The first stop for hometown dates is just south of The Bachelor mansion. Ben joins Momma Amanda and her adorable little girls in Laguna Beach. Amanda says that she's falling for Ben but won't know for sure until she sees the way he interacts with her children. Ben is sweet with the kids as the group plays in the sand and chases each other along the beach. It's an uneventful afternoon.
After the day at the beach, the gang heads to meet Amanda's parents. Ben's facial expression says it all. He is exhausted and doesn't want to be there. I think he knows that Amanda is going to be staying home after this week. This unnecessary introduction to her parents is very taxing. Amanda's Dad notices Ben's lack of energy and describes him as a "deer caught in the headlights."
Watching Amanda and her Mom talk is somewhat unusual. There seems to be a distance between them. It's as if they're strangers. Maybe it's the camera crew capturing their heart-to-heart. Amanda's Mom is hesitant about the relationship. She likes Ben but has her doubts. She's serious about examining her daughter's choice in men because in the past, it wasn't always on the mark.
Amanda's Dad and Ben also have a chat that's serious in tone. He's very firm about making sure that Ben grasps the severity of becoming "an instant Dad." He warns Ben that kids always have to come first and that he won't always be able to do the things he wants. Ben is clearly having second thoughts.
Amanda is hopeful. I, personally, have never seen what these two have together. It just doesn't seem to be there. She disagrees. "After today, I feel like I am in love with him. I can 100 percent see him being a great Dad to my kids, being a great husband."
The next stop takes us to Lauren's hometown of Portland, Oregon. Lauren is my pick from week 1 so I am admittedly rooting for the bubbly blonde. She has the smarts to plan a date that centers around things that Ben would appreciate in PDX- food trucks, Voodoo donuts, and whiskey. The girl gets her man.
Lauren shares with Ben that Portland is "the city of roses." He better be giving her one after she provides a tour of the hipster capital of the world.
While Lauren and Ben are devouring a buttery concoction, Ben points out the health risks but says that he couldn't think of a better way to die than standing next to her.
After lunch, Lauren takes Ben to a place that she refers to as the Whiskey "Li-berry." For clarification, it's called the Whiskey Library and it's phenomenal. Dimly lit, books, drinks, a massive fireplace. I'm moving to Portland. I'm still disappointed that I didn't make it there on my Pacific Northwest trip earlier this fall. I could have been there at the same time as The Bachelor! Missed opportunities. I am living vicariously through every moment of this hometown date.
Lauren privately tells her sister "I feel like Ben's my person. I was meant to meet Ben. I am definitely in love with him." Her sister says that she really likes Ben and that the couple has her full blessing.
Lauren's Dad, Dave (same name as Ben's father), has an honest, serious chat with Ben to find out where he stands. Ben says that Lauren is special. "When I saw her for the first time, the world stopped." Heart. Melts. These are the things they say on The Bachelor that has distorted my sense of reality and kept me tuning in for the past two decades.
Lauren's Dad likes Ben but he's worried that "his baby Lo Lo" will get hurt because there are three other women still in the picture.
Lauren knows that she wants to tell Ben that she loves him but she holds back as they make-out in front of his escorted vehicle.
Ben's next hometown date is in Hudson, Ohio. He will be spending the day with Caila, with whom he describes as the girl that he "has the deepest relationship."
The finalists on The Bachelor are always loaded and Caila is no exception. I don't know if the show casts people who are wealthy simply because they're the only ones who can financially step away from their jobs to appear on TV or if it has something to do with the wardrobe thing (styling yourself for an entire season on the show costs money). I need to know if there is a provided stylist on the set at all times (or any of the time for that matter). I might reach out to Michelle Money via YouTube. But I digress.
Caila gives Ben a tour of her prep school because she knows that Ben gets hard just thinking about high school. Caila is smart like a fox. She knows that she doesn't have "deep roots" so she is trying to lure Ben in by playing her cards strategically right. I don't believe anything she says. I want to see her transcripts.
Caila is aware that sitting in the quad of her alleged high school is not going to get her an engagement ring. She takes Ben to her Dad's company
Per usual, Caila is giddy and spilling her heart out to a producer type. "I know that Ben is the one. I know I'm gonna marry him and we're going to have the happily-ever-after I've been looking for."
