Hometowns! Most seasons this is our favorite episode. We see four different dates in four different towns and meet four different families. Some of those things are off the table due to the pandemic, of course. The show opens on the four remaining guys, who are sitting around talking about how excited they are to keep dating the same lady. Chris Harrison arrives with some news. The first piece is clearly not news to the guys: hometowns will be at the resort. “Your new hometown is La Quinta! And don’t you forget it!” Chris Harrison tells them menacingly. He doesn’t, instead he tells them the woefully inadequate plan, which is for each guy to “put together a date” to recreate the “vibe” of their hometown. The counselors are out of ideas, so they are going to let the guys try to find something interesting to do at this sweltering resort. The second piece of news is that Chris Harrison tells the guys which members of their families made the epidemiologically-unwise trip to La Quinta for the chance to be on TV.
For Zac C it was his mother Beatrice, his father, and his brother Matt. Zac says “love those people very much.” Good to know.
For Ivan it was his mom and his old-ass dad Clarence. Ivan previously described his father as being “in his 70s” and in poor health. And while Ivan seemed excited to see his parents, he is probably also a little worried. No mention of Ivan’s formerly-incarcerated brother. When it came up first on the show, I did a decent amount of looking online to try to find Ivan’s brother. I knew Ivan was from Texas, his brother was referred to as “Gabe,” and his brother went to prison. Turns out there was an awful murder committed in Texas by a guy named Gabe Hall, which is Ivan’s last name and his brother’s first name. But murderer Gabe Hall is not Ivan’s brother, though oddly enough, murderer Gabe Hall was adopted from the Philippines. It is a whole rabbit hole I went down a few weeks ago, and made Ivan’s brother essentially ungoogleable on whatever night Ivan had his one-on-one with Tayshia.
George out here doing truly inspiring research work for our dozens of readers!
For Ben, we will meet his sister Madalyn. Ben has spoken of his sister, including that she saved his life and helped him through his eating disorder. Also Ben says he doesn’t know how to cry, or “where it’s supposed to come from.” Ben’s dad is a doctor, so I will assume he means this metaphorically.
For Brendan, we will meet his brother Daniel, Daniel’s wife Christi, and his niece Aliyah. Brendan promptly cries when he hears this, which is just rubbing it in Ben’s face. “You have no idea how easy this is for me! You are pathetic, Ben!” he screams. He does not do that.
And sidenote, it sounds like the rose ceremony was the night before. Are Bennett’s lacrosse teammates wandering around the resort looking for a place to get their Sperry Docksiders shined? Either quarantine is short or they brought some people in only for them to find out that their family member didn’t get a rose and their services will not be required.
In response to this news, the remaining soy boys hug each other like little babies. I can’t believe this is what passes for men these days… Oh, sorry, I fell asleep watching youtube on autoplay and thanks to the algorithm I woke up pretty alt-right. Hope that’s cool with everyone!
Brendan “Hometown” Date
Tayshia greets Brendan with the patented jump-hug, and it is perhaps our first romper of the season. Tayshia didn’t button the front because, well, this date is on the surface of the sun.
Brendan created a date that is a janky carnival. He never says what his home town is, but does say it is “a small town.” His niece Aliyah is there, and she is pretty good at the ring toss. Aliyah houses Tayshia at pop-a-shot, and I think Geno Auriema just sat up in his chair.
My co-blogger knows better than anyone that pop-a-shot abilities translate to real basketball – right George? Not true. I have set pop-a-shot records on machines on three continents, but I am the worst basketball player you will ever meet.
It appears Brendan has a legitimately great relationship with Aliyah. They have special handshakes and dances and you probably couldn’t come up with those on the fly. My niece’s special thing with me is that when my sister hands her the phone, she is able to hang it up.
