By Kristen Baldwin
February 18, 2019 at 10:00 PM EST

Did you think Colton was going to jump the fence this week, rose lovers? That’s certainly what Team Bachelor wanted us to believe. What this episode lacked in fence-jumping, however, it made up for in back-stabbing and smack-talk. Let’s kick things off with… #SadCam!

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Yes, our Bachelor is still processing all the red flags we saw last week – Demi, Katie, and Sydney all told him that “there’s somebody or some people here that aren’t ready for this.” Armed with this knowledge, Colton is entering the week with a newfound determination to root out the Wrong Reasons™ Brigade. Pack your bags, “ladies”! The next stop on this “journey” is Colton’s hometown of Denver.

But first… filler.

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Who better to give Colton advice about how to navigate this rocky ocean we call “love” than failed Bachelor Ben Higgins? Unfortunately, his advice is not “Just say ‘I love you’ to both women in your Final Two and then pray for the best.” Instead, Ben gives Colton these words of wisdom: “Lean in, be intentional.”

With that, Colton and his pup Sniper head to a local park to meet the “ladies” — and it looks like Hannah B. just returned from a Paula Abdul music video audition from 1988.

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The first one-on-one goes to… Tayshia! This could be interesting, seeing as Tayshia seemed very ready to answer all of the Bachelor’s questions about the suspicious women in the bunch. “Today, I will tell him what I think,” she says. “I think he deserves to know.”

But first… they eat! After a somewhat stomach-churning combination of oysters, white wine, and ice cream, Tayshia and Colton sit down for some bubbly rosé and serious talk. “I am not questioning your readiness [for marriage],” Colton assures her. “So I just wanted to hear from you about what you’ve seen or what you’ve heard.” Yeah, Tayshia — Spill. That. Tea!

Before she can, Team Bachelor cuts to these two.

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“It’s just infuriating that these women would just drop these bombs on him as he leaves,” sighs Caelynn. “We’re fine… We know that it’s not us.” But do we know it, rose lovers? Or is this quick cutaway Team Bachelor’s way of tipping us off to who the Mystery Women are? Let’s return to Colton and Tayshia’s date, already in progress…

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“I’ve heard some disheartening conversations that have taken place in the house. Unfortunately, some girls aren’t necessarily in this for possibly the right reasons, and I’m not telling you because I don’t want to tattle-tale, but I just think that you should know. I feel like Cassie and Caelynn aren’t genuine, and I believe that’s who Katie was referring to, and Sydney, and Demi. They’re already talking about, you know, being the next Bachelorette and they also have said that they don’t think they’re going to be ready to get engaged at the end of this… They’re interested in what parties they’re going to hit after this and the people that they’re gonna get to know and where they’re gonna go.”

Somebody call the FBI — Tayshia just assassinated Caelynn and Cassie’s character.

“That really sucks,” replies Colton. “I’m not gonna lie.” With all of his worst fears realized, the Bachelor and Tayshia leave the restaurant, but not before the producers throw one last bit of shade.

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Look, other stuff happens on this date, but the only thing that matters is this: Tayshia gets a rose and by extension a hometown date. “Tayshia’s someone who I can see at the end of this,” gushes Colton. (Next: Colton grills Caelynn)

Conveniently, Caelynn gets the next one-on-one of the week. And conveniently, we only have to watch a few minutes of Colton teaching her to ski before we get down to business.

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Ah, classic Colton — does he always tattle on the other women because he’s too dumb to figure out a way to get information without naming names, or does he just like to stir the pot himself? Who can say. But Caelynn’s response is perfect in its calculated (maybe?) innocence.

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The beauty queen quickly segues from surprise to sadness, as she tearfully assures Colton that what Tayshia said was “completely fabricated” and she is, in fact, ready for marriage. “I hate that The Bachelorette got brought up,” she continues. “None of that has ever left my mouth.” Later, Caelynn vents her anger to the camera. “How the f— would Tayshia know if I’m ready or not?” she fumes. “There’s only so much you can say when someone legit pulls a lie out of their ass.” She saves her worst insult for last, though, calling Tayshia an “insecure 28-year-old girl.”

