The most boring season of "The Bachelorette" is back this week -- and thank goodness the hometown dates mean we're finally inching toward the finale. I see the sparkling rock at the end of the proverbial tunnel, folks.
Zak's Hometown: Promise Rings And Impressive Siblings In Dallas
First stop? Dallas! "People think I'm crazy," says the formerly shirtless contestant. "Wait till you see my crazy family." But before we get to lay eyes on those "crazy" people, Zak shares what sounds like a drug-addled dream. It involves Desiree, melting into sand, snow and eating snow, which besides being extremely long-winded is apparently Zak's confusing way of segueing into the fact that he and Des will be handing out snow cones to children for their pre-family date. Zak runs off to retrieve his family's snow cone truck, and Des talks about how "new" their relationship would be every day if they got hitched. After they roll up to an elementary school and hand out the sugary treats to random children while Zak prances around in a penguin suit, we're off to meet his "crazy" fam!
Turns out, Zak's family is more awesome/attractive than crazy. We are introduced to his mom, dad, brother and sister, who are all good-looking, giggly and energetic. They are also appropriately horrified to learn that Zak showed up on the first night of the season shirtless -- and pretty shocked he got a hometown date after pulling that stunt. "So you were THAT guy," says his (hot) brother. (Denton for next Bachelor!) Zak's mom makes a joke about roses, Zak's sister makes a joke about Des seeing Zak naked and everyone has some one-on-one time with Desiree. Zak's sis is understandably nervous about her bro getting hurt. "I want what's best for him," says Des, which is not really very reassuring. At the end of the evening, Zak's siblings harmonize a song Zak wrote for Des earlier in the season -- and sound surprisingly good! I almost think that this hometown date will escape epic awkwardness until Zak decides to give Des a promise ring at the end. Oof. Poor Zak. We all know he's not winning this thing.
Drew's Hometown: Pretty Eyes And "Three Magic Words" In Scottsdale
"Oh, you're so cute," says Des when she first sees pretty boy Drew all dressed up in his pale pink button-up. (That's the sort of thing you say to a puppy, not your future fiance.) They make out a whole bunch, because Drew is actually trying to be Arie -- also an Arizona native. After the kissing subsides, Drew and Des chat and head to pick up Drew's sister Melissa, who is mentally handicapped. The reunion is very sweet, and I really have nothing snarky to say about it. Afterward, they're off to meet the rest of Drew's 11-person (!!) fam, whom Drew is certain Des will fall in love with.
Clearly his family has been prepped by "Bachelorette" producers because they all "cheers!" to Des and Drew's "journey." Meanwhile, Drew is getting all anxious about saying those "three magical words" and can't resist telling his fam how pretty Des' dress was on the first night. During the one-on-one rounds, Drew tells his mom that Des really "gets" him and he's ready to propose to her. Des tells Drew's dad that she likes Drew's eyes. It's true love for sure. Drew's dad comes to the conclusion that he would totally throw a party if Drew wanted to marry Des! Hip hip hooray! When the night wraps up, Drew finally says "I love you" (about 10 times) and kisses Des passionately in front of a well-placed U.S. flag, sure that her kisses are telling him that she loves him back. They're livin' the American Dream, y'all.
Chris' Hometown: Baseball And Chiropractic Adjustments In McMinnville
Over in McMinnville, Oregon, Chris is wandering through the woods picking wildflowers and wearing plaid. Get it, everyone? He's outdoorsy AND sensitive! When Des arrives they head to Chris' old baseball field. (Because he played professional baseball, remember? Nope? Neither did I.) "We have a few bats here," declares Chris. "And lots of balls!" says Des. And the Twitter jokes write themselves...
After Des impresses Chris with her ball-hitting skillz and her romantic sketches of their first one-on-one time, they adjust their baseball caps, make out and leave their lunch untouched on the pitcher's mound for an ABC intern to clean up. Finally, it's time to meet Chris' "quirky" family -- his mom, his dad, his two sisters and his brother.
Chris' family loves to hug and is enthusiastic about wine -- my kind of people! His dad also happens to be a chiropractor and insists on adjusting Des' back while they chat about her connection to his son. Des is clearly 100 percent weirded out. Girl just wants to know whether Chris is ready for marriage, not whether his spine is straight. After Des is all "aligned," Chris heads over to his dad for a nose adjustment (yup, it looks just as odd as it sounds) and some fatherly approval. He gets both. Chris' "protective" mom grills Des, and we learn that Chris' whole family did NOT like his ex. "Grandma said the same thing," deadpans his sister. (We sincerely hope Chris' ex-GF wasn't watching last night. Because yikes.) Chris' mom is sensibly concerned that "The Bachelorette" is not the "real world," but Chris points out that they totally hold hands and kiss and hug, so it's DEFINITELY like a normal relationship. Ultimately, Des' "independence" wins Chris' fam over and she gets their approval. "Good guy, good girl," says Chris' mom. "Put together? Magic." Chris has just become a definite potential husband.
