Brad is back in New York. Which means the footage of him packing for the hometown dates was probably staged. Why can’t reality TV be real?
Brad and Rosemaster Chris Harrison recap his hometown dates. They talk about how Brad is in love with Chantal’s dad, and he’s had strong feelings for Chantal for a long time. He was also comfortable with Ashley’s family, and he was interested in what Shawntel does and could relate to it, which makes no sense. He talks about Emily, but Chris brings up that Brad saw himself most with Ashley’s family. Chris adds that Ashley is the only one who hasn’t said she’s falling in love with Brad. Wait, when did Emily confess her love?
Brad says there’s no comparison between this season and the last time he was the Bachelor. He sees a future with these ladies. (Rumor has it, Brad wanted to choose Bettina Bell on Season 11, but her father was very anti-Brad and that crushed the whole season. True or not, who knows.)
There’s something very 1960s about how Chantal looks at the Rose Ceremony. Does it work?
Going home: Shawntel
Brad walks her out. You’d think by now he’d be used to dumping chicks. He’s so dang awkward. Stop asking if she minds if you walk 10 steps with her! The women are always more composed. He tells Shawntel he didn’t feel the way a man should feel when they hear that a woman is falling in love with him. She says she hasn’t been treated as well by a man before. She deserves much better. Maybe she should be the next Bachelorette.
Fantasy dates! They’re going to South Africa, which is possibly the coolest location yet. So jealous. Brad once again says it’s without a doubt one of the most beautiful places he’s ever been, which he seems to say about every exotic locale they visit. (Except the mausoleum.) Is it just us, or does Emily tell an elephant to shut up? Or maybe she just tells Brad to shut up. She says she wants to set a good example, so there’s a good chance she turns down the fantasy suites. Then again, Brad has claimed he didn’t get it on with any of the girls on the overnight dates. So maybe they just went ahead and talked all night. Brad reveals he takes a step back with one of the girls, so which one will it be?
HOMETOWN DATE WITH SHAWNTEL
Did you see the ad for Newton-Bracewell Funeral Homes? The O'Briens are supposedly airing auto ads in Seattle, and now we have funeral home ads plugging Chico, California. At least the ladies are getting some mileage out of this show!
HOMETOWN DATE WITH ASHLEY
Welcome to Madawaska, Maine! Or bienvenue, since it's way up there by Canada, eh.
Ashley looks super cute with her earrings and jacket. She and Brad admire each other's outfits. Brad is into fashion, as we recently learned. And he does look hella hot in that plaid shirt and leather jacket. Very manly.
We see the restaurant where Ashley had her first job. Brad decides he could live in this town. (Cheating on Austin already?) She wants him to try fries with cheese and gravy, even though he only eats bland food. He also only seems to speak Spanish, but oh well.
Brad says they are in a very good place, but they need to be in a great place.
They go shopping at an adorable farm stand where everything is on the honor system. (Don't get cheap on them, Brad.)
Brad has never seen Ashley this happy and energetic. He loves when she jumps into his arms and acts like a little kid. Ashley is feeling as close as she's ever felt to being in love with Brad, which is a far cry from Chantal's "I'm in love with Brad." Ash is much more cautious. Her lack of gushing affection may turn Brad off.
Ashley's family is very homey and happy and energetic. Ashley's sister, Chrystie, is also really cute and has an interesting tattoo on her chest. Ashley and Brad do seem to have a great, easy connection. He looks like he belongs there.
Brad talks to Dad about Ashley's ambition. She wants to be a dentist and will finish her schooling. Dad isn't sure that Ashley wants kids. Why hasn't Brad had this conversation with Ashley?
Brad is worried he'll hold Ashley back. Why can't she just be a dentist in Austin? Does he require a housewife? Ultimately, the sister tries to save Ashley and tells Brad that Ash is at the perfect time to start a new life. But Brad is stuck on the idea that he would be holding her back. That sounds like a rationalization for a later dumping.
On the flip side, Ashley is just now starting to think that she and Brad are meant to be.
HOMETOWN DATE WITH CHANTAL
Chantal is a "total relationship person," and she was in a relationship for a long time with her ex-husband.
Why isn't it raining? It's supposed to always rain for Brad and Chantal, and they are in Seattle. It's a bright, sunny day. Fail, Seattle!
