The Final Three head to Dallas to meet Rachel's family

By Isabella Biedenharn
July 24, 2017 at 10:00 PM EDT
ABC
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First things first: I’m stepping in while your regular recapper, Sam, is out this week. (Is she in California tracking Dean down? I can’t tell you that!)

You might have been expecting Fantasy Suites (which you sort of get, later), but this week, the guys are meeting Rachel’s family in Dallas. Yes, it’s a bit unusual for the Bachelorette to bring three guys home. Normally, the family flies out to wherever the final two are having their dates and they meet there, but because Rachel’s sister Constance is eight months pregnant, they get to bend the rules. Bring on the Lindsays!

Peter meets the Lindsays

He got the first date and the last one, so is it really a surprise that Peter gets to go first? Before meeting the family, Rachel and Peter go shopping for clothes for Rachel’s sister’s kids: the new baby and Rachel’s 3-year-old nephew Alastair. It’s adorable, and Peter gets to prove once again how good he is with kids when Rachel describes Alistair as “a big three,” and Peter knows exactly which kids’ sizes to look for. Swoon.

Before they go into the house, though, Peter does want to clarify some of the things he said during his hometown date. “I felt like the last thing I told you was not what I meant to say,” he tells Rachel. “I want you to have confidence in us and in me. I am falling in love with you.” Spoken with the classic awkward delivery (“I do love you”) people always end up using on this show. Rachel tells him she’s falling in love with him, too — although since she told Dean the very same thing right before she sent him home, I’m not sure how much we should read into that. (Just kidding. She’s obsessed with Peter and so am I.)

Peter meets Constance, her husband Alex, her mom Kathy (all of whom we met last year during Rachel’s hometown date on Nick’s season), and also her Uncle Jeff and Aunt Connie. Notably absent is Rachel’s father, a federal judge, but we already knew because of his job he wouldn’t appear on the season. (Still, I’d love to see an actual judge questioning these dudes about their intentions. Bryan especially. Am I showing my hand?)

They talk about how Peter’s parents met young (20 and 21), but they’re still married — and he and Rachel tag-team telling the story like they’re an old married couple themselves. Peter talks about the moment he saw Rachel upon coming out of the limo, and describes their “instant connection” throughout the process. Then he gets deeper: “It was actually last night at the Rose Ceremony when Rachel walked in and I realized how much I missed her,” he says. “It felt like a part of me was gone when she was gone.” It was then, he tells her family, that he realized he was falling in love with her. “This is my first time hearing this!” Rachel chimes in. It’s SO CUTE.

Constance and Rachel talk, and Constance reminds her that she was this excited when they met Nick, too. But Rachel reminds her that she’s ready for this. “I want marriage and a kid. I’ve had plenty of boyfriends,” she says. “I’m looking for the real deal.”

When Peter talks alone with Constance’s husband Alex, Alex asks the classic “red flags” question, and Peter gives the classic answer: “I do worry that I haven’t seen any red flags yet.” Smooth!

Of course, the big concern with Peter is whether or not he’ll propose at the end of the season, if he’s the one Rachel chooses. It sucks that this is framed as some sort of knock against Peter, since it’s clearly the sane option for a couple who have only known each other a few weeks, but we all know what show we’re watching. Peter talks to Rachel’s mom, Kathy, and is honest: “I want to pursue a relationship with your daughter,” he says. But he doesn’t know if, in just two weeks, he’ll be ready to propose. “I wondered if I should ask for you and your husband’s blessing, and I decided not to.” Kathy, though, seems impressed. She hopes he’ll take their dating relationship as seriously as marriage, and tells him to just continue being honest with her. But she also reminds him that she knows her daughter, and Rachel has always wanted to be married.

At the end, Alastair learns Peter’s name, and Peter says that the date put things back into perspective for him. “I’ve truly realized my feelings for her and how much I could see myself being part of her family,” he says.

Eric meets the Lindsays

When Rachel goes to the hotel to fetch Eric, he admits that he couldn’t sleep last night because of his nerves about today. “If it makes you feel better, I didn’t either,” Rachel says. It’s so cute! I have to admit, I didn’t think much of Eric for the first few weeks of this show, but after their one-on-one and then his hometown date, I’m kind of obsessed. He’s so giddy around her and it makes me giddy! Before they meet the family, Rachel takes him to the top of a tower to give him a little aerial tour of Dallas and teases him about being shaky. “Is it your fear of heights?” she asks, then says, “Hold me closer!” They talk about Eric’s nerves, and then about how every time they’re together, their relationship seems to grow exponentially. My heard swelled when Eric said, “You feel that way, too?” in the most hopeful, excited way ever.