Brooks' Hometown: Cheesy Sketches And "Looks Of Love" In Salt Lake City
Brooks is quickly becoming this season's One-F Jef, down to his most-likely a not-so-practicing Mormon status. (Salt Lake City and the lack of wine at his parents' home make us think this rumor is true.) Des and Brooks skip over to each other when she arrives, and it's painfully clear that Des likes Brooks more than the other dudes. But (drama!) Brooks is still unsure how he feels about Des. They sit on a blanket near a pond, and Des pulls out a list of all their best moments together -- over the last seven weeks -- which include Brooks' broken finger and having dinner in a fort. After that "awww" moment, Des and Brooks go canoeing in the aforementioned pond and almost fall in the water. For some reason, this makes Brooks feel like they're basically in a real relationship.
Des and Brooks walk over to his parents' house and are greeted by his millions of siblings and siblings' partners -- all wearing name tags. They all sit down after hugging, and Brooks announces that Des is great at finding "gratitude" in the little moments and that he likes kissing her! (Apparently, the family is close.) "Brooks and Des are looking at each other with a love look," proclaims Brooks' mom. She also assures Des (privately) that Brooks would make a great hubby and father. Meanwhile, Brooks chats with three of his many bros about how "sarcastic" and "witty" Des is (really?), and his siblings wonder whether he can truly make Des happy for her whole life. Brooks' sister tells him that you have to want to be with your future partner at every waking moment or else you're not really BFFs/good married people. Brooks feels better about things after talking to his fam -- especially when his mother offers her approval. "Mom, you're my most favorite person in the entire world," Brooks says. (Awwwwww!) He was nervous before -- probably because he couldn't cut the tension by drinking over dinner -- but now he doesn't want Des to leave. The pair kiss a lot, but Brooks is still the only one who hasn't said "I love you."
Bro Time In L.A.
It's the return of Nate Hartsock, Des' tatted-up brother who basically ruined her chance to be with Sean Lowe on "The Bachelor." Back in L.A., Des meets up with Nate, who she hasn't seen or really spoken to since his epic verbal throw-down with Sean. Des feels great about her four remaining guys but doesn't want Nate to meet any of them if he's gonna be "negative." Nate just wants Des to tell him who her "favorites" are, but she is very diplomatic and obviously refuses. Nate assures Des that he was only a huge dick to Sean because he knew Sean wasn't the one. Des feels overall good about their convo, but everyone watching wishes there was a bit more drama. Can Nate please have one-on-one time with all of Des' reality-show boyfriends?
What's "The Bachelorette" Without A Chris Harrison Check-In?
After her powwow with Nate, Des has her obligatory powwow with Chris Harrison! They recap all the dates and talk about how Des is already in love with Brooks. (Honestly, producers, did you even TRY to infuse a little suspense into this season?) I guess we're supposed to wonder whether Brooks will bow out before saying "I love you" or whether Des' feelings will change substantially during the overnight dates, but it seems like the last few episodes will just be one giant foregone conclusion. Despite the fact that we all know who Des likes best, she is finding it really tough to pick a third runner-up and stares sadly at all the guys' photos.
Throwing The Promise Ring Out With The Rose
Des' remaining bros show up one by one, while her real bro creepily stares at them from behind a column but doesn't actually meet them. Chris Harrison reminds everyone how tough this will be because one of them is about to have his heart forever crushed -- and have to appear on "The Men Tell All." Des arrives and tears up talking about meeting the boys' families and making "hard decisions."
SAFE: Brooks (duh), Chris (double duh) and ... Drew.
Zak is totally shocked and wishes Des well as she cries and tells him he deserves "the most." She also gives him back his pretty promise ring, which he subsequently throws out his limo window while heading to the airport. Zak says he can't find love at home and just wanted to get out of his lonely life slump. Well, dude, I'm sure your thousands of new lady Twitter followers would be happy to go on a date with you -- and your abs.
Next Week, When The Men Tell All...
Reunion! Confrontation! Lying! Eruptions! Zak might be brokenhearted still! Brian had that GF, remember?! Everyone was shocked! Gloves might come off! James! F**k you!
In Two Weeks, During Overnight Dates...
Journey! Amazing! Falling in love! Falling in love deep! Helicopter rides! Kisses! Mountains! Woman of everyone's dreams! Heaven! Brooks feels good! Drew falls in love every day! Chris is deeply in love! This is it! Waves crashing! Sobs! Chris Harrison is sorry! Des never saw this coming! Des wants to go home!
LOOK: The Best Tweets About This Week's "Bachelorette"