Caila's parents make total sense. I can see how she is
When Ben and Caila's Mom have time to chat privately, he shares that one thing he appreciates is that "Caila doesn't say the right thing but the real thing." Caila's Mom is impressed that Ben seems to be attracted to the way her daughter's mind works rather than just her looks. This is what Caila has been searching for. Isn't that what everyone wants? Probably not. Most people are super shallow.
Caila tells her Dad that she knows this is it. "This is what I've been looking for all of my life." Her Dad is surprised that his daughter is in love and fears that she might end up crushed.
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Caila wants to tell Ben that she's in love with him per her Mom's suggestion but the side of her personality that favors her Dad's genes keeps her silent. She's still scared to trust Ben because he has three other girlfriends. The tally? Two women who love Ben but are afraid to tell him.
Ben bounces from Ohio and heads to Dallas to meet up with JoJo and her Texan clan. JoJo is surprised to see red roses and a note in front of her house. When she reads the letter, she quickly realizes that it's not from Ben but her ex-boyfriend, Chad. I don't know a lot of Chads. All of them are TV-related. There's Chad Michael Murray; Chad, the son of Kim Richards from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; and Chad from Scream Queens. I need a visual of Chad, the ex-boyfriend from The Bachelor.
JoJo is upset that Chad is just now realizing that he doesn't want to lose her. Perfect timing. She calls to tell him that it's supposedly over. She's in tears. Ben will be arriving at any moment. Way to go, Chad.
When Ben does show up, he is confused. Today was supposed to be happy but JoJo is sad. Ben says that he is "very uncomfortable" with JoJo's ex-boyfriend drama because a similar situation happened to him in the past. JoJo's mood doesn't seem to spoil any plans because she apparently didn't schedule anything for the two of them to do together. I'm sure this is just an editing/timing issue but the couple is seen doing nothing around Dallas.
Later, JoJo takes Ben to her parents' mansion to meet her family. Her protective older brothers are ecstatic to see her. I thought for sure that one of the brothers was "on the spectrum" from the way that he greeted his sister but I think that was just the alcohol
The brothers have a chance to sit down with Ben. They're concerned that JoJo could get hurt. They grill the bachelor. Ben looks terrified. He's honest and says that he's not sure yet what the outcome will be. This isn't good enough, ya'll. The brothers aren't having any of it.
JoJo is feeling the same hesitations as her brothers. She tells her Mother that she's scared she's going to get hurt because there are three other women still involved. JoJo's Mom says that she won't get hurt because she's beautiful. Hot people are exempt from pain.
JoJo's Mom may or may not be completely inebriated (she's drinking rosé straight from the bottle, attagirl!) but she offers the most sound advice, "Have faith and give the relationship 150 percent."
I feel like Ben and JoJo are just not right for each other. I could be totally wrong. Perhaps opposites truly do attract. If I were playing matchmaker, I just wouldn't pair these two together. One of JoJo's hot brothers (also named Ben) is skeptical. "How can you fall in love with someone that you've only been on two dates with?"
The brothers confront Ben. "You've brainwashed these women. (She's) too emotional after only two dates." It's a confusing scene and a hard one to watch. I wonder if they're going to get out firearms from a fancy gun cabinet. For once, I am speechless. I can't make heads or tails of this introduction. It's obviously a mess but I don't know if JoJo's family were too tough on Ben or right in their convictions. Probably a combination of both.
Ben is disappointed. "It wasn't the hometown that I would have liked." JoJo knows that Ben has everything that she's looking for but she's scared that she might lose him.
The rose ceremony takes place back in LA at the mansion. The women all seem happy to see each other. I don't recall the last time that the final four appeared to be this close. It's nice to see women getting along with each other. Each woman says that she's in love with Ben but someone will be going home.
Ben thanks the ladies for introducing him to their families. He eventually awards Lauren, Caila and JoJo with roses. Momma Amanda will be taking the 1 back to Laguna Beach. She's saddened by his decision but holds her composure. Before she departs, she asks why he made her come back to LA only to be let go in a rose ceremony. Listen, Amanda, at least you had the shortest trip home (if you don't count Lauren's LA pad).
It's reality TV, folks. If everyone were given the gift of being spared the embarrassment and heartbreak of being dumped during a rose ceremony, the show would not still be on the air.
The couple says their goodbyes and that "they'll miss each other." On the drive back to the OC, Amanda tells a producer that she's "shocked" and "at a loss for words." Just an hour ago, she said she was ready to accept a hypothetical proposal from Ben; now, she's single and left wondering if she will ever find a good man. Welcome to the club, lady.
Until next week...