After the clip show that is the first fifth of the episode, Chris takes the Bachelorette to the Chicago Water Tower, which would have been a brilliant place to take her if he mentioned anything about its history. As the only surviving structure after the Great Chicago Fire, he could have milked it and pointed to his own resilience in the face of adversity. Instead, he squawks about how it is the closest thing Chicago has to a castle, placing her on a pedestal that isn’t fair. Chris knows he is competing with Prince Jef and his magical plot of land, Arie’s incessant White Knighting, and Sean’s lovelorn town crying. Of the four of them, unfortunately for Chris, his propensity to care too much is as concerning as it is appealing.
Naturally, Chris decides it is time to get her buzz on before meeting his parents. Undeterred by the fact that Polish cuisine tends to be phallic tubed meats and not the best date food for ingestion, Chris forges ahead. But he blows it further by over-apologizing for his intensity and earnestness. Completely exhausted by his self-deprecating shame-fest, Emily can only manage to shake her fist in the air with tempered frustration.
Emily musters enough strength to actually go through with meeting his family. Right away, it’s obvious that the heavy female influence on Chris sculpts his behavior and probably points to why he applied for the show. He needs to find a girl that can get along with the crazy girls already in his life that aren’t going anywhere. Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love is a hyperbolized version of Chris. Sisters, an emotional mommy, and an unintelligible papa, make for one sensitive Christopher.
Jef unveils his family’s fantasy ranch and the hordes of blondes he calls kin. Lemonade cheers! Jef’s brother, Steve, then pretends to be cooler than he is and bitterly admits Emily and Jef look good together. Jef’s sisters fawned so hard they were on the verge of chanting “one of us, one of us, one of us”. That one mutant brunette among the blondies really seemed to be overcompensating with her questions, no? And with equal fervor, Jef the troubadour brings it with a well-timed, heart-felt letter that leads to, arguably, the best kisses and backdrop combo of the season.
According to Em, “Arie is very smooth”; TMI. But there’s a hiccup! Ari’s parents un-American and much more Euro-spiced. In other words, they are creepy open and way less repressed. Oh, and “my Dad is real laid back and makes a lot of jokes” translates to, my dad drinks too much and picks fights. Speaking of which, tellingly, thoughts of Arie’s mom drive Arie to drink immediately. He overcompensates for the weird moment and assures Emily not to be too nervous about meeting his parents, before barfing an obnoxious laugh in her face.
Arie’s family proves awesomely bizarre. The covert speaking and giggling in Dutch was pretty aggressive for a first encounter with Emily. Then to be taken away and grilled by Arie’s alpha-mom, while she battles the effect of white wine on her speech, leads to a cringey dialogue where Emily is back-peddling about her romantic history. Luckily, some soft acoustic background music signals an acceptance of Emily by the Mum-to-be and the two of them are nothing but smiles and all-American giggles.
Arie and his Pop talk it out and laugh about their fetish for southern accents, but suddenly realize they are being filmed and look shamed by the admission. With the seal of approval accomplished, Arie wants to get on one knee as soon as possible. If he really wanted to win her, wouldn’t he break his contract with ABC and just propose before the final episode? A spontaneous proposal would mean so much more than the contrived one the finale perpetuates? If Arie dropped his own money on an engagement ring and sneak-attack proposed, he’d be a reality legend. Planning love is a fool’s game.
The chemistry between Sean and Emily this week was perfectly plutonic. He could barely make eye contact with her and his kisses were even more lack-luster than usual. Oh and mega-bomb: Sean still lives at home with his mumzy and dadzy and they are all huge pigs. Sean is a freak! He is a stuffed animal freak on the brink of becoming a plushy… Psyche! Just f***ing with you, Emz! Sean gets a little cooler with what was actually a pretty funny and nuanced prank on the pretty, pretty princess. Dollars to donuts it was Sean’s Dad’s idea to fake the ‘living at home’ bit. Sean’s dad turns out to be a remarkably pleasant dude and appeared genuinely excited for his son’s happiness; I dare say one of my favorite parents the show has delivered. Hope his wife croaks and he can be the next bachelor instead of Jef. Ugh, but then Sean goes all desperate-mode again, is hard up for his kisses, and chases Emily down for a second time. Needy Guy to the rescue? Doubt it.
Did you see that gulp of Emily’s before she started handing out roses? It looked like she swallowed a frog. First Arie is bestowed the rose; then Jef, who was staring her down like a serial killer. Sean and Chris are the leftovers and only Chris appears worried; rightfully so, after a cuckoo display of emotion the previous week. Finally, the bobble-head eeks to a complete stop as he, his family, and the Windy City just don’t cut the mustard. You could see it in his eyes that he wanted to make her hurt like her hurt, when they were sitting on that bench unnecessarily rehashing. She wants “faster and deeper” relationships and his slow and shallow declaration of love for her isn’t enough. Cue the scoffing and sniveling in the limo, followed by the three remaining dudes guffawing victoriously. Thankfully, Emily craps on their parade and reminds them one of their asses is getting canned next. Take that!
Emily’s face when Sean’s dad pulled out the armadillo platter makes it worth trudging through this muck. Emily should cool it on the plastic surgery and have a sense of humor implanted on the double.