Hometown Visits and a Broken Heart: The Bachelorette, Season 13, Episode 8 Recap
07.18.17
Photo via Disney ABC Press

I love Hometown visits because it answers one of the core questions I have about this show: Where do they find these people? The answers may surprise you.

 

Eric

As a fellow Eric from Baltimore, I’m really excited about this visit. I’m looking for a cameo from my parents.

When Eric meets Rachel, he says that they’re in the nice part of the city but that’s not where he’s from. He name-checks the crime, the drug trade and the murder rate as they drive through a neighborhood of beautiful homes covered with boarded up windows. That scream you hear is the Baltimore Tourism Bureau watching its work go up in flames.

Eric and Rachel play basketball on an empty court as special guest friend Ralph ambles up. Ralph gives a lovely monologue full of compliments about Eric’s personality and tenacity. I’m obsessed with Ralph who seems hyper-aware that he’s on a television show and is super-not-be-on-television anymore as soon as possible.

Rachel and Eric sit on two basketballs in the middle of the court; in Baltimore, there are no chairs. Eric repeats his well-worn plot point about never bringing a girl home. Rachel feigns being nervous about it. The basketballs sigh in anticipation.

Eric walks into an apartment fit-to-bursting with a super warm, gorgeous black family. One aunt is wearing a sequined black top and has a blonde up-do and I am immediately in love. I need her potato salad recipe right now.

Rachel sits down with another blonde aunt; she goes by the name Verna and I’m obsessed with her as well. She’s got a sweet pixie cut, a coral top from the “Cool Auntie Who Loves Going on Cruises” collection and a lot of questions about how Rachel is handling being the first black Bachelorette. Give this woman a host chair on Good Morning America. I’m here for it.

Meanwhile, Eric is having a heart-to-heart with his mom. She says that she distanced herself from him as a child because she wanted him to meet his potential. She didn’t want him to fall into the trap of depending too much on her like she says so many men in their family have. Eric comes from a lot of pain and a seemingly equal amount of love. His journey gets more and more compelling every episode. I have to say, though, I’m not loving this edit. It’s a lot of baggage. Rachel seems to be here for all of it, but the producers are weighing him down a lot.

Bryan

This stands in stark contrast to the next hometown, Bryan’s Miami. It’s all upbeat music, warm colors and people playing volleyball on South Beach. I’m just saying, Baltimore has volleyball, too.

Bryan takes Rachel to Calle Ocho and to eat and dance to live music while Bryan gives a glowing mini-commercial for the charms of Miami. That sound you hear is not the mating call of a pod of humpback whales but Baltimore Tourism Bureau’s collective screams-turned-to-wailing.

Later, they enter a beautiful Miami apartment with lemon-colored walls. Bryan’s mom, Olga, is clearly not here for any of it. She has strawberry blonde hair and she can’t stop making “No thanks” faces. I’m obsessed with her. She makes a toast to Bryan and Rachel, which she tears up in the middle of, then drains the whole glass in one gulp. Get this woman on Real Housewives stat!

Later, she and Bryan talk one-on-one and Olga is the one person in the world who sees through this whole Bachelorette premise. She’s like, “You date all these girls and then you go on this show and fall in love? I’m shocked.” Honey, she’s about to blow this whole franchise wide open.

Later, Olga and Rachel talk. Olga says “Bryan is my life” in that way that says, “I will kill you.” And then she says, “If he’s happy, I’m happy. If not, I’ll kill you.” OMG, Olga has no subtext. It’s all text. In all caps. With letters cut out from a magazine.

Afterward, Bryan and Rachel sit on a bench and loudly smooch. Bryan tells her that he’s in love with her. In confessional, Rachel is grinning from ear-to-ear, saying that she’s feeling all the feels. That noisy kissing must be something else.

Peter

Next we’re in Madison, Wisconsin, Peter’s hometown. Peter seems to be most interested in using this hometown as a real meet-the-parents visit, testing the chemistry between his family and this woman that he’s very into. So, a normal objective. Rachel, in confessional, says that Peter is holding back and that “in this journey, you need to move fast.” This is, I guess, true for the show, but nonsense in reality.

