It’s “hometown visits” week on The Bachelor, and that means Brad gets to stand on the balcony of a New York City hotel and, quite literally, don his thinking cap. Would I make this stuff up? “I’m thinking a lot,” Brad says, his eyes blank as a grade-school chalkboard in July, a tweed newsboy resting on his noggin. Apparently, Brad no longer needs the services of his TV therapist, or perhaps the good doctor reconsidered the moral and ethical implications of going on national television to essentially reassure a guy that it’s okay for him to simultaneously date 25 different women. (Spoiler alert: It’s not!)
As a nod to Bachelor newcomers, Brad provides a dossier on each of the four remaining women. Chantal is “entitled to emotions. Everyone is.” (Translation: “She’s hot, but totally nuts.”) Ashley has “everything any guy could want.” (That’s typical Bachelor code for “I’m just not that into her.”) Shawntel doesn’t engage in games, drama, or rollercoasters, says Brad. (In other words, she doesn’t make for very good television.) And then there’s Emily. “How in my right mind, at the end of all this, how can I propose to a woman that I haven’t even met her daughter?” Brad wonders. “How can I do that?” Dude, how in your right mind, at the end of all this, can you propose to a woman, period?
I know, I know, there I go again with my annoying, irrelevant questions. Let’s head to Seattle, where Brad is meeting up with Chantal O, her dog Boca, and her cats Jinxy and Bailey. (Fun fact: Chantal used to have 5 dogs and 11 cats, but the animals were forced to feed on each other while she traipsed around Las Vegas, Costa Rica, and Anguilla for the past two months. The harrowing results will be the subject of Bachelorette Pad, coming to ABC Horror this summer.) “I feel just as crazy
and in love with Brad as I did back in Costa Rica and Anguilla,” Chantal tells the cameras before leaving the “final three” pets and taking Brad to her parents’ massive mansion.
Mr. and Mrs. Chantal’s place has a huge wooden gate out front, a foyer that’s bigger than most New York City apartments, 1,000-foot ceilings, and a sculpture so massive it wouldn’t fit through the front door of the Vatican. “This is a statue a friend of mine introduced me to.,” says Mr. Chantal, pointing to a naked, chiseled dude
holding a phallic symbol clutching a chisel (see photo below). “He’s actually a gentleman that’s carving himself out of a rock, and the concept is a self-made man. I think that guys like you and me that start at the bottom and work their way up with successful businesses, that’s a good thing.” Brad looks overwhelmed by the whole scene. “I’d like to think I’m a self-made man,” he replies meekly. Close enough, bar owner! Mr. Chantal gives his blessing to a Brad-Chantal union. Meanwhile, Chantal and her mother drain their wine glasses. And my husband predicts Chantal will “win” the season. “No way Brad’s not proposing to the woman whose family has a wine cellar,” he reasons.
Now it’s on to Madawska, ME, where The Dentist says she’s feeling “disconnected.” Brad objects to her choice of adjective (we all know he doesn’t like four-syllable words) and they go inside the cafe where The Dentist had her first job. It’s so close to the Canadian border that the waitresses like to serve up a little French with your order. Brad humiliates himself by saying “Si” instead of “Oui,” and also offers this snapshot into his psyche: “I like lifestyles that are slow.” The Dentist, hopped up on coffee, Red Bull, desperation, and the thrill of competition, displays a maniacal fervor for poutine (fries with cheese and gravy). “You can’t eat that with a fork!” she screeches, imploring Brad to use his hands. When he finally succeeds at the arduous task of getting a French fry in his mouth, The Dentist peers into his gullet and chirps, “Oh, good job! And I saw your crown!”
The lovebirds buy a few lobsters (though not enough for everyone at dinner), stop at an unmanned vegetable stand that operates on the honor system (someone’s gonna have to be happy with just carrots), then finally arrive at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dentist. After greeting her parents, The Dentist inexplicably begins screaming Brad’s name and leaping onto his torso. She also fails to remove her knee-high boots before sprawling out on a bed with her mother. It’s possible she has rabies, or is suffering from a psychotic break. The Dentist’s dad says no matter what happens, she’s going to finish her education. Wait, so she’s not really a dentist yet? I feel duped. Brad feels like he might hold The Dentist back from fulfilling her dreams. The Dentist, in a stunning moment of self-respect, says there’s a lot more she needs to know about Brad before she’s willing to say she loves him. Her lack of blind commitment to scoring an engagement ring does not bode well for the couple’s future, si/oui?
