On this week of The Bachelorette, it's finally time for the hometown dates! These are the four dates that had Ali in a tizzy all during last week's episodes and who can blame her? Like in real life — which this show rarely ever is — meeting the family can make or break the romantic connections.
Ali travels to Tampa to visit Roberto and she's pretty much so smitten over him that all he has to do is stand there and be charming. So, of course, he goes and puts on a baseball uniform (complete with tight shorts) to play baseball with Ali. She dons one of his old jerseys to practice hitting and fielding and they seem to have a blast on the diamond. Throughout the date, they are very comfortable and easygoing with each other. The two sit on the mound for a breather and Roberto gives Ali one of his old baseball cards from when he played for her hometown team. "Roberto, you're smoking hot," she squeals with delight.
Talk moves towards the family date later in the evening and Ali says she's nervous because she doesn't know anything about his family. Roberto says his mom is passive, but his dad, an ex-Army ranger, is pretty tough (insert big, flashing warning sign here). Later that night, Ali goes to Roberto's house to meet the family, including his dad, mom, sister, brother and sister-in-law. Ali seems to make a very good impression, but Roberto says he's most nervous about his dad. Roberto Sr. says he knows his son is a "big price" and knows that Ali will be happy with him, but wants to know he will be happy with Ali. Aka, why is this crazy reality TV chick good enough for my son?
Ali sits down with Roberto Sr. and tells him of her ambitions to own her own business and become successful. Dad immediately starts questioning her about her commitment to her personal life as well and how she plans to balance family and work. He explains that he knows Roberto is looking for his success too, and that may take them in different directions. However, his dad eventually gives his approval about Ali and the night ends up with some happy dancing.
Come on, Chris L., don't let me down now! I have high expectations for this date after Chris L. gave Ali that very special bracelet last week. Chris L. welcomes Ali to Cape Cod, Mass. at the beach he grew up on and with his dog (all together now: awww). Like I've said before, Chris L. is the most normal, so his relationship with Ali hasn't moved as fast as the others. She says she thinks they've just moved out of the friend zone and is excited, and slightly nervous, to see what's next.
They head to his house and immediately his late mother comes up. Ali is moved by all the pictures of her around the home and seems warmed by the fact that they are keeping her memory alive. Being around pictures of Chris' mom and possessions also makes Ali feel closer to him than she's ever felt before and she seems primed to meet the family.
Soon, Ali meets Chris L.'s dad, two brothers, and two sisters-in-law and Ali brings the family wine from their wine tasting in Portugal. As Ali knocks back a few glasses of wine with the family, she realizes his family knows him better than anyone and is excited to get to know Chris L. better through his dad. Chris L.'s dad says Ali and Chris L. have a great commonality — the fact that they both left their jobs to take care of sick loved ones. (Chris L. with his mom and Ali with her grandmother.) Aw, reminds me of Ali's hometown visit with Jake on The Bachelor when she showed him her grandmother's house — so cute! Meanwhile, the sisters-in-law are worried about the competition at this point in the game although they seem to have a genuine relationship.
Later, Chris L.'s dad asks what he would say to his mom about Ali and he says his mom was so intuitive and she would just know they were in love. His dad says no matter what, his mom is up there orchestrating what's happening (another aww moment). At the end of the date, Ali gives two big hugs to his dad and he later says Ali could easily be his future daughter-in-law. The last thing Chris L. shows Ali is a tower by his house and the two share a steamy make-out session.
Ali next heads to Green Bay, Wisc. to visit Kirk. One issue is that his mom and dad are divorced and don't speak to each other. Ali sympathizes since her parents are divorced, but also says she's a little interested to see how this unusual dynamic has affected him. Ali visits Kirk's dad house first and — in the absolute creepiest way possible — immediately asks Ali if she wants to go down to his basement. His dad is a taxidermist and Ali is very clearly freaked out by the many, many dead animals. Beyond just animal bodies, Kirk's dad has a freezer full of dead body parts.
Another big problem with Kirk is he has very little experience with long-term relationships, so this is the first girl Kirk's dad has met. Ali asks Kirk's dad if he is really ready to be in a relationship, but Kirk's dad seems to approve of her right away and says his son is definitely ready for the right girl. Kirk and his dad talk about making sure they are on the same page, as the reason Kirk's parents got divorced was simply because they tied the knot too young and they grew apart.