Chantal describes her parents, who live only four streets away from her, as great judges of character. Brad says he could see himself hanging out in Seattle — wait till it rains! — but she talks too much and barely lets him get a word in.
Chantal has a dog and two cats. Her dog, Boca, is mucho adorable. Marry the dog! Jinx the cat is so over Brad. Brad likes seeing the happy, confident Chantal — aka "the old Chantal." She is "emotional roller coaster" defined. Brad lives in a loft without much closet space, so he'll have to move for Chantal. He'll probably have to do a lot to make her happy. Just a guess.
Chantal's parents' home is ENORMOUS. Like, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills enormous. It pays to be a former Seattle Seahawk and owner of O'Brien Auto Group. Wow. Brad meets her mother, father, and brother. They are a posh, attractive, camera-ready family.
Brad brings up "the slap," and Chantal's mother is shocked. Somehow, Brad and Chantal laugh off the slap as "sweet" and "funny." If you say so...
Chantal and her father have a talk. She tells him she felt right away that there was something special, like Dad did with Mom when they met. Chantal talks to her mom and — what are the odds — she starts crying. Again.
Brad and Dad talk about self-made men and how, after hard work, you too could own gigantic, vaguely vulgar statues that stare down visitors at the front of your home. Turns out, Papa O'Brien also has daddy issues. This guy is Brad’s perfect match. Brad knows he'll be "a damn good father." In 10 years or so he wants to be happy, which to him means a family. He wants Papa's blessing. Papa gives it without even seeming to be asked. Did they not see Season 11?
Brad really, really sees a future with Chantal. The visit went even better than he expected.
BRAD HANDICAPS HIS FINAL FOUR
For some reason, Brad starts the show in New York, where he recaps his relationships with the remaining ladies.
Brad says Chantal is not like the other ladies — she's not timid, and they have so much fun. He doesn't hold back with her. He sees a real future with her, and in a lot of ways he wants her to be his wife. But she's emotional. (To say the least!) Brad claims he can't stand an emotional roller coaster, so it's hilarious that he's keeping Chantal, Ashley, and Emily over “no drama” Shawntel.
Then there's Ashley. From their very first meeting, Brad knew there was something there. But Ashley has been second-guessing things. Every second they spend together they're reassuring each other about their feelings, instead of moving forward.
Brad knows that Shawntel is wife material. They have this fun connection. No roller coaster. No games. No drama. (And no rose, which makes no sense!)
Emily has a lot of love for her ex, which sets the bar high for the next guy. Brad is trying his hardest to break through to her. "She's what I'm looking for in a wife — she just is." But Emily also has a daughter, and she's very protective of little Ricki. "I'm falling so hard for Emily..." Is he allowed to say things like that? He can't outright say "I love you," but he's walking the line with Miss Em.
Funeral directors need love, too, you know! Unfortunately, Shawntel Newton is not going to spend her life — or afterlife — with Brad Womack.
After agreeing to a hella-creepy mock embalming, Brad decides to dump The Angel of Death in The Bachelor Season 15, Episode 8. That’s okay — he probably doesn’t even want to be cremated. And let’s just say, he’s really lucky he doesn’t have to visit Ashley Hebert’s dentist office. Embalming isn’t romantic, but neither is a root canal.
Speaking of things that (apparently) aren’t romantic — kissing a woman when her child is sleeping upstairs? Well, that’s Brad’s bizarre take on it. He’s just a wee bit oversensitive to the whole kid thing, which puts Emily in the driver’s seat for every step from now on.
This is another Emily week. That date at her house, playing a board game with Ricki and just acting like a family — that’s the most real this show ever gets. It’s starting to look like Brad must pick Emily… or is that just a red herring? He seems to fit in best with Ashley’s family, even though he invents some weirdness about holding her back from her career. (Texas must have dentists, no?)
It’s hard to say what’s going to happen from here, but but here’s our new prediction: Brad proposes to Chantal O’Brien’s father, Mike. He’s so in love with the guy, they should’ve just announced their engagement right there in that GINORMOUS house. And Brad can adopt Chantal’s adorable dog, Boca, who loves him.
There. Done. Wasn’t that easy?
Read on for details on all four hometown dates, including Brad’s impressive gift for making every date just slightly more awkward than it needs to be.
