Nick visits four hometowns and finally meets Racquel
Credit: ABC/Phillippe Bosse
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Somehow, someway, we’ve made it to hometowns. Well, almost. First, we’re back in Bimini where Corinne is freaking out that Nick is going to send her home next. She’s so freaked out, in fact, that when Nick walks into the room holding roses, all she can say is, “I have no idea how many there are.” You mean the roses that he’s holding less than a foot from your face? COUNT THEM, CORINNE. Or does she not know how to count all the way to four?

Long story short, Nick foregoes the rose ceremony and hands out the hometown roses now, with Raven, Vanessa, Corinne, and Rachel all accepting happily.

And that brings us to the good slightly more exciting stuff.

First up, Raven takes Nick to Hoxie, Arkansas, where fun means muddin’ on a four-wheeler, climbing grain bins, and something called froggiging? Did she say frog kicking? Frolicking? Let’s hope it’s that latter.

But, most importantly, this is the place where Raven intends to tell Nick, the man who can’t decide if a button-down or a T-shirt is best for today’s festivities, that she’s falling in love with him. Because there’s nothing quite like hearing it for the second time? Didn’t she already tell him she was falling during their first date?

Maybe she’s trying to make this confession of love more romantic, which is why she intends to do it on the top of a grain bin. Apparently, in Hoxie, this is where you go to have meaningful conversations. (It’s also undoubtedly the place where some teen fell off and tragedy struck the entire town. And there’s now one bin where no one dares sit. Too dark?)

But poor Nick never gets to risk his life on the top of a grain bin because on their way up, they’re stopped by the local police. Just kidding! It’s Raven’s brother! NOW this is starting to feel like a small town.

From there, Raven and Nick go muddin’. Apparently they decided to forego the meaningful conversation to get down and dirty in the swamp. Who says romance is dead?

And trust me, friends: You’ve never seen muddin’ like this before! Just as Nick says, “It’s really exciting to think of a life with Raven by my side,” she takes off his shirt and he lays her down in the mud so that he can straddle her. As he puts it, she “has more personality than you could ever imagine.” Yes, because her personality is what’s shining through on this date.

Once they get cleaned up, they head to meet Raven’s parents, and also, her brother is there but no one cares. He had his 15 seconds of fame!

Nick’s introduction is quickly overshadowed by the announcement that Raven’s father is cancer free. To be honest, Nick might as well not be there, because the best part of this date is Raven’s conversation with her father. Raven asks her dad if it’s weird to think that he could one day be walking her down the aisle to Nick, but once again, her father’s all, “Nick who?” All he cares about is the fact that he’ll get to walk her down the aisle. And yes, I’m crying too.

Once Raven sits down to talk with her mom, they both marvel at the fact that Nick is way less arrogant than they thought he’d be. At this point, mom’s all in on Nick. All she wants to know from her daughter is if she’s going to be able to say those three words. Can Raven let her guard down? CAN YOU, RAVEN? SAY THOSE WORDS NOW!

As for dad, he quickly becomes a Nick fan when Nick sits down and asks him for her daughter’s hand… if, and only if, as two consenting adults, they decide one day that they want to get engaged. If Raven wants that, will you give your blessing? So basically, Nick has rehearsed this speech to be bulletproof, because he’s now asking fathers: If your ADULT daughter has found what she wants, will you keep her from that happiness? DO YOU LOVE YOUR DAUGHTER?

Raven’s father, after admitting that he didn’t expect to like Nick — just wait until he sees that footage of them muddin’ — tells Nick that he trusts Raven’s judgment. In fact, dad thinks there’s a “good possibility” that he’ll be handing Raven off to Nick one day.

After they say goodbye to her family, it’s Raven’s chance to prove her mother wrong and say those three words. But instead, she goes with, “I think I should tell you that there is no hesitation on my end of what becomes of this.” Yeah, that’s about as clear as the mud you rolled around in today, Raven. Your mother is not going to be pleased with you.

NEXT: Nick goes to church

Next up, Nick heads to Dallas where Rachel takes him to church. And I don’t mean that they’re going to have a meaningful conversation on top of a grain bin. I mean they’re literally going to church.

Of course, the pastor takes the opportunity to call Nick out but is just too nice to blatantly ask him if he’s ever been to a predominantly black church before. Instead, he asks, “Have you been in this space?” Um, no. This is his first time here. Thanks for the very vague question.

Overall, Nick has a blast and, as he puts it, “Amen is amen.” But that does bring them to a conversation they’ve needed to have. Nick reveals that he’s not, in fact, color blind and does realize that Rachel is black. BACHELOR NATION, DID YOU KNOW THIS???

Long story short, race isn’t an issue for either of them, but Nick is nervous that it will be an issue with Rachel’s family, particularly Mr. Lindsay. Except the big bad Mr. Lindsay won’t be there because of work obligations! Well, let’s wrap this up now. After all, thanks to the Bachelorette announcement, we know these two aren’t going anywhere.