Next up, a trip to Chico, CA, to visit Shawntel N, but not before we’re treated to an ad for the Newton-Bracewell Funeral Home and some organ music that suggests something comically creepy is about to happen. While Shawntel clearly has a deep passion and commitment to the difficult work of helping families cope with the loss of their loved ones, The Bachelor producers see an opportunity to saddle her with the “crazy edit.” Okay, maybe she doesn’t exactly help matters by putting on a surgical mask, forcing Brad down onto an embalming table, and whipping out a device she calls the aneurysm hook. “I don’t need to see a dead body. I really don’t,” confessionalizes Brad, panic in his eyes.
Back at her parents’ house, Shawntel and Brad recount their day together. “No rose for you,” jokes Mr. Shawntel, after his daughter tells them about her embalming-room shenanigans. Then, suddenly, things get serious. Mr. Shawntel talks about how much his daughter was missed at the funeral home when the son of her high-school teacher passed away. Shawntel says if things work out with Brad, she might leave Chico — and the succession plan for the family business — in favor of Austin, TX, and then chugs her glass of wine. “Now our plans have just been kind of destroyed,” Mr. Shawntel tells his daughter, but eventually, he caves in and gives his blessing to her new romance. This is reality TV, after all, and everyone has a role to play!
And with that, it’s off to Charlotte, NC, where Emily will play a radiant single mom, finally recovered from the death of her fiancée, ready for kite-flying, noodle-cooking, and some mild-to-moderate makeout action with Brad. But first, Brad must win over Emily’s totally awesome daughter, Ricki, who responds the way any grade-schooler might when confronted by her mother’s new beau and the production crew that travels with him. “She is not havin’ it. She will not even make eye contact,” confessionalizes Emily, after Ricki clings to her back and refuses to respond to Brad’s questions. “Kids usually do like me,” says a thoroughly flummoxed Brad. Finally, Ricki accepts his gift of a butterfly kite, which flutters beautifully in the Carolina breeze. The Bachelor producers display incredible restraint by resisting the urge to play a Muzak version of “On the Wings of Love.” Later that night, in Emily’s big, lovely house, Brad refuses to get his mack on, citing the presence of a sleeping child in the house. “If this thing works out, she’ll always be upstairs sleeping,” says Emily, who is totally going to get hers. In fact, Emily, why don’t you state your intentions for the record? “Brad Womack is not getting out the front door without kissing me first — that’s for damn sure.” Uh-huh, that’s how it’s done on the hometown visit! Emily smooches Brad in her open doorway, a light rain outside adding to the romantic atmosphere. See! Even Mother Nature wants these crazy kids to make it.
To disrupt the women’s lives even more, Brad flies them all back to New York City for the rose ceremony. The Dentist gets the first rose, which is bad news for our beautiful funeral director. Rose No. 2 goes to Emily. Now it’s Chantal O vs. Shawntel N, because, really, there’s no way Brad can decently ask these ladies to spend a night with him in the fantasy suite if he still has to use their last initials to identify them. And the final lady still in the running toward becoming Brad Womack’s Next Top Bride is….let’s do this phonetically…”shan-tell oh!”
Brad walks Shawntel to a private room where she says he’s become her new gold standard for dating. (Oh, Shawntel, you have much to learn!) Then he takes her lifeless husk to the limo and sends her away. “That’s gonna be one of us next week,” cries The Dentist, spotting her fallen competitor. But, hey, if you’re gonna get dumped, you might as well get dumped after an overnight date in South Africa! Bring on another international flight, and bring on Chris Harrison’s creepy invitations to the fantasy suites!
What did you think of this week’s Bachelor? Did Brad send the right woman home? Was the show disrespectful to Shawntel’s profession? And how did you feel about Emily’s daughter being subjected to TV cameras? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!