Finally, Emily Maynard and her final four are coming back to the ol' U-S-of-A for the always sappy and awkward HOMETOWN DATES! And this week's dates are more super-charged than ever, because now Emily has an outside sounding board for her incessant questions about who's ready to be an insta-dad. (Nobody. Nobody
is ready to be an insta-dad. But all of them will insta-try, if it means they get to see what's under Emily's jeggings.) Emily's going to grill these guys' families like they're hot dogs on the Fourth of July. And since she's the one who has a child and yet tried (twice
) to get a husband on a TV show, they're probably going to grill her right back.
Before she heads to the first hometown, Emily goes back to her home in Charlotte, to hug little Ricki for a few hours ... and then leave before she wakes up. She just pulled a one night stand on her own daughter
! But when Ricki's older, she'll understand that it was for the family's greater good.
"I'm gonna go find you a new daddy!"
"But I thought the camera man was my new daddy."
Besides, even when Emily's home, she can't stop thinking about all the
men fighting for her love. Like Chris, who may be a little crazy ... but
it's only because he cares so much
. (Yeah, right.) And then
there's Jef, the "cool" one, who has an "edge" and uniqueness that Emily
does not possess in the slightest, and that is why she loves it so very
much. But then, there's Arie. He's the hot one, and he's in love with
her, and Emily likes that. But let's not forget about Sean! He's ALSO
the hot one, and he makes Emily feel "safe" with his perfect words and
abs and heart.
HOW WILL SHE EVER
CHOOSE? Dramatically and systematically, that's how. Hometown Date #1: Chicago with Chris
Chris says that this is one of the most important days of his life ... so he starts it off by meeting Emily at yet another G-D CASTLE! I already want to die. Thankfully, I think it's actually a church, and they don't go inside to eat in another dungeon. Instead, they walk the streets of Chicago, hand in hand, and Chris talks about how excited he is to introduce Emily to his big Polish family. Chris is first-generation Polish-American, and everyone in his family is fluent in Polish. So "on a scale of 1 to Polish, they're Polish." So, as some sort of warm-up, he takes Emily to a Polish bar. (Drink every time someone says "Polish.")
At the bar, conversation turns to last week,
when Chris pulled Emily aside at the last minute to apologize for acting like a big ol' baby on the three-on-one date. Chris actually went SUPER nutso, way more than he's willing to apologize for, but that rose and a long flight home seem to have returned him to the spectrum of normalcy. Which is unfortunate, because that means this feelings talk in an empty bar is now exactly
as boring as a feelings talk in an empty bar sounds.
"No offense, but this date sucks so far."
It's time for Emily to meet the family! She's wearing a button-up shirt, a gray sweater and tight red pants -- the right mix of "interview professionalism" and "eight date easy." Everyone sits down to dinner, Chris's dad gives a toast, and then we get right to the platitude-exchanges and uncomfortable laughing. Then it's time for the rounds and rounds of private one-on-ones. Chris's dad pulls Emily aside first, and she asks if his 25-year-old son is ready for a six-year-old. Dad: "I'm not afraid of him being there for you and Ricki. He will do his best. What's important is the love that you have for each other, and Christopher's got that." But ... does Emily?
Meanwhile, Chris talks to his mom, who tells him to "kick ass and fight" for Emily if he loves her. The last thing Chris needs is license to physically harm others, but he appreciates the advice. Then Chris's sister Christine (wait... they named their son and daughter Christopher and Christine? Those crazy Poles!) takes her turn with Emily. She's as blonde as Emily and
wearing green pants, so these two are clearly born to be nemeses. And lo and behold! Christine is immediately, understandable worried that Emily's going to break Chris's heart. Because that's how this show works. Christine knows the odds. "I hate that she feels that way," Emily says. Even though it's totally true.
Outside the house, Chris tells Emily that he loves her, and they kiss. Then it's time for a final surprise: There's a Polish party going on in the backyard! They dance a jig with the whole family and a full traditional Polish band. Chris is clearly ecstatic. Even though Emily smiles and dances along, she looks confused, embarrassed, and a little bored.
