Welcome back to The Bachelorette, where each episode beautiful bachelorette Andi Dorfman walks further down that yellow brick road of love and other pheromones to the Emerald City, a.k.a. the Fantasy Suites. This week her journey takes her to four towns spread out across the nation, all of which, much like Connecticut and Brussels before them, are the perfect place to fall in love while accidentally ticking off your future mother in law when you refuse a second helping of her famous Waldorf salad, an incident that will come up at every family potluck until the inevitable divorce. Sounds fun, right?
Here's what happened on The Bachelorette:
Nick in Milwaukee: To convince Andi that she should call Milwaukee home, Nick gives Andi a cheese hat, which probably did not come from Saks Fifth Avenue. Then, instead of taking Andi on a Laverne and Shirley–themed date, he just takes her on a tour of a brewery that has bravely made a Nick-and-Andi beer, which undoubtedly tastes both bitter and treacly. Then Nick tries to persuade her to declare her love of the Green Bay Packers. She won't do it, though, because she is a woman of principles and Falcons fandom. This jovial rift will be great material for Nick and Andi's annual Christmas letter to second cousins on both sides of the family.
Nick finally takes her home to meet all 793 family members who each wear accent scarves just like Nick. (Perhaps Costco had a bulk-buying discount?) The family home has a Pinterest-worthy wall full of gilded frames, lined up symmetrically, featuring all the family members. At his family home, Andi feels comfortable enough to admit that she only gave Nick the first-impression rose because she felt sorry for him. Everyone laughs while Nick remains dead behind the eyes. Nick's sister tells Andi that he loves her, which would be incredibly juvenile, except that the sister is also wearing an accent scarf, which is the unmistakable sign of maturity. Another sister comes in to grill Andi, and Andi swears Nick is the Laverne to her Shirley (or more likely the Squiggy to her Lenny). Finally Nick's mom starts crying because she knows Nick will make a great husband, because he was a very attentive son. Andi passes the final round of her inquisition by naming everyone in the framed pictures. As she bids farewell to Nick, he fumbles at the finish line and won’t say "I love you."
Chris in Arlington, Iowa: Farmer Chris' hometown has a population of 758, which this day goes up to 759 with the addition of Andi. It’s a broad, brown wasteland, which is about 500 miles from the closest Frappuccino. Andi is, inexplicably, “super excited” to visit, but clearly not to live. “What would I do here?” she asks Farmer Chris, who pauses before pointing out that “there’s an opportunity to be a homemaker.” Andi resignedly doesn't bash him in the head with her Louboutin nor book a bus out of town, but instead declares, “I’m not as city as you think. My family has a lake house in Alabama, and I hunt!” Cue the plane flying a "Chris Loves Andi" banner, which she declares is the cutest thing he's ever done. Then they make out while Andi tries to get reception on her iPhone.
After an obligatory tractor ride on his big green John Deere, Farmer Chris takes Andi home to meet his family, who size her up like a 4-H entry. (Granted all the families on hometown dates do that, but on a farm it's done with a more professional eye.) Chris' sisters sell him hard, but his mother Linda is already sold. She tells Andi that they’ll make beautiful babies and she’ll babysit. Free babysitting is a great reason to get married. According to Linda, Andi has gumption, and she’s a tough cookie so she could make it on a farm. Then Linda says she loves Andi and Andi gives her a rose. Not really, but she may marry Farmer Chris out of guilt!
Josh in Tampa: Despite Josh's inability to register human emotion, he is still the front-runner (maybe), and Andi is "super excited" to meet his family. Josh takes Andi to the baseball diamond. Did you know that Josh was a former professional athlete? Don't worry, he'll mention it a few dozen more times just to make sure it sinks in. Despite mentioning baseball every few minutes, Josh claims it’s hard for him to think about baseball because it makes him itch in a way that no amount of Lotrimin can help. So it’s special to bring her here. Andi thinks he looks hot when he plays baseball. Josh explains that he quit baseball to be there for Aaron, his brother, who is getting ready for the football draft. Then Andi goes to meet Josh's family, which is just the solar system that revolves around the sun, a.k.a. his brother Aaron. Mom, dad and sister all remind Andi that Josh will be expected to attend all of Aaron's games on the weekends and that the whole family plans to go to all the football games wherever they are. It's pretty much like that Twilight Zone episode where everyone does everything the little girl says or else they die, but, you know, about football. Josh's dad warns Andi, "You'd be marrying a family.” Then they all play family football.
Marcus in Dallas: Before Marcus takes Andi to meet his family — and he never brings anyone to meet his family — he recreates their Magic Mike group date by dressing up like a sailor and stripping for her. Not at all creepy! Marcus announces that he is madly in love with her. Andi smiles politely. Andi is only the second girl to meet Marcus' family (no word on what happened to the first one). Apparently there is “a lot of love in the family despite the struggles,” which Marcus hinted at earlier. At the family homestead, Marcus' sister worries that he's overcaring, which he is, but his brother tells him just to go for it, even though Andi is clearly overwhelmed by all of Marcus' Big Feelings. Playing for the cameras, Andi claims that "life with Marcus would be a fairy tale," and as every faithful reader of the Brothers Grimm knows, fairy tales always end well. Marcus says Andi is his soul mate and that he's ready to propose.
The Sorrow and the Pity: Instead of heading to a cocktail party for last-minute canoodling, Chris Harrison brings Andi and the four remaining men together to break the news about the death of contestant Eric Hill. It's sad and somewhat unnecessary as the show has already done two tributes to Mr. Hill, and showing Andi's reaction to the news is teetering toward exploitation territory (specifically, how Eric's tragic death affected her and the show not, say, him and his family). Anyway, Andi is crying as she thinks about how the last time she saw Eric she yelled at him and kicked him off the show. Everyone else sits there feeling awkward, stunned and sad. Andi splits to take a breather only to return and talk about life and out, out brief candle and whatnot. The whole crew comes in and hugs everyone, puts the cameras down to come and hug, which makes it all so much stranger. Read more thoughts about how The Bachelorette handled the death of Eric Hill.
The Rose Ceremony: While the last time the show discussed Eric's death, they cut out the rose ceremony, now, with Fantasy Suites on the line, they opt to awkwardly segue from tragedy to roses and romance. The show must go on! Andi has decisions to make about who she wants to sleep with in the privacy of a publicly aired prime-time television show. Since she already spent the night in a Fantasy Suite with Juan Pablo Galavis, it can only go up from there. The first rose goes to Josh. Farmer Chris gets the second one. The final rose goes to Nick, meaning that Marcus is no longer in the running to be America's Next Top Dancing With the Stars contestant. Marcus cries as Andi assures him that he was open and vulnerable but a little too open and vulnerable. Andi prefers the dead-behind-the-eyes types like Nick and the emotionally stunted like Josh or the strong silent type like Chris, not the overly sensitive verging on bunny boiler type like Marcus.
Best Reason to Come Back Next Week: Fantasy Suites!