I’m feeling pretty terrible right about now because I’ve been hanging out with my daughters pretty much 24/7 for the last seven months and we DO NOT have special handshakes. I’d start here:
Brendan and Tayshia leave the carnival, presumably shower, and then meet up with Daniel (Brendan’s older brother), Christi (Daniel’s wife), and Aliyah again. Daniel looks a lot like Brendan if you squished him down a bit. Like he’s a foot shorter but the same weight. As usual, we get lots of one-on-one conversations. Christi asks Tayshia about her first marriage, and Daniel and Brendan have a conversation that suggests that I would get bored quickly at a Brendan’s-family Thanksgiving. They talk a lot and say very little (the gist is that Brendan likes Tayshia) and both cry. Brendan is also breaking down in almost every interaction. He’s basically the opposite of Ben.
Daniel tells Tayshia that Brendan is “ready for marriage.” It is clear this family really likes Brendan and that he likes them. I hope Tayshia likes them too, because it sounds like they spend a good amount of time together. I bet Aliyah has already sketched out some special handshakes for her and Tayshia.
Zac C “Hometown” Date
Zac C wears his best sneakers for this date. I am not enough of a sneaker guy to get this right, but I think he has the Travis Scott Jordan 1s. Zac C’s date is about NYC, so they have a cardboard taxi for Tayshia to hail. So I guess Zac C lives in a pre-Uber New York City?
I was pretty confused there – the first thing I do to hail a ride anywhere (back when I went out in public) is to pull out my phone. The next step is to figure out how time travels backwards when my driver goes from being 2 minutes away to 4 minutes away after 2 minutes.
Tayshia jokes about flagging down a taxi by showing some leg, and not about getting a taxi to pick up a Black person. Tayshia and Zac C eat bagels and pizza, and both look about as authentically New York as you’d expect to find in an empty California resort. No shots at Brendan or Zac C, but these dates are pathetic. Tayshia knows what New York is like, she doesn’t need a cardboard taxi and some frozen pizza!
This “hometown” date where they have to lift some Boy Scout car project around to different backdrops is definitely the worst date in Bachelor(ette) history. If you want to replicate New York – why not just have a random guy flip you off and then whip out his schlong and pee into an alleyway?
Zac C ends the date by beckoning Tayshia into a fountain. They end up on the ground in the water with Tayshia saying “I don’t think I’ve ever done it in a fountain before.” What is “it?” And you don’t think? Omigod – did they test the fountain water for coronavirus?
Tayshia and Zac C show up for dinner with Zac C’s brother Matt C and his parents. Zac C and Matt C don’t look a ton alike. And also Matt C is pretty sweaty. He could definitely pass for Zac C’s dad. But he would be, like, a young in-shape dad. Matt C asks Tayshia where she’s at with Zac C as compared to her other three boyfriends. Tayshia says “I’m definitely falling in love with Zac and I could see marrying him at the end of this.” Not an answer to the question, which Matt C points out. It seems Matt C’s role is “the one who’s not so sure about this whole thing.” A trope as old as the show and the role Tayshia’s dad played on her hometown date with Colton. I get this reaction when the show started, but after this many seasons, you know what your fame-hungry son is signing up for.
Zac C’s dad sits down with Tayshia and says he is not comfortable with the situation, and then says “I do feel comfortable with you, don’t take that the wrong way!” Zac C’s dad is not interested in seeming racist on the television. Tayshia asks if all the Clarks are going to be wet blankets about this process, but Zac C’s dad notes that Zac C is smiling more than he has in a really long time. Plot twist! Zac C’s dad loves Tayshia! We see Zac C talking to his mom, and he tells her that he now wants kids and a family and is no longer just interested in just being an uncle. Zac C tells his mother that he would not be alive without her, and it is pretty emotional. Beatrice sits down with Tayshia and basically passes along Zac C’s message of being ready to have some babies with Tayshia. They toast to being loved and finding love. Beatrice is real on board with the process as well… and also with wine. She hugs Tayshia, who calls her “the cutest little button.” The Clarks, who probably could not have imagined things ending this well with Zac, are over the moon. I kind of love them.
