Ben Higgins Bachelor Recap Episode 8: Hometown Dates
FRONTRUNNERS: JoJo, Lauren B
NO CHANCE: Amanda, Caila
We start with some promising drama in the preview. Amanda’s kids are crying, as kids are wont to do. JoJo’s brothers try to start some shit. Caila’s dad is protective, as dads are wont to be.
Amanda tries to run up to Ben on the beach, but is wearing another mystery garment that doesn’t have any shoulders to cling to.
As a result, she spends most of the jog pulling it up to stay decent. She gets to see her kids for the first time since the show started, and is understandably emotional. The kids want to meet Ben, but they’re shy. A-dor-a-bull.
Ben gets some time in with the kids while Amanda relentlessly fixes her shirt. This is somehow the strangest garment of the season, she chose it for her hometown date. Shouldn’t someone she loves help her make a better wardrobe decision?!
On the ride to Amanda’s home, the younger child starts crying. Amanda fixes her shirt twice on her way from the driver’s seat to the backseat and they head into the house. Hugs and handshakes, flowers for mom (nice move, Ben!), and the youngest is put down for a nap. The family likes him but has very reasonable concerns about whether or not Ben is ready to be a father.
Ben sits down with Amanda’s mom first, and explains he wasn’t expecting to be in this situation when he started the show. He receives a hesitant blessing. They see his potential but aren’t sure he’s ready. As The Bachelor…probably not.
Time for some prospective father-in-law talk. Ben fields some future questions well, but not well enough to escape the incisive questioning of Amanda’s dad. He presses the issue, and Ben can’t convincingly answer that he is ready and wants to be a father in three weeks. No shit.
Next up is Lauren B – Ben heads to Portland for the hometown date, and they start out with a trip to the food truck park. Great move, Lauren! Portland’s food truck game looks strong, and there is actual food consumption on television! Good for them.
Lauren takes him to a whiskey library next. This girl is on point. Shelves and shelves of whiskey, old furniture, and a fireplace. Kat, we’re going there when we finally go visit Portland. The only hitch is that they seem to skip right to talking without ordering any whiskey. There’s no whiskey in their hands, no whiskey on the table, and no whiskey outside of whiskey bottles anywhere. Maybe they’re trying to stay sober for the introduction to the family, but it feels like a waste of a great setting. Then they toy with my emotions by breaking out some Liquid Courage and LEAVING NEARLY FULL GLASSES ON THE TABLE. NO NO NO THIS IS SO MUCH WORSE THAN NOT ORDERING WHISKEY. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
They arrive at the house and settle right in for a pretty damn good looking dinner. Lauren’s sister takes Ben away from the table before anyone takes a bite, and I die a little more inside. She turns the screws despite saying she “doesn’t want to grill” Ben, and he starts to get a little emotional. This seems to satisfy the sister, but it makes me think of the go-to speech in The League. Get asked a tough question, start to respond, get caught up with emotion, and cut yourself off. Always a winner!
The Inquisitress moves on to Lauren next, and demands to hear the L word. Lauren says she is “definitely in love with Ben, 100%”. Convincing! As of now, I see her as the runner up.
Lauren’s dad lobs Ben a softball, and he hits is hard back up the middle with “I felt the world stop”. Ben takes the same response he used with Lauren’s sister and recycles it for her dad. Smart move, Ben. You worked hard on it and you shouldn’t let it go to waste. This time works better, and Lauren’s dad expresses the reservation every dad would have: the three other girlfriends his daughter’s suitor has.
Lauren does not tell Ben she loves him on his way out, but let’s get real – she’s moving on to next week.
Our third hometown date is in Ohio (look, we’re in Ohio), where he’s meeting Caila and her family. They head to a park, which is one of the few things you can do in that state. Next up is a visit to the toy company her father owns. This is great. An awesome prospective profession for a father-in-law, and it’s also very cute. Ben and Caila design a toy house and build it in the toy factory. I am incredibly jealous. Caila grabs some power tools and a hard hat and gets to work. This might be the coolest hometown date I’ve seen, and the main colors are red, white, and blue, so you can’t really go wrong.
Caila is very excited to introduce Ben to the family, and she’s cranked her enthusiasm way up. This could be a game-changer. We enter the dining room where they describe food meant to be eaten with your hands. It all looks really, really good, but before they can dive in hands-first, Caila’s dad interrupts, saying the Philippine community is important to the family. That was quite nice, not intimidating!