While Rachel and Eric are en route to the Lindsay house, Peter and Bryan discuss how Eric hasn’t met a girl’s family in six or seven years — a fact that multiple people on the show will repeat constantly so we remember just how inexperienced in love Eric is. We get it! He’s still a very nice guy! Peter also tells Bryan he didn’t ask for her parents’ blessing, and Bryan says that he’s hoping to show Rachel’s family “how much chemistry we have.” Um, ew. In an interview, Peter calls Bryan “a little arrogant” and “annoying,” and then mentions one of the most uncomfortable truths of the show: “What’s awkward is having to sit here with her other boyfriend, while her other boyfriend is with her family right now.” Preach, Peter!

At the house, Rachel’s uncle immediately asks Eric if he was one of the guys who came onstage to meet Rachel at After the Final Rose. “I love how into it you are!” Rachel says. It’s adorable.

Eric explains how he didn’t grow up in a structured family but says it’s kind of the norm in Baltimore, adding how that experience just made him want a solid, healthy family for himself in the future. He talks about how much his family loved and embraced Rachel, and then of course he has to talk about how his last relationship was only eight months, he wasn’t in love with her, etc.

In a conversation with her cousin Andrea, Rachel says that the only reason her antennas are up is because Eric hasn’t been in love before. But Andrea reminds her that, like Rachel told her, Eric “isn’t a fairytale person,” and he’s mature enough to know that he hasn’t been in love and to be forthcoming about that.

To Constance, Eric talks about how he loves Rachel unconditionally (“I’m not in love with her,” he clarifies), and that they both want kids. In an interview, Constance says she sees Eric is ready to settle down, and she likes that he’s so into Rachel and cares what the family thinks. But she wonders (like we do, I think) if they’ll be compatible in the long run.

When Eric talks to Rachel’s mom, he says, “It’s a privilege to be in your presence, being married for 38 years.” How sweet is that?! He explains that he’s ready to start a life with someone, they talk about what that would look like, and Eric asks for permission to propose. “At this point, if Rachel decided you two were going to take that journey, I’d feel comfortable with that,” she says.

Kathy, in an interview, tells us that she was “pleasantly surprised, again” by Rachel’s choice, and that she can see why this is going to be a tough decision for her.

Next up: Bryan. Will Kathy feel the same?

Bryan meets the Lindsays

When Rachel comes to pick up Bryan, they’re both wearing their matching watches. Eric, whose observations of social situations are always really astute, has great commentary on this: He understands why Bryan wore the watch (“I’m not mad at you, brother. Do your thang“) but explains that what really matters is that Rachel wore hers. “If she didn’t wear it and he had his, it wouldn’t mean anything,” he says. “But she wore the watch. See what I’m saying?”

While Eric is diplomatic, Peter says flat-out, “I’m not the biggest fan of Bryan. He’s got his confident Miami swagger… but in Miami there’s a lot of fake boobs, fake asses, and fake cheeks.” Pretty sure that was a dig at the cheek fillers Bryan definitely looks like he has. I’m here for it.

Unlike Peter and Eric, Bryan actually gets to meet Rachel’s girlfriends — the two coworkers who actually signed her up for The Bachelor in the first place. They’re really funny: When one of them asks Bryan about his career and he says he’s been in practice for eight years, he says he’s 37 and the co-worker says, “Nice. I was hoping you’d give me your age.” And when he immediately starts talking about how he’s looking for “something serious,” one of the co-workers is like, “Wow, no small talk!”

They talk about how he and Rachel both have a lot of confidence, and then Rachel drops a bombshell I don’t think we’ve heard before. “He was so charming the first night,” she says. “I told him this… let’s be real: I thought he was a douchebag.” Then Bryan chimes in: “Then we went on a date and literally forgot about all the other guys.” Bryan made a joke! Usually he’s just spitting lines! Wait, do I like Bryan now?!

