Episode 8



“I’m trying to face walls I didn’t know existed and it’s hard to find them if you don’t know where they are.”







Hometown week kicks off in LA with Kendall. Surprising nobody, this date revolves around taxidermy, but what I found really interesting here is how the TONE was so different from seasons past. To me, Kendall represents that contestant who could be seen as a caricature, who is painted as weirder than most and who could easily be made out to be someone you'd laugh at or deem "crazy". But because she also has a lot of depth and intelligence (and is SHOWN possessing these traits), it prevents that negative perception. 

Perhaps my favorite thing about Kendall is how "in" on all the funny stuff she is. Like, obviously she has interests beyond taxidermy, but she's a really good sport about allowing her Hometown to be entirely about this (not unlike her intro video). When they entered the taxidermy warehouse, she said, "Welcome to Taxidermy Room." (She didn't describe it as HER taxidermy room.) In the way she announces that she and Arie will be mounting (apparently that's the term) taxidermy of their own, you can tell by her laugh and stutter that she fully realizes this is hilarious (aka, she's not taking it or herself too seriously)... Oh, also, don't miss the split-second Direct-Look-Into-Camera™...


I laughed out loud at two of Arie's reactions to this activity, starting with when he first saw the rat... carcasses (is that the correct term for a pre-taxidermy-mounting rat's body?)...


... and again when he was attempting to stuff (fill?) his rat and his expression made it clear he knew he wasn't a natural at this...


In the evening, after her family time (I just loved her sister!), Kendall revealed she could see herself falling for Arie. This moment was adorable (never mind my gripes with the concept of "falling", as I bemoaned from my Flare soapbox), just in that she was so endearingly uncomfortable talking about her feelings, to the point where she basically fell into a kiss following this confession...


I have a bit of an issue with the pacing of Kendall and Arie's relationship, but it's 100% on him and the show and not on her at all. At this week's Rose Ceremony, it did feel like there was some pressure on Kendall to feel (or express feeling) "ready", but THE GIRL HASN'T EVEN GOTTEN A 1-ON-1 DATE FOR GOD'S SAKE. Technically, this Hometown date was her first 1-on-1. I think given that, she is able to feel for Arie (and express those feelings) at a completely reasonable rate. Like, sure, you could argue she's opening up slower and "falling" at a slower rate, but her rate of developing and expressing affection for Arie is 100% proportionate to the validation she's been given so far.



Arie greets Tia in Weiner, AR and immediately gives a pretty good Direct-Look-Into-Camera™ of his own...


I laughed SO hard when Tia's dad, Kenny, proposed a toast and got Arie's name hilariously wrong (both Arie's and Tia's reactions here were also fantastic). I think the funniest part might be Kenny's earnestness. Like, he stumbled a bit, and you can see in his slightly-panicked eyes that he's not 100% sure on the pronunciation, but he just goes for it anyway. It's SO good...


I also delighted in Arie's very sincere-feeling response to Kenny's (reasonable) assumption that having a bunch of women to choose from would be a pretty fun time...

Ignore the lower-case "i".... by the time I noticed it I had deleted the draft of this .GIF and I have zero interest in re-making it.

Ignore the lower-case "i".... by the time I noticed it I had deleted the draft of this .GIF and I have zero interest in re-making it.

There are many things I love about watching Tia (I love her transparency and her potty mouth, for example), but I've decided it's moments like this that take the cake...


We can SEE her hear herself say that and her groan and head shake afterwards confirm that no one is more aware of how ridiculous those words sound coming out of her than she is. It's this self-awareness that is very compelling; when a contestant says he or she is completely in love with the lead on this show, with zero irony, I find myself skeptical. Like, 35 seasons in, how can you NOT have any irony when making that confession? Meanwhile, because Tia is so self-aware in saying this, I find myself taking her words—and her judgment in falling in love in the first place—more seriously.



I mentioned on The Morning After that, on Tia's Hometown, I'd hoped for a follow-up of their Episode 5 religion discussion. Instead, we got it here on Becca's date. Things like this...


... drive me CRAZY. Like, it's bad enough for a conversation about religion—a major real-life topic and a potential deal-breaker in any romantic relationship—to have occurred and not been shown. But even worse is to have not shown it yet have it referenced later. Had it been shown in the first place, it would be an appropriately recurring theme. Let's be honest: if this were a real-life relationship and the two parties were not on the same page about religion, it would be a recurring theme.