Not the type of pole we usually expect to see a Bachelorette dancing on
Emily says, "What a perfect ending to the perfect day," like it was the worst ending to a terrible day. Or she's just anticipating the feeling she's going to get when she has to dump Chris and he goes on a killing spree.Hometown Date #2: St. George, Utah with Jef
Jef's out on his family's ranch, "The Holmstead"! Get it? Because their last name is HOLM! Adorable! (That his family clearly has so much money.) To start, Jef buckles Emily into his Jurassic Park jeep and takes her for wild ride through their expansive propery. He's the perfect blend of city, country, crazy and crazy-rich
Then, Jef takes Emily clay pigeon shooting. Emily pretends to have no idea what she's doing, but then hits every target and reveals that she takes gun lessons at home. Jef is aroused by Emily's deadly marksmanship. "Emily looks so hot with a gun," he says, "I just want her to hold a gun all day long." But then how would she hold ... ? Oh, I guess she does have two hands.
Jef then takes her to a shady little love seat that he made out of a few hay bales and a rainbow table cloth. I bet he found it on Pinterest.
They talk about the "crew" he's assembled to meet Emily today. His parents are away on a mission (literally, a Mormon mission), but his many brothers and sisters are there, and they might be a little tough to impress, seeing that they once convinced Jef to dump a girlfriend they didn't like. "I am like ... just really intimidated," Emily admits. At the barnyard meet 'n' greet, she starts out flustered, but everyone seems welcoming enough.
Jef's older brother Steve pulls Emily aside to find out "if there's really something there." He asks what she thinks it takes to stay in love, and she says that it requires being in it for the long haul and "just knowing that this is it." That doesn't actually mean much at all, but he's impressed nonetheless.
Then Jef's many sisters do a roundtable discussion with Emily. They sit there looking at each other coldly in front of a haybale coffee table, like they're having an intervention at the Sadie Hawkins Dance.
"You're like, really pretty."
"Yeah. REALLY pretty."
"No. Too pretty."
Emily does her best with their questions, but hesitates when one of the girls asks if she feels like she's "falling in love" with Jef. Emily: "I ... I do, but as a girl, I hesitate to throw that word out." What do you mean, as a girl?
Girls need to be stingier with the word than boys do? Or do you just mean that as THE girl that all the boys love?
When it's time to go, Jef says the day has "changed his life" because he's fallen even deeper in love with Emily, and he's glad that she learned so much about him. But there's still more to learn
, so they go up on a hill and watch the sunset, and Jef reads a letter that he wrote to her on the plane ride home last week. The letter says that he is "completely in love with everything about" her, and includes a long list of all the things about Emily that he loves. Example: "I love the thought of falling asleep with you in my arms and waking up to those big brown eyes every morning." And there are things about Ricki too, and how much he wants to get to know her. It is ADORABLE. Somewhere (many European garbage dumps), all of Ryan's terrible letters to Emily just spontaneously burst into flames. "That is the sweetest thing that anyone has ever, ever said to me," Emily says to Jef as she almost tears up, and then they kissssss and it's just, ugh. So perfect.
The way Emily looks at and smiles and giggles when she's around Jef is unparalleled. Arie and Sean are gonna have to pull out a miracle if they want to get an edge over the edgy country boy.Hometown Date #3: Arizona with Arie
Emily meets Arie at the racetrack, because we all know how much she loves racing and guys who race and racecars and race tracks and race culture. And guys who race in their race uniforms: "Arie definitely looks ... stupid hot," she says when he pulls up right beside her and gets out of the car for a kiss. He wants to take her for a ride, but she's in a dress and heels! So there's a quick costume change, just so Emily can walk out in huge spaceman pants with her helmet under arm like she's going to save the world, Armageddon
-style. But all she's going to do is sit in the back of the car while Arie drives around. (Insert terrible, sexist joke about how girls can't drive NOT HERE.)
