If there’s anything we’ve learned over the last few weeks about The Bachelorette, it’s that the smallest details mean a lot when it comes to 2017 lead Rachel Lindsay. Yes, the latest Bachelorette had an emotional, raw hometown date with fan-favourite Dean Unglert, but Rachel still sent the beloved 26-year-old packing over his relatively young age and unresolved emotional scars. That’s why, as we approach the season 13 finale, every single moment between the reality star and her three remaining men counts so much. Amid all the Texas-set smooches and declarations of love in "Week 8," one small choice may have revealed which guy Rachel is leaning towards. That scene comes courtesy of the lawyer’s date with longtime front-runner Bryan Abasolo.
Bryan’s pre-meet-the-family hang out session proves Rachel sees her chiropractor suitor joining her life in a way she may not be envisioning with her other two boyfriends. Why? Because Rachel actually lets Bryan meet two of her closest friends, Marissa and Lauren. Hell, Bryan got a brunch invite. We all know that’s serious, day in, day out, boyfriend behaviour. If a man gets this far in the competition, it’s a given he’ll have to meet the leading lady’s family, if only to ask for her hand in marriage. Yet, meeting a woman’s actual friend group isn’t a promised milestone, since it doesn’t directly play into the Bachelor fairytale we’ve come to expect. This kind of date has no vibes of a princess bringing her prospective prince home after a long, Disney-produced "journey." Instead, allowing Bryan to meet Rachel’s legitimate group of girlfriends — as opposed to the Chris Harrison-approved bunch — gives the attorney a very real glimpse of what run-of-the-mill Sunday afternoons could look like for the rest of her life with Bryan. The Miami native even notices how big of a deal the situation is, asking Rachel, "Did anybody else meet your girlfriends?" When the Bachelorette says no, her suitor simply responds, "Oh wow."
Bryan’s actual time with Rachel’s friends continues to prove this a genuine grilling session, and not a polite sideshow put on for the cameras. In fact, the conversation has all of the boozy suspicion of a real life brunch introduction between female best friends and new boyfriends. After the foursome clink their Champagne flutes, Marissa and Lauren very honestly admit, "Oh we were just going over the really embarrassing questions we want to ask you." As the pair prepares to interrogate Bryan, viewers can see champagne bottles being passed around the table. Tell me that’s not deeply relatable. Marissa and Lauren cleverly attempt to trick Bryan into telling them his age, because that’s what dubious friends do. He obliges, putting on his classic charm offensive and confirming he’s 37 years old. When Marissa and Lauren ask if Bryan has said, "I love you," to their pal yet, he continues his attempt to win them over, saying, "I’m in love with her. Even more so [now]."
Even Rachel jokes about Bryan in the way a regular Jane in a new relationship would joke about her first impression of her man. "Let’s just be real," the Bachelorette says with a smile. "I thought he was a douchebag." Everyone laughs while downing their mimosas, including the freshly insulted Bryan. Please try to imagine Rachel saying this about fellow remaining suitors Eric Bigger or (my personal favourite) Peter Kraus without them spiralling into a tornado of insecurity or calling off any hopes of an engagement for good, respectively.
Speaking of Eric and Peter, neither guy was allowed to so fully immerse himself in Rachel’s life during "Week 8." While Bryan got to knock back Champagne cocktails with women who would end up serving as the Bachelorette’s bridesmaids, Eric was relegated to a meal in a tower overlooking the city of Dallas ahead of his visit with the Lindsay clan. The Reunion Tower date may have looked romantic, but the personal trainer was literally forced to be as far away as possible from anyone Rachel loves. That’s not a great sign this far into the competition. On the other hand, Peter didn’t get any mimosas or BFF quality time, but at least he was able to go shopping for baby clothes as a gift for Rachel’s pregnant sister, Constance Lindsay. The pre-family date was clearly imagined as way to help Peter endear himself to his love interest’s family (and viewers) right off the bat, and it worked.
Yet, things are still amiss with Peter, despite his winning choices in matching toddler-infant apparel. The baby clothes date yet again positions him as the kind of guy who fans would love to see become a dad as soon as possible — you know, the kind of guy who could be the Bachelor. Peter has an adorable niece! Peter can pick clothing for an unborn child! Sweet-faced little girls in Spain are even drawn into Peter’s vortex of charm, as is proven later in the episode when a child and her family wander over to the couple in the middle of a tense conversation. The interruption is obviously orchestrated by the producers, helping draw out their relationship woes and making Peter look like total lovable leading man material, yet again. On top of all that, of Rachel is "devastated" by the end of the episode because Peter will not budge on his refusal to be open to an immediate engagement. After this kind of drama, it’s no surprise he’s not allowed to sip on Champagne with the women closest to Rachel’s heart, even though the former male model is actually right to question the need to propose after knowing someone for about two months.
Fans and the Lindsay family alike might not be sold on consummate charmer Bryan, but we all might have to start getting comfortable with the idea of him winning the final rose.