Ivan “Hometown” Date
Ivan is the child of a Black father and a Filipina mother, as discussed at length on their one-on-one date. Ivan tells Tayshia that they will get a cooking lesson from one of the best Filipino chefs. It is Chef Kehlani, Ivan’s four-year-old niece (previously mentioned in the discussion of Ivan’s brother’s prison story). Precocious-chef Kehlani shows them how to make Lumpia Shanghai via a video tutorial recorded in whatever Ivan’s actual hometown is (maybe Plano, Texas?). They follow the tutorial in some resort suite that has a kitchen. Lumpia Shanghai is egg rolls, basically. Kehlani and Aliyah should have a podcast together. I’m giving Kehlani a little bit of extra credit for not travelling during a pandemic, but I love them both. Maybe it is for the best that Kehlani didn’t see this in person, because it looks like Tayshia and Ivan maybe overcooked the lumpia.
Overcooked or not – this is the second time I’ve been embarrassed for myself. My seven-year-old’s most advanced cooking skill is that she can pour cereal and milk into her bowl without spilling (most days). Time to get her introduced to the whisk!
Ivan tells Tayshia that his parents mean so much to him, and is especially touched that his dad Clarence, who’s survived 2 bouts of cancer, 1 heart attack and is currently suffering from pulmonary fibrosis (a lung disease), decided to make the trip. Ivan – that’s love. If I am in my 70s with a comorbidity during a pandemic and one of my daughters is on a reality TV show, you cannot pay me enough money to travel to see her.
Mama Hall has clearly seen the show before because she wraps Tayshia in a huge hug before greeting her own son and then, during her sitdown with Tayshia, greets her with “It’s great to finally meet you!” I’m a little surprised that she didn’t start asking her about John Paul Jones.
It’s Clarence who is going to ask the real questions to Tayshia – starting with “what did you learn from your divorce?” Tayshia says that they were young, but she realized that God wanted to teach her different things. Clarence confided that he also married young (before Mama Hall), and before he married a second time, knew what he wanted and entered his second (and current) marriage with conviction – and asks Tayshia whether she shares that conviction. And Tayshia responds that she wouldn’t be here if she didn’t. Ivan’s dad said he got married when he was 24. Which I think was around 1972, if my math is right. He’s way too old to have traveled for this episode.
Ivan is feeling good about himself, because he’s even telling his mom about his upcoming fantasy-suite date and the producers are like … dude, slow your roll! Ivan catches himself a bit, and again tells us that it’s great that his parents are here, but he really wishes his brother Gabe was here, because Gabe knows him best and he cares so much about him – and what do you know – the Bachelor producers have been working overtime because a door opens and out comes Gabe.
Folks, time capsule this episode because I’m pretty sure that this is the first time a Black man with multiple teardrop and neck tattoos has appeared on the show. Ivan’s brother looks, as the Brits would say, “proper hard.” The neck tattoos go up over his jawline.
Ivan is overwhelmed and greets Gabe with a hug. It’s not clear that Gabe is quite comfortable in this setting, but how he feels about Ivan comes across in their talk. He tells Ivan that he digs the organic energy of their relationship and that they “glow” together.
Gabe asks Tayshia what she likes about Ivan, and Tayshia responds that Gabe is reliable and loyal. Gabe latches on to “loyal” and relates that loyalty is an action word, meaning it’s demonstrated through actions. He tells Tayshia that he knows first hand that Ivan will demonstrate his loyalty through his actions. Between saying the name “George Floyd” and introducing the Bachelorette audience to Gabe, a man that would send many viewers racing to post frantic warnings on Nextdoor if he were walking in their neighborhood, Ivan has had an impactful season already.
Tayshia wraps up the night with Ivan, at which point Ivan tells her that he’s super excited about the fantasy suites – and it’s hard at this point to imagine that Ivan won’t make it there.
Ben “Hometown” Date
Ben greets Tayshia by telling her that although he’s from Indiana, he wants to show off where he lives now, so his “hometown” will be replicating Venice Beach.
