these women don’t suffer fools. They are TV-ready and they know how to dress to the nines. These women and Eric’s Aunt Verna need their own television show where they just tell people about themselves and serve stunning looks.

Peter

Rachel takes Peter to a kid’s store and coaches him through getting gifts for her nephew and the little one who is on the way. I know that she’s probably not feeling as much from Peter as she is from Bryan, but every time I see them together I swoon. They are giving me such intense, early 2000s Sanaa Lathan/Patrick Dempsey romcom vibes. Is that real life? Not really, I guess. Is it magic? Oh, yes indeed.

The big topic of conversation is Peter’s line in the sand. He has said that even if he’s picked at the end, he can’t guarantee that he’ll propose if he doesn’t feel ready. This is maddening. Like, I get it. You don’t want to propose if you’re not sure. That’s how 67% of all romcoms get started. Proposals that haven’t been fully thought out brought us such staples as Julia Roberts in The Runaway Bride, Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle and Kim Kardashian’s first marriage. It’s a classic, but we don’t want that for our Rachel. At the same time, this is starting to feel so technical. He clearly loves her; she loves him. But she wants it all, the feeling, the experience and the proposal. Magic. It’s like when you say the right answer on Jeopardy but you don’t phrase it in the form of a question. Peter is flirting with the possibility of losing out on that Daily Double.

Rachel’s family’s house is gigantic. But then again, this is Dallas so who knows? It could be a shack, comparatively. Peter pulls her aside before they go in and he wants to make sure he’s being clear. “I am falling in love with you,” he says. Rachel lights up, “I’m falling in love with you, too.”

They all sit down to dinner — Rachel’s mom, Kathy, Rachel’s sister, Constance, Constance’s husband, plus Rachel’s uncle and aunt. Rachel’s dad can’t make it to any of the intros with the guys but she’s like, “YOLO, I’m getting engaged anyway.”

It’s interesting to note that every couple at the table is made up of a black person and a white person. It’s not a topic of conversation but it’s a lovely vision for the kind of dialogue this show could have introduced if it hadn’t gone for the low-hanging fruit of Lee’s dog whistle racism. Ah, well, that’s America though. YOLO.

After a round robin of one-on-ones, Peter ends up with Rachel’s mom, Kathy. Peter says he didn’t come here to ask for a blessing from them because he wants to take more time to know that he is 100% on-board. Kathy respects that. At this point, however, we’re half an hour into the show and you have to wonder if Peter’s hedging really is a sign of a deeper issue with their relationship. I appreciate his caution but, come on. I’ll take Magic for $400, Alex.

Eric

Eric is a little anxious. It’s been, by his account, six or seven years since he met a woman’s family. But he’s in this to win this.

Rachel’s uncle, Jeff, recognizes Eric from the Meet the Bachelorette special at the end of last season. Clearly, he is a huge Bachelorette fan; perfect score on the Bachelorette Fantasy League, calling people afterward to gab and gossip, the whole nine. He’s obsessed.

Constance is wearing a phenomenal white peplum blouse with puffy ruched sleeves and a bronze, beaded collar necklace. I am overwhelmed and slain in the spirit. I’m Team Constance all the way. She asks Eric probing questions to determine if he’s ready. He seems to win her over a bit, coaxing a smile with his plainspoken openness.

He then speaks with Kathy and again he is honest, humble and earnest. He takes the step of asking Kathy for her blessing, which she gives. As someone who can overthink a grocery list, I have mad respect for Peter’s heady equivocation, but it’s clear that Eric is here to win, here for love and here to get married. He’s feeling the magic.

Bryan

Speaking of magic, Bryan is proudly sporting what he calls “The Magic Watch,” the expensive Swiss timepiece that “Rachel” “gave” to him in Switzerland. Eric is a little shook by this move because Rachel is wearing her watch, too. They are bonded by time. (Which sounds like a Lifetime movie about people writing love notes to each other through a rip in the time-space continuum or something. Would watch.)

Maybe it’s my bias but Bryan comes off as immediately disingenuous with Rachel’s family. (Sorry; I’m not Team Bryan. I don’t wear a watch; what can I say?) His smile is smooth but not deep; same for his answers. He says that he’s falling in love with Rachel and that he’s felt that way from the beginning, to which everyone responds coldly. “She was your girlfriend from day one?” Constance, my hero, asks incredulously. Cousin Andrea looks like she wants to pack lunch in a to-go bag and catch an Uber home.

Kathy asks Bryan where his loyalties would lie if his wife and his mother came into conflict. Bryan hedges but eventually suggests he’d take his wife’s side. Rachel is pressed about Kathy’s line of questioning and when Bryan conveniently excuses himself during dinner, Rachel tells Kathy how annoyed she is by it. All of this is clearly manufactured as there’s no reason Kathy would’ve asked that question had she not been fed it. Still, it provides an opportunity for Constance’s husband to mansplain and whitesplain Rachel’s reaction to her, assuring her that she’s being too emotional. Homeboy needs to take a seat. How are you going to be married to someone as boss as Constance and still get so out of pocket? Back in the pocket, boo.

Speaking of Constance, she’s grilling Bryan hard, telling him she doesn’t buy how quickly his feelings have developed. This is ironic given the plot line about Peter’s reticence that the show is simultaneously peddling. Meanwhile, Kathy calls the word “love” into question, again, ironic considering she just gave Eric permission to ask for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Ultimately, Kathy tells Rachel that she doesn’t believe you can fall in love in such a quick amount of time. Kathy, shockingly, has revealed herself to be a Bachelorette Truther. The plot thickens.

