Okay, honestly? How many times must we watch Zach Shallcross take a shower? Is anybody actually enjoying this? Anyone? As he washed his unattractive, hairy belly, the Bachelor told us that it was Hometown Week, and he was nervous. But, as he said, “I’m just looking for the love of my life.”
Zach started the week with four women. He claimed to have a “connection and a spark” with Kaity Biggar, and it just kept getting “better and better.” But also his relationship with Charity Lawson “feels special” and she makes him feel “comfortable.”
Even though his relationship with Ariel Frenkel was “late-blooming,” Zach said, “she’s drop dead gorgeous and very intelligent.” But with Gabi Elnicki, Zach felt things were “effortless” and “fun, but it’s also very sweet.” He was looking forward to meeting the families of all four women.
Welcome To Vermont! We Take Our Syrup Very Seriously Here
First on the agenda was Pittsford, Vermont. Must be Gabi’s hometown. I’m predicting lots of fall colors and more syrup drinking. Gabi waited for him in a bare forest, with lots of crunchy, brown leaves underfoot. “Welcome to Vermont!” she screamed, before almost knocking him over with the jump-and-mount. “That was a really good jump,” Zach told her, as he tried to recover his balance.
Just as I thought. Gabi had planned a “full maple experience” for the two of them. Hope you brought a supply of insulin, Zach. You may need it. His face looked a little horrified at the thought of having to drink more syrup, but he gamely said, “Let’s go!”
Gabi explained, “These trees have been around for hundreds of years.” (Come to California, Gabi. We have sequoias that have been standing since the time of Christ.) “[Vermont] is the largest distributor of maple syrup in the whole United States.” And with that, they started drilling a hole into a tree in search of “liquid gold.”
When they pulled out the drill, after deciding the hole was “deep enough,” they each stuck their fingers into the tree and determined it was very wet and sticky. Zach thought their conversation “without any context, sounds very dirty.”
Gabi laughingly agreed, “So vulgar!” Next, they went to a table set up outside, with bottles and glasses containing a brown liquid, alongside a platter of what looked like bread and pancakes. “Welcome to my laboratory,” Gabi announced.
Before they could eat pancakes, Gabi said, “First things first. We’re gonna do a blind taste test, and it’s gonna tell me a lot of what I need to know about you.” Gabi had Zach try three different grades of syrup and one “fake” one, to see if he could guess which syrup was “fraudulent.”
“Is our love fraudulent?” Gabi asked in a side interview. “Cause if he can’t taste it, I don’t know.” I guess in Vermont, you can’t love a guy who doesn’t know his syrup.
And of course, Zach picked the fake syrup as his favorite. Gabi was horrified.
As they walked through the woods, Gabi told Zach that she’d booked them a “private cabin” and moved Fantasy Suites up to this week. Zach thought she was hilarious and said, “Every time I spend time with [Gabi], it’s more and more easy, and it’s more and more fun. I think love could be right around the corner with Gabi.”
Zach Met Gabi’s Family And Can “See A Future” With Her
As night fell among the maple trees, Zach and Gabi walked toward her parents’ house. Zach was nervous, but Gabi told him, “They’re gonna love you!”
Gabi’s mom and her sister (especially her sister) look just like her. Her sister Chloe is two years older than her, and she just got engaged. It’s Gabi and Chloe’s dream to raise their families together. No pressure, Zach.
Gabi’s brother Evan pulled Zach aside for a “chat.” Zach was terrified. He just wanted Gabi’s family to like and accept him. Zach admitted that he can “see a future” with Gabi.
Meanwhile, in another part of the house, Chloe was asking Gabi, “Do you think Zach’s it for you?” To which Gabi answered, “I can definitely see a future with Zach.” Okay, I guess being able to “see a future” is the new catchphrase on this show. What happened to “journey?”
Next, it was Gabi’s mom Stephanie’s turn to rake Zach over the coals. Mrs. Elnicki assured Zach that Gabi is just looking for someone she can trust and who will make her feel safe and secure. Zach told her he could “see something” with Gabi. They both agreed, “Time will tell.”
When Gabi’s dad Kevin asked his daughter if she was falling in love, she answered, “I have a good feeling about him, so . . . ”
Dad wisely told her, “There’s a difference between thinking and knowing, and sometimes you just know.” Kind of vague advice, Dad. But he went on to tell her that he knew when he first saw her mom that she was “the one,” so it’s possible to fall in love in a short period of time.
Before he left for the night, Gabi told Zach, “I can see a future with you more than I ever have. Seeing you in there [with my family] made me so happy.”
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Zach Has New Experiences In NYC And Cultures Collide
Zach and Ariel met in front of the Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village. She was wearing a very sophisticated dress and knee boots, so she greeted him with a ladylike hug, rather than the tacky jump-and-mount. Points to Ariel for originality.