Then they head to Rachel’s house, where Kathy says, “I get the first hug!” And Bryan replies, “My mom always gets first kiss.” Uh, what? Too much, Bryan. They have a funny little bit about how Bryan thought they’d be going to church and tried to dress the part, and then he talks about how his parents have been together almost 40 years and he’s an only child. “She’s the number one woman in my life,” he says about his mom. Seriously, we get it.

To be fair to Bryan, he doesn’t seem like he’s being that bad, but Constance is not here for it. I need a GIF of the way she stares him down ASAP. “I have tremendous love for this woman next to me,” Bryan tells the family. “You’re probably skeptical…”

“Especially when you say love,” Kathy says.

Bryan starts talking about how when they’re together, they forget about everything — but Kathy brings the conversation right down to the present. “In a marriage, when your wife and mother bump heads, where’s the loyalty?”

Bryan says he’d want them to work things out, but while he loves his mother, at the same time, she’s not his wife. Kathy asks again, “Where’s the priority?” and Rachel gets defensive. “He said loyalty’s with the wife! He said it!” she says.

Constance is irked by the fact that Bryan said Rachel felt like his girlfriend after a week. “Bryan’s a charmer,” she says in an interview. “He’s direct and open, but I don’t see the sincerity factor.”

At the table at lunch, Rachel’s uncle asks what qualities Rachel accentuates in Bryan, and Rachel’s brother-in-law Alex jumps in to say, “It’s a valid point.” Bryan asks, “Would you guys excuse me for a second?” and leaves the table. Was this bad editing to make us feel like that scene was awkward, or was it really that awkward?

Either way, Rachel is pissed and frustrated. “I’m really low-key annoyed, but I’m not gonna go into that,” she tells her family. Her mom calmly tries to explain: “You are in a bubble. We are outside that bubble. So the way we see things, we have to get clarity.”

Alex butts in again (really, dude?) to tell Rachel she’s “approaching it from an emotional perspective.” No, sir! But later on, the two of them talk alone, and it seems like the tension has dissipated a little.

“We hit your boy pretty hard early. You got pretty pissed off,” he laughs. “It was good that we saw you be emotional — it’s a reflection of how much you care about him.” Rachel, in much better spirits, says, “I do really like him. You know me: I’m chill until I’m not.” SAME, RACHEL.

Meanwhile, Constance gets her chance to confront Bryan alone. “When you say you’re falling in love after how many interactions, I don’t know how genuine that is,” she explains. Bryan is diplomatic, saying he’s not going to knock the way she thinks because he understands it, but that he is in love with the person she is, and he loves her family.

“All of that is so soon to me!” she says. “It’s only been like an hour and a half.” I LOVE Constance. She mentions that every time she asks a question, Bryan has an answer all ready — there’s no hesitation. I can see how Bryan would think that makes him look prepared and confident, but I see what Constance is saying. He never stops to consider anything. And when he gets asked a more substantial question, like at the lunch table, he just gets up and walks away? He does try to explain, though: “It’s an expedited situation. It’s tough for people on the outside to see.” Probably true, but still — I’m glad the Lindsays are calling him on this stuff.

Rachel talks to her mom, and Rachel basically explains that she likes him because he’s been the most open and vocal with his feelings. For Rachel, it’s not enough when people say they’re “falling” in love with her, or they’re “on the path” to love, even though that’s probably more realistic. The fact that Bryan flat-out says “I love you” is what seems to be important to her. Rachel’s mom pushes. “I question, love? Really?” she says. “In this short amount of time? Even with your dad, I said, ‘I want to get to know this person.’ Did I say ‘love’ in two months? No. Did he? No.” They kind of stay at an impasse here, but Rachel hopes her mom understands that her feelings are real.

Bryan asks for Mrs. Lindsay’s blessing, and she challenges him a bit, but in the end she says what she said to Eric, which is essentially, “I trust my daughter, so if she picks you, that’s fine.”

And with that, everyone has met the families! Now we’re off to Rioja, Spain for… Fantasy Suites!!

Do they ever go on a trip in this show and not say it’s “the perfect place to fall in love”? No. As we approach the final three dates (and Fantasy Suites), Rachel summarizes her feelings thus far.

Bryan: “The only one who’s told me he’s in love with me. But my family saw something that concerned them.”

