The families descend on La Quinta to meet Tayshia, and we say a very sad goodbye to one of the final four guys.
Tayshia Adams The Bachelorette
Credit: ABC

Remember that scene in Muppets Take Manhattan, when Bill the ad frog pitches Kermit this slogan: "Ocean Breeze soap — it's just like taking an ocean cruise except there's no boat and you don't actually go anywhere"? That's a perfect way to describe the hometown dates this week on The Bachelorette! While the final four guys — Ben, Brendan, Zac, and Ivan — introduced their families to Tayshia, there were no actual hometown visits because they didn't actually go anywhere.

Turns out, all the relatives came to La Quinta and did all the requisite quarantining and testing in order to judge Tayshia safely. Let's recap!

Date No. 1: Brendan
Relatives on site: Brendan's older brother Daniel, his sister-in-law Christy, and his niece Aliyah

First of all, did we know that Brendan's dad passed away? I don't recall hearing anything about that up until now, but Brendan says Daniel has been "the closest thing I had to a father" after their father died. "It's just such an honor that he's here."

Each of the guys are told to plan a date that gives Tayshia the "vibe" of his hometown, so Brendan puts together a little small-town street fair situation, complete with carnival games, a bounce house, and the toy horses he and Tayshia rode in a previous episode. But wait, there's more! Brendan has invited a special guest:

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Now that is a cute kid. "I actually hugged [Tayshia] before my uncle," giggles Aliyah. They play ring toss together before moving on to a very janky-looking basketball toss game.

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Did producers make the Bachelor interns build that thing from scratch? But everybody seems to have a good time anyway. "I know that Brendan wants to be a dad so badly, and seeing him with Aliyah really just let me see a different part of him," says Tayshia.

That night, Brendan and Tayshia meet up with Daniel, Christy, and Aliyah at a large suite or a bungalow or something like that. Talk quickly turns to the lie detector test, and the Bachelorette tells the group that Brendan got "inconclusive" results on questions about meeting each other's family. "I started, like, kind of freaking out," she admits. "Because I was like, 'Well, is Brendan actually ready?'"

If anyone can find out the answer to that question, it's Daniel. "I don't want to do this a second time, and it fail a second time," Brendan confesses to his brother. Still, he's longing to start a family of his own, and he tears up talking to Daniel about what an "amazing father" that he is. "That's all I really want in this life," says Brendan. When Daniel sits down with Tayshia, he tries to put some of her fears to rest: "I really believe now that he is [ready for marriage]." She definitely LOVES to hear it. "That made me feel so good," she says. "I definitely see myself falling in love with him."

Date No. 2: Zac
Relatives on site: Zac's mom Beatrice, his dad Douglas, and his brother Matthew

Though Zac's hometown is listed as Haddonfield, New Jersey, he's planned a date full of New York-themed activities because he lives in the City, and apparently Tayshia has expressed interest in moving there.

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Man, the interns were really busy with arts and crafts projects this week! Next stop is a fake bagel shop. I don't know what kind of places Zac frequents, but I lived in NYC for 23 years and I never once saw a bagel place that offers gummy candies as a topping. Blech. Even grosser, though, is when they both lie down in the La Quinta fountain and make out. Gah — who knows what's growing on those tiles?

When it comes time to meet the family, Zac's brother Matt pulls Tayshia aside and gets right to the point: "Where are you at with Zac in comparison to where you're at with the other three?" She gives the expected answer — "I'm definitely falling in love with Zac" and "I could really see myself marrying Zac" — but Matthew politely points out that this does not answer the specific question that he asked. Of course it doesn't! Tayshia can't be spilling all the tea when there are still two episodes left in the season!

Papa Clark is just a small-town guy who's not used to all this reality TV hoopla, but he can tell that his son Zachary is "smitten" with Tayshia, and he thinks she's a "pretty wonderful person." Mama Clark also just wants her son to be happy, and she is thrilled to hear from Zac that after meeting Tayshia, he does want to get married and have a family — despite what he's said in the past. "I just hope that you know the impact that you've had on my life," Zac tells his mom. "Because I would not be sitting here, I would not be alive if it wasn't for your strength."

