This week, Bachelor Ben takes a world-wind trip across the U.S. to visit his final four ladies in their home-towns and meet their parents (read potential in-laws). It’s a scary task to meet and wow anyone’s family, but imagine impressing four in one week when each of them know their little girl isn’t your only squeeze!
Normally, I like to poke fun at all the escapades but as this is perhaps the most serious week in the competition, with family involved, I will just state the facts (okay, maybe an occasion punch line!)
First stop, Ocala, Florida for Lindzi.
She won him over with the first impression rose when she rode in on her horse and she’s hoping to make the last impression as well. Lindzi isn’t shy about her love of horses. “Horses have been in my life since before I was born – I rode before I walked. So if Ben wants to end up with me, horses are always going to be a part of our life together.” Thus the date begins with Lindzi showing Ben the basics of riding, followed by a picnic where she reveals that she lived with her ex- boyfriend, the one who broke her heart with the ‘dumpsville’ text after two years together. She lets Ben know she is ready to be with him and that he is the second guy she’s ever brought home to her parents. The meet & greet with the parents goes well too, starting when Lindzi’s father offers Ben a glass of wine. As it turns out, Lindzi’s parents Harry and Margy were actually married in the San Francisco City Hall (where Ben and Lindzi had their first date) and Ben takes this as a good sign. It’s clear Ben fits in well with Lindzi’s family. He calls them ‘salt of the Earth’ like his family and even sees her dad as someone he can imagine going to for advice and having a father-son relationship. The night includes horse carriage races, food, and laughs and it’s clear Ben feels at home with Lindzi’s family. In fact, they even have a terrier just like Ben’s. Ben admits that he didn’t expect his feelings for Lindzi to grow so much in just one day but meeting her family really put Lindzi in the race for Ben’s heart.
Next stop, Clarksville, Tennessee for Kaci B.
It’s no secret Kaci B has been my favorite all along but her hometown date might have jeapardized her spot in Ben’s life. You see, when you marry someone, you also marry their family…and families don’t always mesh. The date begins with Ben meeting Kaci B at a local field where he is met by a full marching band and Kaci swirling a baton. Her excitement to see him is more than evident and it seems Ben feels the same. Kaci explains that the field is named after her grandfather who was big into sports and the community and that her grandparents (now gone) are the example of the type of love she wants to have. All is going great until Ben meets the parents. While, Kaci B is one of the kindest, warmest, most welcoming people on the show, her family didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat. That’s not to say they aren’t wonderful people who raised an amazing daughter (daughters, as Kaci B’s sister Allison joins them) but Denny and Martha are what you would call strictly old-fashioned (read super over-protective). Their concerns go beyond the basics of wanting to protect their daughter from heartache. Denny pretty much drills Ben on the sanctity of marriage and the need for a long engagement to flush out their relationship and Martha cuts to the chase by saying she will have a big problem if he and Kaci B plan to live together before their wedding. Not to mention, they made it pretty obvious they wouldn’t be thrilled if he took their precious girl all the way to California for good. To make matters worse, Kaci B’s mood is brought down by the increasing fustration that her parents won’t trust her and back her on this. When she tells her father she loves Ben and would say yes to a proposal, he throws it her face that the other three women probably love Ben too and that he wouldn’t give the approval if Ben asks his permission. Ben is clearly taken back by the tense family situation (read, sweating bullets) and it’s clear that when he leaves, there is a newfound distance between him and Kaci B. Although Kaci B makes it clear she is going to do what she wants to do whether it pleases her parents or not…it might not get to be her decision after all.
On to Fort Worth, Texas for Nikki
Although Ben describes his relationship with Nikki as ‘slow to go’ up to this point, I’ve had her pinned as a dark horse all along and it’s clear that the hometown date was just the opportunity to make her move toward the lead. The two start off the date by shopping for cowboy boots and a hat and hitting up the local saloon for drinks. The two just seem really comfortable and natural together, as if they are already dating and this could be their usual Sunday routine. Nikki is clearly a fun, optimistic, light-hearted person and I think seeing her in her hometown surely made Ben take a long look. The pair talk once again about her past marriage and Nikki lets Ben know why she feels this time around will be different. Then it’s off to meet her parents, who are divorced but you’d never know it, and her brother. Although Nikki mentions she was mostly raised by her father Doug, she feels equally close to her mom Laura. It’s admirable the family has remained so close, a testament to the love and friendship her parents have maintained despite being separated. Nikki’s mother says she sees a glow in Nikki and something between Ben & Nikki that she’s never seen before, even during her first marriage, and she really approves of Ben. Doug has a heart to heart with both his daughter and Ben. Much like Kaci B’s dad, he was skeptical at first of The Bachelor dating process and wants to protect his daughter but unlike the former, Doug gives Ben the approval. In a touching moment, Doug reveals he blames himself for giving away his daughter’s hand too easily the first time around and feels he let her down but still trusts her judgment and wants her to be happy. Even Matt gives the nod of a brother’s approval, sometimes the hardest to get! I truly think Ben fit in just as well with Nikki’s family as he did with Lindzi’s. Both had a real welcoming, down to Earth quality and on both dates Ben’s connection with the women really grew.
