The hometown dates yield unexpected results, as Ben takes the wise words of one contestant's dad to heart, leading to a surprise elimination

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated March 13, 2015 at 09:10 PM EDT
ABC

The Bachelor

S16 E8
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I have a dream, rose lovers. A dream that someday, during hometown date week, one of the parents who spawned a “lady” vying for the Bachelor’s hand will have a complete emotional collapse on camera. “What did I do wrong?” this parent (most likely a mother — let’s face it) will sob, as her child looks on aghast. “What did I do wrong to cause you to hold yourself in such low regard that you’re seeking approval from both a man who’s dividing his attentions between two dozen women and an audience of judgmental viewers at home? I’ve failed you as a parent! Forgive me, my child, and for the love of God forgive yourself!”

This, however, was not that week. Ah, well. Maybe next year.

We start things off in Ocala, Florida, home to spur-wearin’ Lindzi and her pretty horse, who reluctantly agrees to pull his mistress and the Bachelor around the track in a little carriage. When that indignity is over, the horse nibbles some grass as Ben and Lindzi picnic nearby, discussing her “walls” and “vulnerability” and the “beautiful thing” known as being willing to give your hand in marriage to a virtual stranger. “Lindzi is really opening up!” marvels Ben. “I needed that from her.” And it’s true, Lindzi just can’t stop talking about her breakup a year ago, and how very, very hard it was — especially on her family, who apparently sustained some shrapnel wounds during Lindzi’s emotional implosion. Or so Team Bachelor would have us believe. Every “lady” on this show needs a narrative, and this is hers.

Lindzi’s parents, Margy and Harry, meet their daughter and her “boyfriend” in a lovely backyard area, where all parties are astonished to learn that Lindzi’s parents got married at San Francisco City Hall… which is precisely where Ben and Lindzi had their first date! What are the odds? (Seriously. It’s not like Team Bachelor could have found that bit of information in the public record, or something.) To help break the ice, Harry and Margy invite Ben to partake in a carriage race, which of course they lose. The punishment is fraught with symbolism: Ben and Lindzi must yoke themselves to the carriage and bear the weight of their elders’ disappointment in them for the rest of their lives bodies all the way back to the house.

Before dinner, Margy and Ben discuss Lindzi’s upbringing — “We kept her away from boys and focused on the horses and her drill team and cheerleading, so she hasn’t had a lot of experience dating” — and how that may affect her ability to handle a temporary engagement. When the Bachelor asks Lindzi’s dad for permission should he choose to propose to Lindzi, Harry artfully dodges the question in a way that says, I don’t think so, buddy. “She’s the only daughter we have and we do love her and we do want her to have a good and happy life,” says Harry. “You’re a really nice young man.” Once the après-dinner s’mores course is through, Ben bids goodbye to Lindzi with lots of kisses and a fresh perspective. “I didn’t expect for my feelings to grow so much in one day,” he marvels. “I think that I might be falling in love with Lindzi.” Yeah, I think the “might” is key there — Ben is so insecure that he tends to be most “in love” with whichever one of the “ladies” flattered his ego last. And there are three more hometowns to go.

NEXT: Great, now I have “Last Train to Clarksville” stuck in my head

Next up, Clarksville, TN, Kacie B’s hometown. For their meet-cute, Kacie arranges for Ben to arrive at Buster Boguskie Field, where a high school marching band is performing in the drizzle. And there in the very back is Kacie, twirling a baton and wearing pants that would make Michael “that crotch is insane” Kors’ head explode. Turns out the football field is named after Kacie’s grandfather; she gets a little verklempt telling Ben about her grandparents, and how her grandma died shortly after her husband did, “of a broken heart.” Aaaand welcome to Clarksville, Ben! Kacie, you might have wanted to wait a little bit before playing the I want to love my husband so much I’ll literally die without him card. “Um-hmmm,” says Ben nervously. “Great. That’s incredible. Seriously!”

So, let’s go meet Kacie’s teetotaling dad! (“I’m a winemaker, and my business is booze,” laments Ben. “So… strike one.”) They arrive bearing a paper bag of, I don’t know, sparkling cider maybe, and sit down to dinner with Kacie’s family: mom Martha, dad Denny, and sister Allison. While Denny’s dad was “skeptical” of the process, he and Martha listen politely while Ben and Kacie discuss how much they’ve learned about themselves during this “journey.” Still, Kacie looks perturbed, perhaps because she knows “a serious talk is coming” with daddy. Before she can work up the courage to face her dad, Kacie pulls her sister aside and confesses, “That’s my future husband.” Allison starts to laugh, and then stops herself mid-scoff and puts on her best I’m totally taking you seriously face. “Oh, you really think so? Why do you think you feel so strongly about him?” Long story short: This bright young woman from an accomplished family has spent her life trying to live up to other people’s standards of perfection (see: eating disorder) and she’s not going to do it anymore. “Dad doesn’t like to take risks,” she whispers to Allison, “and that’s why I think he has a hard time understanding all of this… But I’m doing what I want now. I want them to trust me.”

