To quote the poet Peter Weber, “Hometowns, baby. Let’s go!” Yep, it’s hometowns week on The Bachelor, where apprehensive dads and overly excited siblings come together under one roof and explain the “special plate.” Also, given that this season is a little unique, one woman does not even enter her family’s home. For her drama cannot be contained by four walls and she needs ample space to walk away from Peter whenever the chance arises.
The first hometown date goes to Hannah Ann Sluss, who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. She and Peter kick things off with some ax throwing because her dad is in the lumber industry and is impressed by a “tough man.” It is during this part of the date that Peter reveals he wrote Hannah Ann a letter in the style of hers from last week that lists the things that he loves about her. Some of the reasons are very simple — she’s honest, they share the same definition of love — but some show how close they have become. Apparently, they call each other “the clumsy two.” This season took a very long time for it to feel like Peter had actually gotten to know any of these women, but we’re finally getting a hint of that.
Afterward, they head to Hannah Ann’s parents’ house, and the main takeaway here is that she’s got one of the show’s classic doubtful fathers. Peter tells her dad that he’s falling in love with Hannah Ann and wants to tell her tonight, and he responds, “I’d rather you not say that to her unless you truly mean it.” Can’t argue with that.
But, Peter does truly mean it, because he tells Hannah Ann that even though her dad gave him “a warning,” he’s falling in love with her. One, Peter really can’t help but report back what other people said. Two, Hannah Ann says she’s in love with Peter.
She’s not the only one, because next up is Kelsey Weier. She takes Peter to make wine in her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, which mostly means closeups of feet on grapes and Peter trying to make analogies between their relationship and wine. (“It’s that perfect blend that just makes you want to keep coming back.”) Kelsey has something serious to say, though, and she’s not even waiting until her family meets Peter: She’s in love. “That makes me really happy,” Peter responds. See, that’s the thing about the lead choosing to say he’s “falling in love.” Maybe it’s not as big a commitment as saying he’s “in love,” but it’s clear to viewers now that he’s more into Hannah Ann than Kelsey.
Peter meets Kelsey’s mom, stepfather, sister, and a bunch of other people the show doesn’t take the time to introduce. It’s revealed that Kelsey and Peter have bonded over her love of crab rangoon. This is the stuff they should show us earlier on. A normal convo about food — or whatever — here and there would allow us to connect with these people more. Anyway, the theme of this date is Kelsey’s mom being very worried about her daughter’s heart being broken. Which it will be, because she’s in love with Peter and he is only willing to say “my heart has definitely fallen.” Or maybe “my heart is definitely falling” — it’s hard to tell. Either way, that sounds like a couple steps behind being “in love” on The Bachelor love scale.
Madison Prewett of Auburn, Alabama is third. She and Peter meet up at Auburn University because Madison is obsessed with Auburn University (and her dad works there as a basketball coach). They enter the stadium and get a personalized video message from Auburn alum Charles Barkley, which Peter doesn’t seem that excited about. (It’s a personalized message, Peter!) They also meet Bruce Pearl, the men’s basketball team’s head coach, and do a series of dribbling drills. Madison, a four-time high school basketball champion, kills it; Peter is all over the place.
Later, Madison’s mom pulls her aside to ask if she’s told Peter that she plans to remain a virgin until marriage. This is a very different take on a contestant being a virgin than we’ve gotten in the past — in a good way. It hasn’t been made a huge deal for the entire season. Meanwhile, Peter talks to Madison’s dad, who straight up asks if Peter can say that Madison is the one. Peter responds, “I can tell you this: If this was the last week.” Her dad interrupts, “Well, obviously it’s not the last week." Peter says he can’t give an answer.
But, it turns out, Peter is in love with Madison, which he says in his confessional. All Peter tells Madison is that he’s “falling head over heels in love.” Madison says in her confessional that she thought she might tell him that she’s in love tonight, but “I’m still trying to figure out if our spirits and our souls are compatible.”
Victoria Fuller’s date in Virginia Beach, Virginia is last, and I wish we could just fast forward to the end of the episode. These two do not seem to actually like each other. They haven’t for weeks. She should be gone. For many reasons. But they go to the beach with her dog, and then she surprises him with a Hunter Hayes concert. I assume this is to make up for the Chase Rice situation, but Victoria cannot have come up with this herself, right? Only if she knows Hunter Hayes personally, and I don’t think she would bring around any country singers she knows personally again. Peter is shown singing the lyrics, “I don’t want easy. I want crazy,” which I will present without comment.
It is after this that things take a dramatic, legitimately shocking turn. Peter notices a woman he “dated years ago” was at Hunter Hayes’ show and goes up to say hi. This woman is named Merissa, is from Virginia Beach, was previously employed at Guess, and has requested her face be blurred. Their convo is normal at first, but then she says, “Just be careful.” And “I don’t think you deserve what you’re on a date with right now.” And “There’s been many relationships broken up because of her.” This Merissa who worked at Guess is not messing around.
Obviously, this news has Peter shook. So, before entering Victoria’s family’s home, he asks Victoria about what Merissa said. Victoria immediately turns defensive and jumps to the conclusion that he’s taking “stupid girl’s side” and that their relationship can’t move forward. Peter explains that he couldn’t not bring what Merissa said up, but Victoria continues to take offense that he would do this before meeting her family, as if there was any other option. It seems throughout this conversation like Victoria is looking for a way out — either because she consciously is not into Peter or because she subconsciously pushes away those who care about her, which is how Peter seems to take it. (To be clear, I have no idea if this is something she has a history of doing.) “You deserve to be loved, okay? Don’t push that away,” he says as they part ways. As Peter drives off, Victoria’s family comforts her in the driveway.
Sadly, this isn’t the end of it. Victoria and Peter meet up at his hotel room the next day where they both apologize and agree that the way they communicate isn’t great. YOU THINK? It is so, so obvious that they should break up, but he says he doesn’t want to make a decision yet. She says she didn’t want to leave without him knowing she was falling in love. He still doesn’t meet her family.
Finally, we get to the rose ceremony, which is held at an aircraft hangar in Los Angeles. All I can think is that it's a long ride back to Virginia Beach. The first rose goes to Hannah Ann, the second to Madison, and the third to… Victoria. “Will you accept this rose?” “Yeah,” Victoria says in a way that sounds so sad. She does not seem to want to be on this show or with this man. What is happening?
This means Kelsey is sent back to Iowa where she doesn’t even have her special champagne waiting for her anymore. Her limo exit doesn’t even scream Bachelorette audition. Oh Kelsey, we’ve come such a long way. I wish you well.
Next week, Peter, Hannah Ann, Victoria, and Madison head to Australia for fantasy suites, where all three women will stay together when they’re not with Peter. So, yeah, that’s both breaking protocol and incredibly awkward. Also, Madison will tell Peter that she can’t “move forward if you have slept with the other women.” Just a guess, but that probably won’t play out as she hopes.
Winner of the Episode: Merissa, for giving us something unexpected.
What Chris Harrison Tells Peter During The Very Teased Finale: I am very concerned that it has something to do with Victoria leaving and then coming back and I will remain on high alert until everything is revealed.