By Kristen Baldwin
July 16, 2018 at 10:01 PM EDT
ABC

Where does the time go, rose lovers? It seems like only a few weeks ago we were watching Becca getting dumped via split-screen on The Bachelor, and now here we are at hometowns on her season of The Bachelorette! They grow up so fast.

Hometown Date No. 1: Garrett.
Location: Manteca, CA.
Family present: Mom (Barbara), Dad, Granny, sister (Allison), brother, and assorted other relatives in non-speaking roles.

How do we know that Garrett is a frontrunner? Becca wore her best romper just for him.

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“He always makes me smile,” Becca gushes. “I just want to frolic through the trees with him.” Garrett gives the Bachelorette a tour of his family’s land, which is part of their “agricultural business.” Shades of Chris Soules, right? He and Becca clamber up onto some kind of planting contraption, and Carlos fires up the engine. What, no “Love is like planting your seed in the ground while a guy named Carlos drives you around” metaphors? Missed opportunity, Team Bachelorette!

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“Life with Garrett would just be so good,” coos Becca. “He’d be a hot dad.” Next up, he and Becca plant a rose bush (awwwww) and then relax under the shade of a tree to chat about Garrett’s failed marriage. Once again, Garrett paints his ex as a villain — she tried to separate him from his family, etc. — and he realized that their “family values” no longer aligned. But everything will be fine, Garrett tells Becca, provided his family doesn’t see any similarities between her and his mean ol’ ex-wife. “I hope that they see that I’m nothing like his ex,” Becca frets. No pressure, honey! So let’s meet the family!

Garrett comes in hot, making a toast to the joys of being with “the people that you love and that you’re falling in love with,” and mom’s eyebrow raise is priceless.

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Cheers! Garrett’s sister Allison is intrigued as well, so she pulls him aside for the day’s first debrief. “I can just be 100 percent myself around her,” he gushes, but Allison isn’t ready to give up her “protective” role just yet, especially after the pain of his divorce. “We love you so much, Garrett,” she says tearfully. In another room, Garrett’s dad is giving the same speech to Becca. “When this all came about, it broke him,” he says. “And I hated it.” Dad pleads with Becca to cut Garrett loose if he’s not The One, because his family can’t bear to see him heartbroken again.

Garrett’s mom Barbara seconds and thirds that point. “One of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve ever had to watch was the night that he moved out of his home,” she says, choking up. “He turned to me and said, ‘Mom, am I making the right decision?’” Now that her boy is out of that “dark hole,” Barbara will be damned if some TV girlfriend is going to send him back to its depths. Becca assures mom that she takes marriage seriously, explaining that she shares Garrett’s “deep values.” Barbara seems cautiously optimistic. “If Becca is the future,” mom tells Garrett, “she’ll be embraced by our family whole heartedly.”

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Awwww, aren’t moms the best? As for Garrett’s dad, he seems like a nice enough guy… until he mocks his son for saying “Love you too, Granny” to his grandma. Seriously, if this is the kind of bulls— toxic masculinity Garrett grew up around, no wonder his values (as measured by Instagram likes) were askew. (Next: Blue Cheese or Ranch?)

Hometown Date No. 2: Jason.
Location: Buffalo, NY.
Family members present: Mom (Dale), Dad (Gary), brother (Steven), brother-in-law (Billy).

Hello from chilly Buffalo, rose lovers! Becca (in a cute pink hat and scarf combo) embraces Jason (overcoat and sweater, but no hat to mess up his product-laden hair) before heading with him to the “world famous” Anchor Bar — where it seems like the whole city is waiting to watch the two of them put down some chicken wings.

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Love Becca’s dainty grip on those wings! She’s such a “lady.” Up next is skating at the HarborCenter, because hockey is part of the “deep roots” of Jason’s life growing up in Buffalo. He dutifully points out that hockey is a lot like falling in love, what with the incomprehensible rules and the grown men beating the living crap out of each other, or whatever.

After skating, Jason tells Becca about his brother’s relationship with his husband, and how he looks up to them as a model of a healthy marriage. Man, Jason is scoring big Future Bachelor points right now (but I’m still rooting for Wills).

That night, Jason reveals to his father Gary that he’s falling for Becca “really deeply,” and dad gently reminds him to keep one foot planted in reality, because there’s only a one-in-four chance that Becca will choose him. Jason’s mom, meanwhile, puts Becca on the spot: “Do you think you’ve found your one person now?” The Bachelorette knows she can’t really answer that, so she hedges, saying something about there being “a long way to go” still… because as we all know, a Bachelorette week is the equivalent of 6-8 normal weeks.

Mom doesn’t sugarcoat things when she sits down with her boy. “I couldn’t read whether she’s falling for you,” says Dale, but clearly she does have a guess. When Jason says he thinks his relationship with Becca has surpassed the others, mom interjects, “But how do you know that, though?” Oh ma, you know he doesn’t know. Just give him a big hug when (if?) he comes home brokenhearted.

