Alright folks – we’re down to our final four. This is the week we finally get to meet the parents who raise daughters that compete on reality television dating shows, and Ben is confronted with the types of crazy he may have to deal with for the rest of his life, or at least until his Dancing with the Stars gig is over. Ben heads to each of the remaining women’s hometowns and makes his most important decision of the season thus far – which three women he’s going to bang. Let’s break it down:
Hometown Date with Amanda
Ben’s first stop is California, where Amanda greets him on some beach. Her roots are unchanged, and I’m disappointed; I was really banking on her for the “noticeable dye job” square on Bachelor Bingo. They shoot the shit for a few minutes before Amanda addresses the elephant on the beach – Ben’s impending introduction to her daughters, Kinsley, and Charlie. She tells him what they’re like since apparently toddlers have personalities. Then again, I don’t have children, so what do I know?
Her daughters show up wearing matching dresses and pigtails and I have to admit, they’re super cute. Grandma must have given a stern talk to the little munchkins about being on their best behavior so Mommy doesn’t have to die alone. Ben does a great job playing stepdad with them – they frolic on the beach, build sand castles, and fly kites. What is with this season and flying kites? Regardless, it’s a nice moment, and there’s a decent chance Amanda is getting pregnant from just watching it transpire. Ben tells the camera that after meeting Amanda’s children, his feelings for her are stronger than ever, which is weird because my gratitude that I don’t have children is stronger than ever.
Once Amanda’s kids get too cranky to be at the beach anymore, everyone piles into the minivan to head to Amanda’s parents’ house. When they emerge from inside the vehicle, Ben looks like he just got done losing a fight; he’s a changed man and tells the camera “Yeah. The car ride was rough.” I’m guessing he was hoping for some road dome but was reminded that kids are a huge cock block and now has PTSD from listening to Dora the Explorer blaring from the back seat. We check off “screaming child” from Bachelor Bingo as Ben and Amanda cart the rugrats inside.
Amanda introduces Ben to her family; they seem like a normal, All-American bunch. We spend the next ten minutes watching Ben get asked if he is ready to be an “instant father” in a thousand different ways. Amanda’s mom tells her 25-year-old daughter that the 26-year-old man she’s dating is too young to have kids. Amanda’s father pulls Ben off to the side, telling him “There’s a big difference between thinking you want children and actually having children. It’s a big obligation.” Amanda’s maternal instincts kick in and she drags her father away from Ben as he starts to scream “Don’t do it, man! Don’t let them ruin your life!”
Unfazed by her father’s warning, Ben and Amanda go to say goodnight to her kids. Ben is forced to read a bedtime story some poor Bachelor intern had to write, telling little Kinsley and Charlie about how Mommy decided to try to win them a new daddy on a TV show. If there was a moral to this story, it was “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Hometown Date with Lauren B
Ben’s next stop is Lauren B.’s hometown of Portland. I’m already unhappy – I tried getting into Portlandia once but Carrie Brownstein makes me so viscerally uncomfortable I thought I was going to explode and die. It’s like she’s my Voldemort. Lauren B. decides to show him around the city, which involves a lot of standing next to dumpsters and going to food trucks. I had already given up on the date when Lauren B. pulls a clutch move – she takes him to a whiskey library. I immediately start wondering if she might be my soul mate. Meanwhile, home on her couch, Becca sends “savage AF” to the group text of all the girls that have already been sent home.
Once they sit down in this majestic shrine to brown liquor, Ben asks Lauren B. how she’s feeling about their relationship. He’s too distracted by the 1500 types of whiskey to notice she’s talking in circles. She tells him that while she was initially skeptical of the process, he had reassured her and made her more comfortable. He nods at her as he sets down the menu and signals for the waiter to come over. Lauren B. continues, saying that while she couldn’t have asked for a better date, she still feels nervous because of all the unknowns that remain on their journey– did Caila’s crack pipe accidentally end up in her luggage? Eventually, the waiter returns and Ben gets drunk enough to deal with meeting her family and they depart.
Upon meeting Lauren B.’s family, we learn a few things. First and foremost, her sister is a total smokeshow – cross that square off on the bingo board. Also, Lauren’s father calls her Baby Lolo; my only regret is that we didn’t learn this sooner. Ben’s first conversation is with Baby Lolo’s sister, and to be honest, I couldn’t pay attention to it because I was just staring at her. Can she be the next Bachelorette? At some point in their conversation, Ben is overwhelmed by his feelings for Baby Lolo and starts to cry (check that one off too); the magical properties of Bachelor tears prevail again, converting the sister to #TeamBen.
The rest of their date is pretty boring – Baby Lolo again reveals she knows she’s in love with Ben. Her dad seems a little reserved, telling Ben he dated Mama Lolo for years before they considered getting married. Ben respectfully tells Papa Lolo that he cares a great deal for his daughter and she’s too hot not to try to lock down immediately. Ben does not specify which daughter he is referring to. Baby Lolo wimps out on saying “I love you” before Ben heads out and watches his car drive away while dramatic music plays. This show is stupid.
