After the balmy, luxurious isle of Anguilla, Brad is happy to wake up in cold, rainy New York City. Why, you may ask? Because HOMETOWN visits are upon him and he will get to see the final four in their natural habitats. Forget the monkeys of Costa Rica – it’s family time!
Before he boards a jet plane, he bundles up and stands on a narrow balcony overlooking a New York City street. While he stands there, he ruminates.
Chantal: Pros – Not timid, not shy, has fun. He sees a real life with her.
Cons – emotional
Ashley: Pros – Happy, outgoing, energetic, bubbly. She’s the whole package.
Cons – Reluctance and needing reassurance
Shawntel: Pros – Beautiful, unassuming, fun.
Cons – none mentioned
Emily: Pros – There is something very real with Emily.
Cons – She holds onto a previous love, she’s over protective of her daughter
Chantal waits for Brad to arrive in a park with a lake and the Space Needle in the background. She affirms that she is still crazy in love with him. He leaves the SUV and begins a downhill run toward her and she runs uphill toward him. They meet in an embrace. Where is the sandy beach, the slo-mo and romantic music when you need them?
She can’t wait for him to meet her parents teasing him that if they don’t approve, he is out of there. She seeks their approval as much as a nervous Brad. She acknowledges that they would be living in Austin but pushes for many vacations to Seattle. Brad can see them doing that.
Chantal: This is real world. Brad and I will both be deciding, not only is this someone I want to marry, but is this someone I can marry; somebody that our lives would meld together.
Chantal lives alone in a split-level house four blocks from her family with her cats, Jinxy and Bailey, and her Pomeranian dog, Boca. After a clinking toast with beers, they hang out on the couch with Boca. Brad, who had been warned that Boca might bite him, discovers, instead, a new cuddle buddy. When Chantal tells him she comes with a package of three animals, he says, “I’m going to have to buy a new home – a bigger home.” He knew his life would change, and he’s ready for that.
They leave the menagerie behind and hop in the SUV for the short trip to her folk’s house. Brad admits to nerves because meeting the folks, especially a father, is huge for him.
Ritzy music leads the SUV through ritzy gates to a ritzy house. The foyer, alone, would hold a one bedroom apartment. If Brad is intimidated, he doesn’t show it. Chantal is a little nervous because she hasn’t told her parents she is in love with anyone for the past ten years. Her mom, Billie Jo, gives her an all encompassing hug as Brad enters and asks her brother, Connor, “What’s up?” He shakes her father Michael’s hand and tells him it is nice to meet him. Polite greetings out of the way, and with Billie Jo’s insistence, Brad tells the story of “The Slap” laughing all the while at Chantal’s embarrassment.
Over a home cooked meal, Brad assures them that this time it has been different – much better and Chantal has so much to do with that. A skeptical look crosses Michael’s face and he pulls Chantal out for a talk. She is anxious to hear the consensus at the end, but starts by appealing to his emotional side by reminding him of how he felt when he met her mother. Michael tells her that he’ll talk to Brad about family and stuff.
Michael introduces Brad to a statue of a man carving himself out of rock, telling him the concept is “self-made man.” This is a bonding point, big time, for both men as they both pulled themselves up from the bootstraps. After they also admit to absent fathers, Brad promises that he will be a “damn good father.”
Brad: Do you think she’s ready to settle down now?
Michael: Yeah, she’s been ready for a long time.
Brad: She’s incredible and I’m lucky she’s here.
In another room, Chantal and Billie Jo talk about feelings. With a tissue handy, Chantal expresses her fear that she will get her heart broken again. Billie Jo comforts her by telling her she just has to trust her heart.
Brad clears his throat and goes in for the blessing from Michael, but Michael forestalls him. Michael, being realistic, says that if it were to happen with them, he would have their blessing.
Chantal: Not only do I want to marry him, now I know I can marry Brad.
On the doorstep, she pulls Brad in for kisses and sends him on his way to his next destination.
Positives: Her pets like him; her family likes and accepts him.
Negatives: Her emotions are still on the surface.
Ashley waits for Brad in Madawaska, Maine, the most north eastern small town in the U.S. While she studies dentistry in Pennsylvania, this is where her roots go deep. She hasn’t seen Brad in awhile and feels a little disconnected. She’s hoping the chemistry and sparks will re-emerge. However, after a tepid embrace, she tells him about the disconnect she feels. (DUH, Ashley – not earning any brownie points here.)
Brad: Ashley always seems to take a step back whenever there is time or distance between us.
She takes him to the Lakeview Restaurant where she had her first job in high school. After being seated, Brad looks out the window and likes what he sees of the small town. He tells her he loves it; he thinks he could live here. He likes lifestyles that are slow. Ashley explains that Madawaska is a very French speaking area. She says that there are a lot of French Acadians there.