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Awwww, aren’t moms the best? Side note: If he wasn’t already married, I’d totally nominate Jason’s brother for the new spin-off I just made up, Brainy Bachelor. Plus, doesn’t he look like Darren Criss’s long-lost brother?

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Steven can’t believe it when Jason admits he hasn’t really told Becca how deeply he feels about her. “What are you waiting for?” he asks incredulously. “There isn’t a lot of runway left here.” Good advice, bro! And Jason heeds it: Before he says goodbye to Becca, he drops a little “I’m so insanely, wildly in love with you” on her. She LOVES it, and they end their visit with a long, passionate kiss. (Next: Blake’s high school tragedy).

Hometown Date No. 3: Blake.
Location: Bailey, CO.
Family present: Mom (Shelly), Stepdad (Gene), Dad, assorted other relatives in non-speaking roles.

It is snowing hard here in Baily, and Becca definitely does not have the right footwear.

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There is no way those booties have enough tread for this kind of weather. But what’s really important here is that Becca admits to being in love with Blake, though she hasn’t told him yet. And she probably won’t until at least the Last Chance Date — if he makes it that long.

First stop on our tour is Blake’s old high school, Platte Canyon High. Honestly, rose lovers, is there anything that screams “I peaked in my teens” more than taking a date back to your old high school stomping grounds? Perhaps, as someone who hated high school with the heat of 1,000 suns, I’m just biased… but honestly, it seems like a risky choice for a first date.

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Yes, yes I know — Blake’s mom worked at the high school so he “grew up” in those halls. I’ll let it go. Especially since Blake has something important to share with Becca: In 2006, during his senior year, a “complete stranger” walked into the high school and started shooting. (You can read more of the details, which are chilling, here.) “I heard my mom get on the intercom, and she said, ‘Code white! Code white!’” Blake recalls. “I’ll never forget like looking at Mr. Miller, and he kind of went white.” Blake and his fellow students took cover under desks and chairs, until at last they were rescued by a SWAT team. A female student elsewhere in the school was killed. “It just changed my outlook on life,” Blake says. “I just wanted you to know why it’s important to me to be positive and to see life as a gift.”

Soapbox time: It’s horrifying to me that school shootings have become so commonplace in this country that they’re now infiltrating every corner of our lives… including the brainless reality shows we use to distract us from awful things like school shootings. But rather than give into despair, I’m going to keep voting for gun-sense candidates and supporting organizations like Moms Demand Action. End of soapbox rant.

Hey look — Blake just surprised Becca with a Betty Who concert in the school auditorium! Not that the audience is watching; they’re too busy taking pics of Becca and Blake canoodling.

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To Blake’s (or the producers’) credit, Betty Who does seem to be an artist that Becca actually enjoys.

There’s a whole lot of family waiting for Blake when he walks through the door with his potential bride. “Blake is by far the happiest I’ve seen him in a very long time,” his mom Shelly says. Then Blake tells her that he’s in love with Becca…

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Agreed, mom. Though she thinks the idea of her son proposing to Becca in a few weeks is “freaking crazy,” Shelly doesn’t come across as a scold — she just wants her boy to be happy. Awwww, aren’t moms the best? Stepdad Gene wants Blake to remember that pretty soon he and Becca could end up facing the cold harsh light of reality together: “You are gonna fight, you’re not going to be on these fantasy dates that you are now. How are you going to make that work?” Blake assures him that he “got really deep” with Becca about the divorce and the shooting — which is great and all, but it doesn’t really answer the question of “Can this relationship withstand the Chinese water torture of continual fights about dishwasher loading?” Let me tell you Blake, it’s even harder than it sounds.

When it’s time for Shelly to sit down with Becca, she doesn’t hold back, telling her about the “cries” and “panic attacks” Blake went through with his last breakup. “I am scared to death that he’s going to have his heart broken again,” she says. “Yeah,” replies the Bachelorette, and then they hug. Well, okay then? But she and Blake sure do seem happy. “I can see Blake in my life forever,” she gushes. Ooof, Colton, this is gonna be a tough act to follow.

Hometown Date No. 4: Colton.
Location: Parker, CO.
Family members present: 18 (!) people, including Mom (Donna), Dad (Scott), 3 “other brothers,” a sister, cousins (including a little girl named Harper), aunts, and uncles.

Let’s head about 56 miles northeast of Bailey to Parker, Colorado, where the weather is much sunnier and Becca’s footwear is wholly appropriate. Colton has arranged a visit to the Children’s Hospital of Colorado (as you might recall, he has a foundation that raises money for people with Cystic Fibrosis) — but first, they’ve got to stock up on some goodies for two cute kids named Kaley and Caleb. Says Colton of the Children’s Hospital, “Every time I go in there, I leave a better person.”