Ariel explained to Zach that New York is kind of like an extended family member, so she was excited for him to meet her/him. Before they headed off on a city tour, Ariel told Zach he’d better stretch.
They strolled hand-in-hand through the park and passed a couple of guys playing the saxophone and stand-up bass. Zach kindly contributed a couple of bucks to their collection — good for him! They walked past the chess players and on toward the West Village. Ariel confessed in an interview, “[Zach] makes me feel myself, which I haven’t felt in a long time.”
First stop: New York pizza! Ariel told Zach that when they were in London, they saw Big Ben, but now they were visiting the “small” Ben, but the most important one. The one who makes pizza. Ariel had a bite of Zach’s pizza, and they both acknowledged the deliciousness of carbs.
Next, they visited a Jewish deli, so that Zach could get to know Ariel’s “culture.” As they walked through the door, Zach said, “Sign me up!” Me, too!
Ariel was served a pastrami sandwich with the meat piled HIGH, while Zach was served a tongue sandwich (beef tongue, which my parents used to enjoy, but neither my brother nor I would touch it). Zach balked at first but said it was “really good” when he tasted it. He also tried Gefilte fish, which he also liked. Zach’s a mensch.
After the deli, Ariel took him to her “favorite coffee shop,” which turned out to be a bar, or as she called it, a “speakeasy.” Ariel loved how excited Zach was about having new experiences and trying new things, but said, “You don’t know me without knowing my family, and my family is their experience as immigrants.”
Ariel explained to Zach, “My parents fled the Soviet Union, [where] it was very difficult for them. They were persecuted for being Jewish.” So they came to the US and made a new life for Ariel and her brother.
When Zach admitted he was nervous to meet them, Ariel told him that her parents weren’t the ones to worry about. Her brother Bobby is “so protective of me,” he even offered to “go beat up” her exes if he ever saw her heartbroken. Look out, Zach. This could be trouble.
Ariel’s Big Brother Holds Zach’s Feet To The Fire
That evening, Zach and Ariel met her family at a Brooklyn winery. Even though he was really nervous, Zach admitted that he was excited because (wait for it) he could “see a future with her.”
Before they went in, Ariel reminded Zach, “We’re in this together. We’re both getting roasted,” which he didn’t find reassuring.
Inside the winery, Ariel’s dad said he was looking forward to meeting Zach. But her brother Bobby said, “We’ll see how he does. I’m not holding my breath.” Uh-oh. I think Zach’s in for a tough night.
After describing some of the places they’d been and the experiences they had (naked people in Estonia!), brother Bobby asked Zach, “Can we talk?” Dun dun DUN!
Ariel’s brother started by telling Zach, “I’m a little bit skeptical, but my sister is an extremely capable girl, so I’m looking to see if they have a good connection. If he’s treating her properly. She’s my baby sister, and I’m the first line of defense.”
Bobby dropped a bomb on Zach with, “I know you’re the one ostensibly picking, but at the end of the day, my sister is the one choosing you. So why should she choose you?”
When Zach pondered, “Ooooooh, great question. Why should Ariel pick me . . . ummmmm, hmmmm,” Bobby sarcastically said, “Great answer.”
Zach assured Bobby, “I have a big heart, and the person that I end up with at the end of this has my whole, entire heart, and I will do anything under the sun to let that be known. And I’m a pretty good cook.” Um, okay. That was random.
Zach stumbled around for a bit, but finally told Ariel’s brother, “I see a future with her.” But Bobby told Zach, “Ariel is not the only one that needs to accept you. My whole family does. We obviously come from different backgrounds, so how do you intend to reconcile that?” I was wondering the same thing. Zach would need to embrace not just Ariel and her family, but an entirely different culture than his own. That would be a reach for most people. Not impossible, if you were really in love, but a lot to consider.
While Zach struggled to answer, Bobby confronted him with, “What’s my sister’s birthday? Do you even know her middle name?” This did not go well. They ended up shaking hands and calling it a day.
Dad was next to put Zach in the hot seat. When Zach mentioned how nervous he was, Ariel’s dad said, “You still should be nervous. I’m a very demanding person. So how is my daughter . . . different than other choices?”
Zach answered that Ariel is a kind person and just makes him comfortable. Plus, he “can see a future with [her].”
Ariel’s dad understood that his daughter was only one of four women Zach was still dating. He concluded in an interview, “Why am I expected to be 100% [for Zach], while the other answer [chance of Zach choosing his daughter] could be 25%?” Good point, Feliks. I like Ariel’s dad.
When he sat down with Ariel, her dad told her that even though he may not agree with her, they’ll support her decision. She’s proven him wrong in the past when they didn’t agree, and he trusts her judgment.