A highlight of the date for viewers is when she introduces him to a local dish called poutine, which is like fries with cheese and gravy. The waitress confirms their order and Brad shows his southwest roots by saying si, si, instead of oui, oui, much to his embarrassment when he realizes his mistake. When the platter arrives, he says it looks better than sushi and proceeds to move some with a fork to his plate. Ashley gets animated telling him to use his fingers and feeds him, noticing his crown when he opens his mouth; a true dentist.
Brad: I am so confident in what we have. I don’t question it, I look forward to seeing you; I just want to move forward, but I do wonder because every time you use the word, disconnected.
Ashley doesn’t want to do the “reassuring of each other” anymore and Brad doesn’t either.
They go on a shopping trip to pick up dinner, lobster – not moose burgers – and he discovers the honor system at a vegetable stand which endears small town life to him even more. Before heading to her folk’s house, they take tourist pictures in front of the Welcome to Madawaska sign then head for her family’s ranch style cape house.
Ashley feels proud that he will meet her family. She and her mother, Laurie squeal and hug and a grinning Brad is greeted with the same. He shakes hands with her father, Mike. Brad loves seeing Ashley so excited. This is the girl he fell for the first night he met her.
Ashley’s sister, Chrystie toasts the family’s happiness that Brad and Ashley are there while a giant lobster stares up at Brad from his plate. Her parents sit for interviews:
Laurie: If Ashley’s not in love with Brad, she’s getting there. They just have this little connection.
Mike: Brad is a great guy. It feels like he really, really likes Ashley, but if he loves her, he should support her ambition in life 100%.
Cue up Brad’s talk with her dad about the future with Ashley - her schooling, and whether or not Ashley wants children – a question Brad can’t answer.
Ashley’s brother puts her on the spot about Brad proposing right now. She says that she would need to know a lot more about him, which is what her brother likes to hear.
After his talk with her dad, Brad wonders if he would hold Ashley back from her dreams; can he keep up with her. Will a proposal scare her?
Chrystie tells Brad that with school almost finished, Ashley is at the right time in her life for someone to share it. Brad is relieved and thinks they are in the perfect place to start something together.
Ashley: This hometown visit took things to another level. I’m feeling the best that I’ve ever felt. I am starting to see that Brad and I are meant to be.
Brad doesn’t want to leave the family, the town, or especially Ashley, but he is still concerned about emotionally supporting her dreams. With a hug while carrying dinner leftovers, Brad departs.
Positives: Her family likes him and he likes them and the small town life.
Negatives: Will he be able to emotionally support her dreams and will she take steps forward rather than steps backward in their relationship.
The scene for Shawntel’s hometown opens with The Bachelor Logo fading into a commercial for the Newton-Bracewell Funeral home. The logo in front separates this from being a paid commercial on the network and being part of the show. Seated on a bench with their fathers, the children, Shawntel and the partner’s son extol the care they provide for the Chico and Paradise area. Nicely done, but, unfortunately a set up for an uncomfortable meeting between Brad and Shawntel.
Brad rides into Chico having a good feeling about Shawntel. He misses her and is looking forward to seeing her. His words end and creepy music, (actually Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor) begins with a shot of the graveyard. A jump to the mausoleum and chapel and we watch as Shawntel walks down the hallway between the crypts thinking it’s going to be a little different for Brad to immediately come to a funeral home. She explains that death has been a big part of her life since she was a little girl, which she thinks is very healthy. She wants him to come in there, not being afraid of death, but seeing it as life.
Shawntel: This is going to be almost the final test for Brand and I’s (sic) relationship; might as well find out now if he’s comfortable with it.
Brad enters and she welcomes him to Chico and the mausoleum. There is a mix-up in communication when Brad says that he loves it here and she thinks he means the mausoleum. No. She takes him on a tour that ends in the prep room.
Brad: It’s crazy to think that this is Shawntel’s everyday life. I haven’t even thought of death. This is what our everyday conversation will be about – can I handle it?
Shawntel tells Brad that she spends a lot of time in the prep room and prefers being there alone and embalming. Brad’s discomfort shows on his face, but he, reluctantly, agrees to let her simulate the process with him as a subject on the table. Brad lies on the table wondering how many bodies have preceded him.
Brad: Shawntel thoroughly enjoys the embalming process. That is so strange to hear.
As they leave the mausoleum and travel to the family home, a bungalow style with flowers in the front yard, Shawntel tells us that the plan has been for her to take over her dad’s side of the business, but at the same time she is falling in love with Brad. She has opened up her heart to a lot more and maybe the thought of moving to Austin.
They are enveloped in warm family hugs and introductions follow for her dad, Rick, her mom, Colene and her younger sisters, Destiny and Vanessa. During the meal, Rick says that while their business is so serious, they can loosen up as Shawntel keeps reminding him. When told Shawntel pushed the limits on the tour by having Brad lie on the prep table, he tells her, “No rose for you;” and tells Brad, “Welcome to Chico.”
Brad: Shawntel’s family deals with death every day but they are so full of life, so happy; I can see myself being part of the Newton family.