Things go from inspirational to awkward when they leave the hospital and Colton tells Becca he’s never brought a girl home in a “formal setting” — ever. He doesn’t just let any old woman meet his family, after all. “I’m not gonna lie,” Becca says (for the 437th time). “I’m a little nervous for this one.” Could Colton — who’s only had one serious relationship — really know what he wants in a life partner? Our Bachelorette is hoping that his family — all 18 of them — can help answer that question. (Next: Tia drops a bomb on Becca’s “journey”).

Colton says he can tell his mother anything, but with his dad it’s more of a “coach-player type of relationship.” That’s sad, but at least Colton’s able to recognize the dynamics he’s dealing with. Interestingly enough, while Colton hasn’t told his dad that he’s a virgin, pops does apparently know that he dated Tia for a hot minute — and the two of them chat about it during their alone time. “I addressed it like a man,” Colton tells his dad. Scott is “proud” of his son, but wants to know more about how Colton knows that Becca is ready to be engaged after the whole Arie debacle. “There’s another hard conversation to have,” he tells Colton — and darned if dad doesn’t decide to have it himself with Becca.

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“I feel like we’ve scratched the surface on that,” says Becca. “But he hasn’t really dived deep and asked those questions of me.” (He did, however, dive deep for that conch). Colton may not have gone there, but dad is more than ready to lay things bare: “Unless you truly care the same about him, I don’t want you to pick him,” he says. “It’s better to have someone hurt now than down the road, if it’s the wrong decision.”

Let’s hear it for sensible parents who refuse to BS for the cameras! When Becca sits down with Donna, she tentatively brings up her “concern” about the fact that Colton has not been “that intimate with women,” and wants to know if mom thinks he’s ready to commit. Donna can’t believe she’s saying this, but the answer is yes. “Before I just talked to him, I’d have been pretty skeptical,” she says. “If he’s falling in love with you, then he’s ready to make the next step.” Becca’s all, Hmmmm… sounds promising, but why hasn’t he said “I love you” yet? Funny you should ask.

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Ooooh, in just under the wire! What a finish! But will it be enough to keep him around for Fantasy Suite dates? Before Becca can make that call, she needs to fly back to L.A. and consult with her TV besties: Bekah, Kendall, Caroline, Tia, and Seinne. As Becca regales them with stories about her hometown dates, Tia seems a little uncomfortable.

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What’s the matter, girl? Did Timmy fall down the well? Just as Becca is filling the women in on her visit with Colton’s family, Tia literally raises her hand and asks the Bachelorette if they could talk somewhere one-on-one. Once outside, she drops this bombshell: “When I think about Colton, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I do feel like I still have feelings for Colton.” In fact, Tia continues, Colton being this far along on Becca’s “journey” makes her “sick in my stomach.” As you can tell, Becca does NOT love it.

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“Well f—, I wish I would have known that,” sighs Becca. “I did think that we had put that behind us.” So did Tia, probably, until producers invited her to Bachelor in Paradise — perhaps with a caveat: Oh, and hey, wouldn’t it be fun if Colton came along too? We all know Becca’s not going to choose a virgin, after all.

Becca asks Tia to give her some time alone so she can think things over and vent some of her anger to the camera. “It makes me frustrated, it makes me angry,” Becca says. While she doesn’t want to lose a friendship “over a guy,” she also doesn’t want to ignore the great day she just had with Colton (who, by the way, now says he loves her). What is a beleaguered Bachelorette to do???

Night falls, and Chris Harrison greets the men one by one for the rose ceremony. Wait, did Blake come straight from his shift at Shakey’s pizza?

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Meanwhile, now that Colton has told Becca he’s a virgin, he seems to want to bring it up with everyone — including Chris Harrison.

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The host manages to keep a straight face while assuring Colton that the only “expectations” he should worry about are the ones he and Becca decide on together. But are all of Colton’s concerns about to be rendered moot? Hand out those roses, girl!

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Sorry Colton, but thanks to Tia’s last-minute interference you will not be visiting the Fantasy Suite with Becca. During their conversation on the Bye-Bye Bench, Becca doesn’t sell out her friend and instead gently tells Colton he’s just not the one. “I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I don’t know what else to say — I feel so bad.” Of course you do, honey, but try not to worry — there’s a good chance Colton will have a new showmance in his future.

Before Becca and her final three head to Thailand, rose lovers, I want to hear your thoughts about tonight’s episode. Do you think Colton would have made it to the final three if Tia hadn’t confessed to Becca? Either way, did Becca make a mistake, or was she just not that into Colton? And would you want to marry a man who can’t cook, clean, or fix his own brakes? Post your thoughts below!

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

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