Later, Arie takes Emily for a picnic, and proceeds to psych her out about meeting his family. His dad, also Arie, is also a racecar driver, and his mom ... is probably the "least open-minded." But as long as Arie Jr. communicates how much he cares about Emily, everything will be just fine. They kiss as some sort of fountain-geyser goes off behind them, symbolizing Arie's
exploding blue balls
gushing love for Emily.
It's time for Emily to meet Arie's family, which includes two younger twin brothers and a sister, along with his mom and dad. After a little bit of small talk, Mom starts talking to Arie Jr. and Arie Sr. in Dutch, and Emily is confused and embarrassed. Are they talking about her? Does she have something in her crowns? Why is Arie just responding to them in Dutch instead of bringing her into the conversation? DOESN'T HE LOVE HER? Eventually, Arie realizes that they're making Emily uncomfortable, so he cuts off the conversation and provides a weak translation, that his mom just asked how everything was going, and he said, "everything's fine." Suuuuuure. Anyone out there speak Dutch and wanna tell us what they REALLY said?
Arie's mom takes Emily away for a private conversation (in English), and is the first to question Emily about last season, because she actually watched it! I love this woman. "I'm surprised to see you here," she says, referring to the fact that Emily got engaged to Brad Womack on the show last year
. Emily responds by saying that she didn't have a high enough standard last season (HAHA), but she's working on that this season, and Arie is fitting the bill. Then she asks Mom if Arie is in a place to "balance" his career with a family life. "It can work," Mom says, then talks about her own marriage to a driver. At the end, Mom finally comes around and warms to Emily a little. "I can't wait for her to choose him and be together, because they would make an awesome couple."
Meanwhile, Arie Sr. and Arie Jr. hash it out on the patio. Arie Sr. admires all of Emily's "great qualities" (like her face and her boobs), and Arie Jr. says it's "been like a dream" to get to kiss her all over the globe. Arie Sr. hopes that Arie Jr. "makes it to the end," and Arie Jr. agrees, then laughs with terror.
Finally, Arie kisses Emily goodbye, and as she drives away, he says that he's "definitely" going to marry her. Well ... we might have different definitions of "definitely," but I admire your blind confidence, Arie. It's gotten you this far. Maybe it will get you all the way.Hometown Date #4: Dallas with Sean
As the last Hometown Date, Sean will be freshest in Emily's memory when she hands out those roses in a few days. So he knows he's blessed, and he couldn't be more excited to share his "simple life" with Emily. They start out with a dog park picnic. Sean talks about the last girl he introduced to his family, and he regrets how it didn't turn out the way he wanted. "I'm never going to ... let a girl give herself to me, if I can't reciprocate," he says. Well then it's a good thing that Emily is contractually unable to "give" him much at all! Except a lot of slow, wet, weirdly spaced out French kisses.
Emily keeps talking about how "perfect" Sean is (NEW RULE! Drink every time someone says "perfect"), but unlike the way she used that word about Doug, Ryan and Brad, this time she means it in a good way.
Sean drives Emily to his parents' house, and Emily calls it (guess what) "perfect!" Everyone's waiting out in the backyard, including Sean's parents, his sister and brother-in-law, and his niece and nephew, "Kensington" and "Smith." KENSINGTON! What a name. As if that weren't enough, Kensington has her own effing playtime castle in the backyard, where she can make-believe she's on a dinner date with her own prince charming. A future Bachelorette
Emily says "perfect" a couple more times, and then it gets quiet. Sean says there's something he needs to tell her: He still lives with his parents. Say WHAAAAAT?
"You do? ... Oh, cool
," Emily lies.
Sean takes Emily up to his "room," which is a very strategic disaster of cookie crumbs, (women's) clothes on the floor and stuffed animals all over the place. Stuffed animals with names like "Moo Moo," which Sean proudly introduces to Emily like he is suddenly a 14-year-old girl, and proud about it. We can see where this is going now. But Emily can't: "He's a mess. And he's REALLY into stuffed animals."
Finally, Sean the terrible liar admits to Emily the terrible liar that it's just a joke. HE DOESN'T STILL LIVE AT HOME! HA! Ha? Huh. Emily doesn't laugh. She seems relieved, but still uncomfortable. What is Sean actually
hiding that he felt the need to mask with a terrible prank?