Peter: “Peter got the first one-on-one… we connected effortlessly… he’s the first guy that made me believe in this journey. But he told my family he’s not ready to get down on one knee and propose.”

Eric: “Eric’s the one I’m most confused about as to where his feelings stand with me.”

Eric’s Date

So Eric’s up first, and the big question is whether or not he’ll say “I love you.” They go in a helicopter ride over the vineyards and skip out of it happily when it lands. Rachel talks about how much she loved meeting his family and how much she learned about him, then asks what he learned about her from her family. “I learned that you’re strong, you’re independent, you don’t really need much but you need everything,” he says. “Ooh, I sound like a complicated person,” Rachel says.

They head to a monastery that has a giant bell where you make a wish, then ring the bell three times and it will come true. As they ring the bell, a voiceover has Eric saying, “I wish I could tell Rachel I’m in love with her.” Come on, producers. That wasn’t just cheesy, cutting that line out and just pasting it over the scene. It was stupid.

Later, at dinner, Eric explains how his feelings really started when they were in the hot tub in Copenhagen (where, as you might recall, an overly friendly Dane greeted them totally naked). He says she challenges him emotionally, and he’s made himself vulnerable and open. “It feels amazing!” Rachel says they’re down to the wire, and asks if he has any fears because he hasn’t been in love. “Do you feel like you’re ready to leap forward… to get down on a knee and marry this person?” Rachel, just ask if he loves you!

“You embody everything I would want in a wife,” he says. “I swear, every time I’m with you, we get better with time. It just allows me to fall right in… I’m just here to say that I’m in love with you.” He jokes that he “tried to run” in Week 3 and Week 4 (“You did,” Rachel says) but “this is it… I’m just really happy. I’ve never felt this way with a girl, like, ever. I love you.” It’s adorable, and it’s exactly what Rachel needs to hear to give him the Fantasy Suite card. “Once again, I spent time with Eric and it takes our relationship to another level,” Rachel says in an interview.

“I just want to get engaged and get on with life!” Eric says. If this doesn’t work out, Eric for Bachelor!!! Please!!!

Peter’s Date

With Peter, everything’s basically perfect except for this whole “I might not want to propose to someone after nine weeks” thing. They go to a winery owned by this little Spanish man who says he’s been with his wife for 57 years, sings them a lovely song about an American girl, and then gives them their own wine cellar with a “Raquel y Pedro” sign on it. Peter gets to keep the key, and apparently they’ll have it forever — the wine will just be waiting for them when they come back. This is much better than a watch, Bryan! Watches break! Wine cellars are forever!

After a little girl drags them over to stomp some grapes, Peter and Rachel finally sit down to have their tough conversation. But first, Peter has them take part in a little tradition his parents started: You keep the cork when there’s a momentous occasion (when you also have wine), and on it, you write the date and a special message about the day. It’s so romantic, and Rachel loves it — but that doesn’t stop her from saying what’s on her mind.

“I didn’t come this far and put my life on hold just to have a boyfriend at the end,” she says. “I could have done that without all of this.” Yes, Rachel!! I love a woman who knows her worth! She explains that for her, a proposal doesn’t have to mean getting married next year; it’s just that they’re going to really cultivate their relationship. Peter says he respects her for that, but “unfortunately, my feelings are different.” For him, engagement essentially means marriage: He wants to do it only once, and he wants to be completely certain. “My hopes of pursuing a relationship would be with the thought that it would lead to engagement,” he assures her. But that’s not really enough for Rachel. She only wants to get engaged once, too. “I understand a relationship is about sacrifices. If you’re the person at the end of this… somebody’s gotta bend,” she says. Peter says they have to find common ground, but he doesn’t know what that is.

Rachel cries, but calmly (how does she do that?). In an interview, though, her full disappointment shows. “I really don’t know what to say. I was hopeful for what Peter and I could be, and just like that, I didn’t see it. The best word I can use to describe it is devastating. Absolutely devastating. For the first time ever, I’m thinking Peter and I might not work out.”

We end on a cliffhanger. Will Peter get a Fantasy Suite card? Does Bryan even exist anymore or did his mom come get him? Can Eric please be the next Bachelor? And most importantly, do you think a bobby pin would be able to pick the lock on Peter and Rachel’s wine cellar? Asking for a friend…

Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality contest series. Will you accept this rose?
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