Last stop, Scottsdale, Arizona for Courtney
Ben admits he is excited to meet Courtney’s family and learn more from them about the type of woman Courtney is- particularly how she relates to others and what her past relationships have been like. It is clear Ben is starting to have some fears about choosing Courtney thanks to the warning of the other women. It’s only unclear if the warnings were too little too late. When we left off in Belize, Ben was back under Courtney’s spell and on the hometown date it’s not hard to see why. One on one, Courtney is charming and vulnerable, and dare I say even sensitive. But that doesn’t excuse the behavior she exudes around other women or out of Ben’s eye-sight, it nearly masks it. Ben joins Courtney’s parents and sister for a meal on their patio. Her father, Rick, proposes a toast to Ben meeting the family and later tells Ben that marriage is life’s biggest gamble (it’s a %50 chance for success) and asks if it’s a gamble he’s ready to make. At dinner, Courtney admits that she is ‘falling for him and I really like/love him’. The thing is, she still doesn’t seem sincere and while she might be falling, it’s clear the other three women have long fallen. And I’m not the only skeptic, Courtney’s own mother says to camera, “I’d be very surprised if she is in love with him. I’m not sold on it yet.” She also mentions that Courtney was once wrong about love and now realizes that her mother is always right (as if to warn Ben he must get her approval). Somehow Ben manages to win everyone over and by the end of the visit Courtney’s mom is convinced of their mutual love and is on board to sign off. Post-dinner Courtney takes Ben to a park where she mentions she has always dreamed of getting married. Coincidentally (or at least that’s what she wants Ben to think) there appears to be a wedding set up there. It quickly becomes clear that Courtney has planned this faux wedding (with a priest, fake rings, and a bow tie for Ben to wear) as a way to surprise Ben and tell him she loves him.
The creepy factor just rose about 100% in my book. Courtney whips out two booklets and has them both write ‘wedding vows’ which they then recite before the priest at the altar. Ben does comment that he wonders ‘how far they are going to take this thing’ but oddly seems rather calm…correction, even into it! He calls it romantic and seems to enjoy the date…SERIOUSLY? I mean, yes it’s somewhat romantic, but does anyone else find it a bit, oh I don’t know…CRAZY! Not to mention awkward, disrespectful (to the other ladies, the institution of marriage, you name it) and totally just WEIRD. The fact that Ben so willingly goes along with the ceremony which basically was a wedding minus the guests and legal documents makes me think, this boy is going to propose to this chick in the end! Because no other man I can imagine would calmly have a fake wedding with a women he only might want to marry.
Not to mention if he does pick one of the other ladies in the end, this will be a really awkward episode to watch together when it airs!
That said, we make it back to Los Angeles for the rose ceremony where one lady must go home.
Courtney, will you accept this rose? Lindzi, will you accept this rose? Nikki, will you accept this rose? Kaci B is going home…No!!!!!
I am pretty sure all of America gasped along with me and felt their hearts break for this girl. Am I totally surprised after the hometown date…No. But, it did strike me as off that Ben would dismiss the connection they’ve had the entire process just because the family date didn’t go as well as planned. First impressions are always hard when it comes to family, and the circumstances are out of the ordinary, not to mention relationships are about compromise. I think if he really wanted to be with Kaci B some of the family issues could have been worked out and would have been easier to work out once the family knew his true commitment to their daughter. That said, perhaps the connection just wasn’t as strong for him as it seemed to us viewers at home. Or perhaps he thought the differences in values would be too much to overcome in the long run.
Kaci B is young, beautiful, and sincere and the hardest thing for me to watch was her break down in the car where she cries out, “Why am I not good enough. This is why I don’t love.” It was clear she felt blind-sided and blamed herself, as women tend to do. I did think Ben owed her at least some explanation and all he managed was a pitiful “I’m sorry.” That said, there isn’t much he could have said to ease her pain. My hope for Kaci B is that she looks back in time and doesn’t blame herself or her family and realizes that she is young and has a lot to offer the right man when he comes along. Who knows, perhaps we will see her as the next Bachelorette.
As for the remaining trio, it is off to Alpine, Switzerland for a fairy-tale adventure and definitely more tears.