In the comments for Episode 5, religion was a bit of a hot topic and I have to agree on what a lot of you expressed: I do think the essence of exchanges like the above one are very dismissive of what a big concern this could be down the road. (In Episode 5, it was how Tia claimed to be open to marrying someone who didn't share her faith, despite growing up in the church and it being a huge part of her life.) I get the desire to not make a big deal out of it, and how in the Bachelor bubble it might pale in terms of importance next to how "amazing" your connection seems. But the fact of the matter is, this can and will be a problem.

Regarding the above exchange, I for one don't see a 36-year old suddenly embracing and immersing himself in an organized religion after a life of NOT, regardless of what his wife or fiancée believes. In this relationship's case, I'm not saying Arie is lying through his teeth and that he wouldn't be supportive of Becca's faith and wouldn't accompany her to church. I believe he would be and do those things. But I do think to sum it up with "I'm open to it", while totally audience-appropriate (he obviously wasn't going to tell Uncle Gary, a pastor, otherwise) and reality TV-appropriate (I sadly don't see this show ever delving deeper into conflicting opinions on this topic further than this), is both insufficient in terms of the weight of the topic and believability (as in, I question how "open to it" he really is).

Moving on! I tend to be really drawn to a particular parent (or sibling) during Hometown week, and this season it was Becca's mother, Jill. Remember, when we saw Becca's family talk about Becca before she and Arie arrived, the gist was that 1) there was no way Becca would be in love with this guy, 2) she'd be "cautiously optimistic at most", and 3) she's pragmatic. So, given that assessment, just watch Jill listen to her daughter talk about her feelings for Arie. She is taking it ALL in...


To me, Jill seems like an excellent mother. She strikes me as intelligent, astute, yet warm. She appears to trust her daughter's judgment above all else which to me shows confidence in her own parenting. I feel like nothing would escape this woman. I actually laughed when Arie suggested she ask any "hard" questions she may have and she practically tripped over saying "OK" to take him up on that...


I think what really speaks to me about Becca's mother is that she's not confusing being cautious with being cold. You can be a protective parent on this show and not be frosty. So many parents see the Bachelor/ette as the enemy, as someone to crack or figure out or intimidate, or to protect their child from. Even Jill's "hard" question ("When you look at your life, your experience, think of committed, loving relationships that you admire. What in those relationships do you think makes them work?") is more about what Arie notices and values, which says so much more about him as a person than him explaining why he's not a "playboy" or defending still having three other "girlfriends". Above all, I like how, at the end of this conversation, Jill could say to his face, "I really like you." I don't think people express this sort of sentiment enough (when it's honest, anyway). I already really liked Becca, so it made sense that her mother was so delightful.



Hometown week closes with Arie visiting Lauren in Virginia Beach. After riding horses along the beach, they embark on a make-out so intense that I actually had to remake this .GIF twice, lessening the frames per second, in order to capture its full length...


I find shots like the above VERY funny if you imagine things from the cameraperson's perspective. Like, how physically close they are to this couple's passionate make-out sesh, all the zooming in and out, and how they were evidently (and successfully) looking to capture that token Bachelor sunlight lens flare back-lighting situation.

I found Lauren's father so sweet and endearing...


The above really reminds me of my own dad, who on the surface probably appears quite gruff (he is the king of Resting Bitch Face), but who is secretly the biggest softy. I also appreciated how Lauren's dad, like Tia's brother (who I mentioned on The Morning After), wasn't afraid to warm to Arie despite perhaps not expecting to. I think it's an underrated trait to be able to recognize your preconceived notions about another person are wrong and to even admit liking them in the end.

Finally, in a 2.0 version of Tia's self-aware groan at admitting to being in love with Arie, and with two Direct-Looks-Into-Camera™...


I love the way her mother sort of processes this and then blurts out, with a bit of a face, "That's weird". This is some great 4th wall breakage. Whenever anyone on this show can admit that it's "weird" to have fallen in love on this TV show, while on this TV show, I'm all for it.



This Rose Ceremony was such a nail-biter! When Arie asked Kendall to go and talk we got a great shot of Transparent Tia... 


She has THE BEST reactions!

Finally, this moment flew by, but Tia said something that stood out to me as being something most jilted contestants should say...


