Last night’s episode of The Bachelorette put way too much focus on Bennett and Noah’s nonsense. So it was refreshing to start tonight with four men we can actually root for: Ben, our hunky vulnerable king; Zac, another hunky vulnerable king; Ivan, also a hunky vulnerable king; and Brendan, a slightly less vulnerable but still hunky and non-problematic king.
I wasn’t sure what hometown week would look like this season, but Chris Harrison is here to break it down for the men (and us). The contestants will plan a day around the La Quinta Resort that approximates what their life is like back home. At the end, they’ll be joined by their families who have flown in and gone through the quarantine and testing process to be there.
First up is Brendan, who sets up a mini carnival because that’s “a huge part” of life. Does he live in Derry, Maine? I, too, grew up in a small town, but fairs are not that big of A Thing. Imagine anyone other than LeeAnn Locken taking their future husband or wife to play ring toss and saying, “This is me.” But once Brendan’s niece joins them I get it. Producers, I see what you did there. The meeting with Brendan’s brother and sister-in-law is uneventful. Very sweet, very nice, if a little bland—kind of like Brendan. (Sorryyyyyy.)
Zac has an ulterior motive with his date: He lives in New York City, and Tayshia once mentioned that she’s considered moving there. His goal is to show her what life could be like living in the city together. They do “New York” things like hailing a cab (read: a cardboard cutout of a taxi), eating pizza, and hanging out in a fake Central Park. Most accurate of all is when Zac takes her to get a bagel, which really is a daily activity for most New Yawkers. One quibble: The bagel spread looked more like a sundae bar than anything I’d find at my local. (Love you, Brooklyn Bagel!) Sliced strawberries? No. Another unrealistic moment: They inexplicably jump in a fountain to make out. You could not do that in New York, unless corroded pennies and pee is a turn-on for you.
Also very New York: Zac’s parents and brother are much more skeptical of The Bachelorette process than Brendan’s family. When the brother sits down with Tayshia, he straight out asks how her feelings for Zac compare to the other three men. Tayshia says she’s falling in love with Zac, to which the brother says, “You didn’t answer my question.” Zing! But, in the end, Zac’s family agrees they’ve never seen him smile like this before. And so, they’re Team Tayshia.
Perhaps the most personal date of all is Ivan’s. He invites Tayshia over to cook Filipino food, based on a family recipe shared via an adorable video from his niece. Tayshia is only the second woman to meet his parents, and they’re as lovely as you’d expect. But the highlight of the evening comes when Ivan’s brother surprises him with a visit. Producers, how dare you. I still haven’t recovered from evermore—my heart can’t handle so many feelings in a week.
Speaking of: Ben’s date. Now, I’ve recently come across Ben’s TikTok and discovered that, oops, I’m extremely attracted to him. So anything you read from here on out is about to be extremely biased. Anyway! Ben grew up in Indiana, but he wants to show Tayshia where he feels most at home: Venice Beach. Or, as close to it as the La Quinta Resort can get. They go rollerblading, take wellness shots, and “shop” on the “boardwalk.” It’s not that interesting, but…Ben. I could watch this for hours.
That night, Ben introduces Tayshia to his sister and “close family friend” Antonia. Uh, Ben. That is Antonia Lofaso, beloved star of Top Chef and the Food Network. (Oh my gawd, do I love him even more?)
When Antonia and Ben get a moment alone, she immediately calls him out for being in love with Tayshia and being afraid to admit it. He realizes she’s right—but when it comes time to tell Tayshia herself, he stumbles and holds back.
It’s all very frustrating. As I watch him refrain from sharing his real feelings, I understand why Tayshia says Ben’s emotional walls are the only complication in their relationship. Then again, the man has poured out his soul and revealed two extremely personal and major life events. That is emotional intelligence! What more do you need?
Unfortunately, it’s not enough because Tayshia ultimately sends him home at the end of the episode. I, for one, do not understand actively choosing to miss out on a fantasy suite with Ben, but this is Tayshia’s journey. One we’ll continue…next week!
Anna Moeslein is the senior entertainment editor at Glamour.