Hometown dates on “The Bachelor” usually mean a busy week of traveling to meet each of the four remaining contestants’ families and helping the star imagine what life with each date might look like outside of the show.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Matt’s hometowns look a little different: the four finalists’ families travel to the Nemacolin Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania, where the entire season has been filmed, as dates are inspired by each woman’s home hobbies.
Here are the highs and lows of each “hometown” date in Monday’s episode, including a self-elimination that nobody – perhaps not even the contestant in question – could have seen coming.
Last week’s recap: New episode marred by Chris Harrison, Rachael Kirkconnell’s racism controversy
Michelle, the 27-year-old teacher from Edina, Minnesota, has a few activities planned for Matt, including a bike ride like those she and her family used to go on.
Highlight: Matt meeting Michelle’s students over Zoom
“The Bachelor” has visited teachers’ classrooms in person in past seasons, but this time producers get a bit more creative. They decorate the entrance to a lecture hall to look like “Ms. Young’s classroom” and call up a few of Michelle’s elementary school students to adorably grill Matt on whether their teacher will get the rose and/or an engagement. (Matt very diplomatically dances around giving a firm answer, but it’s a sweet moment regardless.)
Highlight: Michelle’s parents show support for their relationship
Later that night, Matt meets Michelle’s mom and dad, who come across as wonderful and #CoupleGoals. Her mom notes how well Michelle’s dad treats their daughter, and wants to make sure Matt will put her first in that same way. Dad, in turn, tells Michelle he trusts her decision-making process and promises to be supportive of her and Matt’s relationship. We love “Bachelor” parents who believe in their daughter’s ability to make the right choice! They end the evening with a family basketball game, and we’d like to be adopted into the Young family ASAP.
Rachael, the 24-year-old graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia, who has since been wrapped up in a controversy surrounding “offensive and racist” actions, takes Matt on a thrilling date with a scary ending. Later, Matt doesn’t ask her parents for their blessing to propose as she had hoped, but they still walk away from the evening confident about their connection.
Lowlight: Rachael has a scary landing while skydiving
The day portion of Matt and Rachael’s date involves skydiving (a… Georgia staple?) They jump out of a plane, strapped to their respective instructors Rachel jokes that she’s literally falling for Matt, but things take a scary turn when she and the instructor face a rocky parachute landing – they slam into the ground harder than they should, and Rachael notes that her back is killing her. She has a mouthful of grass and later develops some bruises.
Highlight: The incident brings Rachael and Matt closer together
Matt rushes over to make sure she’s OK. She will be, but he’s startled at how moved he was by the possibility of her getting hurt.
“It’s a different feeling when you’re falling in love and that person’s potentially hurt,” he says. “We’re just getting started and I didn’t realize how strongly I felt until something like that happens.”
Bri, the 24-year-old communications manager from San Francisco, takes Matt on a bumpy Jeep ride through the woods to get him back for their first date. Matt topples over their shared all-terrain vehicle, which sends them both into the mud.
Highlight: Bri’s mom is the support system we all need
Bri warns Matt that her mom may be a little tough, because she had to play the role of both mom and dad. (Bri and Matt previously bonded over growing up in single-parent homes.) She is tough, but also wonderful. In a touching moment, Bri notes she’s falling in love with Matt but is “so, so scared” that she might have to leave after confessing her feelings. Her mom says the worst-case scenario is that they’ll “mend a broken heart together.”
The last Serena standing, this 22-year-old Toronto-based publicist gives Matt all the Canadian highlights including poutine, maple syrup and hockey.
Lowlight: Serena expresses doubts about her relationship with Matt
Although she enjoys his company and thinks he’s the perfect guy “on paper,” Serena is suddenly hit with a wave of doubt. After talking it over with her family members, who think a bad past relationship has made her afraid of getting hurt, she reveals her worries to Matt, who takes it calmly and welcomes a dialogue about honesty.
“I am falling for Matt… but thinking about getting engaged to him in a few weeks does scare me, because I’m not there yet and I wanted my hometown to get me there,” Serena says in an interview afterward. “Tonight I have just doubt and fear. I’m so confused.”
Lowlight: That ‘doubt and fear’ translates into an abrupt goodbye
Matt shows up in Serena’s room to talk over her insecurities before the next rose ceremony, and notes he’s spent the most time with her (they’ve had two one-on-one dates, more than anyone else this season) because he sees a future with her.
She expresses a need to be honest, and tells Matt that she initially thought her hesitancy was just fear, but she now realizes that she doesn’t think he’s her “person,” and they say their goodbyes.
Matt tearfully divulges in an interview after Serena leaves that he’s now terrified the remaining three women could change their minds about him, too. Luckily for him, all three accept roses at the now anti-climactic rose ceremony.
Previously:‘The Bachelor’ Matt James, host Chris Harrison talk groundbreaking casting of first Black bachelor
And:Chris Harrison ‘stepping aside’ from ‘The Bachelor’ for now after excusing ‘historical racism’