If we had to assign this phase of Ben’s season with an all-encapsulating quote, it’d be, “I’ve never felt this way about anyone.” Each remaining contestant expressed some variation of this revelation during the Feb. 22 episode, which featured the final four women bringing Ben to see their hometowns and characteristically skeptical families.
Date 1: Meet the Kids
To kick us off, Ben joins Amanda at a postcard-worthy Southern California beach, where he’s introduced to her adorable pigtail-sporting daughters, Charlie and Kinsley, for the first time. The mock family plays in the sand and experiences the joys of darting through a flock of seagulls. While Ben assures us that the date feels natural, it’s hard to believe that being introduced to the children of your non-exclusive girlfriend in front of a reality TV camera crew could breed a natural setting.
Of course, Ben was exposed to some of the not-so-joyous aspects of dating a single mom, such as riding shotgun in a carload of fussy toddlers and attempting to put one of said toddlers down for a nap.
Later, when recalling the day’s events to Amanda’s parents, Ben uses the choice words of “sweet and nice” when describing her children. As is to be expected, much of the conversation revolves around Ben’s ability to assume the fatherly role in the event that he chooses Amanda.
Date 2: The City of Roses
As Lauren conveniently points out at the onset of her hometown date with Ben, Portland is the city of roses. The two dabble in food tasting, exploring the city’s infamous array of food trucks. We learn of Lauren’s affinity for butter and watch as Ben feeds Lauren a toasted sandwich, resorting to the old “pretend the food is an airplane” gimmick as he aims it into her mouth. So sweet – if you’re five. Next, Ben and Lauren visit a whiskey library, where the two cuddle up on a couch and Ben tells her he’s glad she didn’t leave the show out of fear.
Though Lauren has joined the masses in proclaiming that her feelings for Ben are unlike feelings she’s had for any other man, she does semi-surprise us in revealing that she wants to introduce him to her family before confessing her love to him — a rare show of restraint among “Bachelor” contestants.
In another unexpected occurrence, Ben breaks down into tears when Lauren’s sister prods him about his feelings for her sister. The waterworks are unexpected, as the only words he’s used to describe his feelings for her are, “I feel very lucky.”
A man of cliches, Ben also explains to Lauren’s dad that, “the world stopped” when he first caught sight of her stepping out of the limo.
Date 3: Ben Acknowledges His “Microwave Fame” in Ohio
In last week’s episode Caila voiced her insecurities about not having a “true” hometown, a result of frequent moves during her childhood. Though it’s unclear why this fact would repel a romantic prospect, she feared it would send her home before Hometowns.
Now advanced to the hometown phase of the show, Caila introduces Ben to her high school in Hudson, Ohio, the first place that felt like home. During Caila’s tour of the school grounds she addresses a wooden swing/bench that, according to her, attracted only the truest of teenage love birds back in the day. So monumental is this spot, she’s apparently always dreamed of sharing it with a special boy.
In a rare creative choice of hometown date activity, Lauren reveals that the pair will be designing and building a toy house during the next leg of their date.
“I never thought I would find a toy factory so sexy,” says Ben of witnessing a power tool-wielding, hard hat-wearing Caila hard at work assembling their mini home.
Upon arriving at Caila’s parents’ house, the two are greeted with a table of traditional Filipino dishes and a father who awkwardly asks Ben, “What’s it like dealing with what I describe as ‘microwave fame’?” That’s a new one.
The dinner then leads to a rare glimpse of meaningful, non-awkward conversation between Ben and Caila’s mother. While catching up with her mother later on, Caila displays the deadly symptoms of puppy love, squealing with excitement and presumable stomach butterflies.
Date 4: Drama in Dallas
If the purpose of JoJo’s hometown date is to offer Ben a preview of her “everyday” life, he’s destined for a marriage brimming with ex-boyfriend drama and overbearing family members.
The date begins with JoJo stumbling upon a love letter and bouqet of flowers on her doorstep. Assuming the gifts were a thoughtful gesture from her current suitor, she opens the letter and begins reading it out loud. After a few lines, she realizes the gifts are a testament of love from her ex-boyfriend.
In true reality TV fashion, she phones her ex, who, naturally, begs for her back.
Once Ben arrives, a visibly upset JoJo describes what happened. Though he displays the grimace of a concerned, slightly jealous boyfriend during her recollection of the event, he responds by perking up and telling JoJo he’s proud of her for making the call. Aw.
The mood shifts quickly as the two express their excitement for the day’s events
Before the duo embark on their date JoJo throws in a casual “I love you,” which Ben half-addresses with a smile and one-word response.
When the incident is recalled during dinner with JoJo’s family, Ben describes it as “one of the best days we’ve had, talking about life.” We can only hope that statement refers to unaired footage, because what we saw was a snooze.
Speaking of a familiar “Bachelor” trope, Ben is met with harsh opposition by JoJo’s brothers. One of whom confronts him with, “Ben, you’ve brainwashed these girls way too much” — a ballsy line that was strategically featured in the teaser clip for this week’s episode.
The episode wraps up with a rose ceremony where Ben eliminates Amanda — sorry, kids! The signs were unclear, but we can only guess that Ben was intimidated by the idea of becoming an insta-father. With only three women left, the end is finally nigh.
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