There’s no place like home. For JoJo on this week’s Bachelorette, there’s no place like the hometown dates that take her and the men out of the artificial worlds created by the producers and ease them back into reality. Sort of. It's like when you first bring a goldfish home from the store. You have to float it in the bowl, still in its plastic bag, and let it get acclimated.
Chase’s home in Highlands Ranch, Colorado is first up. If the choice was based on the scenery alone, the snow covered mountains of Colorado would certainly have the early lead. JoJo and Chase take a seat on a rocky overlook to talk about feelings and drink hot cocoa. How nice. She’s glad he’s finally starting to open up. He comes from a broken home and doesn’t want to make the mistakes his parents made when he was a kid. Chase tells JoJo that he wants her to meet both of his parents, but they are going to have to do it separately. He doesn’t want any of the lingering bad feelings with his parents to distract from the matter at hand. They head to Chase’s house to wait for his dad. Other than the death trap stairs in the entry hall that are definitely not up to code, his place is sturdy and dependable but not too flashy, just like himself. Chase, JoJo, and Chase’s dad spend some time together getting to know each other. His dad assures JoJo that Chase is a good man. He apologizes to his son for what happened with the divorce. “I carry a lot of guilt about that. I don’t want that to happen for you,” Chase’s dad says. All of this background intelligence clears things up for JoJo. She understands why Chase puts up walls and hasn’t been one of the guys to rush to make a grand emotional declaration. They meet up with Chase’s mom, his sister, her husband and nephew. The family is warm and welcoming to JoJo, which makes watching it all unfold even more difficult. His mom likes JoJo’s laugh. His sister thinks he looks happy. “I don’t want to put anyone through what dad put us through,” Chase says. They’re not the kind of siblings that say "I love you" easily. His mom asks him if he’s ready to propose. “I just want you to be happy with a smart woman who loves you,” his mom says. He says he is, but, does anyone watching really think he’ll ever get that chance? Chase seems like he might have made it this far somehow by accident. When it is time for good-byes, Chase tells JoJo he is falling in love with her. “You don’t ever say things like that,” JoJo says. “That’s how I know you mean it.”
From Colorado with Chase to California with Jordan, JoJo is welcomed by a whole new set of parents and family issues. If last week’s drinking game was "frontrunner" then this week’s should be "Aaron" as in Aaron Rodgers. His absence from the hometown date with Jordan is mentioned so often it starts to get uncomfortable. Jordan takes JoJo to his hometown of Chico, California. Before meeting up with his family, Jordan and JoJo cruise the halls of his high school. He tells her that he never had a high school sweetheart. They talk about going to prom, and they make out in the library. They look at pictures of his high school football glory days. JoJo says she always imagined him as some kind of high school hot shot, but, she says, “After I saw those photos, I don’t know if he was such a hot shot.” It is here, in the coaches’ office that the awkward Aaron weirdness begins. Jojo points out a picture of Aaron on the wall and Jordan doesn’t want to talk about it. She comments that it seems to hurt him to talk about it. She asks him if it is a subject that will come up at home. Jordan tells her it won’t come up. “It doesn’t need to be a topic we talk about,” he says. Jordan says that JoJo is the first girl he’s brought home to meet his family in two years. She knows he was skeptical about the whole reality dating show process, and she imagines that his family will be skeptical, too. She hopes it goes well, even though, as she is quick to point out again, she knows his brother Aaron won’t be there. Jordan’s mom, dad, the other brother Luke, and Luke’s girlfriend are waiting at home for the couple. Jordan’s mom says he has always been her “spicy” child, whatever that means. She tells a charming story about little Jordan threatening to run away but only making it as far as the property line. In her voiceover, JoJo points out that there are two missing chairs at the dinner table and the family, including Jordan, probably wishes that Aaron was in one of them. She repeats: “He doesn’t like talking about it.” No problem, she likes talking about it enough for everyone. When JoJo has alone time with Jordan’s brother Luke, she brings up Aaron again. Luke tries to steer the conversation back to Jordan. JoJo tells Luke that she’s crazy about Jordan. Jordan’s dad tells her that they just want their son to be happy, even in this unique environment. She comments that Jordan has done everything on his own. “He’s nobody’s brother,” she says, obviously referring again to Aaron. Jordan’s mom tells him that he looks happy. “This could be your destiny,” his mom says. “This could be your plan.” He agrees, but JoJo still has some reservations. She is concerned that at the end of this he might not want their relationship to be forever. The breakup with Ben still stings. Jordan brings up Aaron one last time, wishing he could have introduced JoJo to both of his brothers. He ends the date with a bold statement to camera. “I’m going to marry one person in my entire life, and I want that to be JoJo, but what else can you say other than to let me prove it,” he says.
