Bachelor Zach Shallcross traverses the country to declare he sees a future with Ariel Frenkel, Charity Lawson, Gabi Elnicki, and Kaity Biggar to all four of their families — and then eliminates one of them.
It’s always an emotional time when Hometowns come around on “The Bachelor.” And we’re always looking for that family member who seems to revel in being the hardass of the season. Don’t worry, it happened this season, too!
Zach Shallcross traveled on four Hometown visits to meet the families of his four finalists and told all of those families that he sees a future with their daughter, sister, friend, etc. It’s just that one of those futures was obviously much shorter than the other three.
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There is no easy way to navigate this show at this stage of the game, and we know they have to play their hearts close to their vest, but it’s especially difficult to watch when you’re dealing with damaged people who are still trying to heal from relationship traumas.
Once again, though, we came out of these Hometowns with a clear sense of who the winner is. Not only have they been getting a winner’s edit since the beginning of the season, theirs was the only Hometown visit that felt raw and emotional and real.
It even touched our grizzled, battered heart — and we’re pretty sure we’ve been dead inside longer than this franchise has been stomping hearts all around the world.
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Syrup Fail 2: The … Mustarding?
Honestly, at this point, we’d be on board with Gabi dumping Zach. After grimacing at homemade syrup from Vermont in the premiere, he was an absolute disaster when she introduced him to the staple of Vermont in Vermont.
Then, for those who stuck around for the closing credits, he doubled down on WTF, leaving us shooketh to the core (no offense to his grandmama who is probably a very sweet lady, even if deeply misguided when it comes to toppings).
Even Gabi was horrified when she set up a blind taste test for Zach of three different grades of fresh, authentic Vermont syrup and one store bought pancake syrup nonsense. Guess which one he thought was the best? We apologize to the entire state of Vermont for this grievous insult to their very cultural identity.
Things did go better for him when they shifted to actually meeting her family. Her dad, Kevin, is this season’s Papa Softie, another Bachelor Nation tradition. He’s the romantic at heart while his wife, Stephanie, and Gabi’s sister, Chloe, are more practical.
Her older brother Evan auditioned for hardass of the season by asking Zach his intentions and trying to be that overprotective older brother, but we just weren’t feeling it. It was cute, but sorry, Zach, you didn’t get the position.
Ultimately, Gabi broke down at the end, getting insecure in her feelings knowing that Zach was about to embark on three more Hometown visits. A lot can change emotionally on these visits, so what feels great right now could become no rose by week’s end. It’s a fair concern.
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Hardass or Cartoon Villain? You Decide!
Where Evan fell short, Bobby stepped up in all the right ways. Ariel’s older brother had that deadpan glare down pat, and he even had ridiculous “gotcha” questions loaded up to catch Zach and prove that there’s no way this show could even work.
You know producers love milking that reality romance skeptic to try and get some great content during the Hometowns, and then a few moments during the “After the Final Rose,” too. Unfortunately, we’re not sure we’re buying the hardassery Bobby is selling.
His ploy to prove that Zach can’t have real feelings for Ariel because he doesn’t know her birthday after a month or so is just patently ridiculous. How many people open with their birthday? He was just looking for reasons that Zach was failing or lying about his feelings.
Then his grilling with Ariel, saying basically, “Do you know why I’m such a cool hardass on television?” To quote a classic New Yorker who’s way more hard than Bobby, “Get outta here!”
He even had to poopoo the adorable nude couple that gave Zach and Ariel relationship advice at the spa in Estonia. Yes it’s culturally different, perhaps, but to tell them not to take that advice was just callous and, again, pretty lame.
Thankfully, Zach wasn’t judging Ariel on her cartoon villain brother — we weren’t scared of him, but we were highly entertained). Instead, the rest of the family was tough but fair inasmuch as this show and process is ridiculous and stupid and unlikely to work just on pure statistics.
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Is Heartbreak Edit Charity for Viewers?
Poor Charity. If there is such a thing as a hero’s edit, there’s also apparently a heartbreak edit. Now, at this point, we had no idea who Zach was going to choose, but we started to get a sense of dread at just how much everyone was talking about whether or not Charity was prepared for heartbreak.
Look, we know these Hometown visits are hours and hours and there is plenty of conversations and content for editors to choose to air. There’s a reason, we imagined at this point, that these were the snippets that kept coming up.
All of these women are risking heartbreaking at every stage of this process. Even at this point, the odds of being the one at the end is only one in four. Of course, each woman believes (or hopes) that they are the one — but only one of them is right.
We did adore Charity’s Southern welcome of Zach, inviting him to their cookout in the yard where he got to meet the family and her bevy of girlfriends, who really do seem to be looking out for her and caring about her happiness (and preparedness for heartbreak).
