'The Bachelor' recap: The highs and lows of 'hometown' week, including a shocking exit
Hometown dates on "The Bachelor" usually mean a busy week meeting the families of the four remaining contestants and helping the star imagine what life might be like on any off-show date.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Matt's hometowns look a little different: the families of the four finalists travel to the Nemacolin Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania, which was filmed for the entire season, as the dates are inspired by each woman's hobbies.
Here are the ups and downs of every "hometown" date in the Monday episode, including a self-elimination that no one - perhaps even the candidate in question - could have seen coming.
Last week's recap: New episode of Chris Harrison, Rachael Kirkconnell's Racism Controversy
Michelle, the 27-year-old teacher from Edina, Minnesota, has some activities planned for Matt, including a bike ride like she and her family used to do.
Highlight: Matt meets Michelle's student via Zoom
"The Bachelor" has personally visited the teachers' classrooms for the past few seasons, but this time the producers are getting a little more creative. They decorate the entrance to a classroom to look like "Ms. Young's classroom," and they call some of Michelle's elementary school students to grill Matt up to see if their teacher gets the rose and / or an engagement. (Matt dances around very diplomatically and gives a firm answer, but it's a sweet moment nonetheless.)
Highlight: Michelle's parents show support for their relationship
Later that night, Matt meets Michelle's mom and dad who look wonderful and #CoupleGoals. Her mom notes how well Michelle's dad gets on with her daughter and wants to make sure Matt puts her first in the same way. Dad, in turn, tells Michelle that he trusts her decision-making process and promises to support her and Matt's relationship. We love "Bachelor" parents who believe in their daughter's ability to make the right choice! You will end the evening with a family basketball game and we would like to join the young family as soon as possible.
Rachael, the 24-year-old graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia who has since been embroiled in a controversy over "abusive and racist" actions, takes Matt on an exciting date that has a frightening ending. Later, Matt doesn't ask her parents for their blessings, as she had hoped, but they still walk away from the evening with confidence.
Rachael accepts a rose from Matt in an earlier episode of "The Bachelor".
Lowlight: Rachael has a scary landing while skydiving
The day part of Matt and Rachel's date includes skydiving (a ... Georgia staple?). They jump out of a plane and are tied to their respective instructors. Rachel jokes that she literally falls in love with Matt, but things take a scary turn when she and the instructor face a rocky parachute landing - they hit the ground harder than they should, and Rachael notices her back killing them . She has a mouthful of weed and later developed some bruises.
Highlight: The incident brings Rachael and Matt closer together
Matt rushes over to make sure she is okay. It will be her, but he's shocked at how moved he was by the possibility of her getting hurt.
"It's a different feeling when you fall in love and that person may be hurt," he says. "We're just getting started and I didn't know how strong I felt until something like this 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 on their first date. Matt falls over his shared off-road vehicle, which sends them both into the mud.
Highlight: Bri's mother is the support system that we all need
Bri warns Matt that her mom could be a little rough about having to play the roles of mom and dad. (Bri and Matt previously teamed up because they grew up in single parent homes.) She's tough, but also wonderful. In a touching moment, Bri realizes that she is in love with Matt but is "so, so scared" that she may have to leave after confessing her feelings. Her mother says the worst scenario is "together they heal a broken heart".
The 22-year-old Toronto publicist, the last Serena, offers Matt all the Canadian highlights like poutine, maple syrup and hockey.
Lowlight: Serena expresses doubts about her relationship with Matt
Despite enjoying his company and thinking he's the perfect "on paper" guy, Serena is suddenly struck by a wave of doubt. After discussing it with her family members, who believe that a bad relationship in the past has made them fearful of harm, she reveals her concerns to Matt, who takes it calmly and welcomes a dialogue about honesty.
"I fall in love with Matt ... but when I think about getting engaged to him in a couple of weeks, it scares me because I'm not there yet and I wanted my hometown to take me," says Serena in an interview afterwards I only have doubts and fear. I'm so confused."
Lowlight: This doubt and this fear lead to a sudden goodbye
Matt shows up in Serena's room to discuss her insecurities before the next rose ceremony, and finds that he's been spending most of the time with her (they've had two one-on-one conversations, more than anyone else this season) because he sees one Future with her.
Expressing a need to be honest, she tells Matt that at first she thought her hesitation was just fear, but now realizes that she doesn't believe he is her "person" and they say goodbye.
In an interview after Serena left, Matt tearfully reveals that he is now afraid that the remaining three women might change their minds about him too. Fortunately, all three accept roses in the now anti-climactic rose ceremony.
Previously: 'The Bachelor' Matt James, host Chris Harrison, talks about the groundbreaking casting of the first black bachelor
And: Chris Harrison is resigning from "The Bachelor" for the time being after he has apologized for "historical racism".
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: 'Bachelor' Review: In Hometown Week, Matt James is shockingly eliminated
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