Big news tonight for fans of Rachel, chastity, and opponents of birth control access: Rachel did not have sexual relations with that man three times. Her Fantasy Suite encounters with Bryan, Peter, and Eric apparently involved playing Parcheesi and watching whatever was on Starz, much like my fifth-grade slumber parties.
Rachel suggested this would be the case when taping started. She recently confirmed that she did not indeed behold any of the guys’ Michelangelo’s David. Now might be a good time to note that Eric’s last name is Bigger.
Is this a first in The Bachelorette‘s 13-season history? Does anyone care who isn’t into fanfic about people with veneers and banal occupations? But wait, there’s more–and it’s so much less important than Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony, although both involve dramatic hometown visits: Rachel delays the revealing-but-fully-dressed suite meetings until after each guy has been introduced to her family in Dallas. It’s as bewildering an alteration of our world as Sean Spicer being replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Similarly, we are no better or worse off for it happening.
The show commences. Incidentally, I think Chris Harrison does have the complete power to pardon. Tonight, the precaps show us the group in glorious Spain, where Rachel hopes to address issues that shadow each of the relationships, like that Chris is always asking prying questions. She comes to greet the guys in their hotel in Dallas to tell them they will all three meet her family this episode. This is because Rachel’s sister is eight months pregnant and can’t travel, even when the accommodations are gratis. They’re producing a show about her called The Expecting Mother, in which she’ll choose from among 24 sexy obstetricians who auditioned to deliver her baby.
Before going to Rachel’s family home, Peter and Rachel shop for her nephew. Her sister loves stripes, so Peter is advised to indulge her if he wants a rose. remember that horizontal strips make a baby look fat. Meanwhile, Bryan and Eric discuss Peter’s continuing hesitance about proposing to Rachel. “What is he feeling?” Eric wonders aloud about his tentative rival, forgetting that he doesn’t know there will be no sex in the Fantasy Suite.
Peter is nervous as the couple approaches the family compound. He wants to erase all feelings of doubt for her, though, so he reassures Rachel that he is falling in love with her. Rachel is pleased because Peter never says things he doesn’t mean, other than “It won’t be soul-crushing at all being on a TV show that demeans everyone who appears on it, produces it, and watches it.”
They are meeting the pregnant sis, Constance; her hipster hubs, Alex; their toddler, Alistair; Mom Kathy, Uncle Jeff, and Aunt Jeff. Dad can’t be there for unexplained reasons, maybe a heightened sense of dignity.
Peter describes his parent’s meeting and quickie marriage that has lasted longer than any of Newt Ginrich’s. He also discusses how beautiful Rachel was when they first met. Everyone listens raptly, especially at the part when he reveals he doesn’t want to lose her, when triumphant music swells and he clears his throat uncomfortably. Despite the music cue, Constance is skeptical. She takes Rachel aside to talk. The good news is that Constance and Kathy are as delicately pretty as Rachel, so all the guys can count on having gorgeous daughters.
Peter talks with Uncle Jeff, while Mom talks with Rachel again about Peter falling in love as of today. Yet Rachel must admit she still doesn’t know if he would propose. The Pottery Barn decor includes a giant geode on a pedestal, possibly to represent the display of their inner beauty. Or else it was on sale.
Next Mom confronts Peter, who asserts he has very strong feelings for Rachel, but cannot presume he will have the certainty he needs to propose. Geez, must he date a model of android before he purchases it? Mom appreciates his honest consideration of the issue, but hopes he doesn’t play with her daughter’s feelings. At least no more than the show has already.
Afterwards, Peter is satisfied with the progress of their relationship, although it appears to have not moved an inch because of his weird fixation on an engagement being somehow binding. He and Rachel separate in good spirits. Neil Lane also breathes a sigh of relief.
Rachel is back the next day to collect Eric for presentation to the family. He’s nervous. First they tour Dallas, starting with a very phallic tower. Eric loves their chemistry, and sees a future with Rachel and a series of beakers and Bunsen burners. Bryan and Peter gossip about him back at the hotel, before Peter reveals that he wanted permission from her mom merely to date Rachel for as long as he needs. Bryan sneers. He wants to boink Rachel stat, and her family needs to know he means it.
Over champagne and a bowl of uneaten fruit, Eric expresses his concern over meeting her family. Rachel reassures him, and suggests edits to the script that might help. During the commercial break, it’s explained that he should not take Xeljanz if he’s prone to fungal infections.
After the de rigeur shot of a longhorn steer, Eric and Rachel arrive at her family’s house. Eric is rather stiff, but he’s smiling like a trooper. He is asked to talk about his family, and launches into the now-familiar tale of dysfunction and Norman Lear-produced 70’s sitcom life. Mournful piano music plays as he describes his eagerness to find love, despite not ever bringing anyone home before. Mom seizes on that, as she should. Constance is also not impressed. Peter has more boxes checked off on her scorecard. Another family member tells Rachel she likes Eric’s maturity and realness. At least as real as you can be when you auditioned to be a boyfriend.
Meanwhile, Eric assures Constance he wants kids, and can be the man who takes care of Rachel. Constance is now content with him. The important question is, what does Copper think of him?
Eric and Mom talk next. He wants love, family, and success, as well as a Porsche. He explains that it all takes compromise, commitment, sacrifice, and other words often found inside Hallmark cards. He also wants to live with Rachel in a McMansion with giant vases crammed with hydrangeas in every room. He asks if Mom will bless his proposal to her daughter. Mom is okay with it. I wonder if Jared had to go through all this when he wanted to marry Ivanka.
