The year is 1848 and Mary-Ellen Elizabeth Brown is making her way in the Wild West. It’s hard being a single woman in the youngest wilds of America. But Mary-Ellen Elizabeth Brown has her faith, her wits, and a suitcase full of gowns to guide her in this world. Being the newest female arrival in this gold-rush town, Mary-Ellen Elizabeth is a hot commodity.
Faster than you can say “Stay in your lane,” four eligible prospectors are vying for our lovely heroine’s intentions. Two of them are decent fellows, a breeches-maker and a milliner. Honest trades for honest men. But the other two? A literal singing snake-oil salesman and one of those dudes who dunk people in the lake and claim that they’re free from the influence of the devil. After months of courting and countless people telling her that the snake-oil salesman and the revival preacher are the actual worst things to happen to the 1840s, Mary-Ellen Elizabeth Brown finds herself in the impossible predicament of not being able to choose between the men. The snake-oil salesman has his flaws, sure, and it’s entirely possible that he’s betrothed to a saddlemaker’s daughter back in Jamestown, but he’s doggone handsome! Of course, the revival preacher is a chowderhead and a stumblebum, but there’s goodness in his heart! So what does our plucky heroine do?
She picks all four of them, because she’s a rube.
And do you know who is the descendent of Mary-Ellen Elizabeth Brown, this person I just made up for this rhetorical exercise? Hannah Brown.
How do I know this? Because Hannah Brown, our plucky heroine, is a rube. She’s been taken in by two con men of the highest order and she’s happy to do it. There is a literal Music Man selling her the promise of a beautiful future. I don’t take pleasure in saying this, but my God, Hannah is so eager to get … something that she’s completely ignoring any and every red flag that comes her way.
Jed’s entire family literally tells her that Jed is not ready to get engaged, that if pressed to choose between Hannah and his so-called music career, he would sell her for some guitar strings. Luke’s family basically tells her, “Well, Luke has always been nice to me.” I would hope so, Parker family.
What does Hannah do with this information? She takes both of them to Fantasy Suites. ABC has completely given up on any amount of suspense for the next episode by airing what appears to be the entirety of Hannah and Luke’s Fantasy Suite date. Plus this whole Jed thing, which I’m sure will take up about half of the reunion. That leaves us with almost nothing to enjoy; Tyler and Peter are getting pushed aside by the on- and off-air drama surrounding this season. We barely know anything about either of them, and Hannah’s insistence that Jed and Luke make it another week leads me to believe that if Luke didn’t turn out to be a regular caller to The 700 Club, they would be our top two. Not Tyler or Peter.
Hannah is a sweet girl. No one is doubting that. She possesses the type of energy that great-grandmas really enjoy. Unfortunately for all of us, Hannah is just so gullible in the way that all 24-year-olds are. We’ve all made some mistakes at 24 because we believed that Josh would change. We’ve all believed that if we just spent more time with the guy who confused us and made us doubt every single decision we’ve ever made, we would be able to decide if staying with him was a good idea. We’ve all believed that if we just met our distant sort-of boyfriend’s mom, we’d understand how and why he was the way he was. We’ve all believed that if we could just bang four guys instead of three guys, we’d have an easier time choosing one guy.
This is some bullshit, 24-year-old, naïve-ass logic. I learned the hard way, Hannah, Josh is never going to change, and when he texts you “Just saw this! Sorry!,” it means he saw the text, had sex with that girl from his work, and then texted you back. Let’s get to it.
This episode followed a pretty standard Bachelorette hometown pattern. Two boring and sweet hometown visits, one where the lead walks away with way more confidence than she should have, and one where the lead walks away with way more doubts. In a sane universe, Hannah would eliminate Jed even though he’s the front-runner simply because everyone in his orbit said HE WOULD PRIORITIZE HIS STUPID MUSIC CAREER OVER HER. I even decided that in an insane universe, Hannah would eliminate Peter because, as flawed as her feelings for Luke and Jed are, they are very strong, and she walked away from her time with Peter pleasantly satisfied instead of extremely passionate. The score playing in the moment when Peter couldn’t say “I love you” was some clear reality-TV signaling that his time was coming to an end.
But no, we’re living in the Upside Down, and two flimflam men are still with us. And everyone is pissed about it.
The first hometown visit is Peter’s in Westlake Village, California. It’s just around the way from the Bachelor Mansion, and for some reason that made me painfully sad. The area around the Bachelor Mansion strikes me as the kind of nondescript, upper-middle-class sprawl that’s devoid of culture or interest. The upside of Peter’s hometown visit is finding out that his family is Cuban and sings weird little German prayers together. I also finally understood both the sexy-pilot thing and the “Peter is sexy” thing when Peter takes Hannah up in a very small aeroplane and they fly over the Bachelor Mansion. Peter keeps condoms in his car, which makes sense because he drives a Mercedes. Are you wet yet, ladies?