Hometown Date with Caila
Ben’s next destination is Caila’s hometown of Hudson, Ohio. Prior to arriving, he tells the camera that his relationship with Caila challenges him because it’s real and is the deepest out of all four. That’s such bullshit – there’s a difference between being deep and being unintelligible. Every conversation with Caila is full of confusing contradictions and meaningless comparisons, all delivered with a smile, giggle, and an aggressive kiss. Smoke and mirrors, my friends.
Caila takes Ben to her high school, which is a normal thing to do. (It’s not) They make out on a bench for a while, and she says it means a lot that he’s seeing her hometown since she has roots here. Is she actually a plant? Does she care about roots because she needs them to physically survive? If so, she should just go back to her apartment in Boston, sprinkle some Miracle-Gro on the carpet and wait two or three weeks; she’ll bloom just fine.
Their next stop is Caila’s dad’s office – turns out her dad is the CEO of Step2 Toys, the company that makes those badass plastic play sets that decorate every Sunday School class, daycare, and white trash front yard in America. I think this is her subtle way of letting Ben know that her family is fucking loaded. Hopefully, Caila can hook Amanda up with a discount because that shit is expensive.
Inside the office, Caila tells Ben that she can envision a future with him and wants to design a home together. She’s ecstatic about the idea of living with Ben and tells the camera “We can make out in our kitchen! Or on our front lawn!” Dream big, Caila. She busts out a coloring book and they start to pick out colors and designs for their future house – Ben looks less than thrilled. I spent a summer working at the paint counter at Lowe’s, and I can assure you I saw way more relationships end rather than begin over disagreements about shades of blue.
Once Ben has been beaten into submission and agrees to Caila’s color scheme, she surprises him by saying that they’re going to go back to the factory and actually build the house they designed. Way to ninja your way into cohabitation, Caila. They put on hard hats and are greeted by a bunch of Caila’s dad’s employees who sure as hell hope they’re getting paid time and a half to deal with this shit. They go through the entire process of building the house; Ben exclaims, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had!” Do you not do fun things, Ben? You did the dirty with Kaitlyn last season; I’m pretty sure that beats the hell out of the “some assembly required” you’re experiencing now.
Caila finally takes Ben to her parents’ house. It’s comparable to the Bachelor Mansion. They are greeted by her dad, who is even more white bread than Ben, and her mom, who quickly asks Ben if he’d ever met a Filipino before. It’s a valid question; back in Indiana, I don’t think I encountered any before high school. Caila’s brother is also there; he looks like he’s in middle school and he mostly just sits quietly in the corner. He definitely has a Buster Bluth vibe going on.
Caila’s mom has prepared a traditional Filipino meal and emphasizes that they’re going to eat with their hands. Also, we discover that Caila still calls her mom “Mommy,” and I’m not okay with that. If she keeps that up, she’s going to have to start sitting with Kinsley and Charlie at the kids’ table at Bachelor Family dinners. Her parents talk about love, commitment, and feelings, and I start to see where Caila gets her propensity for confusing rhetoric. To be honest, I’m way more interested in finding out how her parents met than anything they’re actually saying. My guess is there was a catalog involved.
Ben spends some time talking to Mommy and tells her about their awko taco conversation back in the Bahamas. She tells him that she’s glad he cares about Caila because that’s what she wants for her daughter. I’d fucking hope so. Mommy tells Ben that Caila has high standards and just hasn’t met someone that is her equivalent yet. It’s probably because she’s 24.
Caila spends time with each of her parents. Her dad asks her how she’s feeling and she blurts out “I love him. Daddy. He’s the one. I know it. Don’t ruin this for me.” She tells Mommy that she’s in love with Ben but hasn’t told him yet. Mommy tells her “Run downstairs and jump on him and tell him!” Solid parenting.
I’m pretty disappointed we don’t get to see Ben’s conversation with Caila’s brother, but the evening wraps up and Ben heads out – Caila also wimps out on telling Ben she loves him. She tells the camera she doesn’t fully trust Ben yet and feels scared because of all the unknowns in the back of her mind. I’m starting to think Caila should go the Lace route and figure her own shit out for a while.
Hometown Date with Brojo
The final hometown date is with Brojo. This episode feels like it has lasted six hours and we’re only halfway done, so I have high hopes for what’s about to happen in Dallas. Brojo is greeted at the door of her apartment with a bouquet of roses. She walks inside, saying “Fuck yeah I’ll accept these roses! Suck my dick, Caila,” but quickly realizes they aren’t from Ben – they’re from her ex-boyfriend, Chad. I’ve never met a Chad that wasn’t a total douchelord and it doesn’t seem like this dude is the exception. Along with the flowers, there’s a note, but Brojo is too angry to read what Chad has to say. Instead, she calls him, since actively listening to him grovel is infinitely more satisfying than reading his third-grader handwriting. He answers and tells her the following:
“I’ve literally gone through so much since you’ve been gone.”
Translation: Tinder has not panned out like I’d anticipated.
“It’s taken me this time to grow and mature and think about what I want for the future. And it’s you.”
Translation: I don’t want to think about a future that involves you getting railed by The Bachelor because that would be a huge bruise to my ego.
