Hello and welcome to the hometown dates episode, also known as “The One With the Incident that Heretofore will Never Be Spoken of Again at Holidays and Other Family Gatherings.” Let’s do this, rose lovers!
First up is sweet, kind, earnest, humorless AshLee, who brings her fluffy little dog Bailey along with her to meet Sean for a picnic in Houston. “My parents aren’t your typical pastor’s family,” she tells the Bachelor over giant goblets of white wine. “Like, my dad’s into motorcycles and he’s extremely outdoorsy.” Turns out, Sean’s dad is a reverend too – “Oh my gosh!” exclaims AshLee, who didn’t know this about the man she has, in her words, “fallen into love with,” but whatever – so Sean should fit in perfectly. Especially since it basically sounds like AshLee wants to marry her dad.
Mom and Pop greet the Bachelor and their baby girl warmly, and Pop even makes his interrogation sound genial. “I want to know what y’all have done up until now,” he drawls with a smile. “Where you’ve been, who you’ve met – I want to know these things.” But as AshLee begins answering all those questions (she gets teary explaining how she felt her “fear of abandonment” in Lake Louise during the polar bear plunge, and admits that she and Sean “rolled around in the sand” in St. Croix), daddy’s face begins to darken. By the time AshLee finishes her oversharing – “And then I told him I loved him” – Pop looks like he’s crafting a real fire-‘n’-brimstone sermon in his head.
Fortunately for Sean, it’s Mom who pulls him aside for a one-on-one first. But she chooses not to warm him up with a few softballs, and goes straight for the million-dollar question instead: “What are your intentions for AshLee? Are you gonna break her heart?” She has to ask, of course, and Sean has to say “that’s definitely not my intention,” but really, Deborah doesn’t have any more information after this conversation than she did before. The Bachelor has learned a new fun fact, though: AshLee was in five foster homes in one year before her parents adopted her. Pretty sneaky, mom: There’s no way Sean can dump her after hearing a staggeringly sad statistic like that. (Except, you know, he totally can.)
Sitting down with Pop is definitely more stressful for the Bachelor, though. “I’m afraid he’s going to ask me if I love his daughter!” exclaims Sean, who has just made it clear that he doesn’t. Though “love is on the horizon,” he tells dad, who once again manages to convey a daunting message with a smile and a chuckle. “Probably a good thing you live in Dallas if you don’t pick her,” says Bruce with a hearty guffaw. “I’m gonna have to do a lot of emotional damage repair if you pick another girl. But don’t let that weigh on your decision.” Har har har! Sean parries and advances with his own assault: So, dad, how come you let your not-quite-legal daughter get married? “She was not too far from being 18,” explains Bruce, “and I felt like if I didn’t let her get married then you know maybe there’d be some choices made that wouldn’t be the best choices.”
NEXT: Catherine’s sisters take a hit out on her character