Buckle your seat belt, pull down the lock bar, put on a helmet and don’t blow off your hands, because we’re in for a wild, firework-filled ride on The Bachelor. As Sean Lowe heads off to meet the families of his future bride and three other chicks, we’re promised post-Tierra drama that will make us forget that crazy gal was ever on the show.

The Bachelor Family Blogs: Reality Stars Call Tierra Immature >>>

Sure, there have been awkward hometown dates before (and yet Jake still picked Vienna), but I don’t recall three out of four offering potential deal breakers. Lindsay’s dad is a two-star general, Catherine’s sisters are crazy giggling pessimists and Desiree has not one, but two crazy guys gunning for Sean. Or does she?

After getting sucked up into the drama that eventually forced Tierra’s demise, AshLee and her pastor-adopted family could soar into the drama-free zone. That would be uncharted waters for the blindfold-and-carry-me-around-while-I-cry, tear-down-mountains and scream-my-love-for-Sean-to-an-island personal organizer. It’s your time to shine, AshLee. Don’t screw it up. And for God’s sake, try to tone it down a bit and have some fun.

Pfft — Get the Nice One Out of the Way

Because a lack of tension sucks, Sean is first heading to Houston, Texas, to get AshLee and her somewhat normal, boring and awesome family out of the way. Sean says that his dad is also a preacher, and AshLee swoons at the new information. She reminds us all that she got married when she was 17, and she praises Sean for not telling her she’s broken or caring about her baggage. Hey, at least she got her divorce out of the way early. To solidify their love, they compliment each other’s good looks. I wonder what it’s like when AshLee tells a joke. I would also love to see how she reacts to a dirty one. I need a bit more of a drinking buddy in my relationships. 

Her parents are super sweet, and her old man proves he’s still hip by rocking the spiked hair. He asks what they’ve been up to, and AshLee turns the polar bear plunge into a teary-eyed, traumatic-yet-affirming (I give you: traumaculate. Feel free to use it.) life-altering experience.

This is worth quoting verbatim: “I stood there and I looked at this lake, and I thought, I made this commitment and I needed to leave every insecurity and fear of abandonment and fear of walking away without him behind. And I jumped in. And in my mind, I was like, I submerged everything, and I left it in the water. And I came out.” Intense. Somebody give this chick a water balloon or a comic book or something!

AshLee’s mom, Deborah, pulls her potential son-in-law away for some alone time, saying she can tell by her daughter’s eyes that she is madly in love with Sean. They talk about AshLee’s abandonment issues and her five foster homes before she found the permanent one with them. In then end, she just doesn’t want her daughter’s heart broken. 

Her dad immediately asks the question Sean doesn’t want to hear: Do you love my daughter? Sean says he is crazy about her, and he sees love on the horizon. Dad reminds Sean that AshLee has put a lot of her heart into this, which I think is evident from outer space. AshLee is all heart, and potentially not much else (at least when Tierra’s not around). He gives Sean his approval if he decides she’s what he wants, and then we get another tear-filled story about AshLee’s first day in the family. Even Sean cries, and I’m wondering if the family owns an ark. 

Fun Catherine and the Over-Protective Sisters

You know it’s wholesome hometown date day when we’re a half hour in and Sean has kept his shirt on the entire time. He’s heading to Seattle for a seat on an iron pig and a trip to the fish market. He and Catherine have always had fun, but the question for them was whether the romance would develop. It blossomed a bit once they finally kissed, but there’s always the question of the heat and passion between friends. 

They take turns catching fish, because everyone likes to smell like fish bits when they meet the parents for the first time. They’re both always up for anything, and they bring out each other’s goofy side, which brings another dynamic to their relationship that Sean doesn’t have with AshLee.

Sean meets Catherine’s mom, grandma and two sisters. They loosen up over some wine and egg rolls, and then he dons an apron to cook with mom. And I love grandma, who threatens to steal Sean for herself. Spin-off!

Catherine gushes to her sisters, but they don’t have her back. It seems like they had their minds made up before the couple even arrived, and I’m waiting for one of them to say, “You know, what I don’t understand is how you ended up on the show instead of me.” Catherine is hurt because her biggest fear was telling Sean about the traumatic experiences of dealing with her dad (traumaculate, anyone?), and she never thought she’d have to defend herself to attacks from the people she went through all that with. She just wanted to be happy and excited, and now she’s not. She worries they’re going to mess it up for her. 

Cue Sean’s conversation with the sisters, who tell him she probably doesn’t want kids right away, isn’t really ready to settle down, bolts when the “fun” is over and will ditch someone who doesn’t support her dreams. Oh, and that she’s moody, manic almost and very messy. 

Her mom is a little better, but not by much. She doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, is skeptical about possible marital success and tells Sean not to lead Catherine on. She stops short of giving her blessing, saying he should meet the other girls’ families and take it from there. No fun in Seattle, and it has nothing to do with the weather. It’s actually pretty sunny. 

Left, Left, Left Right Left

Lindsay and her two-star general dad are waiting for Sean on Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and he’s a bit more nervous for this one. Thankfully, Lindsay is just a tiny little bundle of fun, and apparently the best kisser on the planet. She’s wearing heels, and the top of her head still doesn’t reach his shoulders. I’ll stop short of comparing it to the Time magazine attachment parenting cover, but it’s all I can think about when she hugs him. He wants to know whether to call her dad mister or general, and she doesn’t know the answer. How has this never come up before? They decide on mister. I would’ve gone with general. 

Before they meet dear old dad, Lindsay makes Sean put on some Army sweats so she can order him around and make him do push-ups. Something tells me she has a different definition of “private.”