The most adorable part of Peter’s hometown date is how incredibly emotional his whole family is over the prospect of Peter being in love. His dad starts to cry because he loves that his son is in love so much. I want Peter’s family to be the next Bachelor if Mike is unavailable.
Up next is Jupiter, Florida. Tyler wants to spend the day staring into Hannah’s eyes and telling her how important and beautiful she is. There’s a lighthouse. She’s his light guiding him home. There’s a boat. She’s going to carry him over the rough seas of life. There’s the Loxahatchee River. She’s also the Seminole word for “river of turtles.” Tyler also takes Hannah to see the house his family had to move out of when the 2008 recession hit, but the most important reunion is Tyler getting to see his dad. Tyler’s dad is America’s sweetest man, and I would give my life for his. Tyler became his dad’s caretaker and shouldered a lot of the burden for his family, so being on The Bachelorette meant that he’s been away from his dad. NOT THAT WE HEARD ANY OF THIS FROM HIM beyond a cursory introduction of his father’s illness. While Hannah greets Tyler’s family, Tyler just hugs his dad and his dad calls him “buddy.”
Listen, y’all. I’m going through some shit with my own dad right now, and seeing this loving relationship between a dad and his child really got me. When Tyler said, “That’s my pops,” I lost it. Tyler is too pure for this world. Tyler’s dad is also too pure for this world because he came up with a fun lil’ bit: “I’m worried about him … tee-hee-hee … he’s in love!”
Tyler’s family tells Hannah that he’s slow to open up and the fact that he’s bringing someone home at all is significant. They also say that, at 26, he’s at the point in life when marriage is something he’s thinking about. Wow. To be hot in Jupiter, Florida. You’re just on a different track.
As Tyler sends Hannah off, he decides that he’s not ready to let her go and climbs into the SUV and makes out with her. While the car is running and the driver is in the front seat. This is exactly the energy that Hannah needs, but she’s blinded by … Luke and all his bullshit.
Okay, I’ve just gotta say some things, and I’m aware y’all might be upset, but I just gotta say them.
I can’t watch another minute of all this without thinking the modern conservative Evangelical moment is racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and generally xenophobic. It also seems to be the thing that’s making it very easy for Hannah to fall for all of Luke’s nonsense. There seems to be a sense that because he’s devoted to his faith and has accepted Jesus in his life, he can’t be all bad; that his religious views imbue him with some inherent goodness; that eventually his godliness will win out over all his bad qualities.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t people within conservative or Evangelical churches that live by the teachings of the Bible to put good into the world. But from the HOURS of footage we’ve seen of Luke, he’s quick to anger, prone to slut-shaming, and generally a bit of a dick. His family insists that there’s another Luke, a better, different Luke. If there is, could that Luke show up, please? Hannah is willing to continue to wait for that Luke to show up and she’s falling in love with Luke’s potential rather than what he’s shown her.
Also, the shot of everyone praying over Luke and Hannah looked like a deleted scene from Midsommar.
My least favorite part of Luke’s hometown visit was his family’s insistence that Hannah is the one who has to prove her worth and she’s the one whose heart has to soften to him. They also can’t picture any scenario in which their son would rub anyone the wrong way. There’s no work that Luke has to do except be more Luke. Is there any more terrifying thought? A more Luke Luke?
When Hannah walks to the car at the end of the night, she tells Luke, “We had a good day! A whole day!” That’s not what you want to say to your future husband. That’s what you say to a toddler who managed to get through the day without throwing a tantrum after the babysitter canceled. Or someone who just fell off the wagon. “You didn’t wet your pants the whole day!” works in both situations.
Finally, there’s Jed’s hometown date. Without looking up from his phone, my boyfriend asked, “Is Jed’s girlfriend going to be there?” With Jed, it’s the same thing every time: a too-forward and coldly delivered declaration of love and a phoned-in song. Also, every woman in his life tells Hannah to run. His sister literally says that falling in love with Hannah is not a good thing for him. On paper, it all looks right, but knowing what we know now and with the complete lack of energy behind Jed’s eyes, we can all see that Jed is a bad investment. Unfortunately, he’s the only one Hannah has said she’s falling for. Again, what a damn rube. You don’t marry the “hot” guitar player. You bang him on a Greek island and fuck your credit up by paying his studio-rental fees. But he’ll totally pay you back.
The most telling thing is at the end of the rose ceremony, Jed is frustrated that Luke got a rose. He says, “It’s hard for her to make a decision between me and somebody who has been a complete scumbag. I don’t wanna be in the same category with someone who is a constant toxin. A toss-up between him and me now? I don’t know, I don’t know, dude.” There isn’t anything in there about Hannah or how he feels about her or how he gets to continue to spend time with her. That’s all about him and his image. I know from experience: Cheaters and scumbags don’t want anyone to think of them as a cheater or a scumbag. They want people to think of them as a “good guy,” and “good guys” don’t tie with a shady revival preacher.
This is about to get more interesting, and I need Hannah to wise up. Next week: Fantasy Suites!