In fact, even most of the family chats seemed to be with Charity. We did see her brother, Nehemiah, grill Zach a bit about the other woman, but the only answer he got was an honest and fair statement from Zach that he’s trying to compartmentalize his relationships the best he can.
We spent far longer with Nehemiah tearing up while talking to Charity about how hard it was for him to watch her and be there with her the last time her heart got broken. Seriously, if the girl didn’t get cut at the end of the night, this was a pretty awful edit with so much focus on heartbreak.
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Playing House in Austin — This Is a Date?
The opposite of Charity’s edit was yet another winner’s edit for Kaity. even her date was like that of a winner. She was all like, hey, now that you’re done with all that silly “Bachelor” nonsense, it’s time to settle down and start putting this house together.
She literally had Zach help her assemble a bookcase and otherwise start putting her house in order. She’d just moved to his hometown of Austin, and when she brought this up, he did note that this was a pretty important detail. Important enough to choose the hometown girl?
It was cute seeing them be quite so domestic, and certainly gave Zach a sense of what life with her would be like. And, she had no goofy older brother mean mugging him through the family visit, either. Instead, her family was very sweet and supportive.
Right away, they could see the huge difference in Kaity just in how physical she was with Zach while they were sitting and sharing their adventures. Her walls were crumbling and her heart was out there. We did get some heartbreak talk, but much more about how great Zach is.
Instead, with Kaity, it quickly became about her own fears of really telling Zach she’s falling in love with him and being that vulnerable because every man in her life has walked out on her (save her brother). So she’s afraid of it happening again.
With that edit, eliminating Kaity after all of these family chats and confessionals would be extremely cruel as it would feel as if the show was exploiting her trauma before triggering it. We now reality TV revels in mess, but not cruelty, right? At least, not this show — right?!
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Silence Can’t Heal a Broken Heart
In the end, the edit did betray the results of the Rose Ceremony, as Charity was left out in the cold, and then left in utter silence for an uncomfortable amount of time after Zach walked her out and had her sit on a bench.
If you’ve got no words of comfort, my man, put her in the limo and wave her off. This girl told you she’s falling in love with you and you just slammed the door to her heart closed. The silence was deafening.
We know he’s not great with his words and we were glad when he finally did speak, but Charity interrupting him with “I know” showed just how invested she was in what he had to say. She did hear him say she deserved a love he couldn’t give her, but later said she doesn’t even know what that means.
Through a lot of this episode, we started get a next-Bachelorette vibe from her edit, too, and that definitely carried through to her limo confessional, as she talked about being ready for love and what it is she’s looking for. Even criticizing Zach’s empty platitude was good fodder.
It’s as if the producers were trying her out with viewers this week through that edit to try and get a sense of how they feel about her as a possible lead for the next season. We’re a little on the fence, honestly. She’s very sweet, but she’s not nearly as interesting a personality, or entertaining to watch as a Gabi or a Kaity. And if they chose Ariel, her brother would get another shot to be the hardass!
Of course, if they choose to announce the next Bachelorette at Tuesday night’s “Women Tell All” special, which has already been taped, then we’re wrong about them testing her out with viewers. They could, though, be trying to prepare their fans with this edit.
Or it could be someone else entirely. While it’s possible the next Bachelorette could be announced as soon as that special, which Charity will be at, more likely they’ll wait until “After the Final Rose,” as has become tradition in recent years.
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No Sex … Except for the Sex
It looks like Zach’s brain writes a check his libido couldn’t cash next week. All season long, we’ve seen him declaring that Fantasy Suites would be a sex-free zone, but then we see him admitting that he “did get intimate” with someone.
It’s already a week fraught with tension because of the whole sex angle, so this could only make it monumentally worse. Imagine being a woman who abides by his edict, only to find out that one or two of the others did not.
How would that make you feel? Did he lie to you just because he didn’t want to “get intimate” with you, specifically? Or did they not respect his wishes and aggressively seduce him and then his libido betrayed his senses? Could you consider it a betrayal of trust and expectations?
Plus, Jesse Palmer says that one woman gets some information that could change everything for her. Is it another Covid test sending someone home at this critical juncture? Or could it be regret offering an eliminated woman a second chance? Something else entirely?
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- “His little outfit was, like, very Vermont.” –Gabi (about Zach)
- “Oh, it does feel kind of sticky.” –Gabi
- “Is it sticky in there.”
- “It’s kind of warm.”
- “Oh, it is wet in there.”
- “It’s kind of foul, I’m not gonna lie.”
- “This conversation without any context sounds very dirty.”