Anyway, Peter introduces Rachel to four of his friends, two black men and two white women. The guys vouch for Peter’s wokeness and it’s just as awkward as you’d imagine. Peter then steals the guys away and tells them that he’s nervous about having to make the huge commitment of a proposal in three weeks. It’s hilarious that Peter continues to treat The Bachelorette like this is real life. What an earnest salt-and-pepper snack he is.

Peter’s family lives in a huge home with burnished coral-colored walls and a stone fireplace. There’s a tiny niece and nephew in the mix that Peter wrestles with adorably because this show is trying to make everyone’s ovaries explode.

Peter’s mom has a chic salt-and-pepper Kate Gosselin cut and super dangly earrings that keep tapping her collar bone. Living for it. Rachel asks her if Peter is ready for marriage. His mom gives a very reasonable response that he is ready for commitment but possibly not a proposal. The music gets super sad, as though any sane mother would tell a woman her son met eight weeks ago — on television — that her son should definitely propose immediately. Rachel laments, “I don’t want a boyfriend at the end of this.”

After the date, Peter tells her that he’s very happy. “I…am very happy, too,” Rachel says, and you can almost hear the echoes of Bryan’s declaration of love bouncing through the silence between them.

Dean

Finally, Rachel makes it to Aspen, Dean’s hometown where, the promos promise, we are about to see a man in a turban banging a gong. Before the gong, however, they ride ATVs at a leisurely pace that has been pre-approved by the show’s insurance agents. They retire to a pile of hay bales, where they recap Dean’s estrangement from his family. Dean says that his father is a converted Kundalini Yogi and Sikh who has assumed the name Paramroop Singh Khalsa. Rachel presses him on why he and his father don’t talk. “Have you ever said, ‘You weren’t there for me?’” she asks, putting on her best Iyanla Vanzant hat.

Dean’s family lives in a modest house with wood paneling and curtains on every wall. It’s warm and welcoming. They are all sitting on the floor when Rachel and Dean walk in. Dean is already shook by this.

Dean’s dad asks everyone to lie down on the floor with their heads pointed toward the gong as he plays it. Dean is clearly embarrassed but as far as Meet The Parents go, this isn’t so bad. Olga threatened to kill Rachel, after all.

Dean and Paramroop have a one-on-one. Dean’s dad says that Dean has changed dramatically. “You’re talking through your male chakra; I didn’t think you had it in you,” dad says. I’m pretty sure that’s a yogi read. Dean challenges Paramroop’s skills as a father and brings up the arguments they had when Dean was in high school after Dean’s mom died. Paramroop says, “I didn’t have the arguments; you did,” which is a stunning rhetorical switch. Make this guy the White House Press Secretary.

Dean and his dad have it out about Paramroop’s response to Dean’s mother’s death. Dean feels abandoned and Paramroop seems either uninterested or unable to move their conversation or their conflict forward from where they left it a decade ago. At the end of it, Dean’s dad storms out into the yard.

Rachel approaches cautiously and asks to chat with him. He makes a small effort before shutting it down. He tells Rachel he’s basically done and he wishes her the best but he’s not here to play the game. It’s actually awful that this fractured family has to go through all of this on television, especially Dean who is clearly hurting and looking for healing while also, by his own account, falling in love with Rachel. This is too much.

After the date, Rachel meets Chris Harrison (remember him?) and goes over the dates. She says she’s surprised by how hard this is because she has feelings for four men.

Rachel struggles through her Rose Ceremony speech, telling the person that she’s sending home, “You’re an amazing person and I’m so sorry that I have to do this.” She gives roses to Bryan, then Eric and finally, Peter.

Poor Dean, with his beautiful teeth and his bright personality and his difficult backstory, is sent home. Rachel tells him she meant everything that she said to him. Dean is quiet, but clearly hurt. He can’t get over the fact that he told her he loved her and she reciprocated. “I thought I found someone for me,” he says. That sound you hear is me and the Baltimore Tourism Bureau crying.

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