We kick off with Chase’s (broken) Hometown Date in Highland something, Colorado. First we meet his dad, who divorced Chase’s mom 12 years ago and is going to pay for it now. He shows up ostensibly to meet and vet JoJo, but she is basically the therapist’s couch that Chase lies on while he punishes his father. We hear about Chase’s emotional “walls” and that he’s never said “I love you” to a woman. Standard pre-wedding jitters.
real family’s mom’s house, we meet his sister, brother-in-law, their baby Everett, his step-dad and his mom, Sandy. Oh my god, I love his mom and want her to like me. While being warm and welcoming, she also sees what the producers are up to and stresses that Chase is not still messed up about the divorce. This directly contradicts his going on a show whose premise is, “choose me, love me.” I don’t want to risk my friendship with Sandy, but maybe she should review everything Chase and his sister say this episode. Alone together (the family motto), his mom asks if he’s happy. Chase cries, which usually means no, and Sandy lets out this little chestnut:
The wall just got 10 feet higher. With his emotions safely entombed, the Chase of Amontillado walks JoJo out and ventures an “I’m falling in love with you” in his bid for full custody.
JoJo’s next Hometown Date takes her to Aaron Rodgers’ Little Brother’s hometown in Chico, California. They tour his high school and meet the old football coach who didn’t start ARLB, but did keep several photos of him. JoJo straddles him in the library (a safe bet there’s no Rodgers memorabilia there) and he uses the raw thigh power harnessed by his skinny jeans to thrust her into a bookcase to fool around.
JoJo is nervous going in to meet his family. She asks for a pep talk and in reply, Jordan kisses her. Is that a football thing? Like patting each other on the ass and suffering permanent brain damage? Inside we meet ARLB’s parents, a girl who came CAMERA READY, and Joey Fatone. The hardest working member of NSYNC takes JoJo aside so she can ask him about his estranged brother.
It’s tearing up his heart. At the end of the date, ARLB says he loves her and JoJo wants to say it back. Guys, I’m not ready for JoJoJordan, a celebrity couple that sounds like it’s perpetually revving up for something.
Next up, we’re in St. Augustine, Florida with Robby, drawn to the show in his quest for personal and follicular control. He was the first of the muscle-bound pompadours to tell JoJo he loves her, and his goal this week is to pressure her into some reciprocity. They take a horse-drawn carriage through town, and his “I love you”s are up to three already. She parries with a mention of Ben Higgins, questions if she’s a rebound, then throws everyone off when she says her ex, Chad:
Precision of language, JoJo. We meet Robby’s family, or as I like to call them, the people who for some reason let him go on the show. Robby informs them he has slept zero hours all week and has had several panic attacks, but no one takes note. Seriously, these are the details the doctor is going to want to know. Speaking one-on-one with Robby’s mom, JoJo tells her she’s falling in love with him. His mom is so thrilled. JoJo amends that it only just happened in the last couple of hours, but that’s months in Bachelorette time.
While JoJo gossips and drinks on a bed with his little sisters, Robby’s mom warns him that his ex-girlfriend’s roommate publicly #wrongreasons-ed him. He pulls JoJo out of her conversation (that alone should elicit an “I love you”) to tell her the accusation and then deny it. JoJo begs him to confess to something. He says he and his ex had a blow out fight, she slapped him, and he’ll never talk to her again. See? #rightreasons. His burning desire for a declaration of love has cooled to a cautious, “I think I know how you feel about me,” almost immediately followed by a James Taylorism, “Please, please, I won’t disappoint you.” JoJo can’t get out of there fast enough.
Last up is ex-army man Luke in Burnet, Texas. JoJo shows up in jean cut-offs and the cowboy boots he bought her, and they drive down a dirt road in a pick up truck. I suspect the theme of this date might be “Freedom.” He’s got a surprise for her-Hometown Dates are bigger in Texas. Instead of a private date before meeting his family, Luke takes her straight to a BBQ with 50 of his nearest and dearest. JoJo smiles politely then breaks away as soon as she spots a baby she can hide behind. Luke asks his parents what they think of her, and they politely say what they’ve had the time to observe. She’s beautiful, gets along with strangers, and has long hair.
After a quieter meal with his family, Luke takes JoJo on a horse ride to a hay couch, for her rolling pleasure. He tells JoJo how hot she looks while stroking her from face to knee. The other guys tend to focus on touching her thigh, but I like that Luke makes use of his full wingspan. Luke is so good at delivering emotional, no eye-contact speeches, it’s easy to forget to listen to what he’s saying. This time round it is to tell her she looks good in boots and, “I want the future.” Then Luke leads her down a candlelit path to a heart made out of flower petals and they kiss while a country song plays until she drives off in the sunset and oh my God we get it, already! Cowboy love.
The Rose Ceremony is in an airplane hangar, naturally. Seat backs are up, tray tables safely stowed, and just to be safe, JoJo is wearing her flotation devices. Seriously, I have to will myself to look her in the eyes. She tells us she’s planning to jettison Luke, but someone has warned him. He pulls her aside to finally confess his love, and the episode ends with her wondering if keeping a brunet counts as diversity.