Ooof, I don’t like where this is going. Meanwhile, Ben’s doing his best to convince Denny that he’s got a “great relationship” with Kacie, but all he’s getting back are non-verbal grunts. Desperate for a response, Ben asks, “Are, are you ok with this forum? She said you were a bit skeptical.” That’s for sure. “Don’t rush into anything,” Denny warns the Bachelor — who is apparently so relieved to get a real answer he just keeps talking. “I’ll admit to you, one of my fears is that, you know, I don’t end up making the right decision in the end. I do have strong feelings for your daughter and some of these other women also, and that’s why this is so difficult.” Denny’s heard enough, and he interrupts to tell the Bachelor that “if Kacie is not the one” he needs to let her know now. No need for his baby to suffer any more heartbreak than she has to, you hear? “I’m not sure if he likes me,” muses Ben. “I hope that Kacie’s mom will be a little bit easier on me.” Well, Ben, this is not your day. Martha, you see, has watched The Bachelor enough to know that usually it ends with the “lady” moving cross country to live in sin with her “fiancé” — and she has “a serious problem” with that. Got it?

NEXT: Nicki’s family FTW!

Once Kacie finally sits down with her dad, he reiterates the above sentiments, but she does her best to hold her ground. “I think Ben and I have something that nobody else does, and you might think that’s naive,” she tells him. “I would say yes if he were to ask me to marry him.” Would you now, missy? Well, not with daddy’s approval. “Ok. If he was to ask me if he could marry you, I would probably say at this point, no.” Hooray for common sense! Even common sense tinged with patriarchal superiority! Now be gone, Ben! It’s time to mess with Texas.

Fort Worth welcomes the Bachelor with longhorn cattle and passers by who politely pretend not to watch as Nicki embraces him on the sidewalk. They do, however, offer good-natured cat calls after Nicki takes the Bachelor shopping and decks him out in a ridiculous hat-boots-big-ol-belt-buckle combo. Some guys may be able to pull that look off, but Ben isn’t one of them. At least he’s got a sense of humor about it. Before they meet the parents, Nicki preps Ben by telling him that in the past, her parents wouldn’t speak up if they had a problem with a guy she was dating, because “they didn’t want to put a rift in, maybe, my and them’s relationship” (good GOD what language is she speaking?) but now, post-divorce, mom and dad do not keep their opinions to themselves.

Some random guy drops Nicki and Ben off at her parents’ house, where Nicki’s mom Laura grabs her daughter in a bear hug and won’t let go. Soon they retreat to the bedroom for some girl talk. “Mom, I’m falling in love with him,” Nicki gushes. “He would be such a good husband, such a great dad.” Mom, bless her heart, just wants to be supportive: “I’m so happy for you.” But what does daddy Doug think? He’s gun shy. “I may have too readily given your hand in marriage the first time because I have such complete faith in your judgment,” says Doug, in what I’m sure he didn’t actually mean as a backhanded compliment. “I think I could have maybe asked a few more questions… I’m sorry if I let you down.” Awwww, that’s pretty sweet. “All along, I just have not wanted you to go through any pain.” Awwww, that’s really sweet. “I wish you all the best,” sniffs Doug. Awwww, could this be any sweeter? Cut, please! Everybody in the room (and probably at home) needs a Kleenex break. Nicki doesn’t let Ben leave without dropping the l-bomb on him — “After today, I’m in love with you” — and I think you all know how he responds: “Really?” Hard to say how things are going, but if I had to rank the success of the hometowns so far, I’d say 1) Nicki; 2) Lindzi; 3) Kacie B.

But the game ain’t over yet, is it rose lovers? Nope, because Ben has one final stop on his “journey”: Scottsdale, Arizona, where Courtney the meanie model awaits. It looks like she’s chosen hometown week to begin rehabbing her image, though: “I feel disappointed in myself for treating the girls the way I did,” she confesses. Whatever, I still think you’re gonna get booed if you show your face at the Women Tell All, toots.

NEXT: Didn’t Ashley already try the fake wedding trick on The Bachelorette?