- “I think that might be the best.” –Zach (choosing his favorite syrup)
- “Oh my god, you just shot me. This is fake! The bottom of the barrel, worst syrup you can buy.” –Gabi
- “I got us a private cabin, so we’re actually doing Fantasy Suites this week. It’s gonna be great.” –Gabi
- “So, what’s new?” –Chloe (to Gabi)
- “Oh, nothing.” –Gabi
- “It takes something a little more than just being on a TV show to make you fall in love with somebody. I’d like to know, truthfully, what your full intentions are, as far as you know.” –Evan
- “I could definitely see a future with Zach … We haven’t had enough extended periods of time together.” –Gabi (to Chloe)
- “Don’t forget about me. … It is scary; I’m the first one.” –Gabi (at end of Hometown Date)
- “If I didn’t see a future with you, I wouldn’t be doing this, because this hurts.” –Gabi
- “New York is like an extended family member for me, so it’s a really big deal for you to meet her. And him. It’s both.” –Ariel
- “You’re more nervous to play chess than meet my family. I felt that.” –Ariel (walking by chess players in West Village)
- “Oh my god, carbs are so good.” –Zach (eating a slice)
- “He saw me heartbroken he actually offered to go beat up my exes.” –Ariel (warning Zach about Bobby)
- “We’re in this together. We’re both getting roasted.” –Ariel (ahead of Zach meeting her family)
- “A lot of questions. We’ll see how he does. I’m not holding my breath.” –Bobby (before Zach comes in)
- “They were giving us great relationship advice. They were wonderful.” –Ariel (about nude Estonians on her One-on-One date)
- “Don’t follow their advice.” –Bobby
- “When’s my sister’s birthday? If you don’t know somebody’s birthday, how do you really know a person?” –Bobby
- “I’m gonna disagree with you on that.” –Zach (focusing on bigger picture)
- “I don’t know if you could tell, when I walked in I was pretty nervous.” –Zach (to Feliks)
- “You still should be nervous.” –Feliks
- “So, do you actually like this guy?” –Bobby (to Ariel)
- “I like how you say ‘this guy’; you can’t even say his name, you’re so protective.” –Ariel
- “Do you feel conflicted between choices?” –Feliks (to Zach about other women)
- “I mean, always. It could change in a week.” –Zach
- “I have never been grilled by my family like that before.” –Ariel (to Zach)
- “Are you in love with him? Are you falling?” –Maryn (to Charity)
- “I am falling. We have not said the l-words to each other yet, but I will say we are on the trajectory.” –Charity
- “Are you prepared for the outcome that you don’t want?” –Maryn
- “If I’m not the person that he chooses at the end, will it be easy? Probably not. Actually, not probably; it won’t be easy. It’s a risk that I’m willing to take.” –Charity
- “Where are you with the other women?” –Nehemiah (to Zach)
- “What I’m doing right now is, to the best of my ability, compartmentalizing everything that I can.” –Zach
- “There’s other women involved in this. Are you prepared to go through heartbreak again? Because when it happened before, I didn’t know if you were gonna be okay.” –Nehemiah (to Charity)
- “I thought I was ready to tell Zach I’m falling in love, but right now I’m second guessing. I don’t want to get heartbroken again.” –Charity
- “To be able to express those words, it’s important. And to hear that being said as well is important.” –Vickie (to Charity about the l-word)
- “I think it’s even safe to say I’m honestly falling in love.” –Charity
- “Wild, that’s so crazy. You don’t know how good that feels.” –Zach
- “We are in Austin, Texas. His home and my home as well, which is so cool.” –Kaity
- “I’ve only lived here for a few short weeks, and I hope that you would like to help me get settled in. Do you wanna run some errands together?” –Kaity
- “Should we get some flowers?” –Kaity
- “Oh yeah, let’s get you a buffet– Buffet? A bouquet.” –Zach
- “Did you just bring me here to fix stuff?” –Zach
- “There’s no question that I’m falling in love with Zach … I respect my mom’s opinion so much that if I don’t have her approval with Zach, then I don’t see this going forward.” –Kaity
- “So there was a connection?” –Annie
- “Immediately.” –Zach
- “If you didn’t see Zach and I as good life partners to each other, yeah, I had have to have a conversation with Zach and, like, rethink this.” –Kaity (to Annie)
- “Are you falling in love with him?” –Jill
- “I see my future with him. I see him being the father of my kids. I see him being my husband. But I haven’t told him that yet because saying I love somebody, or I’m falling in love with somebody means so much to me.” –Kaity
- “I know it’s hard for you, giving where you’ve come, to make yourself vulnerable, but that is what love is, right?” –Jill
- “It’s so f—ing scary.” –Kaity
- “With the exception of my brother, every man in my life has failed me.” –Kaity
- “I see Zach as my husband, but I don’t know if I can deal with another man walking out of my life. So there’s that.” –Kaity
- “I’m falling in love with you and it feels so good … My heart feels so safe with you.” –Kaity
- “Oh, wow.” –Zach
“The Bachelor” continues next Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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