It’s unclear whether the family just thinks Bryan is a snake oil salesman or if they’re running him through the gauntlet because he’s the One. Either they’re not here for his smooth answers, his pseudo-science profession and his Swiss watch, or they’re Team Bryan and this whole thing is over.

Spain

After the family visit, Rachel whisks the men off to Spain. She’s got a longer, bone-straight weave that basically screams, “I didn’t fly all the way across the country with all this expensive new hair to not get engaged.”

Rachel takes Eric out for the day. She tells us that she feels like she’s in limbo with him; she’s not quite sure where he stands. At dinner, he tells her, “I don’t know if you realize how much you challenge me… You make me so vulnerable, with you, with myself.” It’s amazing how much Eric is pushing himself and growing in this process. Rachel goes in for exactness with prosecutorial zeal. She wants him to say, “I love you.” She wants him to be all in. He takes his time getting there but he says it. It’s a quiet, beautiful thing where he seems to be surprising himself as he says it. He says it twice; the first one is for himself, the second one is for her. It’s astounding to watch; a musical theater composer would make a meal out of this moment.

Something, perhaps, just like this…

This feels very different from Bryan. It’s not performance; it’s discovery. It is, dare I say, magic.

Rachel is feeling the magic, too, as she offers Eric a fantasy suite.

The next morning, they’ve both clearly felt a shift in their relationship. “It’s amazing what happens when you let people in,” Eric says. Y’all, I can’t be crying like this at The Bachelorette. I’m sitting alone in my house and I’m still embarrassing myself.

Rachel takes Peter to a half-beautiful, half-creepy wine cellar in a vineyard. It’s a little Phantom of the Opera, a little Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m into it.

My favorite part of their date is when Rachel and Peter stomp grapes like Lucy and Ethel. She’s in a flannel shirt dress and he’s in joggers and everything looks ridiculous and I love it.

That night, Rachel comes back to Peter’s proposal position. Peter asks her where she stands. “I didn’t come this far to just have a boyfriend at the end of it,” she says. She feels that a proposal is starting a trial period, like going steady. I’m no lawyer, but that’s actually not what a proposal means. Peter feels differently. “Engagement is marriage,” he says. He needs to be certain. He’s not going to get engaged to test out the next phase of the relationship.

“Somebody’s gotta bend,” she says. I actually cannot believe that these two people who clearly have strong feeling for each other are sitting here staring at each other like their relationship is ending because of, basically, an issue of semantics. “For the first time,” Rachel says, “I’m thinking Peter and I won’t work out.” This is a setup! I’m calling the FBI. We are experiencing a breach of magic!

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  • Raven

    I AM TEAM ERIC!! I ~was~ team Alex but now I have fully switched gears and he NEEDS TO WIN. Peter can become the new Bachelor and have 20 girlfriends instead of just one so he can sort out his commitment issues.

    • Cait

      I could never be on Team Eric because his purring noises creep me out.

  • Alison

    “Back in the pocket, boo.” — and with this line, coffee went from my mouth and onto the table.

  • Andrea Raymer

    Eric is actually adorable. I also think its hilarious how Rachel uses her lawyering skillz to interrogate the boys into saying that they are in love with her. She is really able to break them out of their shells and it is particularly adorable to watch it happen to Eric. They are so cute together.

    Honestly I’m on Peter’s side when it comes to their argument. I’m the type of person that would want to run off to the courthouse the minute I get engaged because Engagement = Marriage to me.

  • phillyspice

    I believe in the magic… of these recaps!

  • Lindsey

    That sharing letters thru a rip in time is totally a movie. Catch yourself some Lake House! Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock…such a classic.

    • Lindsey

      Also, I am 100% team Peter ’til I die, but watching Eric’s progress and openness is maybe the most heart-warming thing I’ve seen on this show. He is so genuine and I’ve loved seeing him soften and light up.

    • R. Eric Thomas

      YES! I need to re-watch that right now. Ah, the heyday of romcoms.

  • qui_c

    I’m here just to ask whether anyone else caught Peter outing Bryan’s (suspected, by me) plastic surgery!!!

    After he said he’s not a Bryan fan, he was like “Miami: full of fake butts, fake boobs, and fake cheeks” — COME ON

  • Abby

    “I didn’t come this far to have a boyfriend at the end of it”

    Um, what are you smoking? You don’t actually know any of these dudes! Have you learned nothing from all of the other Bachelorettes?

  • Kate

    “Ultimately, Kathy tells Rachel that she doesn’t believe you can fall in love in such a quick amount of time. Kathy, shockingly, has revealed herself to be a Bachelorette Truther. The plot thickens.” This had me lol’ing all the way through. Perfect recap.

  • Louise

    You didn’t mention the iconic child that stoically walked over to Rachel and Peter to break their engagement semantics impasse!

    • R. Eric Thomas

      That kid was so adorable and so random! These producers keep us on our toes.

  • Hansika Vijayaraghavan

    I don’t want this show to end only because I don’t want these recaps to end

    Also everytime Peter smiles an Angel poops its pants.

  • jamie

    I am SO team Eric. I like Peter, but I think Rachel is so stoic that she might fit better with someone who brings out the kid in her. Peter & Rachel are both two inflexible people (I swear he’s a Taurus)

    Bryan thinks that if he professes his love for Rachel enough times that it will eventually convince everyone to believe for him—despite saying NoTHiNg about their journey together

  • smillipede

    bryan sucks

  • Chrissey

    I love how Peter called out Bryan for being fake… “his cheeks are even fake!”

    Chrissey
    http://unabridgedsass.com

  • Arden

    Wait we need to discuss the SINGING SPANISH WINE MAN. I was screaming at him just casually singing in Spanish at Rachel and Peter and them staring at him, pleasantly shook.