We've reached that point in the season where our brave Bachelorette Emily Maynard must stand in front of the firing squad -- er, families -- of the final four men.
She opens the show with a quick pit stop in North Carolina to see her daughter Ricki after a whirlwind worlwide tour with the guys. "First I get to spend a little bit of time with my sweet Ricki," she gushes as she walks into her Charlotte McMansion. "I am here to find not only the right guy for me, but the perfect dad for Ricki."
Emily gets that journey started by first chatting about her four suitors before embarking on a cross-country trip for hometown dates.
She says of intense, emotional Chris that "he can admit when he's wrong" and is "always doing sweet little thoughtful things." Of adorable hipster Jef, Emily says, "I really feel like he gets me ... I really can trust him" and he's "so unique and special." Smooth-talking race car driver Arie has a "bad boy edge" she likes and she's "so attracted to him." Last but not least is country boy Sean, whom Emily says makes her "feel safe ... and very confident."
She muses that "if all goes well, I could be really in love with one of them."
After weeks of intense staring, crying and some mild fighting with the other guys, Chris finally seems to be at ease as he and Emily stroll through downtown Chicago, grab some Polish food and then head to his Polish parents' house in Hanover Park, Ill. for a meet 'n' greet. "I want to see how things progress after meeting his family," a lukewarm Emily says of Chris. It's clear that they're lacking chemistry, as for most of the date, they seem more like close friends than a couple.
At his parents' house, Chris loosens up a little as his dad grills Emily about her intentions. "I don't want to see my son heartbroken," his dad John tells her frankly. Chris' sister Renee doesn't mince words either: "If he's not going to be the one, end it soon rather than later," she warns Emily.
Dinner goes well, and afterwards Emily and Chris stand outside kissing when he tells her, "You make me feel really good -- like crazy good. ... After today, it makes it easy to say that I am in love with you. I love you. ... I have no questions about it; I'm excited about it."
Emily obviously doesn't reciprocate, but still seems to be in the moment. "What a perfect ending to a perfect day. If all the hometowns go as well as today, then I am in trouble."
Jef: St. George, Utah
Awwwww Jef! The pint-sized entrepreneur invited Emily out to the wide open space of his family's large Utah ranch where the couple horsed around on an ATV, did a little skeet-shooting and lounged around on the beautiful grounds.
And although Emily is obviously digging Jef's whole American Apparel/Urban Outfitters vibe , she likes to see his country side come out. "He's a little bit more country than he wants people to know," she says with a smile.
Jef's parents are on a service trip in South Carolina, so Emily meets his siblings and their children instead. His older brother Steve runs the show, asking Emily earnestly, "Is your life built on sound principles? Do you have the same goals?" Emily does her best to put his fears to rest, but when Steve later talks to Jef one-on-one, he expresses concern about the bottled water entrepreneur taking on the role of stepfather and husband, should Emily choose him.
Meanwhile, Jef's sisters are smitten with Emily and quickly give their seal of approval. "Today was an eye-opener for me," Jef gushed. "It definitely changed my life. I fell more in love with Emily."
His sentiment is more than evident when he reads Emily a detailed love note he wrote while flying back from their trip to Prague. She tells him that's the sweetest thing anyone has ever told her, and as the make out on a rock in the glow of the Utah sunset, you can tell she really, really thinks so.
Arie: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Emily practically leaps out of the car to meet up with Arie on a race car track, where she quickly doffs her clingy dress in favor of a racing jumpsuit. "Even though we've had a couple setbacks, we always recover," she says of her passionate relationship with the handsome racer.
After a few laps around the track, they head to a small park for a picnic, where instead of putting her mind at ease about meeting his family, Arie makes it clear that winning over his mom will be no easy feat.
"My parents are so European," he says of his Dutch clan, "they just have different values. They're open; they'll just say what's on their mind." Emily is obviously a little rattled by his warning, but still puts on a good face even after he tells her his mother will "probably be the least open-minded."
When they finally go to meet the fam, which includes his parents, younger twin brothers and a sister, Emily is feeling comfortable -- until Arie's mom Mieke begins a conversation with him about Emily in Dutch right in front of her! The move sends things in an awkward, and frankly, rude direction, until Arie switches back to English and translates what was just harmless small talk.
Mieke's not done though. She leads Emily to a bedroom where she asks point-blank why her engagement to Brad Womack fell through. Emily explains that they just didn't know each other well enough and changes the subject to ask Mieke about being a racer's wife. "It's a very difficult life, but I love this life," Arie's mom says. "I think we are the proof that it can work."
At this, Emily perks back up, as we cut to Arie telling his dad he's ready to propose. By now, it's time for Emily to say good-bye. They kiss. They gush. They call it a night.
Last, but certainly not least, is dark horse Sean, who crept up just two weeks or so ago as a very serious contender. Emily seems very into him, which is evident when she greets him as "Honey," making him the only suitor with a pet name so far. He's out at a lake with his dogs, explaining to Emily that this is what she can expect on a typical Saturday with him. She's into the idea, saying she can totally imagine Ricki running around, playing catch with the dogs and picking wildflowers.
When they get to his parents' home, Emily repeats several times that Sean seems to have "the world's most perfect family." That illusion is shattered, however, when he admits that he still lives at home and shows her his messy, cramped room complete with cracker and cookie crumbs, dirty laundry and a creepy stuffed animal collection.
Emily has a total needle-scratch moment and is obviously ready to think of a way to dump Sean. "I'm trying my best to be the sweet, polite Southern girl that I am, when in reality, I'm like rethinking everything. I'm going back on every conversation we ever had!"
Fortunately, Sean soon admits that it was just a prank to see how she'd react. "I love to see that Sean has a sense of humor," she says, relieved.
Winning over his family is a piece of cake, as Sean's dad Jay seems just as interested in Emily as his son. "I don't know if my heart can take it all," he sweetly tells her of the prospect of her becoming his daughter-in-law. His wife Sherry agrees. "I could definitely tell she was special to him," she says of her son's new love.
After admitting that he too has marriage on the brain, Sean says good-bye, and then chases after Emily's SUV for one more kiss. Awwww.
Rose ceremony: It seems pretty clear from the start that Chris is going home. Although he's a nice guy and Emily likes him, it's obvious that she doesn't have the same spark with him that she does with the other guys. The elimination is quick, albeit painful as a crestfallen Chris angrily demands to know why he got dumped.
Emily stammers and is unable to come up with anything more than "I don't know," and a brief explanation that their relationship was moving too slowly, none of which sits well with Chris, natch.
"I'm actually shocked, to be honest with you," he tells her. "I don't understand. How much faster could it possibly move?! I told you I loved you!"
"I just have to follow my heart," Emily says quietly.
In the limo, Chris surprisingly doesn't shed a tear, but he does say a little too cockily, "I'm ten times the man of all those (expletive) dudes back there." Well, alrighty then, Chris.
Next week: The gang tosses around the L-bomb (love) and sheds more than a few tears in Curacao, as we get closer to bling bling time! Who will she choose...?