The end is just around the corner. We’re just four dysfunctional family reunions away from a proposal and a slew of new teeth whitening endorsements. Now that I finally know all the contestants’ names, it’s time to see where they came from, and who damaged them enough that they think finding love on TV would be a good idea.
Just last week, Eric opened up to Rachel, explaining how his upbringing in Baltimore was a far cry from her own idyllic Dallas roots. Then he brings her to the Inner Harbor, the safest, most touristy part of Baltimore to let her know that he’s never brought a girl home, but no pressure. The two play a quick game of HORSE, and Eric’s best friend Ralph runs the first draft of his best man’s speech for the happy couple (should they end up together) before landing themselves of the most engaging episode of the People’s Couch.
The highlight of the hometown date is Eric’s Aunt Verna, a motivational speaker who exudes sunshine, and should probably have her own day time talkshow, before Eric engages in some brief family counseling with his mother and father, with whom he shares a storied relationship. The date ends with a toast by Eric, who can totally rock a Canadian tuxedo.
Welcome to Miami, a city not unlike Bryan, Rachel explains. It’s hot, steamy and sometimes it speaks to you in Spanish. Apparently it also wears ombre golf shirts and goes on reality shows like The Player. Bryan greets Rachel, purring, “Bienvenidos, a Miami.” And somewhere Will Smith died a little.
If there’s one date I’ve been anticipating, it’s this. Last week, Bryan confessed that his mom was source of his last breakup. Bryan and his mother are the inspiration for every Lifetime Movie I have ever wanted to see. He, her only son, is the love of her life, and she fears the day that a woman comes between them. It’s all very Norma Bates meets Caroline Manzo. (Especially when she threatens to kill Rachel if she hurts her son.)
There is also a mystery woman on this date. It is never clear; is she Bryan’s sister? A cousin? Whoever she is, she’s acutely aware of her angles, keeping her chin always pointing up, avoiding both a double chin and any possible eye contact with Rachel.
The third date takes Rachel to Madison, Wisconsin to meet my future in-laws, the Krauses. Peter mentions that he hits the Madison farmer’s market every Saturday during the fall, so I guess I know where I’ll be every weekend in September. Rachel has some hard decisions to make, when Peter’s mom concedes that Peter might be ready for a commitment, but not ready to propose to a woman he’s known for six weeks (and still has three other boyfriends.) Things aren’t looking good for Peter, which means things are looking very good for me, and I don’t hate it.
Dean has been estranged from his eccentric (his words) father for two years. How better to reconnect with him than bringing home the girl he plans on marrying and airing that encounter for all of America? Look, I’m no psychiatrist, but I’ve been in therapy long enough to know that Rachel is ill-equipped to handle what’s about to go down.
We are all ill-equipped for what’s about to go down.
Dean’s father pulls his son aside for a chat, and the tension between the two is palpable. When his father gives himself a metaphorical pat on the back for raising a great man, Dean calls him on the carpet, looking for some kind of explanation or closure that he’s never going to get.
The date ends with Rachel approaching Dean’s unreceptive father. “I’m kind of done,” he tells her, and he’s not wrong. This was a reconciliation better suited for a therapist’s office than a primetime TV show.
A quick recap with Chris Harrison helps Rachel to cement her decision (and would have saved all of us about two hours of our lives) before Rachel hands out the three remaining roses to Bryan, Peter and Eric. Despite promising Dean, last week, that his family wouldn’t influence her decision, and confessing that she was falling in love with him, Rachel can’t give Dean the rose. She questions Dean’s readiness for the next step – which feels, at a minimum, a nod to Rachel’s six year seniority, but in reality, a gentle redirection from the obvious: Dean should have just brought her home to meet his friends.
Take note, future contestants.