More often than not, the Bachelor tells the woman he's just axed how amazing she is and how she deserves a great love and how he's enjoyed getting to know her. I get that, in many ways, no explanation is really necessary. He's obviously not going to be 100% honest and say something like, "I'm more attracted to someone else" or "I hated your family" or "I like you but you're a terrible kisser". But I don't think it's unreasonable for the dumpee to want at least a bare bones explanation and I loved that Tia straight-up demanded this.


As always, my predictions based on this episode can be found over at Flare!




A few of you asked about each Tia's Hometown date sweater and her dainty gold necklace...


Tia's Free People "Allure" sweater is sadly sold out, but there's a near-identical one, also by Free People, selling (on sale!) HERE. I've already picked up for myself. :) Her "Tiny Coin" gold-filled necklace is by Irina Victoria (the designer behind Bekah M's wishbone choker from last week—the girls were gifted these) and it sells (on sale!) HERE.

Several of you requested Lauren's crushed velvet top from her Hometown...


Lauren's top is actually a bodysuit and though it's by American Eagle, it's long gone to the point where there isn't even a "sold out" page for it anymore. I found a bunch of great alternatives, though, starting with this very similar option in regular (as in, not crushed) velvet, HERE, and a long sleeve version (in 3 colors!) HERE. If you're open to tee (aka, not a bodysuit), there's a great option (in several colors) HERE, and in a color similar to Lauren's, HERE. (While we're at it, there's an oversized, cropped option HERE). Finally, there's a bodysuit super similar to Lauren's but in pink, HERE. Whew!

Sophie asked about Tia's Rose Ceremony gown...


Tia's Forever Unique "Gabriella" sequin gown is sadly sold out (HERE), but there's still a size 8 available HERE.


Best Dressed

Honorable mention this week goes to Becca with her Rose Ceremony look...


MAJOR PROPS here for her wearing her hair back. I love the tousled low-do and how she's highlighting the one-shoulder neckline and dainty jewelry. The dress itself isn't reinventing any wheels but I loved this color on her; it just pops. Her combo of chokers really caught my eye; I like the pairing of a solid piece with a chain piece, especially as both are so delicate. Becca's coral Missguided dress sells HERE. Her chain link choker is by Brandy Melville and sells HERE. Her solid choker is also by Irina Victoria and sells HERE.

Runner-up for Best Dressed is Lauren with her Rose Ceremony gown...


I love it when the women really BRING it this far into the season. BRING ON those gowns and those fashion statements. Now is not the time to wear a run-of-the-mill cocktail dress you might've worn at a Rose Ceremony at any point in the season. This gown did just that. It was head-turning and unique. It's sexy but has a mild spiderweb, gothic femme-fatale vibe to it that I'm digging. My only wish is that Lauren had worn her hair up so we could appreciate all that detail along the shoulders and back, and maybe done a dramatic lip to up the drama and match the dress. But on the whole I loved this look. Lauren's Betsy & Adam Cutout Illusion gown sells HERE, and in my search I found an identical one by Aqua (Bloomingdales' brand), HERE.

As has been the case a couple of times this season, my Best Dressed is a casual look! I loved Kendall's tie dye romper from her Hometown date... 


Kendall really shines with unique casual wear and this outfit is a great example. This ensemble has a Western-meets-hippie vibe that actually works. I like the longer-sleeves of this romper, it's super flattering cinched at the waist, and it has a bit of edge paired with those boots. On the whole the look feels effortless and easy. Kendall's romper is by wholesale brand Audrey 3+1 and I wasn't able to find it brand new online. However, if you're open to secondhand pieces (which you should be!) and love a bargain, there's a Small of Kendall's exact romper selling HERE and a Medium HERE. Her belt is a thrift store find but there's a similar one selling HERE. As for her necklace, you may remember that a lot of her Hometown conversations were held in what looked like a jewelry-making studio...

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As it turns out Kendall's own mother, Michele, designs and makes jewelry, including Kendall's cool Hometown crescent moon lariat. The company is called Beautiful Soul and I have been in touch with them about the necklace (several of you requested it) and will add a good photo of it when they send it to me. For those interested, the necklace is 24K gold plated, Pyrite, and Topaz. It's $198, but there's a 20% off deal for February, so it's currently $158 + $8 for shipping. (Thanks, Renee!) It doesn't sell online but she takes orders directly through her email: bsoul8@yahoo.com


Worst Dressed

No Worst Dressed this week!


Until next week, fellow pandas!