This is super lame, the last time a Ben from Indiana had a hometown, Paul George and Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers hosted a date for Ben Higgins and Kaitlyn Bristowe. Never have the limitations of a pandemic season been so blatantly obvious. There will be no Paul George, no Frank Vogel, and despite it being about Venice Beach, not even this guy.
Instead, we get the two of them rollerblading, chugging down juices at a makeshift juice bar, and picking out sunglasses and hats from what looked like a garment rack from Bed Bath & Beyond. The best part was the pre-made caricature of Ben & Tayshia that captured Ben’s jawline perfectly.
Ben tells Tayshia that they will meet with his sister Madalyn and his close family friend Antonia. Apparently, Ben’s parents couldn’t be bothered to help their son grow his Instagram followers.
Ben says Tayshia is “eerily similar” to his friend Antonia. His friend is Antonia LaFaso, a celebrity chef of some renown. “You’ve both lost on reality shows before!” he doesn’t add. But Antonia LaFaso has figured in a couple of seasons of Top Chef that we watched in quarantine. For some reason we watch them in reverse order of seasons. So every season the prizes get smaller and more subsequently-me-tooed chefs appear. What is Antonia like? Per Amy: “she has a daughter, and is a single mom. She went pretty far. She is very cool and she is strong and independent like Ben said. Also good at cooking. Comes from an Italian family.” Also Ben trains her at a gym. So probably don’t fuck with Antonia.
The producers have apparently convinced Tayshia that Ben still has his walls up despite the fact that he literally stripped down in front of the other guys and Tayshia and told Tayshia about his two suicide attempts. Nevertheless, Tayshia explores this with Madalyn, to which Madalyn responds that Ben’s not hiding anything but that he’s definitely sensitive.
Ben talks to Antonia and tells her that he’s in love with Tayshia but hasn’t had the intestinal fortitude to tell Tayshia that yet. Antonia tries to tell Ben that it isn’t hard, but Ben isn’t really buying it. Ben struggles with the fact that once you say I love you, you can’t unsay it. Ben – have you ever watched reality TV? Or lived in America? Plenty of people “un-say” I love yous all the time. As a youngster sitting in front of the television, I’ve screamed “I love you” at Hulk Hogan multiple times – and I’ve been unsaying that to him since then.
Ben and Tayshia wrap up the evening, and Ben tells Tayshia that he feels so good about their relationship, but couldn’t quite get the words out. We are led to believe that Tayshia was troubled by Ben’s inability to declare the depth of his feelings for her.
Chris greets the guys, and the one advantage of a Pandemic season is that none of the guys will bear the ignominy of having to fly to LA just to get dumped – they will just have to walk across the resort in the sweltering heat to do so. Chris Harrison greets all of them but we see the most in-depth conversation with Ben, where Ben tells Chris that he’s in love with Tayshia. Wrong person, Ben.
The first rose goes to Ivan.
The second rose goes to Zac C.
It is down to Brendan and Ben, and the final rose goes to… Brendan.
Ben and Tayshia spend a few moments on the goodbye bench. Tayshia tells Ben that he’s incredible, and taught her so much, but that their pages are just not aligned at this time. Ben shakes his head, says he doesn’t know what to say, but that he’ll be alright. He remains stone faced into the limo and, after the limo leaves, Tayshia laments that she didn’t see any emotion from Ben and doesn’t know whether the last few weeks meant anything to him. But, based on what Ben tells the limo driver, they did. Because he tells the driver that he’s still in love with Tayshia. So to recap, Ben told Antonia, Chris Harrison, and the limo driver that he’s in love with Tayshia, but not Tayshia. Sorry Ben – better practice your “I love you” game before Paradise.
It is my understanding that the final four are embargoed anyway to avoid spoilers. So Ben is likely in his room at the same resort. I guess what I am saying is: do not be shocked if Ben gets another chance to tell the right person next week, when we close out the season with our final two episodes on Monday and Tuesday.