Lindsay’s mom is just as bubbly as she is, and her brother is a little nerdy but very polite and friendly. Her family had no idea about her wedding dress entrance, and you can tell the general does not approve. Lindsay says if her dad doesn’t endorse Sean, that’s probably a deal breaker for her.

Mom thinks Lindsay looks content and happy and excited, but she didn’t expect things to progress this quickly. She asks if Sean loves Lindsay, and he says he takes it too seriously to say at this point. She likes and respects that, and even though Lindsay is only 24, her mom thinks she’d be ready to settle down. Sean likes her as a potential mother-in-law. But mom’s opinion isn’t what matters, and it’s time for a military-style grilling!

The general’s biggest concern is Lindsay getting hurt, which there is a 75% chance of happening. Sean asks for permission to marry Lindsay, should he pick her, and dad says he doesn’t have an answer after only knowing him for two hours. He compares this experience to being a paratrooper, and then somehow spins that into an unexpected blessing. The general is more teddy bear than hard-ass, and he ends the date by giving Sean some dog tags to remember the family by. That has to be as intimidating as it is nice, like “Break my daughter’s heart, and remember what these dog tags mean.”

A Double Dose of Desiree Drama

For the final hometown visit, Sean is headed to Holly-WOOD(!!) for a date with destinee Desiree. They go for a romantic hike and try to act like a “real” couple before heading home to meet the family. But while they’re cooking dinner and waiting for the family (and Sean says he feels like a couple), some dude shows up and professes his love. He claims to be an ex-boyfriend, calls Sean an actor and eventually puts his hands on him. Sean’s heart is racing, but it’s way too scripted and I’m not buying it for a second. He’s actually Desiree’s actor friend Nick, and it’s all a prank to get back at Sean for the broken artwork incident. Still, it doesn’t matter if I’m fooled, so kudos to Des for evening the score. But it’s less funny since a similar non-joke is coming up.

Mom, dad and brother Nate finally arrive, and her parents are awesome. Like all the other parents, mom Roxanne notices her daughter’s glow. Everyone is falling for Sean, including Desiree’s dad, who couldn’t be happier. Everyone, that is, except words-tattooed-across-his-upper-chest Nate. He thinks it’s stupid, has no chance of working out and wouldn’t be supportive if Sean picks her.

Nate takes Sean outside, tells him it’s clear he’s not into Desiree and calls him a playboy. Sean expresses his sincerity, character, integrity and emotions, and Nate laughs in his face. Sean is riled up for the second time on the date and wants to tell Nate off, but he wants to avoid a fight. And Desiree can tell something is up right away.

The tension is palpable, and Desiree’ parents literally resort to talking about the weather. Everyone is embarrassed, and Sean awkwardly dismisses himself early while Nate drops a douche-esque “But we were just getting acquainted.” Sean doesn’t want to let it affect his feelings, but he’s afraid that might be impossible. Desiree is crushed and confronts her brother (with her parents on her side), but he just laughs it off and tells her Sean’s “not the one.”

Sean Gets Thorny

It took 90 minutes of show time, but Sean is so relieved the hometown dates are over that he lets the cameras in to watch him get dressed for the cocktail party. I was afraid we were going to go the whole episode without seeing his chest. The women of the world can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

He has no idea who he is giving roses to, but he sees himself having a future with both AshLee and Lindsay. However, he has concerns about both Desiree and Catherine, exhibiting just how much influence siblings can have. It was Nate that ruined things for Desiree, but it is concerns over their lives aligning that puts Catherine on the chopping block. And it didn’t help that Catherine’s sisters poured some gasoline on that fire. His biggest fear is that he’ll wake up the next day and feel like he made a mistake. 

Before he can give out any roses, Desiree pulls him aside and apologizes for her brother. She could tell Sean was upset, and she just wants him to know that her brother doesn’t speak for her or her parents. They hug it out.

Sean gives roses to AshLee and Lindsay, as expected, and it’s down to Desiree and Catherine. He puts the third rose back on the serving platter and walks back into his think room. He stares at both their pictures and consults Chris Harrison about his lack of clarity. Chris’ advice is to take his time and get it right, and I can only assume a commercial break is all he needs.

Coming Up Roses

Sean was planning on sending Desiree home until she pulled him aside. He makes his decision based on who he will miss more, and that’s still Catherine. Poor Desiree is too crushed to even cry, and she believes she can make Sean the happiest of all the girls. They both think he’s making a mistake, as this is the first time he hasn’t been sure of his decision, but he had to send someone home. Unfortunately, I think her desperation pleas only serve to reinforce his decision. At least a little. The worst part of it all is that Nate will now feel justified in his actions, even though he’s one of the main reasons his prediction ended up coming to fruition. I wonder what would’ve happened if Sean had told Nate off? 

So we are down to our final three girls, and they’re all very different. AshLee wears her heart on her sleeve, but she also might be a bit too intense. Lindsay is a bubbly, goofy ball of fun, but is there anything deeper there? And Catherine is the best friend trying to make the emotional leap to love, but can they merge their independent lives together? Who do you think is the best fit for Sean? Do you think he made a mistake sending Desiree home?

It’s time for the romantic overnight dates in Thailand next week (and only Lindsay strikes me as real fantasy suite potential), but first we get a special Tuesday “Sean Tells All” treat. He’ll open up about what he didn’t see in Tierra, why he really sent Desiree home (hint: her brother), Sarah’s dooming kiss and all the house drama in general. Tune in for all that, as well as some previously unseen footage we’re assured is too traumaculate to miss.

You can watch The Bachelor every Monday at 8pm (and sometimes Tuesdays at 9pm) on ABC. 

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(Image courtesy of ABC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order