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I HATE IT WHEN THIS SHOW MAKES ME EMOTIONAL. All and all, the "hometown visit" goes very well. "I love Zac's family!" gushes Tayshia. "Zac's incredible. It feels right. It feels good."

Date No. 3: Ivan
Relatives on site: Ivan's mom, and his dad Clarence

Thank God the first part of Ivan and Tayshia's date is indoors where there's air conditioning, because just look at how much the poor guy is sweating after walking outside for a few minutes.

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Ivan introduces the day's activity with a video of his niece, "Chef Kehlani," who is preparing a Filipino dish called lumpia. "She was born when my brother was in prison, and I've really stepped up to take care of her," Ivan says. He and Tayshia have a delightful time chopping and stirring and frying the lumpia, though apparently the final product was less than tasty.

Before he brings Tayshia to meet his parents, he explains that his dad has pulmonary fibrosis, which would put him in grave danger if he were to catch COVID. (Yikes… now I'm really stressed out that Ivan's dad traveled during a pandemic to appear on The Bachelorette for his son. Please be careful, Ivan's dad!) "I was really hoping that my niece, Kehlani, and my brother could make it," sighs Ivan. "My brother, like, he's the most influential person in my life."

Tayshia is only the second woman Ivan's ever brought to meet his parents, and so she feels "really special" going into the night. Of course, she's also nervous… which is understandable. Earlier, Chris Harrison told Ivan that his mom was "fired up," and indeed she is the first to pull Tayshia for a one-on-one, what-the-hell-is-going-on-here chat.

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"It's just so fast," frets mom. "Everything is happening so fast." Tayshia tries to assure her that you can find "love" through this TV "journey," but mom does not seem convinced. Ivan's dad reveals that he, too, has been married before. "I got married at the age of 24," he says. "In retrospect, we were both too young. I took my time before I got married again… That would be something I would encourage you to look at, and have that kind of conviction before you think about marriage." Good advice, Clarence! After talking with her a while longer, Ivan's dad declares that he's "really impressed with the young lady." And I declare that I really love Clarence and his old-school, gentlemanly ways very much.

Ivan's mom is no doubt pleased to hear her son say that he's not ready to get engaged after knowing Tayshia for barely two months — but he does see "a path forward" for them as a couple. "If she keeps you around," mom cautions. (Did we ever learn her name?) "Regardless of the way I feel, I trust in you. That's the bottom line… If you're happy, that makes me happy." Awww, aren't moms the best? Just when you thought things couldn't get any more emotional, a door opens and…

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Surprise! Ivan's brother Gabriel is here after all! After a stunned silence, Ivan bursts into tears and he and Gabriel share a huge hug. ONCE AGAIN, SHOW, STOP MAKING ME TEARY! "He's demonstrated his love for me as a brother. He's helped guide me," says Gabriel. "And I'm just grateful that I was able to show up and support him in this righteous endeavor." This may be the first time the word "righteous" has been used to describe this show, but somehow, coming out of Gabriel's mouth, it sounds right.

It's so sweet watching these two together. "You're glowing, brother," says Gabriel. When he sits down with Tayshia, Gabriel gets choked up talking about how much his brother has done for him. "Loyalty, that's an action word," he says. "He's demonstrated that to me my whole life… I couldn't see my life without him." As for Tayshia and Ivan together? Gabe approves: "You guys together… I like it." With that, another solid hometown date is in the books! Now, last but not least…

Date No. 4: Ben
Relatives on site: Ben's sister, Madeline, and a family friend named Antonia

Ben is from Indiana, but he feels most at home in Venice Beach, so…

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Man, I used to love to rollerblade. Heading into this date, Tayshia says she's "starting to fall in love" with Ben, but "he has not shared where his heart is." Clearly, she's hoping he'll Open Up™ more on this date. That said, it probably isn't a good sign that earlier in the episode, Ben told Chris Harrison that he doesn't know how to cry. "I, like, don't know how to do that emotion," he explained. "I don't know where it's supposed to come from." Perhaps I'm being overly critical, but that does not sound like a man who is emotionally prepared for a serious relationship, let alone marriage.