St. Augustine, Florida, and Robby are next on the Sold Out JoJo Hometown Tour. Robby is pumped for their date. He refers to JoJo as his girlfriend, a first amongst the men. “Best case scenario today is that JoJo tells me that she loves me.” The consistent theme with Robby has been the specter of his ex-girlfriend, the one he broke up with only four months before meeting JoJo. JoJo asks about it again. She wants to make sure that that relationship is in the past, and he has completely moved on. He assures her again that it is all in the past. He is excited for his family to fall in love with her the way he has fallen in love. “It will be intense but awesome,” he says. He promises that his prior relationship is never going to be an issue. Hold that thought, Robby. After a quick tropical drink in paradise, Robby and JoJo head to his family home, where his big family is waiting. It is his mom, dad, two sisters, two brothers, and a brother-in-law. Robby’s family is boisterous and loud. They welcome JoJo with open arms. His mom thinks that JoJo made a great first impression. His brothers think she is “awesome” and “cool” and that she fits in with their family. Jojo poses some of the same questions she has for Robby to his mom. She wonders if he is ready to be engaged. JoJo is worried that, maybe, after a year, he realizes he never took enough time for himself between relationships. Robby’s mom has wise words. “In everything you do in life, there’s always a chance you could get hurt,” she tells JoJo. She also tells JoJo that Robby does everything with a whole heart. Robby’s mom pulls him aside to give him the scoop on what’s been happening since he has been on his Bachelorette journey. His ex’s roommate has been telling people that he broke up with his ex to go on the show. Robby is upset. He knows this is the hot button issue for JoJo, and he doesn’t want her to doubt him. He immediately goes to JoJo to explain the situation. Robby’s explanation of the situation is a little off. “My relationship ended with Hope [the ex] nine months before it actually ended. I didn’t have the capacity to end it when it should have because I thought changes would be made.” What, exactly, does any of that mean? JoJo leaves Florida telling Robby she is okay with everything, but he is smart enough to know that the dark cloud he senses isn’t just a tropical shower.
Burnet, Texas, the hometown of Luke, is the final stop. Luke, one of the standouts for the entire season, is ready, if the day goes well, to tell JoJo that she has his heart. For her part, JoJo is waiting for that, too: “Besides this passion and connection that I have with Luke, I feel like there’s this confidence. I’m just waiting for that moment when the emotional depth comes through.” Instead of spending a lot of time alone, Luke immediately takes JoJo out to the family farm. When they turn off the highway onto a dirt road, JoJo notices the number of cars. This isn’t just a small family gathering. Luke has invited all of his family and friends to meet JoJo. It is his mom, dad, sister, and 50 of his closest friends. “There are so many people in this town that are important to my life,” he explains. Luke is hoping that JoJo will get past the nerves and just have a good time at the farm. He says that she makes his heart smile. Both of his parents take to JoJo, even if they are a little cautious. “She seems to love people and love family, and she seems to think a lot of you,” his mom says. Luke asks his dad if there was a moment when his dad knew that his mom was the one. It was when they were apart, and he realized that he couldn’t live without her. Luke’s dad isn’t completely sold on the process, even if JoJo did make a good first impression. He counsels his son not to make a decision under pressure and that he doesn’t have to confirm to a time line. “My mind always goes back to thinking about how thankful we are that you served your country and that you’re back safe and sound, and you did a good job,” Luke’s dad says while getting choked up, sending viewers everywhere reaching for a tissue. After they eat, Luke and JoJo go for a horseback ride to a private spot Luke has prepared. They kiss as the sun is getting low in the sky. This is Luke’s big moment. He leads JoJo up a candlelit path to a heart made out of flowers. “I want you to know that my heart is yours,” he says, melting hearts in living rooms across America. Colorado might have been the most scenic date. Texas is, hands-down, the most romantic. The mood is ruined, once again, by the ominous black car that arrives to whisk JoJo away. The gang gets back together in an airplane hanger in Los Angeles with their old pal Chris Harrison. A private jet waits on the tarmac for the JoJo and the three guys who get a rose. Chase feels like a long shot. Robby is standing on shaky ground. Jordan? Well, he’s a shoo-in for one of those roses like he has been all season, and Luke just blew them all away with is cowboy charm. Which is why it is a shock when JoJo’s says the unthinkable in her voiceover: “I think I know what I need to do. I think I need to say good-bye to Luke.” What? Say it isn’t so, JoJo? Not Luke! Not so fast. Luke goes off script when he sees JoJo. He asks for a moment. He has something to get off his chest. “I needed to tell you that I’m in love with you. I want you to know that.” Yikes! What now? JoJo is thrown into turmoil and tears on the tarmac. This changes everything. “I feel out of control right now. It’s like I can’t even control my emotions,” she says, echoing the feelings of #teamLuke members of everywhere. But wait. We’ve run out of time. No roses have been given. Luke said those three little words.
Leave it to that jerk Chris Harrison to step in with his own three little words: to be continued.