Well, it’s time for hometowns. I don’t know how that happened. This season of The Bachelor felt so, so slow with the Queen Victoria of it all in the first few weeks, and then last week we sped through from ten contestants to four. Because of the weird pacing, it’s impossible to feel like Matt should be deciding to propose to any of these women. Like, even more so than a usual season.
Of course, because of the pandemic, the women’s families were brought to the Nemacolin Resort, rather than actually heading to their hometowns. And the first date goes to Michelle. She and Matt take a bike ride to a room set up to be “Ms. Young’s Classroom” where they video chat with some of her students. It’s so cute. The kids all ask questions, and since Matt actually can’t give anything away, he has to talk around his answers as if he’s speaking to mini reporters. “Are you going to give Ms. Young a rose?” one kid asks. “You’ll have to wait and see what happens,” Matt responds. Not the most exciting answer for a little kid.
That evening, Matt meets Michelle’s mom and dad. In Michelle’s conversation with her dad, she says that what she likes about Matt is that “he wants to make a difference … He’s creating these hydroponic gardens for inner city kids so they can grow their own food.” First of all, that’s a better answer than we usually get for why these people like each other. Second of all, that’s a really interesting fact about Matt. It feels like we haven’t learned that much about him, and here is Michelle dropping this cool tidbit way out in hometowns week.
In another great answer, Matt tells Michelle’s dad that he likes her “convictions in what she believes” and “the things she wants to accomplish in life.”
At the end of the date, Michelle tells Matt she’s “falling in love” with him. He says nothing and kisses her. In her confessional she says it felt good to “get that positive smile” from him. Words would have been better, though, right? I don’t see Matt and Michelle ending up together, but she seems great (Bachelorette great, maybe?) and I like their intellectual connection.
Rachael’s date is next. They go skydiving, because trust is important to her. That's a very Bachelor idea, but it tells us nothing about her — except that she isn’t scared of skydiving, I guess. Neither is Matt. They both jump out the plane with minimal nerves, so they have that in common. In the air, Rachael just talks calmly into the camera while she falls toward the Earth. What even.
Unfortunately, Rachael and her instructor have a botched landing, and she slams into the ground. Hard. It’s soon clear that she’s okay, but she later says that bruises on her face are covered with makeup. Matt tells her that the “thought of losing her set in” when he saw the accident. Lest you forgot, Matt and Rachael said they were falling in love with each other way back in episode 5.
Matt then goes on to meet Rachael’s dad, mom, and sister. (For those following the news around this season, this hometown date was likely the most uncomfortable to watch.) Rachael is very confident in their relationship and tells her mom that she’s seen no red flags at all. Rachael’s dad plays the classic skeptical-about-the-show-dad. Rachael tells him, “It might be a little naive of me to think I’m different, but I really think I am.” It’s not false confidence; Matt really has been more open about his feelings for her than with the others. The only hiccup comes when Rachael is disappointed Matt didn’t ask for her dad’s blessing. He explains that he doesn’t want to do that while there are still three other women.
Bri is up next. Her date starts with taking him off-roading in a Jeep as “payback” for their one-on-one date on which he tipped her off of a four-wheeler. Afterward, on a picnic, Bri explains that while Matt will be meeting her mother, she’s still “terrified” that she “can’t give him a conventional family,” because she was raised by a single mom. Matt assures her that this doesn’t matter; he was also raised by his single mom and is excited to meet hers.
At night, Matt meet’s Bri’s mom, her best friend, who is also named Bri, and her baby sister. Bri’s mom is kind of sassy. When Bri 2 asks what Bri and Matt have been up to her mom adds, “Well, we know what Matt’s been doing? Dating.”
Matt tells Bri’s mom that his connection with Bri is different from the ones he has with the other women and that he’s “falling for her.” He likes that she’s “realistic and forward-thinking” like him.
Bri tells her mom that she’s falling in love with Matt, but is scared of telling him only for her to get kicked off the show. “Worst case scenario,” her mom says. “We are mending a broken heart together.” Aww. So, Bri decides to put it all out there and tells Matt she’s falling in love with him. "Thank you for sharing that with me tonight," he says. It's better than a "positive smile."
Serena’s date is last. She’s from Toronto, so she takes him to a room sparsely decorated with Canadian stuff. They do a quiz with Canada facts, and sample poutine, peameal bacon, and Nanaimo bars. They finish things off with a game of hockey. Now, this is a non-hometown hometown date.
Matt meets Serena’s mom, dad, and sister. In one funny moment, Matt says that “One of the things I was looking for going in [to the show] was to find someone else who was normal.” Honestly, that's a good standard to enter with.
We then set off on a series of telling conversations between Serena and her family members. She tells her sister, Talia, that she’s falling for Matt, but sometimes feels like she is “catching up to Matt’s feelings.” Talia says that “it seems like there’s just something missing” and that Serena doesn’t seem smitten.
The doubt sets in more and more as the night goes on. Serena tells both her parents that she’s worried about an engagement and that she’s scared of making a mistake. It turns out that this is related to a past relationship where she felt so sure, but ended up heartbroken.
In her conversation with Matt at the end, she’s open about all of this, and he tells her to focus on where they are now instead of what could happen. In her confessional, Serena is shocked — and seemingly disappointed — that he took the news so calmly.
Next up we get a conversation between Matt and Chris Harrison about hometowns. Serena is the only one about whom he notes it wasn’t all smooth sailing. He really likes her and wants to fight for the relationship, but knows she’s confused and doubtful. Chris tells him he should figure out what the deal is with her before handing out another rose. So, Matt heads to her hotel room.
A little real world aside here: With the news of Chris “stepping aside” from the show, this conversation is distracting. I can’t help but ponder how much more of it would have been included if Chris’, uh, situation didn’t happen, and whether the convo needed to be included at all. Matt says plenty about his feelings for Serena in his confessional as he heads to her hotel room. Wouldn’t that have been enough?
Anyway, Matt meets with Serena and tells her how much she means to him. “I can say without a doubt that you are the person that I’ve spent the most time with, and that’s intentional.” Wow! A real, concrete, quantifiable statement of interest.
But Matt doesn’t get the response he’s hoping for. Serena says, basically, that Matt is perfect on paper, but her feelings for him aren’t there. She thought it was fear at first, but “I don’t think that you’re my person.” Matt seems actually shook, which is surprising, because I didn’t think Serena was the front-runner here.
She then walks him out, which is a twist on the classic move. He also gets a sad car ride away and a teary confessional. Matt was never on The Bachelorette, so at least he got to have a very belated Bachelor audition.
But, rather than taking a ride to the airport, Matt is heading to the rose ceremony.
There’s another conversation with Chris before the ceremony that is also redundant to what Matt says in a confessional. Regardless of whether you think Chris needs to leave the show or not, these editing choices just really stand out now that he said he’s stepping aside.
Obviously, all three women get roses, and you know they had to be wondering who would have gone home if Serena didn’t choose to leave. (I think it would have been Michelle. I’m sorry, Michelle! It’s not you, it’s Matt.) Bri is even concerned that she got the last rose. This is the kind of mind game they’re all going through. And it's not about to get any easier.
Next week: The Women Tell All and we have to relive everything Victoria did all over again. In brighter news, Matt debuts a huge beard.
Winner of the episode: Serena. She went through some real, tough introspection, and came to a hard decision, but one that felt right. Good for her.
Loser of the episode: Matt. He got broken up with, his plan for the show may have been foiled, and he had to experience the Bachelor Nation dumpee emotional car ride.