Next up is a visit with Kirk's mom, grandmother and sister. Kirk's sister asks what stood out about Kirk and Ali says he's funny and quirky, citing the scrapbook he gave her early on. In a deep talk outside with his sister a bit later, Kirk says he was formerly only concerned about himself in relationships, but now he's ready to give and receive. Ali sits down with Kirk's mom and she opens up about his illness in college and talks about how she respects her son so much and feels she's finally ready to let him after taking care of him. Kirk later sits down with his mom and she seems to approve of Ali right away just like his dad did. Ali and Kirk seem to have an OK hometown visit, but nothing extraordinary. Plus, it's clear she still has major concerns about his lack of previous long-term relationships.
The last hometown visit is with Frank in the Windy City. The two kick things off with one of Chicago's famous boat tours. During the tour, the two take goofy pictures, but Ali also brings up that she may be meeting her future-in-laws very soon and Frank seems a little hesitant. He says his parents have some tough questions for her because of the situation, but doesn't seem too worried. Suddenly, Frank's own concerns about the situation come up and he just keeps going on and on about how important this is becoming. He basically says he still only has so much faith that Ali will choose him at each step of the way, but she tells him to just focus on whether she's right for him. Whoever told Frank to be on this show is a big, fat idiot, because he's always complaining about how they don't get to spend enough time together, how he has to share her, how he doesn't have complete faith in her, etc. Not everyone is up for this demanding dating process, and Frank is sure as heck not one of them. Frank says he's not completely sure if Ali is the one or not, and is dying to know what his family thinks about her. Ali is starting to get worried about Frank's concerns too and his lack of trust in their relationship and hopes his family's approval will solidify what the two of them have. I dunno, then what will Frank complain about?
Ali goes to meet Frank's dad, mom, sister and brother-in-law and Frank's parents seem pretty great right off the bat. His parents have a great sense of humor and ask very open and honest questions about their relationship (but questions that aren't too nosy). Frank's mom takes Ali outside and compliments Ali for settling in so quickly. Frank's sister is keen to Frank's doubts, but Ali tells her it's because they both really believe this could be it. Frank's dad especially seems smitten with Ali, even though they don't spend any alone time together, and in the end, Frank walks away very sure of their relationship and (almost) ready to get down on one knee at the end of this whole thing.
The Rose Ceremony
Ali travels back to Los Angeles to talk with Chris Harrison about her trips. She, again, gushes about Roberto and says she thought Roberto was the dream guy she wanted, but didn't think she deserved. She says meeting Chris. L's family was the biggest surprise for her and she fell for him in a different way. However, she worries it still may be too late (oh, come on!). Ali says she's worried about whether Kirk is the guy she needs, but she's no longer as concerned about his dating history (or lack thereof). Ali also voices her concerns about Frank and his insecurities, but it's clear she's still crazy about him and his family has subsided as many of his fears as possible. Finally, Ali says she feels stronger about a few of the guys now then she did about Jake during her hometown visit, but she's scared.
At the rose ceremony, Ali begins to cry and says that this has nothing to do with their families and that she doesn't want to do this. Her relationship with each guy grew, and she's obviously still a little torn about who is going home and if she is making the right move. The first person she gives a rose to is: Robert. Then, Chris L., followed by Frank. When Ali gives the final rose to Frank, she starts crying on his shoulder and mouths "I'm sorry" to Kirk. Kirk and Ali walk outside and she tells him she thinks the world of him, but doesn't think they're perfect for each other. Kirk seems blind-sided, saying she's the first girl he really tried with and says in his voice-over that he's never been heartbroken before. Can't say I didn't see this coming after their only OK hometown visit, but I truly and sincerely hope Ali didn't screw him up royally for all future relationships, especially since she didn't say anything on the bench when Kirk talked about opening up to her.
After Kirk departs, Ali announces to Roberto, Chris L. and Frank that they are headed for Tahiti!
So what did you think of the hometown visits? Is Ali a little infatuated with Roberto? Why is Frank so consumed with worry? Is Chris L. too normal to win The Bachelorette? And finally, are you sad Kirk was sent packing? Share your thoughts below.