We all have that one friend, the one who calls you and you know it’s about to be some nonsense. They’re involved in a pyramid scheme and don’t know how to get out. Or they hooked up with the only other server at Olive Garden who is willing to switch shifts with them. Or they slept with a magician. When the call comes in asking you to pick them up at 2 a.m. because they’re stuck three towns away on St. Patrick’s Day because the social-media consultant and/or juice-bar employee and/or video-game review vlogger they went home with kicked them out, you lie in bed staring at the ceiling, hoping the phone stops ringing. Well, watching The Bachelor feels like Nick keeps calling me, asking me to donate to his girlfriend’s GoFundMe for her one-woman show. I’m not giving her any money. We all know that bitch can’t act.
Nick was so busy dismissing women left and right that he actually didn’t get to know any of the women he’s got left, so now he’s got two big fires to put out. We start the episode in Bimini, where the women sit around like hurricane victims huddled in those silver blankets, waiting to know how the Sword of Damocles will fall this week. Nick just saunters back into the villa like nothing happened, stammers a few words about how much love and respect he had for Kristina, and then has a makeshift rose ceremony. Once when I was in college, my boyfriend surprised me at the airport with a big beautiful bouquet. I turned around to hand him my bag and I saw a flower vending machine next to an Auntie Anne’s. This rose ceremony felt a lot like that.
The first ladytestant to drag this sad sack to her hometown is Raven. Raven is riding around in the swamps of Hoxie, Arkansas, and she says she’s ready to show Nick a new side of her: “a little fun, a little sassy, a little sexy.” Today could be the day that she tells Nick she’s falling in love with him, and she says that there could be nothing better than falling in love in Hoxie. I can think of like 18 things better than falling in love in Hoxie. I looked up Hoxie to see if there were any other famous residents or fun landmarks. Guys. Hoxie is 98.15 percent white and is the home of the third school in Arkansas to integrate after Brown vs. Board of Education and is one of the first sites where the decision had to be defended after half of Hoxie’s white students boycotted school integration. I … I … I dug too deep.
Raven takes Nick to a grain bin and we’re all supposed to figure out what those are via context clues and she says that grain bins are sacred in Hoxie. They’re where you go to share secrets and have meaningful conversations. Huh, I guess her town doesn’t have a Bakers Square. They ride around on ATVs and make out while lying in the swamp. NO, THANK YOU. They head to Raven’s house to meet her parents and her brother. Her dad’s name is Wesley and her brother’s name is Weston. I like that. Raven’s dad was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago and Raven’s parents tell her they got some good news while she’s been away: Her dad is cancer-free. That’s beautiful and amazing and so wonderful for their family and they have to celebrate this moment on the goddamn Bachelor. I want more for these people. Raven knows she’s in love with Nick and her family likes him, but she just can’t bring herself to say it. It’s a mostly drama-free hometown with a lil’ folksy charm. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Up next is Rachel. I spent this whole hometown visit alternately wanting to spend the afternoon drinking mimosas with Rachel’s sisters while hanging out with that cool baby and searching for clues where Nick and Rachel’s relationship falls apart because we know she’s getting eliminated soon. I feel like a relationship Sherlock Holmes, watching every glance and every touch. Rachel takes Nick to her black-as-hell church and Nick awkwardly claps along with the choir. Could this be the moment that breaks them? No! Nick says his parents went to church so he’s cool with church. Damn it. Not yet.
Rachel meets her sisters, her cousin, her brother-in-law, and her mother after church. Nick is visibly nervous even though the Honorable Mr. Lindsay will not be attending this luncheon. Everyone in Rachel’s family asks Nick if he’s dated a black woman before. Rachel’s white brother in law called Nick “a white” and I laughed out loud. Nick keeps saying that he’s gone on dates with black women before but it’s never gotten past a first date. Nick. Don’t say that. That doesn’t sound great.
His answer to the family’s questions come down to “Rachel just happens to be black and that’s cool, I guess!” Everyone in Rachel’s family tries to gently prod Nick to see there’s a little more he might have to think about. As Rachel’s sister says in an interview, “There’s more racism out there in this climate. He needs to be aware. You can’t hide and ignore it and live in your own bubble. You need to navigate that path.” It’s so obvious that Nick has never thought about what it might be like to date, marry, and have children with a black woman. I wish it were a thing that didn’t require extra thought or difficult conversations … but it does. Rachel’s mom admires that Nick was strong enough to bring it up. Rachel says the day was everything she wanted and more and her family accepting Nick gives her the freedom to keep falling for him.
Nick heads to Miami to see Corinne. After this hometown visit, I would be totally cool if Nick picked Corinne. He was very comfortable being dressed in $600 sweatshirts paid for by Corinne’s credit card (read: her father) and choking down marinated Greek olives. After their shopping trip, Corinne tells Nick that she loves him. She also reveals a little bit of how the sausage is made when she says, “I know he can’t say it back.” I think I’m falling for Corinne? And we finally get to meet Raquel! The family talks about her being an invaluable member of the family … as she serves the family silently. After dinner, Corinne’s dad takes her aside and asks how Nick is going to support them because he hasn’t sold software in years. Corinne says she’s totally willing to be the breadwinner and let Nick be a stay-at-home dad. Corinne Olympios, feminist hero. Nick and her dad share a glass of 15-year-old single-malt Scotch with a bunch of ice cubes in it and her dad says if Nick is the pot, Corinne is the lid. The family watches her make out with Nick from their window while Raquel silently cleans up after them. She’s like a second mother.
Now it’s time for this garbage in Canada. Tell me, is it possible Vanessa has been full of drama and totally unclear on the concept of what the show is this whole time and we never got to see it? She seems to be completely blindsided by the fact that Nick might like other girls. Oh, honey. She makes a big production of explaining that her parents are divorced so they have to go to two houses. Yeah, dude, we know. That’s generally how divorce works. It all seems to be a big dramatic production for Vanessa. She teaches Nick Italian phrases and has him meet 57 of her relatives. There is a different random child in Vanessa’s lap every time they cut to her. Vanessa’s sister and aunt grill Nick about the fact that they haven’t put a down payment on an apartment in Montreal yet. Vanessa’s mom holds her chin in her hand and forces Vanessa to look in her eyes. When they get to her dad’s house, at first he refuses to give his blessing because Nick is dating three other women and also he just met the guy. After Nick repeats the words “respect” and “appreciate” no fewer than 13 times, Vanessa’s dad relents and thinks Nick seems honest.
Vanessa sits down with her dad and is thrilled that he gave Nick his blessing until her dad says that Nick definitely asked the other ladytestants’ parents the same thing. Vanessa has a meltdown. She didn’t realize that Nick might be asking the other families for their blessing. Who does she think is with her all the time? What does she think Raven, Corinne, and Rachel are doing? Just hanging out? C’mon, Vanessa. This is like when your friend calls you crying because the guy she’s been dating for six weeks isn’t ready to be exclusive yet. In trying to craft a metaphor, I unknowingly typed exactly what’s going on because c’mon, Vanessa.
Back in New York City, Nick is getting ready for the rose ceremony when suddenly Andi shows up at his hotel room. She’s not gonna ask him to get back together. Let’s not do this, ABC. Just give me a real rose ceremony and LET MY SPIRIT GO FREE.