“I don’t treat meeting families lightly. Family means everything to me,” says Bachelor Colton, who is meeting FOUR families this episode. First up is Caelynn, the 23-year-old beauty queen, who, despite her Miss North Carolina title, brings Colton to Fredericksburg, Va. Then it’s on to Birmingham, Ala., to meet the family of 23-year-old content creator Hannah G. (She’s the only Hannah left, and yet that last initial remains.) Next up is Santa Ana, Calif., where Tayshia, the 28-year-old phlebotomist, is from. And finally it’s 23-year-old speech therapist Cassie’s turn in Huntington Beach, Calif.
There are tough conversations with skeptical dads, confessions of love, and, of course, a tearful goodbye. But the most disappointing thing about this episode is that we still have not yet seen the moment viewers have been waiting for all season: When Colton Jumps the Fence.
Here are the episode’s worst, best and weirdest moments.
The worst moment
“Eros shook my / mind like a mountain wind falling on oak trees,” wrote Sappho some 26 centuries ago. If that image has endured through the millennia, it isn’t just because her words happened to be preserved on papyrus, but also for the way they twist back on themselves: On the one hand, desire rushes over the poet, an uncontrollable force that overwhelms and envelops. On the other hand, she equates herself to a sturdy tree, one whose branches might flutter in the gale, but whose trunk will surely remain planted and stable.
Colton, by contrast, meets young love’s faint breeze like a kite cut free from its string. Over the course of this episode’s seemingly endless two hours, he indicates that he is “falling in love” with not one, not two, not three, but four women.
“After our time in Colorado, and I think the moment you left my apartment, I realized I was falling in love with you, too,” he tells Tayshia.
“I know I can sit here and tell you that I’m falling in love with Cassie,” he tells Cassie’s mother.
There is a great deal more of this. All his lines are one line. He is falling in love. Always falling in love. With everyone.
If Sappho is an oak tree, Colton is a coat rack that has convinced itself it is a real boy. He wears his putative passions like lazily draped scarves and cardigans, a motley collection onto which new items pile each time someone passes through the door. Perhaps one of these garments might suit him, might even magically animate his wooden frame like a bewitched broomstick. But there are so many that they obscure one another, keeping us from knowing what he really feels.
Of the four women he has convinced himself he loves, Cassie perhaps comes the closest to understanding that our hero has no idea what he’s doing. “I want to be a hundred percent confident in anything I’m going to say to you,” she tells him when he tries to prompt her to acknowledge that she, too, is falling for him. Then she mumbles something that sounds like nothing at all.
“I wanted her to say, ‘I’m falling in love with you’ so bad,” Colton complains to the camera later. “Now I’m more confused than ever.”
In the episode’s twist ending, he keeps Cassie around. This should not come as a surprise. He repeatedly informs us — and the women, too — that he is motivated by his growing, budding, blooming love, but his truest feeling can only be his desire for affection and approval. With Cassie, he seems to lay his truth bare: He tells women he loves them because he needs them to tell him back — the more of them, apparently, the better.
The best moment
“You don’t microwave a relationship.”
Thank you, Desmond Sr., Tayshia’s father, for that chicken nugget of Bachelor wisdom. You are correct. However, this is a show where all the meals, ahem bite-size relationships, are quickly unwrapped and zapped. Contestants are expected to meet, date and get engaged in 10 weeks. So the first time the Bachelor meets a woman’s parents is also the night he is to ask for their blessing to marry their daughter. Of course, a parent can refuse to grant that blessing, but usually it is given as freely as requested.
In this episode, however, Tayshia and Cassie’s fathers play the role of the skeptical dad. By the end of their segment, Tayshia’s father does give his blessing, but not without a threat from Tayshia’s brother that, you know, he might work for the FBI someday. So he better be careful. As odd as those brotherly threats always are, the fatherly skepticism is refreshing. Cassie’s father’s on meeting Colton: “He seems like ... a guy.”
Our sentiments exactly. He is a guy, and if that’s all you’re looking for, sweet 23-year-old surfer with the rest of your life ahead of you to make questionable decisions, he is a choice. But is he the best choice? And are you ready for this kind of commitment? Cassie and her father have a frank disagreement on this point, and though she assures him that this is what she wants, she can’t quite vocalize those feelings to Colton.
Cassie’s father responds by denying Colton his blessing. “As far as the hand in marriage, that would be a premature blessing,” Cassie’s father tells Colton. “That’s not exactly what I wanted to hear,” the Bachelor responds.
And though this whole asking for a daughter’s hand is quite old-fashioned, we applaud Tayshia and Cassie’s dads for bringing the real talk. It might not have been what Colton wanted to hear, but the tension and pushback made for a better episode than four facile “yeses.”
The weirdest moment
The goal of the hometown visit is to show the Bachelor what regular life with you would be like. However, only Cassie seems to take Colton on a date that seemed ripped from her routine: She teaches him to “surf.” While Cassie gets points for realism, and for being the only contestant left who gets Colton shirtless this episode, their date does little to push the plot forward. Colton doesn’t learn to surf (apparently football skills don’t translate to the ocean!) and Cassie still can’t express how she is feeling.
Caelynn might take the cake (or cone, rather) for least interesting hometown moment. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good soft serve, but this date feels more like empty calories than anything of substance. Is there anything else to do in Fredericksburg, Va.?
While Caelynn’s date is a little too pedestrian, Tayshia’s is a jump too far. She takes the opportunity to get Colton back for making her bungee jump in Singapore. “This is not a Bird Box challenge,” she says calmly, while driving him, blindfolded, to go skydiving. This is clearly not part of her normal Saturday routine: She and Colton are both afraid of heights, and they look terrified jumping out of that plane. It all makes meeting the parents seem much easier.
If Tayshia’s date is far too exciting, Hannah G.’s suffers from a lack of hometown charm. She takes him to an etiquette class, which is far and away the weirdest way to attempt to introduce someone to the South. “Look at that confident gait!” their teacher says of Colton awkwardly balancing a book on top of his head. Although Colton has the loyal spirit of a golden retriever, he is in fact a human man who gets reprimanded for taking a roll before feeding his date first. The only authentic bit of southern education comes when Colton makes this faux pas and the instructor lets out a delicate, “Bless your heart.” Colton looks pleased with himself, having failed to realize that he has just been called an idiot straight to his face.
Perhaps it’s a phrase Caelynn, who was set free this week, can borrow for the reunion.