You can fake a lot of things but one thing you can never fake is your family. I can't remember a more pivotal hometown episode. These hometown visits were definitely a game changer for Ben and these women.

I can't recall ever seeing such a strong front-runner like Kacie falling so far so fast after a hometown date. I'll give you my thoughts on her at the end, but first let's talk about the women who will be moving on to exotic dates in Switzerland. The first stop was Lindzi's house. This was as good as a hometown date could be. The moment Ben sees Lindzi, life is just easy. It's how all good relationships should be: effortless. That's not to say relationships don't take a ton of work and effort, but especially in the beginning they should seem and feel effortless. When I watched Ben interact in this environment, it felt like he was home and they were already family. I do have to give Lindzi a bit of a hard time here. I was surprised at how little Lindzi knew about her parents' past: It was funny to watch her be pleasantly surprised by finding out where her parents dated and were married. The fact that Lindzi's parents got married in the same exact building where Ben and Lindzi shared their first dance was one of the more serendipitous moments of the season so far. Other than that, Lindzi's hometown date was flawless.

Ben later rolled into Fort Worth, Texas, to see Nicki. After a day of making Texas look like a big redneck cliché (you'll remember that I'm a Texas boy), they got down to business and met Nicki's family. Nicki's family is incredibly loving. It was amazing to see Nicki's dad tear up and apologize for letting her down in her prior relationship. Nicki is fortunate to have such an amazing dad, and it's easy to see why she turned out to be the type of woman she is. It was because of this strength at home that Nicki was able to open up to Ben at the end of their date and let him know that she's in love with him. Nicki has definitely been the dark horse this season but she has quickly become a front-runner in Ben's heart.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of you were the extremely curious to meet Courtney's family. I know many of you wanted to know where this girl came from. I found it interesting to hear that upon reflection, Courtney isn't happy about the way she acted towards the other women and regrets it. It seems that her demeanor was one big defense mechanism. This doesn't excuse everything she's done and she still has some explaining to do, but at the very least, this was a great glimpse into what makes her tick. I found the comment by her dad to be most interesting. He said marriage is life's greatest gamble; you have a fifty percent chance of winning. I'm not really sure I know what that means, but it sure seems like a sad, depressing view on life and love. I'd like to think that each couple defines their own chances.

Now, onto one of the most awkward things I've watched in quite some time, the mock wedding. Beyond how strange it was to hold a faux wedding, it really showed an interesting side of Courtney. She definitely opened up to Ben and expressed her love to him, but it was very hard and uncomfortable for her. She had trouble reading her vows and it seemed like it was really hard for her to spit it out. The most important thing though is her relationship with Ben. Ben gets her and appreciates the way she is. I'm looking forward to hearing all the opinions on Courtney this week. I think not living with the other women anymore gave Courtney some time to reflect on her actions, and I'm curious to see how things change next week.

Now, let's talk about Kacie. From the moment she started talking about her family to Ben you knew there was going to be a bit of a culture clash. Ben summed it up best himself when he said, "Kacie's dad doesn't drink, and I'm thinking to myself, 'Well that's great — I'm a wine maker.'" Of course that isn't the reason this didn't work, but all joking aside it did point out some of the distance between them. Kacie has a newfound perspective on life and love, and this experience has definitely changed her. She has an amazingly loving family, and while things didn't go smoothly with Ben she should be grateful for the love and wisdom her parents shared with her. This is a great example of why the hometown dates are so important. Ben comes from a very different world than Kacie does and this wasn't a good fit for him or her. Kacie's departure was easily one of the most emotional we've seen in a while. We've all gotten to know and love her so much, so it was tough to see her so confused and brokenhearted. I'm sure, upon reflection, Kacie can now see the great divide that was between them, but that doesn't mean it still doesn't hurt.

I'm glad you got to see Ben's deliberation with me this week. We have done this each week but you haven't had the chance to see it yet. There's been so much good stuff to show you each week, so something has to give. I think it gives you a very good insight into what Ben is thinking — but thankfully, whether you see it or not, it gives Ben a good sounding board while he's going through the experience.

Next week the three remaining women join Ben in Switzerland. This isn't going to be easy, as Ben now has three women who are head over heels in love with him, and I think it's safe to say in many ways he's falling in love with each of them. There are several tough decisions and moments ahead for Ben and these women. I can tell you that the next few weeks are as emotional and intense as we've ever seen here in Bachelor Nation. Before I go this week I want to thank Ellen for having me on her show once again. My son, who was with me, would like to thank her for having SI cover girl Kate Upton on the show that same day. In all seriousness, Ellen has been a huge fan and friend of ours for many years and I always enjoy her passion and interviews.

While I'm off the Bachelor reservation, let me also tell you it's Oscar week. If you have nothing better to do I'd love it if you'd join me on the red carpet, as I'll be hosting once again for TV Guide Network on Sunday before the Academy Awards. Until then you can always find me on twitter @chrisbharrison and for more Bachelor fun, read our exclusive cast blogs and watch never-before-seen clips at our official site,

Hey Bachelor fans! Do you have burning questions for Chris Harrison about this season or the show in general? Post them below — we'll be publishing some questions and answers in an upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly.

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