Rosanna, Caila’s mom, takes Ben away and starts asking questions. Ben answers the questions comfortably while in the other room, Caila’s dad is asking some tough questions. Good for him! This could be your last time seeing your daughter before she’s off to a Fantasy Suite, an exclusive relationship, and a potential proposal. In that order. Caila’s dad comes across as very nice and respective of his daughter’s decisions. Knucks, Caila’s dad.
Caila is remarkably bubbly throughout the night and effervescent in her description to her parents. Before Ben leaves, Caila snogs but comes up short of telling him she loves him. This could be trouble.
Finally, we head to JoJo’s hometown date in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, her scene begins with flowers and a card from her ex-boyfriend. Weirder still, she doesn’t recognize her ex-boyfriend’s handwriting until about halfway through the letter. This throws JoJo off quite a bit, and she’s crying before Ben even arrives. I’m told this is not good for makeup or one’s look.
JoJo decides to call her ex, and he spins the usual forgive me nonsense. Change, mature, love, all that. Unfortunately for Ben, she’s talking far too long to actually be over it, and he gets to walk in to the aftermath of that phone call.
JoJo addresses the flowers in the room, and Ben puts on a perfect “welp this is fucked” face. She tells Ben that all of her feelings are with him, but he and I look unconvinced. He accepts her explanation and moves to snogging, but I ain’t buyin it.
From the couch, our couple moves straight to JoJo’s house. Why did everyone else get a second stop?
Everyone at the JoJo residence is super psyched to see her, including her brothers who plant an uncomfortable number of kisses on her face. JoJo cries some more, but we slide to the dinner table where everyone loads up a plate they won’t touch. Ugh. So sad.
The Brothers Bro are not thrilled with Ben whatsoever, but I can’t take them seriously because one is wearing a bracelet on each arm and the other is wearing an ill-fitting cowlneck sweater with nothing underneath.
I also can’t figure out how old anyone at this table is. The dad looks at least 70, the mom has enough work done that she could be anywhere from 50 to 80, the older brother looks 40, the other brother seems to be 30, and the sister looks ??? I don’t think Ben is feeling great as he heads into a side room with The Brothers Bro.
Ben answers their questions as delicately as he can, but it’s hard to stay calm when four eye-lasers are boring their way through your head. This isn’t going well, and I don’t think it will get any better. If it was just them I might say you can hope to win them over eventually, but the entire family kind of sets me on edge. At this point I’d be switching to survival mode and trying to make it to the end of the night.
JoJo goes to talk to her brothers, who are aggressively dismissive of Ben. The camera zooms out enough for us to see that both of them are sporting double bracelets. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, but now I can’t stop staring at it. Muscles McCowlneck tells her to be guarded, and Old Man brother says he doesn’t think Ben is as emotionally involved as JoJo. Probably correct, what with the other girlfriends. Everyone moves to the kitchen, and the brothers describe Ben’s actions as brainwashing. Did anyone in this family see the show? Know what it’s about? Think hard about what it would entail? Eh who cares, JoJo’s mom just took a pull straight from the champagne bottle! Party on mom!
The Brothers Bro continue their aggressive counseling, and Ben squirms uncomfortably. They do not take his answers seriously, and eventually Ben starts to crack. He rightly feels insulted, but the dad steps in with some polite empty words. This did not go well, and JoJo is probably on her way out.
JoJo and Ben step outside to reflect on the date, and there’s a lot of angst. JoJo is scared, and she probably should be. Having your brothers dress terribly is embarrassing enough, but pulling some intimidation tactics on your romantic target is worse. Maybe ask them to dial it back next time around.
So we come to the rose ceremony. JoJo, Amanda, Caila, and Lauren all arrive in their “maybe this will sway him at the last minute if he’s thinking of sending me home” dresses. Victorious this week: Lauren, Caila, and JoJo. Hyperprotective brothers are discouraging, but the idea of marrying into two kids when you aren’t ready is a more terrifying prospect. Ben walks her outside and blah blah here’s your limo. He said something about their connection not measuring up to the others, but after JoJo’s family it’s hard to blame anything but the immediate step-dad role. Which is reasonable, by the way!