It’s time for hometowns! Can you believe it? Just yesterday we were watching Clare Crawley ditch all her suitors for a Party City model, and now we’ve somehow made it to a traditional end of a Bachelorette season. Tayshia Adams has to choose between four men — Ben Smith, Brendan Morais, Ivan Hall, and Zac Clark — and all of them seem like solid picks. Not a Luke P. in the bunch.
This week’s episode begins with tears. From me and from Brendan. (But not from Ben. He says he doesn’t know how to cry.) Chris Harrison shows up to tell the guys that hometowns will be taking place at the resort due to the pandemic, and announces which of their family members will be there. Every single guy gets emotional hearing that they’ll be reuniting with their family. Then, Brendan starts crying, because his older brother is coming and he was a father figure to him after his dad passed away. At the end of Chris' announcement, Zac says, “Can I get some hugs around here?” and they all hug it out. To use Bachelorette lingo, I am beginning to see myself starting to fall in love. With all of them.
Brendan’s "hometown" is first. Chris told the guys to each plan a date that would take Tayshia’s to their homes without actually going there. So, Brendan chose a little carnival setup. He also has his niece, Aliyah, join them for games, dancing, and a very cute secret handshake. Brendan says in his confessional that he’s excited to become a father. Tayshia says in hers that he’d make a great one.
At the nighttime portion of the date, Tayshia and Brendan meet up with Aliyah, Brendan’s brother Daniel, and his sister-in-law Christie. It goes super well. Brendan and Tayshia both talk about their divorces and how they bonded over them. Brendan cries again when telling his brother how much he means to him. Daniel tells Tayshia he believes Brendan is ready to be married again, and that he can see them together. At the end, Tayshia says in her confessional that she feels like Brendan could be her husband.
The second date is with Zac. He has some “New York things” for them to do. They carry around a wooden prop taxi from stop to stop, and there's bagels, pizza, a fake Central Park, and… making out in a fountain? Sure, why not. Zac mentions that Tayshia once told him she was thinking of moving to New York, which is a great sign for their relationship.
In the evening, Tayshia meets Zac’s parents and brother, Matthew. Matthew is the most skeptical of the group. He asks Tayshia how her relationship with Zac compares to the other guys, and after she says she’s “falling in love” with Zac, he says, “You didn’t answer the question.” In the end, though, he means well. He just wants to make sure Zac and Tayshia are on the same page. Zac’s parents seem great. His dad says he’s from a small farm town and isn't comfortable with this whole reality TV thing, but he’s thrilled his son is so happy. At the end of their date, Tayshia tells Zac “It feels so easy and natural with you.”
Ivan is third. He tells Tayshia that he’s “friends with one of the top Filipino chefs in the world” and has a video from her. Surprise! The video is his little niece “Chef Kehlani” teaching them how to make lumpia. They cook together and drink champagne. This is by far the best date, especially because it’s inside, and the others guys were sweating buckets in the Palm Springs sun.
Later, Tayshia meets Ivan’s parents, and is a little worried since she’s only the second woman he’s introduced to them. Ivan’s mom tells Tayshia she’s a “big skeptic,” but is happy her son is happy. Ivan’s dad and Tayshia talk about how he was also divorced before marrying Ivan's mom. He hopes that Tayshia has the some conviction he had when he got married for the second time, before she goes for it again. When Ivan talks to his mom, she says something about “if she keeps you around” and he says, “I’ll be here.” Ivan is confident!
Ivan started talking about how he wished his brother, Gabriel, could be there, and with that he walks through the door. It’s such an emotional reunion. Bachelor hometowns hit harder during a pandemic. They talk about how they’re best friends, and Gabriel notes how the family all supported when he went through hard times. (Ivan previously shared that Gabriel was in prison.) Gabriel is now glad that he can support Ivan on his journey. Tayshia and Gabriel talk about how loyal Ivan is. Ivan tells Tayshia he’s the “happiest person in the world right now.” In his confessional he says he’s “falling in love.”
Ben’s date is last. He’s from Indiana, but lives in Venice Beach, California, so he goes with that as a theme. They go rollerblading around the resort, take “wellness shots” at a juice bar setup, and go “shopping” for hats and sunglasses. They also have drinks at “the beach,” which is a pool.
At night, Tayshia meets Ben’s sister Madeline, and close family friend Top Chef star Antonia Lofaso. (What a twist!). His parents aren’t there, because of COVID and his dad being a doctor. This date has a much lighter feel than the others, particularly because Madeline and Antonia are so excited to be there. The best conversation is between Antonia and Ben. He talks about how he is feeling “legitimate, genuine happiness" and has the strongest feelings for Tayshia he’s ever had for anyone. But, he isn’t sure he’s in love. “You love her,” Antonia says. “It’s not even a question.” At this, Ben realizes it’s true: “I’m in love with her. That’s wild."
At the end of the date, Ben wants to tell Tayshia he loves her, but gets nervous, stumbles over his words, and doesn’t say it. “My brain couldn’t work,” he says in his confessional. “In true Ben fashion, I just blew it.”
Interestingly, Ben’s date is the only one where we see a confessional from Tayshia about how much she wants him to share his feelings with her. In most seasons, the pressure for contestants to share that they’re “in love” or “falling in love” is a key part of hometowns. Zac said he was falling in love in a previous episode, but we don't hear about this pressure being put on Ivan or Brendan.
At the rose ceremony, Tayshia chooses Ivan first, which elicits a gasp from me on its own. Ivan is fantastic, but of these guys, I felt Tayshia’s connection with him was the weakest. She gives Zac a rose second. No surprise there. I am certain this means Brendan is getting the boot. But, yet, Tayshia calls his name. Ben is going home. It could be that the high level of emotion in this episode got the best of me, but I really think this might be one of the most shocking rose ceremonies in Bachelorette history.
When Tayshia walks Ben out, he’s speechless. She tells him he taught her a lot and she really cares for him. He says, “I’m heartbroken, but I’ll be alright,” but doesn’t say much else. In her confessional, Tayshia says, “It kind of felt empty … Please make me feel like these past few weeks meant anything to you.” As Ben drives off, he says, “I don’t know what to do. I’m still in love with her.” He looks absolutely stunned.
If there is a theme to this episode, it’s that you should tell the people you love that you love them, whether that means on a Bachelorette journey or when you’re experiencing a pandemic and haven’t seen your family. We got plenty of that tonight and it was heartwarming to watch.
Next week: Fantasy suites, the finale, and, judging by this promo, the return of Ben?! At least we have a week to prepare.
Winner of the episode: Literally everyone. Way to share your feelings!
Loser of the episode: The ounce of emotional stability that I was reserving for the final two weeks of 2020.