Welcome to home town week, when things typically get serious on “The Bachelor.” We’re headed to Virginia Beach, Minneapolis, Santa Clarita, Calif., and Weiner, Ark. — which the show accidentally abbreviates as Alaska, whoops!
Anyway, it’s time to hear the same solemn speech about “falling for you” repeated in four different places, and to talk to some intimidating dads. Onward!
The best moment: “This should be her dad sitting here.”
Arie arrives in chilly Minnesota and Becca, sweet Becca, apologizes for the weather, as if she can control it — an apology that Arie eagerly accepts, as if it’s her fault.
In an episode of contrived setups — Kendall’s mouse diorama, Tia’s blatant suck-up race car date — Becca’s date was refreshingly normal. They went apple picking, and it was pretty cute, even though we winced at Arie throwing them into her basket from the top of the tree — way to bruise all of those perfect apples, guys.
And then we met her family, and they reacted to the extremely weird scenario of meeting their potential son-in-law for the first time on national television the way that you’d expect a normal family to: with a healthy dose of skepticism. Not the kind of cold, protective skepticism that Lauren’s family displayed, which was the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from fathers on this show: Saying that Arie “needs to be willing to protect my daughter with his life,” and if he hurts her, he’ll “[expletive] kill him.” It makes Arie so nervous he has to step out of the room — an echo of what happened last time he was on a date with Lauren — to mop his brow.
No, in the case of Becca’s family, it all comes from a deep sense of loss: Her father passed away, and her uncle had to step up as a father figure for her. There’s a palpable sense that they cannot believe that this almost-stranger is there to ask for Becca’s hand in marriage — but also, that, even years after this loss, on a day they knew was sure to come, they cannot believe that her dad isn’t here to have the conversation he’s meant to have.
“This should be her dad sitting here, not me,” Becca’s Uncle Gary says to Arie in their one-on-one conversation, and it’s one of the truly sad and authentic moments on a show that’s full of artifice. And when Arie asks for Becca’s mom’s blessing, she affirms that her daughter can make her own decision. “I would honor whatever her choice is because I trust her and I love her,” she said.
Another subtle moment from the show that felt all too real was Arie’s quick allusion to his spirituality. It’s something that has come up on the show before — Arie isn’t very religious, but some of the girls are — so when Uncle Gary, a pastor, asks Arie what he’d do when Becca wants to go to church, he replies that he would go with her. “Spiritually, I’m not as far along as she is, but I’m open to it,” he says.
It’s refreshing to hear someone grapple with his faith on a show where most of the previous candidates’ Christianity has been a given.
The worst moment: No winner from Weiner
At this point in the game, it’s kind of impossible not to have an elimination warrant the title of “Worst Moment” … even if it was Tia.
Sure, she was partially responsible for the elimination of everyone’s favorite manic pixie dream girl Bekah M., and sure, everyone rolled their eyes the second we heard that her home town date with former race-car driver Arie would be, well, race-car driving. But, at the end of the day, the women who are still on the show truly do appear to be “falling for” Arie, and it’s never easy to watch someone’s heart break.
To be fair to Tia, this was an elimination that, much like herself, no one saw coming. First of all, she’s from a town called Weiner, and during her home town date, her family toasted with cocktail wieners. If that doesn’t immediately scream cutesy small-town charm, you may be due for another viewing of “Sweet Home Alabama.” Her hometown visit has everything America looks for when romanticizing the states below the Mason-Dixon Line, and all of the stereotypes Southerners wish we’d stop projecting on them. Not the least of which is her — surprise, surprise — extremely overprotective brother. She’s got a doctorate in physical therapy, dude. We think she’s got this one under control.
The worst part of the worst moment, though, is how immediately Tia’s thoughts move from self-assured to self-deprecating immediately following her elimination. “Tell me somethin’!” she pleads to Arie outside after he gives Kendall the final rose of the night. “I don’t want to feel like I’m not good enough.” Arie’s response is a bright spot in a dark moment: “I don’t have a good explanation” he says. “There’s just something missing. It’s not about your worth. It’s about the emotion between two people.”
Honestly, though, we’re not too worried about Tia. For some inexplicable reason, Arie is going to end up with Lauren B. when it’s all said and done, and this elimination just set her up to be the next Bachelorette. And any man who is going to make three women stand in heels for an extended period of time because he can’t make up his mind is not the kind of man you want to end up with.
The weirdest moment: Stuffed lions and tigers and bears — oh my!
Welcome to Kendall’s little shop of horrors! On your left, a mangy stuffed fox with crazy eyes. On your right, a monkey that definitely comes alive at night. Straight ahead: Probably the weirdest date any Bachelor has ever been on.
“I love taxidermy,” Kendall says. “Because for me, it’s just a way to appreciate animals.” By taking out their organs, stuffing their bodies, and dressing them up in tiny outfits.
In defense of Kendall: 1. Hipster Taxidermy is a thing. And it looks like it actually takes a lot of skill. 2. She has way more personality than any other girl on this show. 3. Part of dating someone is letting them see every side of you! If Arie isn’t going to be into Kendall’s warehouse of creatures, he’s not going to be into Kendall. And that’s valuable information for her to have.
At first, Arie looks like he’s going to barf when Kendall presents him with their activity for the day: They’re going to stuff two dead rats, dress them up in tiny wedding outfits, and put them in a diorama of the Eiffel Tower, meant to represent Arie and Kendall’s time in Paris. But he gamely plays along, and eventually, it seems like he’s come to understand and appreciate this weird art form. Maybe not enough to have it in his house, but who knows?
The rest of Kendall’s home town date is weird for other reasons. In her Santa Clarita home, which is outfitted with Buddha sculptures and prayer beads, we meet her twin sister Kylie — launching a thousand Kardashian jokes on Twitter.
Kylie is not buying Kendall and Arie’s connection, and neither are her parents. And despite Kendall’s “I’m falling for you” stump speech that every “Bachelor” contestant seems contractually obligated to give and receive in this episode, she admits that she’s not sure she’s ready to get engaged, either. Arie seems to know it — he derails the entire rose ceremony to talk to Kendall about where she sees this going. And she’s honest that she’s not sure, but that she thinks she could get to that place. That often spells certain doom on “The Bachelor,” but not in this case. After Tia’s surprise elimination, Kendall will be headed to Peru with Lauren and Becca, where perhaps she can pick up an alpaca to add to her little collection.