Dinner crashes when Rick talks about Shawntel taking over the business. Brad catches on that her family does not want her to leave Chico.
Rick drives home the point in a talk with Shawntel, but when the family reconvenes in the living room, he tries to see Shawntel’s side and says that if it is meant to be, she has their blessing. Brad understands that Shawntel is her father’s legacy and that the blessing is a pretty big deal.
As he leaves, Shawntel tells Brad that she is in love with him and he kisses her hand. She kisses him and they embrace goodbye.
Positives: She loves him and he likes her family
Negatives: Death and the embalming table.
Another run and hug moment though this time Emily doesn’t run to Brad but to her lovely five year old daughter, Ricki-tikk(y-tavi). A beautiful mother and child reunion ensues until a tall stranger carrying a pink wrapped parcel slowly approaches them.
Emily to Ricki: You know how you went to school and made new friends, well I made a new friend, too. I made one friend and he came back to Charlotte to meet you.
Brad: I’m rock solid where I stand with Emily, where our feelings are. If this works out I very well could be little Ricki’s stepfather. (Little Ricki? Are we watching I Love Lucy?)
Emily: If Brad and Ricki don’t mesh it would be like Brad and I not meshing. (Fair Warning, Brad.)
Emily greets Brad with smiles, but Ricki shies-up and hides behind her mother. Brad holds out his gift and gets down to her level to greet her. After a shaky start, they find common ground with bicycle riding and soon the kite is in the air.
At first Brad was stymied when he couldn’t connect with Ricki because kids usually like him, but he doesn’t want to force her and when she finally smiles, he melts.
Brad: In the park it was the three of us in a family setting and I’m so happy.
They travel to Emily and Ricki’s home, a four square colonial, where Emily wants Brad to see them in an everyday setting. He finds the family room strewn with toys and immediately ducks into a playhouse. They move on to board games and Brad thinks this is the perfect image of what he wants his life to be.
Ricki gives Mr. Brad a drawing of the butterfly kite they flew in the park and is rewarded with Brad’s thank you and her mother’s hug.
Brad: An incredible home. This is a family. I very well could have a family, quickly.
Emily puts Ricki to bed and invites Brad to say good night to her. A touching moment as the couple leaves Ricki’s bedroom, turning off the light behind them.
After they retreat to the living room for grown-up time, Emily tells us she is excited to have this time with Brad all to herself. Emily,” How was your day?”
Brad replies, “Perfect. I honestly don’t think I could be happier right now.”
Emily tells him that she can see herself completely falling in love with him. She tells us that she has been wanting to kiss him all day, that she could eat him up. Brad, however, doesn’t make move, though he does tell her he wants to be affectionate, but her daughter is sleeping upstairs and he is just not… Emily, with a WTF face, watches him as he says it is all about respect. He wants to leave quickly with a hug, but he finally realizes that she isn’t buying what he is selling. Emily tells him that if this thing works out, Ricki will always be upstairs, sleeping. She thinks his attitude is sweet, but…
Brad shakes his head at himself and wonders what his problem is. He sweats and stammers. Flustered he tries to find the door. A disappointed Emily doesn’t want to end on a bad note and tells us that Brad Womack is not getting out the front door without kissing her.
She takes control and pulls him in for a kiss as they stand in the open doorway. He finally relaxes enough to embrace and kiss her back.
Brad: Kissing this woman is so perfect.
Positives: He connected with Ricki. He thinks Emily is perfect.
Negatives: His gentlemanly upbringing regarding intimacy when it comes to mothers with children present.
THE ROSE CEREMONY
Brad is back in New York City and meets up with Chris Harrison at the Ganvoort Park Hotel where they sit down for a chat about Brad’s whirlwind trip around the country.
Chantal – I can’t say enough good things about that visit, I really can’t. I think her father is very aware that I’m here for the right reasons and I have very strong feeling for Chantal.
Ashley – Through hell and high water I traveled to see her. It was like we were back when we first started really falling for each other.
Shawntel – It freaks me out a little bit, but I’m really interested in seeing what Shawntel does. I could relate to her being passionate about her work.
Emily – I know how important it is for Emily to have a man meet her daughter, I’m so glad she offered me that opportunity. It was natural and gave me a very vivid image of what my every day life would be.
Brad: I own this as a brand new experience and it is working.
The Final Four stand from left to right, all in cocktail length dresses: Emily in blue, Ashley in ivory, Chantal in red and Shawntel in black.
The Roses Go To:
Shawntel whispers goodbye to the girls and a nervous Brad sits with her assuring her that he cares for her, but didn’t feel the way a man should feel when he hears that she loves him. She sniffles and tells him that he is perfect and it will be hard to find another like him. He watches as the limo taillights fade from sight.
Ashley: I’m scared because that’s going to be one of us next week.
And so it will as they head to South Africa for the fantasy dates. Check in with LG. to see who stays and who goes.