It's week eight, rose lovers, and we all know what that means: Time to give Thomas Wolfe his props for warning us, way back before "hometown dates" even existed, that you can't go home again.
Unless you're Emily, of course, who arrives back at her own Casa Bachelorette sporting a skull t-shirt that's totally not going to give little Ricki nightmares or anything. As she cuddles on the couch with her little girl, Emily relives her final four guys via voiced-over flashbacks: Chris, the "amazing" guy who "can admit when he's wrong;" Jef, the dude "with a little bit of an edge" who could be a "great husband" and "the best dad;" Arie the "bad boy" with a "youthful spirit" and some kissing skillz; and finally Sean, who makes the Bachelorette feel "safe and very taken care of." How will she ever decide? Better lock the doors, close the shutters, and sleep on it, Miss Maynard. You've only got four cities between you and the next rose ceremony.
This leg of our "journey" begins in Chicago, where Chris is waiting outside anxiously for the Bachelorette. She greets him with a peck and a friendly "What's been going on?" Not exactly the passionate reunion of a fated-to-be-married couple, but I'll try not to get ahead of myself. At least Chris is maintaining his sense of humor. "I'm first generation Polish-American," he tells Team Bachelorette. "Everyone in my family is fluent in Polish, so, uh, on a scale of 1 to Polish, we're Polish." Naturally, then, Chris takes Emily to a Polish pub for a beer and a pre-family meeting chat about their awkward last encounter at the rose ceremony. "I liked to see that you cared enough to even show me that emotion," Emily assures him.
And with that out of the way, it's off to Hanover Park, where Chris' dad John, mom Rose (love it!) and sisters Renee and Theresa are waiting to serve the couple a lovely Polish meal around three sides of a table. After they've sat in front of their food for awhile without touching it, John summons his son's date for a parental one-on-one: "Emily, can I have a little talk witchyoo?" But it's the Bachelorette who does most of the talking. "I have a six-year-old," she tells John. "Do you think that's something he's ready for?" Sure he does, says dad. Chris "loves kids." Plus, he'd "do his best," so there's really nothing to worry about, mom. Then again, is there a satisfactory answer to this question besides, "He's raised children before"? No, not really -- and John clearly thinks his son is a good man. As does Mama Rose, who's giving Chris a pep talk in the living room: "If you really love this woman, then you've gotta get out there and you've gotta kick ass and you've gotta fight." Coincidentally, Renee is giving Emily the exact opposite advice. "I just ask, moving forward, if he's not gonna be the one," she tells the Bachelorette, "to, like, end it sooner rather than later."
What an emotional roller coaster! And just like an amusement park ride, this visit is over fast. Chris -- bolstered by his dad's encouragement and the news that Emily said she's "falling in love" with him -- decides to detonate the l-bomb himself as the Getaway SUV idles in the background. "After today, it makes it easy for me to say that I am in love with you," he tells Emily, who murmurs a non-committal awww sound and shuts Chris up with a kiss. Everybody polka!
NEXT: "I just want her to hold a gun all day"