HOMETOWN DATE WITH ERIC
First up, Rachel flew to Baltimore to get to know the city that Eric grew up in. The two met up in what Eric called the “nice” part of town — but that’s not where his childhood home was. After some catching up, they hopped in a car together and he drove her to his old basketball court, where he introduced her to one of his good friends, Ralph.
Ralph informed Rachel that the last time Eric brought a girl home was, well, prom. But what might explain Eric’s lack of experience in the romance department is the fact that he grew up under pretty challenging circumstances. After watching all of the male figures in his life — including his father — take to the streets to make a living, Eric decided to take a different path, focusing on school and helping out his friends and family however he could.
“Eric didn’t grow up with role models to follow, so he put on his big boy pants and did it himself,” said Rachel. “I admire that.”
That night, Eric brought Rachel to his aunt’s home so she could meet his family, who welcomed her with open arms. During some one-on-one time with his aunt, Rachel admitted that being the first black Bachelorette was a lot of pressure — largely because she was constantly being judged by “two different groups” of people: “black people, and everybody else.”
After the evening came to an end and Rachel said goodbye to Eric’s family, he walked her outside — and dropped his very first L word.
“I’ve never been happy like this,” he told her. “The first time it came to me today I was like: Damn, I really love this girl. What I mean by that is I really care about you, like a lot. I care about your wellbeing, I care about what you do in life, I care about who you are, and hopefully you feel the same.”
HOMETOWN DATE WITH BRYAN
Up next came Bryan’s hometown date in Miami, which we’ve expertly summed up in five photographs:
In case it wasn’t obvious, Rachel is absolutely smitten with Bryan — she even called him “baby,” something she hasn’t done with any of the other guys thus far. For their date, Bryan showed Rachel around Calle Ocho, and it’s safe to say they enjoyed each other’s company quite a bit. But Rachel was still feeling apprehensive about meeting Bryan’s mom, seeing as his last relationship fell apart because his ex just couldn’t see eye-to-eye with his mother.
Well, after meeting Bryan’s mom Olga, one begins to understand how that might have happened — Olga is a lot to handle. Bryan is her only child and she’s completely and utterly devoted to him and his wellbeing. In fact, she started crying pretty much the second he walked through the door. But despite her elation at being reunited with him, Olga didn’t exactly have the kindest words to say to her son upon hearing that he had found “the one” on reality television.
“You go out with so many girls and then you go to a show and you fall in love with the girl of the show?” she scoffed. “I’m in shock.”
“And she knows if she messes with the mother, that’s not good,” she added. “Because mother is mother. We are blood.”
Rachel, for her part, handled the situation with the utmost grace — but you could tell she wasn’t exactly at ease, especially when Olga jokingly let it slip that she would “kill” her if Bryan didn’t end up happy. (She was kidding, right? Right?)
“Bryan is my life,” said Olga. “I want the day we leave, I can be in peace because he’s going to have someone to take care of him. He’s my love of my life.”
Bryan is 37. 37!!! Can the fully adult man not take care of himself?
And last but not least, never one to be anything less than extra AF in the love department, Bryan used his hometown date to officially declare his feelings for Rachel.
Bryan: “Rachel, I’m in love with you. I don’t want to hold these feelings back anymore and I didn’t want you to leave my hometown without me expressing how much you mean to me and how much I care about you.”
Rachel: *wipes drool*
HOMETOWN DATE WITH PETER
Up next was Peter, and can we all take a moment to appreciate his glorious salt and pepper? Like, it’s really, really working for him.
After a good old make-out sesh was out of the way, Peter showed Rachel around his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. First on the agenda was drinks at his favorite local bar — but he decided to surprise her with four of his close friends. (And yes, two of them were black. Peter has black friends! They took a moment to laugh about how silly it was that they even found themselves discussing that fact.)
But the one little thorn in Rachel and Peter’s love story thus far is the fact that Peter isn’t quite sure if he’s ready to get engaged.
“I’ve gotten to know her fairly well and realized there’s definitely a connection there — but I don’t know her outside of this,” he admitted. “I don’t know her on a daily basis, I don’t know what it’s like to wake up next to this person every day. The idea is in three weeks from today, I should be able to get down on one knee and propose to her. And it’s f—ing terrifying. Because I want to do that once in my life, and I don’t want there to be a shadow of doubt when that day comes.”
All very legitimate concerns, of course. But it just so happens that getting engaged at the end is very premise of this show.
Regardless, Peter brought Rachel home to meet his family, introducing her to his mom, Lynn, his dad, Gary, and his brother, David, as well as David’s wife, Brooke, and their two young kids. Unsurprisingly, Peter’s family was as warm and sweet as could be, and it all went swimmingly — except when Rachel asked Lynn whether she felt that Peter was ready for marriage. According to Lynn, Peter is ready to be committed to one woman and start a family with her, but he might not be ready for the official vows just yet.
When they parted ways that evening, you could tell that Rachel was just itching for more from Peter — if not an “I love you,” then perhaps at least an “I’m falling for you.” But alas, she didn’t get it, and even Peter knew that wasn’t ideal.