Anyhow, Ben and Tayshia wheel themselves up to a makeshift juice bar for a "wellness shot," and then they stop by a sketch artist booth, where this drawing of some random white couple is waiting for them.

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There is no way that's supposed to be Tayshia, right? It looks more like Clare, for Pete's sake! That's just uncalled for, Team Bachelorette.

Before we get into the family sit-down, can we just take a moment to address Ben's neckline?

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What is it with this guy's need to show off his clavicles? And why do I find said clavicles so disturbing? All theories welcome!

Back to the hometown. Ben says his parents weren't able to come, because his dad's a doctor and, you know, there's a pandemic raging outside. But he's thrilled to see his sister and Antonia, who seem to be his direct support system in life. Madeline assures Tayshia that even though Ben is "guarded," he's not "hiding anything" from her. "Even though you think he's like this jock, he really is very sensitive," she says.

But is he in love with Tayshia? "I have the strongest feelings I've ever had for a person for her," Ben says. "But love is like a scary word." Antonia's all, Suck it up, dude! You love her! And you know what? Antonia's right. "I'm in love with her," marvels Ben, after a pensive pause. "That's wild."

Also wild: We don't even get to see Ben sit down with his sister, a.k.a. his "favorite person in the world." Before we know it, Ben and Tayshia have said their goodbyes to Madeline and Antonia and are about to bid each other farewell for the night. Will Ben have the courage to drop the L-bomb before the date is over? Let's listen in: "I, uh, I feel, uh, so good about, like, the way that this is… It's so easy, um, yeah. I don't know."

Oh man, the poor guy is just choking. In a post-date confessional, Ben details his inner meltdown: "I'm incredibly uncomfortable, I'm super nervous, my heart rate's never been higher. I just, my brain couldn't work. In true Ben fashion, I just blew it." Stop beating yourself up, Ben! You just need more time, more therapy, and a less pressurized environment — and there's no shame in that.

We all know where this is going, rose lovers. Let's just get it over with. Rose ceremony roll call: Ivan, Zac, and Brendan are your final three. Just as Ben feared, his inability to express his feelings cost him a rose… but again, it's probably for the best! The guy still has a lot of healing to do.

Tayshia takes Ben out to the Bye Bye Bench, and to be honest, it really seems like she's hoping he will give her a reason to change his mind. But poor Ben is so ill-equipped to discuss his hurt feelings openly that he essentially shuts down. "I'm not sure what to say," he murmurs. "I would have liked it to go a different way, but it is what it is. I'll be all right. I'm always all right."

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Ooof, it's really sad to watch — but it also proves that Tayshia probably made the right choice. "The fact that he couldn't show me like one ounce of emotion was extremely disappointing," she says. "He wasn't angry, he wasn't mad, he wasn't sad. It kinda felt empty." Meanwhile, poor Ben is in the Reject Limo professing his love for Tayshia. "I should have told her when I had the chance," he laments. "Maybe she loved me, and she thought I didn't love her back." Ouch! This is too much. Let's wrap this up.

Next week is another two-night Bachelorette extravaganza, with Fantasy Suites on Monday and the finale (and presumably some form of After the Final Rose) on Tuesday. Based on the preview, Ivan's in love, Zac's giddy, Brendan's feeling and "anxious," and Tayshia's in tears yet again. Sounds about right.

Only two episodes left, rose lovers! Who will "win"? Place your bets below! (And please, be kind and keep things spoiler free.) See you in a week!

The Bachelorette airs Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC

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The Bachelorette

One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?

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