At lunch with Courtney’s family — dad Rick, mom Sherry, sister Rachel — they all pretty much talk about Ben like he’s not there. “He’s amazing, and I’m excited for you to meet him,” Courtney tells her kin. “I dig him, I really feel like I’m falling for him.” Wonders Rachel, “Have you fallen or are you falling?” Answer: “I like him/love him.” Mom purses her lips and clutches her pearls. “I’d be very surprised if she is in love with him,” Sherry tells the camera. “Ben seems like a nice young man. Very polite.” (Key: “polite” = “boring.”) “But she’s not going to just assume that she’s in love now… I’m not sold on it yet.”

As Courtney has a one-on-one with her sister inside, Rick’s in the backyard giving the Bachelor some life lessons. “I always tell young people that marriage is life’s biggest gamble. There’s only a fifty percent chance of winning,” he intones. “Are you ready to make that bet, yeah?” Um, sure? “I’m ready to be in a serious, committed relationship,” Ben answers. That’s good enough for Rick! “I’d love to have a son-in-law, finally after all these years. And I want some grandkids!” (Side note: “All these years,” dad? Courtney’s 28! It’s not like she’s Eleanor Rigby or something.) Despite her doubts, Sherry doesn’t want to burst her daughter’s bubble, so other than offering a polite “Oh, wow!” to Courtney’s assertion that she’d say yes to a proposal, mom sticks with non-binding generalities, telling her daughter, “Well you seem very well-suited in your personalities.” This is, evidently, what passes for a heart-to-heart in the Robertson household, because it elicits an emotional “Thanks, mom” from the model.

With the family visit checked off, all that’s left is for Courtney to say those three little words to the floppy-haired man at her side. While she purports to be nervous, she certainly doesn’t seem to be lacking confidence: Rather than finding a private moment to say the l-word to Ben, Courtney arranges a fake outdoor wedding at a nearby park and proceeds to order the Bachelor to write his vows. Oh look, there’s a random guy standing in as the minister. Ben, would you please read your vows? “From the moment I saw you, you took my breath away. What I asked myself after our first date was, ‘Is this too good to be true?’ The answer I found in Belize is no.” Ok, I think we’ve heard enough right? Courtney, let’s just get this over with: “When I look at you from across the room I know your happiness is the key to mine. I’m nervous… Ben,I want to love you and treat you right, every day and every night… [Begins mustering up Intro to Acting 101 tears] Um, I want you to know that I’m in love with you.”

Wow, after that horror show I could sure use a good debrief with Harrison, couldn’t you? Fortunately, he’s back in Los Angeles waiting for Ben. Through misty flashbacks, Ben recalls the events of the last two hours, and the helpful host does his best to make the Bachelor — who’s about to reject a woman and her family — look a little less like a heel. “You’ve been through this exact same rose ceremony before, you know how personal it is,” he says. “How tough is this for you tonight?” Oh, very tough. Almost-but-not-quite-choked-up-in-the-confessional tough. “I’m dreading this, but at the same time I’m looking forward to the future.”

NEXT: “What the f— happened??”

Me too, pal. Let’s do this! The “ladies” are sporting a variety of unappealing minidresses, from Lindzi’s green-grey half-toga to Courtney’s boxy bronze sequinfest, and they’re none too pleased to see Courtney get the first rose. Lindzi takes bud No. 2, and just when I thought I knew where this was going… Nicki receives the Final Rose Tonight. What just happened? Is Ben really such a wuss that the mere thought of disagreeing with Kacie’s mom over living together before marriage was enough for him to send her home? Or, perhaps, Ben took Kacie’s dad’s words to heart and decided that cutting her loose now was the humane thing to do. Either way, I suppose it’s for the best. Kacie may have been head over heels from day one, but Ben was never really that into her, as their awkwardly formal goodbye proves. In the Reject Limo, a devastated Kacie weeps. “I thought I knew what he was looking for but I guess I was completely wrong,” she says tearfully, before slipping into a secret, high-pitched dolphin language. Roughly translated: “I knew that this was coming and I’m so upset. Why am I not good enough? Like, I don’t get it… What the f— happened?” Two words, sweetheart: The. Bachelor.

And with that, we’re off to Switzerland. So, rose lovers, were you shocked by Kacie’s unceremonious exit? Do you like Courtney any better now that you’ve met her family? (I certainly like her sister, who certainly had no trouble humiliating her skinny-dipping sibling in front of her parents. Dad’s facial expression? Priceless. Also, Ben: Your mom was going to find out anyway, dumbass.) Will Nicki defy the odds yet again and make it to the final two? And should Emily really be taking Bachelorette advice from Ashley and Queen of Bitch Mountain? Post your thoughts below! Be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s exclusive blog over on PopWatch, too. Now pull on your cowboy boots and let’s talk Bachelor!

Episode Recaps

The Bachelor

Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality competition series in which a gaggle of women vie for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?

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