“I want things to move forward with Rachel,” he said. “But in order to get to that next step, I don’t know what that’s going to take. I’m not there yet.”
FROM PEN: Rachel Lindsay on Making History as First African American (& ‘Oldest’) Bachelorette — ‘All Eyes Are on Me’
HOMETOWN DATE WITH DEAN
Last but not least was Dean. Poor Dean really got put through the wringer here, considering that given the format of the show, there was no way he could avoid bringing Rachel home to meet his family — but what did “home” even mean for him, considering he lost his mom to cancer when he was 15 and has a completely estranged relationship with his father?
To recap Dean’s family situation, as Dean himself explained it, his mom’s passing essentially tore apart his family unit. In the years that followed, his father failed to step up to the plate and be there for his children, hence why he no longer has a relationship with Dean. He’s now a converted Kundalini yogi who wears a turban and goes by Paramroop, which apparently means “divinely beautiful.” (“It’s a self-given name, so that speaks a bit to his character,” sniffed Dean.)
Rachel’s meeting with Dean’s immediate family — which included his father, his father’s wife, his brothers, Brad and Ross, and his sister Skye — marked the first time the family had all been together under one roof in eight years, and the first time Dean had even spoken to his father in two.
But before any of that, Dean and Rachel got to enjoy some one-on-one time in Aspen, Colorado. Between ATV rides and picnics, they had a blast, just like they always do together.
When it was finally time for the official meeting, poor Dean descended into a panic outside of his father’s front door.
“This is not a good indication of who I am,” he whispered to Rachel. “I’m legitimately terrified. I’m not nervous, I’m terrified. This is going to be awful.”
But despite his fears, things actually started off relatively well. You could definitely tell Dean was uncomfortable — and hated the fact that they all had to sit on the floor listening to Paramroop play his gong, eating sprouted mung beans — but Rachel didn’t seem to mind. She was especially touched that Dean’s father had prepared sentimental gifts for the two of them: a pair of feathers, since the symbol held a special meaning for Dean’s late mother.
“Dean’s hometown isn’t like anybody else’s just because they’re not your typical family, but I kind of like this,” Rachel admitted. “The energy felt good to me. Everyone was very welcoming, accepting, and very excited to see myself and Dean.”
But as the evening went on, things took a turn for the worse. Rachel and the rest of the family eventually cleared the room, leaving Dean and his father alone. Dean took it upon himself to finally address their issues, admitting that he felt completely abandoned. Unfortunately, his father just couldn’t agree and both men grew more and more frustrated with one another.
“I’m trying to work through this with you, but you’re not allowing me to,” said Dean. “You’re stubborn to the point where you’re not allowing us to work through it. It’s disallowing us to have a relationship.”
“You’ve still got one f—ing foot stuck in the past,” his dad cried out. He got up to leave and Dean made one last attempt to work things out. “I love you, regardless,” he said. “Whatever,” his father responded, storming out of the room.
Rachel, for her part, attempted to have a conversation with Dean’s father outside — but the situation dissolved in a similar fashion.
“This doesn’t work. I just wish you blessings, Rachel,” said Dean’s father, getting up and walking away from her. “I’m sure you’re an incredible lady, but what happened tonight — I need to take it into account because it’s my son, and I didn’t realize he had such harsh feelings about me still. So it’s been a great scenario for you to bring this to my house. That’s really all that I have to say. If it goes further, you’re more than welcome to come back and I’m more than happy to get to know you.”
Rachel went back inside to find Dean, who was lying on the floor in the living room with his head in his hands, near tears. She lay down next to him and comforted him, and he let it slip that he was falling in love with her. The real shocker? Rachel said it right back.
“I think Dean is amazing,” she admitted. “I can’t even imagine going through the things that he’s gone through and being the person that he is. I mean, it’s unbelievable to me. And that’s the kind of person I want to be with.”
Finally, the time had come for Rachel to send one man home — and the decision was weighing on her heavily.
“This has been a very, very hard week for me because all of you guys are so great and making the decision that I have to tonight has not been easy,” she told the final four men. “To the person that I have to say goodbye to tonight, I’m so sorry and I want you to know that I believe you are an absolutely amazing person. I’m sorry that I have to do this.”
Then came the roses: First, one for Bryan, then one for Eric and last but not least … one for Peter. Poor Dean was in shock as she walked him out, and rightly so.
“I told you that I was falling in love with you and you said the same thing, so …” he told her, trailing off. “I meant that. I meant everything that I said to you, as hard as that may be to feel right now,” she responded. They said their goodbyes, and Dean admitted he hadn’t seen it coming.
“For me to come out and say that I’m falling in love — I’m not going to say that for the sake of saying it. I’m going to say it because I mean it,” he told the camera. “And when she said it, I thought she meant it. I thought I found someone for me. Turns out that the feelings weren’t reciprocated. I think she’s an incredible woman — I just think that tonight she made a mistake.”
The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.