As they head to meet Rachel’s family, Rachel explains that her family’s stamp of approval could be just the push she needs to fall in love with Nick. You can pinpoint that?

Rachel’s family immediately puts Nick in the hot seat, questioning whether he can identify the food on the table, and I’ll give it to Nick, he actually handles himself well in this situation. If being in this family means you need to have thick skin, Nick could fit in.

Rachel’s sister Constance and her husband are the first to pull Nick and Rachel aside, during which Nick reveals that this is his first serious relationship with a black woman. He pulls out his rehearsed explanation: He knows Rachel’s black but the reason he likes her is her personality. But Constance isn’t fully impressed. It’s great that Nick likes Rachel, but as she explains, in today’s climate, they need to know how to navigate the racism in the world.

Nick then heads to chat with Rachel’s mom, whom he tells the exact same thing. He realizes that society will see them as an interracial couple, and they’re not looking to hide from it. He just hopes to face those challenges as a couple.

With that out of the way, mom wants to know if Nick’s seen any red flags when it comes to Rachel. (Is it just me, or does it seem like mom wants Nick to find a couple of flaws in her daughter?) But as far as Nick’s concerned, they communicate well, and Rachel’s big personality is one of the things that he likes most. Sorry mom, you’ll have to go hate on your daughter with someone else! (Try Constance, she seems like she’d be into it.)

Sitting down with Rachel, mom wants to know how serious her daughter is about Nick, and Rachel explains that she’s falling in love with him. Her mom admits that the things that once attracted her to Rachel’s father were his confidence and how self-assured he was. And she sees that in Nick. So yeah, Rachel’s on the right track, and I can’t help but wonder how Mr. Lindsay would feel about this comparison.

At the end of the day, Rachel’s mother literally shoos them out of the house so that Rachel can pull a Raven and not say “I love you” to Nick. Instead, she kisses him and sends him on his merry way.

And now, for the hometown you’ve all been waiting for: Nick meets Corinne in Miami where she’s so excited to give him a glimpse at what a day in her life is like as a successful businesswoman. So today, she’s going to have Nick join her at a number of important meetings, followed by a brief presentation she has to give, and then they’ll end the day with a nice dinner. Just kidding! Corinne “runs” her business by shopping at exclusive malls where the workers know her by name! As she puts it, “Shopping and me go hand in hand. We’re like white on rice.” So she might know shopping, but she has no idea what “white on rice” means.

From what I can tell, Corinne’s shopping tips include making the staff treat you like you’re a princess; being that annoying person who tries on absolutely everything but buys one outfit; and drinking champagne while you do it.

NEXT: Nick meets Racquel!

When Nick tries on some sweats that cost more than $1,000, he realizes he “might have to get a couple jobs” to support Corinne’s lifestyle. In the end, it’s Corinne who drops more than $3,000 on the outfit Nick will wear to meet her parents, which is a sweater and some jeans, from what I can tell. They’re not even slacks! They’re jeans! And let’s hope they pair well with hives because Nick, Mr. Bargain Shopper over here, is freaking out.

Heading to meet her family, Nick claims he’s “more excited than nervous,” which roughly translates to: I care a little less about this hometown. But before Corinne introduces him to everyone, she tells him that she loves him while sitting in a public restaurant where he’s not allowed to say it back. She then declares the moment was “like a movie,” when literally the only thing movie-esque about it is the fact that there are cameras on them. So it was like the making of a movie?

Now, it’s time for Nick to meet “daddy,” and, of course, Racquel. Sitting down to dinner, Corinne tells her parents the most shocking thing from her experience on the show: The women used Racquel against her! Like an adult needing a nanny is pathetic or something!

But as Corinne’s mother explains, Racquel has been with them for 17 years and is part of their family. She’s a second mother to the girls, and quite frankly, Corinne’s mother couldn’t do a lot of things without her… she says as Racquel hands her a glass of wine.

After everyone eats one of dad’s “world famous” Greek olives, Corinne and dad catch up. Corinne explains that she’s in love and, as she puts it, “we’ve been dating for a month and a half.” Dad, ready with the reality check, does the math for his daughter: “That’s only six weeks.”

But Corinne is there to tell her father that in Nick she sees a person “who cares about Corinne: the good, the bad, the embarrassed.” What? Did you think she’d say ugly?

Meanwhile, as Corinne convinces daddy dearest to like Nick, Nick sits down with Racquel, who basically tells Nick not to hurt Corinne because she considers her a daughter. Wait? Did she just blink twice? SOMEONE HELP HER.

Back in the bedroom — where most fathers and daughters have important conversations — Corinne’s father asks if Corinne is ready to be the breadwinner if Nick can’t keep her happy. And you know what? She is. (Translation: I hope you are, dad!)