HOMETOWN DATE WITH EMILY
Aww! Emily has a sweet reunion with little Ricki in Charlotte, North Carolina. Shades of Jason Mesnick's reunion with his son, Ty, on The Bachelorette. But would this really be the first time Emily saw Ricki? Hasn’t some time passed since she got home from Anguilla?
Emily talks to Ricki about how she made a new friend, like Ricki makes new friends at school. Ricki doesn’t seem to be buying it. Emily wouldn't feel right getting engaged to Brad without Ricki putting her stamp of approval on the matter. Uh-oh!
Brad says he's "rock solid" with Emily and if this works out, he could be Ricki's stepfather. So the burden is on Emily to pick Brad. She's so already the Season 7 Bachelorette.
Ricki is shy as she meets Brad. She hides behind Mommy. Brad has never dated a woman with a child before. He sits on the ground, which is smart. He gives her a pink present, which is also smart. It's a butterfly kite!
Brad admits it's an awkward situation. He thanks Emily. Ricki is shy and says nothing. She won't even look at Brad. This is a big deal, not only to meet Brad but on camera like this, after being away from her mom for so long.
Emily says Ricki is the most fun-loving, sweetest girl, but this is hard for her! Brad is doing his best — and he says kids usually like him (he has nieces and nephews) — but he can't force Ricki to be comfortable.
Ricki does laugh a little bit when they play with the kite, so that's a good first step. Emily says the date has been perfect so far. Brad says he would welcome and cherish the idea of being a father figure to Ricki.
“Mr. Brad” goes back to Emily's (big!) house. (Side note: Are poor people allowed on this show?) She wants to give him a view of the simplicity of her life. Ricki's huge playroom is not that "simple," though Brad seems to get along with her pretty well. They play boardgames and have fun.
Ricki makes a cute drawing for Brad. They’re almost like a real family, and it's kinda sweet. Is this going to be tough for Ricki if Emily and Brad don't get engaged?
Emily tells Brad she could completely see herself falling in love with him, which is a far cry from Chantal and Shawntel telling him they love him.
Brad wants to kiss Emily, but he won't do it with Ricki upstairs? He wants to leave and hug her? Emily seems disappointed. This is weird. There's tension now. She wants him to be himself, and she makes a good point: If this works out, Ricki will always be sleeping upstairs. But he's afraid of Ricki walking downstairs or something. He seems so uncomfortable, and she's "bummed."
But she makes sure to sneak a kiss from him as he's walking out the door. The music swells like this is a huge Harlequin romance moment. Brad says, "My God kissing this woman is so perfect." Emily claims to be genuinely happy for the first time in a long time. She’s ready for Brad to change her life forever. But she still hasn’t said she loves him. Too soon?
Poor Shawntel gets the creepy organ music on her date. Honestly, why did they make her start the date at the funeral home?
Brad is visibly uncomfortable talking about death. He admits he does not handle death well. Shawntel wants to be cremated. She introduces where Brad's burial area would be, should he choose to be part of the 70 percent of their business that wants to go the ash route.
The camera gives a long, lingering look at the fires of (hell!) the crematory. Brad is fascinated and keeps asking questions, but he's also freaked out and can't really handle it. But then he lays down on the embalming table! Talk about a masochist.
Shawntel says sometimes the talks with grieving families are... happy? Brad is obviously not comfortable here. The word "creepy" is getting a real workout. She should marry one of the guys from Six Feet Under. They were way hot.
Shawntel is impressed with Brad being "comfortable" laying on the prep table and going through that. She clearly missed the part where he just went through that for good TV. A producer was probably right outside the camera frame, silently pointing to the table, mouthing, "Get on there!"
Later, Shawntel says the plan was always for her to take over her dad's business, but now she's thinking of moving to Austin.
Brad is visibly detached from this family meeting. It seems like he is already saying goodbye in his mind.
Shawntel has two gorgeous younger sisters, and it's rumored that Destiny dated Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.
Dad doesn't seem to want Shawntel to leave Chico. He wants to retire, and the other daughters are not into the death biz. He is laying on the guilt. Shawntel would be missed in the community — Dad says she already missed a high school teacher's son being killed while she was gone. He’s not being supportive at all.
Great news: That means Shawntel now has daddy issues of her own! She fits right in.
Dad finally begrudgingly gives his blessing. Shawntel tells Brad she's in love with him. She thinks the date couldn't have gone better. Sadly, she's watching a different show. Brad has already said goodbye, you can tell.