The Bachelor Watch: Hometown Dates

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ABC/Craig Sjodin

Welcome to part one of The Bachelor‘s two-night extravaganza. Tonight it’s the highly-anticipated hometown dates — where Juan Pablo must brave the withering glances of disapproving daddies, charm side-eying sisters and bring flowers to four different moms if he wants to continue on his journey to love.

Single mother Renee, hair stylist Clare, ombre’d lawyer Andi and pediatric nurse Nikki are all excited to welcome Juan Pablo into their homes and squire him around their towns. There was laughter, tears, lurking and some serious Zumba-style salsa dancing — and, of course, by the episode’s end, one of the women was sent home before getting the chance to melt the chocolates on the pillows of the fantasy suite.

Here’s what happened on The Bachelor:

Most Finger-Licking Good Moment: Instead of getting her roots done during her time off, pediatric nurse Nikki spent her time scoping out barbecue joints in her hometown of Kansas City. Juan Pablo has seemingly never heard of ribs, let alone eaten them, but when Nikki’s jaw-drops at the realization, she just shoves another rib in.

Best Revenge: As retaliation for making her dance in public in Korea, Nikki takes Juan Pablo to ride a mechanical bull and chug beer. Because nothing builds a strong foundation for a long-lasting relationship like drunkenly riding a fake cow.

Family Visit #1: Nikki is really close to her family, which is good because seemingly no one else on the show likes her.  Pre-dinner she announces that if things go well with her family she will tell Juan Pablo that she loves him, which sounds like a disincentive. Her father welcomes Juan Pablo in and announces, “When you sit down to dinner, you become family.” Clare will be thrilled to know that Nikki and Juan Pablo are now family and can’t date. While Nikki chats with her mom / best friend, Juan Pablo and her father swap V-neck sweater tips and tricks. After all, hundreds of Macy’s and Brookstones ads have shown that the #1 thing fathers like is V-neck sweaters. After winning approval of her family, Nikki and Juan Pablo make out on the porch. She forgets to say, “I love you.”

Best Veiled Threat: Juan Pablo then flies to Atlanta to see Andi. First stop? A shooting range where Andi fires a 9mm squarely into the target without hesitating. She then hands Juan Pablo a gun and tells him that he can’t come home with her unless he hits a bullseye. He misses a bunch and appears emasculated, so Andi is probably not getting a proposal at the end of the show.

Family Visit #2: Juan Pablo finally figures out how to handle his firearm sufficiently and Andi takes him home to meet her very, very skeptical family. Her father spends the bulk of the evening guesstimating the necessary torque to dropkick Juan Pablo back to Miami. With each mention of a group date or other women, her father looks less amused. Her sister isn’t feeling it at all, either, which surprises Andi, who has probably been blinded by the scent of Juan Pablo’s Acqua di Gio. Andi’s mother, however, has been dying to try out some of the salsa moves she learned in her Zumba class at the Y, and Juan Pablo is more than happy to grind on any willing participant. The evening ends with Andi’s father hinting that he will cut Juan Pablo if he hurt his little girl.

 Worst Use Of “Literally”: When we catch up with Renee in Sarasota, she announces that she is going to “literally eat” her son when she sees him. Cannibalism is a new low, even for The Bachelor.

Family Visit #3: Renee hasn’t seen her son in weeks, but is contractually obligated to bring Juan Pablo with her to the big reunion. As she hugs her son and tries to catch up with him as the cameras roll, Juan Pablo stands there watching and finally butts into introduce himself, totally ruining the moment and making it so obvious how weird it is for him to be there. Renee says something like, “Honey, this is Juan Pablo. He’s either going to be your new daddy — or you’re never going to see him again.” Ben seems skeptical. At her parents’ house, her mom susses out the situation, pointing out,“We can love our pets.” Renee is determined, though, and her parents shrug their approval. Then Renee forgets to tell Juan Pablo that she loves him and Juan Pablo forgets to pretend he’s into her.

Most Honest Statement: “I can’t wait to see why you are the way you are,” coos Juan Pablo to Clare before he meets her family in Sacramento, Ca. Frankly, I can’t wait to see why she is the way she is, either.

Family Visit #4: Since her father is no longer around to glare at Juan Pablo, Clare borrows Andi’s dad to yell at him in public. Sadly: Just kidding. Instead, she brings him home to meet her six sisters and her mother. The most memorable sister is Laura, who is determined to not let Clare “manipulate” their “mama” and while Clare is in the backyard trying to get her mama’s blessing, Laura mom-blocks her, looms over her, lurks in the corners, stomps around and eventually makes Clare cry. Desperate for some drama during an incredibly boring episode, the producers make Juan Pablo sit down with Laura who explains that she feels she has to be the stand-in for dearly departed dad, as if that explains it.
Rose Ceremony: After meeting the parents, everyone flies back to Miami and Chris Harrison reminds us that he exists by lining the women up. Clare side-eyes Nikki in her side braid as she collects the first rose. Clare gets the second rose. Andi gets the final rose so Renee can go home to her son and explain that Juan Pablo is not going to be his new daddy after all. Juan Pablo starts crying and waits for über-mom Renee to come kiss his booboo and make him feel better. He tells her that he “respects” her a lot and then they hug and he puts her in a limo and she tells him to take care and thanks him for showing her that there are good men in the world, which is tragic, because Renee must be operating on a very low bar. More tragic? She says that she came on The Bachelor because she wants Ben to see what love is. Apparently, it’s group hot tubbing, nearly-nude photo shoots and late-night ocean swims with near-strangers.

Best Reason To Come Back Tomorrow: Nikki finally gets her “I love you” out — and there are many, many tears.

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