"This is my sense of humor! Sorry!"
After that ... whole ... thing, Sean's dad sits down with Emily to talk. Dad says that it's sometimes hard for Sean to open up, but he's a changed man around Emily. "He's told me more about you and his feelings toward you than he's told me about anyone," Dad says. Meanwhile, Sean and his mom talk straight about whether he's ready to be a husband and father. "If you pull out that ring in three weeks, I'm gonna know that you really mean it," his mom says. It's hard to tell if Mom hopes he will or he won't.
The date's over, and so we are treated to an extreme close-up on another tongue-heavy goodbye kiss between Sean and Emily.
Sean puts her in the car, but as it drives off, he just can't stand to let her go without another kiss, so he runs after the car, much in the same way he ran through the streets of Prague looking for her mouth LAST week. It's very romantic, even the second time.
Sean's a runner! And lord knows that Emily loves to be chased.Rose Ceremony
Emily and Chris Harrison, SECRET LOVERS
, meet in Beverly Hills to discuss her week with her public lovers.Chris PRO:
He finally told Emily that he loves her. Chris CON:
She clearly doesn't feel it back. But it was nice to hear!Jef PRO:
He read her the "sweetest letter" that Emily ever got in her life.Jef CON:
There are no Jef cons, except maybe the Mormon thing.Arie PRO:
She loved riding in his indie car and trusted him not to crash and burn on the track.Arie CON:
His mom thinks it's acceptable to speak her native language in her own home when Emily is present.Sean PRO:
The date was ... "PERFECT." Sean CON:
He didn't pull out the L-word. And he's bad at pranks.
When Chris asks what Emily's going to do, she starts crying and says she's upset that she has to break the heart of one man who introduced her to his family. She puts herself in his shoes. "It would be hard to not feel like that was a reflection on my family," and yet each family she met this week was "welcoming and wonderful."
She hopes he realizes that it's not his family. It's him.
When Emily greets the guys, she says this has been the hardest rose ceremony by far, because there isn't an "obvious choice." I mean ... yes there is
, but it's sweet that she said that. And I just hope they patted Chris down on his way inside.And the roses go to...ARIE
Wow! A surprise #1 pick! How do you say "SUCK IT, MOM" in Dutch?
The next one goes to:JEF
Obviously. So it's down to Sean and Chris. Here comes the obvious choice:SEAN
Yup. Oh, Chris! If looks could kill. He says his goodbyes, and Emily wants to puke when she realizes that now she has to walk him out. Alone.
They sit down outside, and Chris admits that he's shocked. But more than that, he's PISSED. He asks for an explanation, and Emily says that "so many more" of her relationships (LOL) are growing faster and deeper (LOL X 2).
"I don't understand, how much faster could it POSSIBLY move? I told you I LOVED you!" Chris says, in angry pout-mode again. He's got a fair point there. It doesn't help matters that Emily says she might wake up tomorrow and think she made a mistake, but she just has to "follow her heart" tonight.
Chris leaves with a lazy kiss on the cheek and a half-hearted "I wouldn't change anything," then throws himself into the limo. He thought Emily loved him, and he eventually explodes when he realizes that the feelings were never really mutual. Then he lashes out: "I'm ten times the man than f*cking all those dudes in there are!" Aw. I actually feel so bad for Chris and his naive, blind love that I think we should forgive him for saying that dumb thing in the heat of rejection. What? MAYBE I'M GROWING INTO A REAL HUMAN. Next Week:
Emily and her final three are headed to Curacao. That means lots of beaches, bikinis, and bikini beach makeouts. Sean will finally throw out the L-word, and Emily will freak out when she realizes that she's falling in love with all three men. "I don't want to hurt anybody, and I don't want to make the wrong choice."
Well -- what do you think? Did Emily make the right choice this
week? And why have we still not seen a single shot of the final rose ceremony? How do you think it's all gonna go down in the final episodes?(Images courtesy of ABC)