Dad then relays that thought to Nick as they enjoy some 15-year-old single malt scotch, just in case the shopping spree, nanny, and/or ridiculous view didn’t tell you that they’re rich. And so it’s with a scotch in his hand that Corinne’s father gives Nick his blessing to marry Corinne, in so many words, before bringing the conversation back around to what really matters: If Nick marries into this family, he’ll always have good scotch! And what is life without good scotch?! It’s bad. That’s what.

By the end of the day, Corinne’s father thinks Corinne is the “lid to Nick’s pot.” So together they form a piece of kitchenware? This man has never used a pot in his life.

As for Corinne’s mom, she tells Nick that he’s welcome in their home any time, a statement that she could be revoking very soon.

While Corinne walks Nick out, the family looks on… as Racquel clears the table behind them. Isn’t equality great?!

NEXT: The return of Andi

Finally, Nick meets up with Vanessa in Montreal where she takes him through a day in her life, which is less about shopping and more about meeting her students. And as much as Corinne’s personal shoppers pretended to like her, there’s something to be said for the way Vanessa’s adult students burst into tears when they see her.

Nick and Vanessa spend the afternoon making a scrapbook with the students — it’s a scrapbook of Nick and Vanessa, so really this is a matter of free labor — before Nick gets the thumbs up from her students and heads off to meet half of Vanessa’s family.

At Sunday lunch, Vanessa introduces Nick to her mother’s side of the family, and I do mean literally every member of her mother’s side of the family. Sunday lunch roughly translates to 15 loud Italians and… Nick.

And these Italians have one question that they’re extremely fixated on: Where is Vanessa going to live if things work out with Nick? (a.k.a. Will she still be attending Sunday lunches?) And if there’s one thing to know about Vanessa’s family, it’s that they’re not going to drop this question. Ever.

Vanessa’s mom pulls Nick aside and admits that she’s worried he has another woman in mind. (Sorry, mom, but he has three.) So when Nick tries to start the conversation off with a joke about how beautiful Vanessa is, mom shuts him down. SHE IS MORE THAN HER AMAZING BOOBS, NICK. Quick! Tell her about how you kissed her daughter even after she vomited on your first date!

From Vanessa’s mother to her overprotective sister, Nick continues to get grilled about the “difficult conversations.” Have they talked about what real life will be like? Does he realize they live in different countries? WHERE WILL YOU LIVE?

Nick, so flustered that he says “we haven’t dove into that,” tries to explain that they will have that conversation at some point. So to make him feel a little more comfortable, her sister tells him, “I’ll hate you if you break her heart. I really will.” And when she cries, Nick does too, but only because he can’t find a way out of this house.

Vanessa, sitting with her brother, is facing a similar situation. He wants to know about — you guessed it — the move! And also, he’s crying! So this family is not only stubborn but very emotional.

Vanessa then chats with her sister, and even despite the fact that Vanessa admits she’d say yes if Nick proposed, her dear old sister asks about the logistics. Let me just say this: Dear Vanessa’s family: You cannot remind her that she’s only known the guy for six weeks and then ask why they haven’t talked about moving in together. PICK YOUR ARGUMENT.

In the end, Vanessa’s mother is also concerned. Proving that she’s never watched this show before, she just hopes that the decision is made “together.” Yeah, your daughter has no say in what Nick does. Sorry, mom.

From one very crowded house to an empty one, Vanessa takes Nick to meet her father and a woman I assume is her step-mom? All I know is that when Vanessa knocks, the woman asks, “Is that her?” Um, I hope so or else there are cameras in your apartment for something else!

When Nick finally sits down with Vanessa’s dad, he learns from his mistake with her mom and only briefly mentions Vanessa’s good looks before getting to her personality. But when Nick spits out his now well-rehearsed speech to ask for a father’s blessing, Vanessa’s dad gets real with him: Did he ask the other three fathers he met with? Um, yeah. (Well, except for Rachel’s, because he didn’t meet her dad.)

But at this point, Nick has done this enough times to call an audible: He promises to never make a decision with Vanessa unless he thinks it’s right, which is really to promise nothing, by the way. “This is real for me,” Nick explains. Vanessa makes him happy. Just like that, Nick gets his final blessing.

But dad’s not done yet. He informs Vanessa that Nick asked the other fathers, thereby shattering her idea that she and Nick are so far ahead of the other relationships. As she puts it, it makes her “question whether or not Nick knows at this point that I’m the one that he wants to be with.” Um yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what you should be questioning right now.

Before Nick leaves, he says one final thing to Vanessa: “Stay out of your head.” But of course, she can’t. By the time everyone arrives in New York for the next rose ceremony, Vanessa decides she needs to talk to Nick. Only, it’s not Vanessa who knocks on his hotel room door. It’s…

Andi and her wobbly heals! I would act shocked, but let’s be real: Andi lives in New York and owed the producers a favor. She has not finally realized that she loves Nick. Let’s not forget that this man called her out on “making love with him” on national television. She’s done.

I’ll see you all next week. If you need me before then, I’ll be learning to speak another language, because at this point, Vanessa’s just making me look bad.

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