Episode 7 opens with Ben in Warsaw, Indiana. You know, the Orthopedic Capital of the World. Also where Ben grew up. The producers put him in a vintage red Chevy pick-up truck.
Since Ben doesn’t actually live in Warsaw these days, pretty fair guess that it’s not his family’s truck, but just another ABC prop. Ben meets his parents in a diner and tells them he has brought six women with him. He describes them as follows:
Becca: has a good side, but got very standoffish last week
JoJo: unbelievably beautiful and he feels the most himself around her
Emily: an identical twin, has grown since the twin left but he still has a lot of questions
Lauren B: something about her, last week wasn’t great
Caila: beautiful, scared she can’t fall in love
Amanda: shockingly beautiful, has two girls from a previous marriage, an incredible woman
When Ben tells his mother he could be falling in love, she starts to tear up.
The girls walk through a park and throw fallen leaves at each other. Lord knows that if ABC could get these women to have a pillow fight, they would.
JoJo says that she wants to feel more confident with Ben before taking him home to meet her parents.
All the women meet Ben and take a pontoon ride on Winona Lake to their rental home, right on the water. Once they’ve jumped on the beds, they gather in the living area.
Lauren says that she wants to gain confidence in where she stands with Ben before taking him home to meet her parents.
Ben announces Lauren has 30 minutes to prepare for a one-on-one date. Lauren, already in full makeup, with hair done, laments the lack of time to get ready. The other women are not pleased. Already thrown by Ben’s attention to Lauren last week, JoJo’s guard is coming up.
Ben drives Lauren around Warsaw in that vintage red truck. He shows off his high school, his church and the location of his first kiss.
Back at the house, Amanda says she wants to feel 100% confident before introducing Ben to her kids.
Ben takes Lauren to Baker Youth Club, an after-school spot, where he worked for four years and discovered his passion for working with kids. They jump rope, play basketball, cartwheel and hang out with the children. There’s a weird moment where all the kids chant for Ben and Lauren to kiss. Then Indiana Pacers Paul George, George Hill, Coach Vogel and mascot Boomer show up. More basketball. A little guy, Eric, is crying in the corner. Ben comforts him. All the girls in the gym swoon.
Back at the house the second one-on-one date card arrives for JoJo.
Ben brings Lauren back to “his” place. At her request, Ben summarizes what he was told about her on last week’s episode. She knows not defending herself might have made him uneasy and that worries her. He tells her he trusts her. They go to his favorite dive bar, Rex’s Rendezvous, for a hot minute. They’re at a table with other people that I guess might be friends of his? It isn’t clear. They aren’t introduced and don’t speak. Lauren tells the camera she is in love with Ben. There is no date rose.
JoJo’s date card mentions the Windy City. CHICAGO!!! She meets Ben in Wrigleyville near Pick Me Up Cafe. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Pick Me Up, but remember it as a good spot for breakfast/brunch food with not so good service. It’s right on the corner of Clark and Roscoe. I digress. They walk up Clark to Wrigley Field, then go inside. They walk across the field, put on customized Cubs jerseys (Mr and Mrs Higgins), and throw/hit balls.
At the house, the girls discuss watching Ben date other women. They determine it is a roller coaster.
JoJo doesn’t feel safe enough to give Ben her heart yet. It begins to rain. Ben grabs JoJo and kisses her. Um, personal fantasy, right there. Be kissed, in the rain, in the middle of Wrigley Field.
Cut to the lake house. A group date card arrives. Emily’s name is not on it, meaning she gets the last one-on-one. She bursts into tears. Caila is not impressed.
Ben and JoJo sit down for dinner at World’s Smallest Table on Wrigley Field.
I guess it stopped raining. Ben asks why she’s pulling away and says he questions her feelings. JoJo says her insecurity stems from her past, feeling like she’s loved other people more than they have loved her. She can see spending her life with him but she’s scared because she cares about him so much. There is no date rose.
Becca, Amanda and Caila meet Ben at Marian Hills Farm for the group date. They will be rowing around the lake. Amanda and Becca hop in a boat and Ben pushes them into the water. Whoops. Caila ends up in the other boat with Ben. Then the girls run around trying to fly kites. No-one seems to be truly having fun. Maybe that’s because they’re surrounded by spiders. 99% of the landscape shots include spiderwebs blowing in the wind. That’s not romantic! That’s terrifying! I wouldn’t even have gotten out of the car. There is a rose! The rose means sticking around another week (Ben will meet the parents!) and also spending the evening together. First he spends some alone time with each woman.
Amanda doesn’t know why he’d be interested in her. Becca likes him so much that not hearing it back terrifies her. She asks not to be blindsided. Caila moved around a lot and doesn’t feel like she has roots. She worries Ben meeting her parents won’t be “impactful” because of that. Very tactical, that Caila. Amanda gets the date rose.
Becca cries outside the barn. Could it be particularly emotional because she got dumped in a barn on the last round of Bachelor? Caila cries and wonders whether meeting her parents will be enough to make Ben fall for her. The two arrive back at the house, Becca cries some more.
Ben takes Amanda to McDonald’s and they work the drive-thru. They finally sit down to eat their Egg McMuffins. He forces her to Lady and the Tramp a french fry. She does not want to eat that fry.
After McDonald’s they walk into a carnival. Is it the annual Warsaw Carnival? No, sorry. Purely the product of Bachelor producers. Amanda thinks she is very close to falling in love. They kiss on the ferris wheel.
For the final one-on-one, Ben takes Emily to his parents’ house. Cue Caila telling the camera that Emily is a “bright-eyed young puppy” and still has a lot to learn. Clearly, Caila’s additional year of life experience has covered those lessons. Despite her nerves, Emily is incredibly well composed and comfortable when introduced to Ben’s parents. During alone time with Ben’s mom, Emily’s talks about her dream to be an NFL cheerleader. She acknowledges her young age, but says she’s ready to be married and a mom. Ben’s mother thinks Emily is fun and excited but too young for Ben. She tells him. It’s the kiss of death.
Ben takes Emily back to the dock outside the girls’ house. With the other women watching through the window, he admits he can’t see her as his wife. Emily, keeping it together beautifully, had hoped today would be a turning point. He said “I hope it was good for you, it was good for me.” She walks away with unbelievable poise. The girls come out to meet her. Once inside, they cry with her when she tells them she’s leaving. Well, most of them. Caila seems to have disappeared about the time Emily walked in.
Noteworthy: Emily, who was called young and immature by Olivia, Caila and Ben’s mother, has the most mature and graceful exit in the history of The Bachelor.
In front of the clocktower from Back to the Future, Ben is confused about who he’ll send home. Chris Harrison asks whether Ben could truly see himself falling in love with each of the last five women.
Straight to the Rose Ceremony!
Sticking around for one more week:
Amanda (date rose – mom)
Lauren B. (recovering from slander)
JoJo (struggling with insecurity)
Caila (plotting behind that smile)
Along with Emily’s departure, Becca also goes home this week. She’s angry. Becca reminds him she asked not to be blindsided. He explains that, just seconds ago, he still didn’t know. Is that supposed to be comforting?
This week’s bracket score: 20. Total bracket score: 183. Ouch. How did you do last night?