Bryan is next to be evaluated. He’s aware he only has one chance to make an impression, even if it requires several takes. First, Rachel brings him to meet her friends. The gals ask Bryan what he does for a living, and how old he is. They know what’s important. One announces the two have matching levels of confidence, just like Kim and Kanye. Rachel reveals how Bryan’s treacly charm daunted her at first, because it seemed put on for show. It was only scripted, though. Bryan then announces he is in love with Rachel.
As they travel to her home, Rachel remarks that Uncle Jeff is an anesthesiologist, so Bryan better be careful. Everyone greets each other happily. Bryan is confident he will win them over. He tells Mom how he is Colombian and his mother is Mommie Dearest. He reports that he wants to love the same woman his whole life, but unfortunately that woman is his mother. Mom picks up on this, as she has seen Psycho, and asks where his loyalty lies between wife and mother. Rachel resents this line of questioning, but Mom ain’t playin’.
At the dining table, Constance is skeptical when Bryan says he thought of Rachel as his GF after the first week. She worries about his sincerity, and also why his ears bend over on top like that. Joe Friday never interrogated a drug dealer this adamantly, but then again, Bryan is from Colombia. Unnerved, he asks to be excused from the table to gather his wits and possibly peek inside their medicine cabinet. Rachel confronts the family about their Elliot Stabler behavior. BIL accuses her of being too emotional about it. Dramatic music signals family conflict and Joe clapping the cuffs on.
Rachel and her BIL talk privately about the episode at the table. He remarks that her emotional reaction underscores how strongly she feels about Bryan. Constance tells Bryan she questions how quickly he says he fell for Rachel. He agrees the producers should have held back for at least another episode. “I know it’s an expedited situation,” he admits, quoting an 18th-century love sonnet.
Mom asks Rachel about any red flags she may have seen. She feels Bryan was the most vocal with his feelings, and she is falling in love with him, so red flags be damned. Although Rachel voraciously defends the season having only 11 episodes, Mom still thinks it’s too soon to create seating charts for the reception.
Bryan sits with Mom next. He understands how weird this show is to outsiders, and also to insiders who can’t wait to move on to work for American Ninja Warrior. He is in love and is committed to Rachel. “Can love maintain?” Mom asks, possibly quoting a Hall & Oates song. But she approves him for a possible proposal. With an anesthesiologist in the family, no way does she think a chiropractor is good enough.
Spain is next. Constance is never going to forgive her baby for preventing her from getting a free trip there. Rachel is excited to be in the country, where she can run with the bulls and the guys can run with the bull. She hopes to get clarity to choose from among the three men she now loves, a situation she finds incredible, despite the fact that the same thing happens in every show in the franchise. On the other hand, she might meet a hot Spaniard and that’ll solve the problem nicely.
She admits that Eric confuses her the most about his feelings. Does he love her, or does he just love being on TV? They meet first to spend some time getting to know each via headphones in a helicopter. “I’m feeling feelings of love, man,” Eric enthuses. That sounds more like Devo.
They wander through the glorious landscape, then sit sipping champagne. Rachel tells Eric she appreciates meeting his family, and wants to know whether meeting her family was as enlightening for him. He learned she’s strong and independent, which he could have learned watching The Bachelor online, and that several members of her family married white people. She tells him she believes in partnerships, such as the one she aspires to in a white-shoe law firm. They go to ring an old church bell that will grant their wishes. Too bad Eric wished to get some action in the Fantasy Suite.
That night, Rachel remains worried that Eric still dances around his feelings for her. Where are they at this point? He insists that from week one to now, “it’s been so surreal and in the moment; Copenhagen, hot tub.” They had such a connection there, he marvels. She asks if he felt emotional or physical chemistry in the hot tub. It’s the most rhetorical question ever asked.
She keeps pushing for some substantive information from him, but instead receives a lot of inspirational Facebook quotes. If Eric could talk in a font, it would be Curlz. He tells her he loves her, and they kiss. Then he reads from the key card like he’s Olivier performing Hamlet. He indeed wants to share the suite. “All in for the win,” he proclaims as he kisses her. He also wants to go deeper and open up more. Shut up, Eric.
Next day, Rachel is pleased with how their relationship had progressed. Eric is pleased to feel his feelings. Yet now we know the messed-up bed is just window dressing. Rachel goes off to meet Peter. They’re going to a vineyard, where a charming old gentleman named Vitorino tells them he has been married for 51 years. although all the wine may have figured into that success. He also sings to Rachel, possibly because the show had no budget for a The Voice-winning country star to perform. Then they commence drinking.
Peter is looking forward to spending the day with Rachel. She liked his family, and he liked hers. But he’s still all about dating until they’re ready for marriage. Why does that bother her so much? Most people date before they get engaged, unless one person has Stockholm Syndrome. Of course, maybe it means no Neil Lane ring for her, in which case, I support Rachel completely. Unfortunately, before she can bitch about it further, a little girl appears to bring her flowers. Then we cut to Rachel and Peter making out in a vat of grapes. I hope Vitorino tosses that batch.
At their evening date, Peter produces a cork and tells how his family saves them, and writes something special about the date they drank it to keep for a souvenir. Charmed by the gesture, Rachel nevertheless must address the not-proposing thing. As we know, she is not satisfied with just a boyfriend. She wants a shower and a gift registry. But Peter remains steadfast in his thinking that an engagement is just another word for nothing left to lose. She feels differently. Semantics, bah.
But now neither one knows where to go from there, other than to a thesaurus. They gaze mournfully at each other until Rachel starts to cry. She is devastated that he isn’t prepared to plan a wedding after just nine weeks and only a fraction of that spent in her actual company. To be continued. . . .
Next week, drama with people who left the show already, and also with the three remaining guys. Who will marry Rachel? Who will Rachel marry? Wasn’t there a recent movie called Rachel Getting Married? How did that end?