“I know what love is, and I know I love you. This is how I feel and I love you so much”
Translation: This line worked the last time I wanted you back. Also, words are hard.
Total Chad move.
Ben knocks on the door as Brojo is hanging up the phone, in tears. He immediately senses something is wrong and she explains the situation, telling him that she had just called Chad to tell him things between them were over. She assures Ben that she’s the happiest she’s ever been and that free vacations are responsible for less than 50% of her feelings towards him. Ben says “I wish I could have sat beside you during that phone call. Mostly so I would know if you’re bullshitting me right now.”
Apparently Brojo dealing with her ex took up all the airtime for any other date activities, so the next thing we see is her walking up to her parents’ house with Ben. As soon as Brojo walks into the door, my ears are accosted by the wails of what sounds like a gaggle of geese being tazed. Turns out that this is actually the mating call of her two brothers, who run to meet her at the door and greet her with a questionable amount of kisses.
The next individual we see is Brojo’s mom. She looks like a not-so-gently-used blow-up doll that came to life in a pornographic spin-off of Night at the Museum. Her visage will haunt my nightmares for years to come. Brojo’s dad isn’t easy on the eyes either; he looks like what would happen if Hitler had knocked up Margaret Thatcher. Does he always have a Führer-stache or did he groom it for intimidation purposes? I give Ben props for not turning around and walking out of their house immediately because this is already going to hell in a hand basket.
For the next thirty minutes, Ben does his best Brendan Dassey impression as Brojo’s family interrogates him relentlessly. He tries to gulp down his food at dinner while her brothers reiterate just how attached they are to their baby sister and her father not-so-subtly suggests that Ben give up his job in Denver and move to Dallas should Brojo get the final rose. You know, normal first encounter requests.
After dinner, Brojo’s bros continue to grill Ben like one of Jubilee’s hot dogs on the 4th of July. They ask if he is going to make her very happy or break her heart when this process is over; Ben answers honestly and says he doesn’t know yet but feels like they are in a good place. He knows there are a lot of tough conversations coming up, but he’s looking forward to having them. I hope Ben is better at selling software than he is at selling this shit because they are not buying it.
Brojo takes some time and talks with
a melted heap of plastic her mother. Momjo reassures her, saying, “You’re not going to get hurt. You’re beautiful.” I’m guessing she’s hitting the painkillers and the Chardonnay extra hard tonight. Brojo tells her that she’s falling in love with Ben, and Momjo responds by telling her “If you like him, Jojo, you have to go 150% for what you want!” It looks like her plastic surgeon went 150% on her face.
While Ben continues to talk to Dadjo, Brojo’s bros confront her about her relationship with Ben. They tell her it’s insane that she thinks she’s in love after going on two dates, and that she shouldn’t sell herself short. I get that the producers are trying to paint them as villains, but this is a totally rational argument.
As Brojo dries her tears somewhere, the rest of the Famjo confronts Ben in the kitchen. It’s a tense moment. As one Brobro tells Ben that he’s brainwashed Brojo, the camera keeps panning to the other Brobro, who is silently but shameless eye-fucking Ben. Meanwhile, Momjo is slugging champagne straight out of the bottle. Can their entire family be on Bachelor in Paradise because I want to watch this shit all day.
After spending a week back with their families, the women are more than happy to return to the Bachelor Mansion and its open bar. Brojo is the first one to arrive and steps out in this slinky red Jessica Rabbit number. I’m too busy choking on my margarita to say anything but one of my friends managed to stammer “Holy…damn…Jesus” and I think that spells it out nicely. She knew her brothers probably got into Ben’s head and wanted to remind him (and the rest of America) what he’d be missing if he didn’t take her to the Fantasy Suite. Well played Brojo, well played.
Amanda arrives next, telling the camera she would gladly accept a rose, a ring, or just some help with babysitting from Ben. Caila steps out of her limo in a floral dress that looks like a tailored kimono, hoping that if she doesn’t get a rose, her diversity can, at least, snag her a job as the next Bachelorette. Baby Lolo arrives last and, unfortunately, is not accompanied by her sister.
Ben greets the women and launches into yet another one of his monologues. How much time does he spend practicing these in the mirror? Shut up and start handing out roses. For the first time this season, I’m not actually positive who is going home. After what seems like an eternity, he finally starts. The three women Ben wants to bang the most are:
1. Baby Lolo – Of course.
2. Caila – I guess we’ll find out if she lives up to her Sex Panther nickname.
3. Brojo – If she didn’t look like an absolute bombshell in that dress, my guess is she’d be heading home. Either that or Ben wants to bone her to spite her brothers. Probably both.
This means that tonight we say goodbye to Amanda. Like any sane 26-year-old, Ben was like “Hey girl, you are incredibly attractive but the thought of trading having 25 girlfriends for a fianceé and two children makes my balls retract so far into my stomach I’m afraid they’ll never come back. It’s just not what I’m trying to do with this opportunity.” She takes it well and says she’s going to miss him before she leaves in the limo.
It looks like next week we get to see which two lucky ladies Ben professes his love to – my guess is Baby Lolo and Brojo. See you then..
Image via John Naffziger