That was way harsh, Tai.

At dinner, Caelynn and Colton sit in somber silence. “I think with everything going on the last few weeks,” mumbles the Bachelor, wiping a tear from his eye, “it’s just been a lot.” It’s all the more distressing, he says, because hometowns are just one week away: “I won’t walk through your doors if I don’t think we’re ready.” Caelynn, knowing this is her last chance to salvage the situation, apologizes for not articulating her thoughts clearly that afternoon. “I felt like in that moment, a future that I had pictured so vividly was about to be ripped away from me, for something that’s so trivial and false,” she says. “I pray to God that it’s us at the end of this and that we can be engaged and then get married and have kids and raise kids. That’s what I want.” Then, dear rose lovers, she drops the “I’m falling in love with you” bomb. And our Bachelor LOVES it.

She gets the rose. See ya at hometowns, honey! (Let us not discuss the “private” concert by whomever that was at Red Rocks, okay?)

Blissfully, we don’t have to wait long to see the Caelynn-Tayshia showdown the next morning. Side note, how cute is Tayshia’s sweater?

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“Colton told me yesterday that you told him that I’m only here to be the Bachelorette and that if he proposes, I’ll say no, which is so false,” Caelynn says. “I just feel like our friendship was kind of all a lie.”

Tayshia is the opposite of rattled. She informs Caelynn that all of the women think Katie, Demi, and Sydney were talking about her and Cassie. “Did I have any plans of talking about you? No,” says Tayshia. “Colton asked me a question, and I told him my opinion.” If they argued more about whether or not Caelynn really did say she wants to be the Bachelorette, we don’t see it. Instead, Tayshia walks away, leaving a forlorn Caelynn on the couch.

Meanwhile, Colton is on his third one-on-one date of the week, this one with Hannah B. And he’s got something big planned for her:

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Yep, Hannah Beast is the first of Colton’s “ladies” to meet the Underwoods. (I’m guessing she wishes she could travel back in time and choose something other than a crop-top sweater to wear.) After some day-drinking and charcuterie, Colton peels off to talk with his father. Hearing about all the drama, Dad offers some wise words: “I’d trust your gut more than I would ever trust the comments of anyone else.” In the living room, Mom asks Hannah B. if she’s in love with Colton, and of course, the answer is an enthusiastic “Yes!” She seems a little concerned that Colton hasn’t shared his feelings for Hannah yet — but maybe she’s just not familiar with the unwritten Bachelor rules that prohibit Colton from uttering any version of the l-bomb until the Proposal Platform. (Unless, of course, you’re Ben Higgins — and look how well that worked out for him.)

But Colton has a secret: He’s just “not there yet” with Hannah Beast. Can he get there by the end of dinner? Let’s just cut to the chase, rose lovers:

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I regret to inform you, Hannah B., that Colton did, in fact, have you get all dressed up for dinner in an airplane hanger, only to dump you. “I don’t know if I’m there,” he tells her sadly. “And going into hometowns, I can’t shake your father’s hand and look him in the eye if I have any doubts in our relationship.” Okay, but could you look Hannah’s mother in the eye? Oh, that’s right — we live in a patriarchy. Never mind.

Hannah B. is heartbroken, but she handles it well. “I’m glad to know that now,” she says sadly. “I wouldn’t want you to come meet my family if you don’t feel that way. I don’t deserve that.” That’s right, sister. You deserve better. (Next: A surprising self-elimination on the group date)

Back at the hotel, the Suitcase Ninja retrieves Hannah’s suitcase as the other women look on in disbelief. Hannah G., Kirpa, Cassie, and Heather look especially stunned, because they’ve got a group date ahead of them, and apparently Colton is in a cuttin’ mood.

All aboard the party bus, “ladies”!

