We're getting close to the finish line, rose-lovers -- can you feel it? But before Brad can finish his "journey," he must engage in the traditional Bachelor ritual known as the Masquerade of Denial and Inexplicable Familial Complicity, otherwise known as hometown daaaaaaaaaates! Are you ready? Let's do this!
We open on Brad in a New York hotel room, prepping for his upcoming ordeal. "I feel very excited," he says, "and also, I'm thinking a lot." Careful, pal -- don't pull something! He reminisces about the other "ladies": sexy but emotionally disastrous Chantal; chipper but withholding Ashley; consistent Shawntel; and sweet but overprotective Emily. Who to choose? Only the hometowns know for sure.
First up is Seattle, where Chantal -- wearing a scarf she may or may not have stolen from a flight attendant -- waits for Brad in a picturesque park overlooking the Space Needled skyline. The Bachelor is relieved to see that Chantal has gotten over her poolside meltdown and seems relatively calm as she shows Brad around her house. Perhaps it's the soothing influence of her pet dog and cats, Boca, Jinxy, and Bailey. Boca looks kind of like Mr. Winkle; though Chantal warns Brad that Boca may bite him, the dog does not deliver. Then the couple is off to Chantal's parents house -- or should I say Chantal's parents' ginormous, Real Housewives of New Jersey-style McMansion -- where her mom Billie Jo, dad Michael, and brother Tom are there to receive them. Dad leads the Bachelor out to the foyer, or something, to show him a large bronze statue of man chiseling himself out of stone. "The concept is self-made man," he explains. He likes that Brad built up a "successful business" from scratch, and he's even more tickled that Brad's grandfather was a mason, like Chantal's granddad. "I feel like Chantal and Brad could get married tomorrow," says Mike. "I'd be proud to have him as my son-in-law." Meanwhile, Chantal is elsewhere on the compound doing -- what else? -- drinking wine and crying. For the love of God, woman, hold it together.
And with that we're off to Madawaska, Maine to visit Ashley the dentist, who feels a little "disconnected" from Brad due to their long separation, but she's hoping their proximity to the Canadian border will magically reignite her spark with the Bachelor. Over a lunch of fries and gravy, Brad -- perhaps still embarrassed that he greeted the French-speaking waitress in Spanish -- reminds Ashley that in order to move forward in their relationship she has to stop with the whole "disconnected" thing. She agrees: "Me reassuring you, you reassuring me all the time -- we wasted so much time on that. I don't want to do it anymore." Ok then, it's settled! Let's go find some lobsters to kill for dinner!
NEXT: A deadly hometown date