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The date begins aboard an old-timey steam train, which drops Colton and his dates somewhere in the middle of a picturesque national park. One by one, the Bachelor pulls each woman aside for a “do you deserve a hometown date?” chat. Heather’s up first, and she’s got something very important to say:

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Welp, that was easy! Adios, Heather! Hope you enjoyed that whole first-kiss thing.

And so it’s down to Cassie, Kirpa, and Hannah G. But really, it’s down to whether or not Colton believes Cassie more than all of the other women telling him that she’s “not ready” for marriage. When the Bachelor asks Cassie about it directly, she purports to be “so shocked” that her name was even dragged into this mess. “I don’t want you to believe that,” she says. “I don’t know why girls are making stuff up like that.” Cassie goes on to tell Colton that she thinks he’s “amazing” and that “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t really, really see something with you.”

As you can probably tell from the swelling music, Colton is totally buying everything Cassie is selling. “If I’m trusting my gut, my gut is telling me that she would have never gone to the lengths to say anything like that.” But she doesn’t have the rose yet — and he still has to talk to Kirpa. “I’ve had to end an engagement and go through that, and I never want that for anyone, especially you,” says Kirpa. To that end: “I have concerns about Cassie and Caelynn, that they’re just not ready. I just want to present you with everything that I know so you can make the best decisions.” So what does Kirpa know? All she can offer as evidence, really, is that Cassie and Caelynn got “very defensive” after Colton told them all about Katie’s warning. “Where did my gut go wrong?” Colton wonders. “Is my gut wrong?”

Answers: Probably when you said yes to the Bachelor gig; and yes, yes it is.

'The Bachelor' episode 7 recapCredit: ABC
‘The Bachelor’ episode 7 recapCredit: ABC
| Credit: ABC

Hold up, it’s time for the Kirpa and Cassie confrontation that we previewed on Friday. “Why would you go spend your time talking to Colton about me?” Cassie asks. Because “Colton’s heart is on the line,” Kirpa answers, and she’s not about to let him choose a fame-hungry flibbertygibbit. (I’m paraphrasing.) “I have his best interests at heart,” insists Kirpa. “I don’t have anything to feel bad about because I didn’t make anything up… I expressed my opinion, and that’s that.” Cassie is not impressed.

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Having talked to everyone (presumably, though we never see him talk to Hannah G.), Colton picks up both roses and says… he’s not ready to give them out yet! Sorry, “ladies” – go get dressed for dinner. Part two of this three-on-one date awaits!

You know what’s not awkward at all? The seating arrangement at this (probably larger-than-necessary) table.

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When the Bachelor arrives, he announces that during their time apart, he was able to get “clarity” on one thing: Hannah G. He takes her outside and (eventually) gives her a hometown date rose, leaving Kirpa and Cassie to stew in uncomfortable silence. (The ticking-clock sound effect is a nice touch, Team Bachelor.)

That’s when things get weird. As Kirpa is sitting down for her one-on-one chat/make-out sesh with Colton, who should come clomping up the steps but… Caelynn! She is not about to let Tayshia’s “lies” — via Kirpa — send Cassie home, so she corners Colton while he’s alone upstairs. “This is all lies and it’s all bulls—, and I’m sick of girls tearing other girls down,” she says. “I would hate for you to send someone home that you have a connection with and then look back and have regrets.” Having said her piece, Caelynn backs out through the dining room — without saying a word to Cassie and Kirpa, who are sitting right there — and heads back into the night. Did this last-minute Hail Mary save Cassie from the Reject SUV? Survey says…

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“He’s an adult — he can make his own decisions,” says Kirpa. A generous sentiment, for sure.

Well, rose lovers, we’ve almost made it to hometowns. Can you believe it? Before you rest up for next week’s drama, let me know what you thought of everything that went down tonight. Are you surprised Colton ignored all the warnings about Cassie and Caelynn? Are you #TeamTayshia or #TeamCasslynn? And how exactly does one sit in chocolate? Post your thoughts below!

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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