Before sending him on his way to his next destination, Ariel told Zach she was “falling” for him. He told her, “I really can’t wait for what’s to come.” Be careful, Zach, you’ll get the girl’s hopes up. Nevertheless, Ariel felt “very confident,” and that was what she was going to focus on.
A Southern Spread In Georgia And Charity Is The First To Say The L-Word
The next stop on the Family Tour was Columbus, Georgia, Charity’s hometown. While she was waiting for him to arrive, Charity reiterated to us, “I really do see a future with Zach.” And rather than executing the standard run-and-mount, Charity performed a Baywatch version of slow-motion trot-and-jump. It was kind of awkward.
Charity told Zach he’d be meeting her family first (parents, two brothers, and a sister), and afterward, her childhood best friends were preparing “an amazing Southern spread.” Yum! She was looking forward to her loved ones not only seeing “all the good things in you, but also for them to see how happy I am.”
When Zach and Charity arrived at the party, her mom Vickie took note of her daughter’s “happy step” and could tell she was really in a good place. Even her dad took note of how “beautiful” the couple looked together, “But she’s my baby girl. So the biggest question I had for Charity is, where is the relationship at this point?”
The first thing he asked Charity when he pulled her aside was if Zach had said he loved her yet. Charity admitted, “We have not said the magical L-word. We’ve acknowledged the connection we have, but we have not said, like, ‘I am in love.'” Isn’t this the segment of the season where the contestants start confessing their love to the Bachelor/Bachelorette? I recall many of them doing just that at the Hometowns in the past.
Charity sat down with four of her best friends. Everybody wanted to know if Charity was in love, but again she had to admit that they had not yet said the L-word, but she was really happy. One of her friends said what everyone else was thinking and asked if she was prepared for “the outcome that you don’t want?”
“If I”m not the person that he chooses in the end, like, will it be easy?” Charity said. “Probably not . . . it won’t be easy. [But] it’s a risk that I’m willing to take.”
Meanwhile, Charity’s brother was asking Zach, “Where are you with the other women?” Zach answered that he was just doing the best he could at the moment, compartmentalizing his relationships as much as possible. “Charity is an incredible and special woman and I want to put her best intentions first.”
After talking to her brother about how he’s protective of her and doesn’t want to see her heartbroken again, Charity admitted, “I thought I was ready to tell Zach I’m falling in love with him, but right now, I’m second-guessing. I don’t want to get heartbroken again.”
As they walked away from the family get-together, Charity told Zach that she had one more surprise for him. She took him to a country bar, where there was a live band and line dancing, which Zach was not very good at. Charity said in an interview that she needed to tell Zach she was falling for him, but did she have the courage to use the L-word?
As they kissed outside the noisy bar, Charity told Zach, “I, in a million years, didn’t think I would be here. I think it’s even safe to say that I’m honestly falling in love.” With Zach, Charity? I need you to be more specific.
Zach said in his interview, “It feels amazing hearing that. I know it’s not easy to open up and share how you’re feeling, but there is something really special with Charity and I, and hearing that from her makes my heart flutter, and it just makes me really hopeful for what could be us at the end.” But do you see a future with her, Zach? I need to hear you say it.
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Kaity And Zach Run Errands In Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas is something of a double Hometown for Zach, as not only is it Kaity’s hometown, but it’s Zach’s, too. We saw another variation on the jump-and-mount, as Zach seemed to just lift Kaity, rather than her jumping up onto him.
After telling Zach she’d only really lived there for a “few short weeks,” Kaity asked Zach to help her run some errands that would help her get settled into her new home. And he loved it! Doing normal things together like shopping and running errands would “be a great insight into what [real] life would look like” after the Bachelor.
So they went to the grocery store together, and Kaity told Zach that the kind of noodles he picked out would “say a lot” about who he was. On the way out of the store, a flower cart was conveniently parked right out front, so Zack said they should buy a
buffet bouquet of flowers to take home.
They got into Kaity’s cute, little navy blue SUV and drove to her actual house. Zach really liked Kaity and said, “There’s no doubt that there really could be a future with her.” But do you see it, Zach?
While Kaity thought Zach was probably expecting to just “chill” on the couch (my son explained to me what “Netflix and chill” really means), Kaity actually needed to get settled into her new place, so she put Zach to work assembling a bookcase.
Kaity had a long list of things for Zach to do. She made me giggle when they were bringing her mattress in from the garage, and she screamed at Zach to “Pivot!” as they rounded the door jamb (Friends reference — Google it). Kaity interviewed, “After today I can for sure see a life with him in Austin or wherever. I would go anywhere for that man.” And that’s the way it should be. I’m making Kaity my new front-runner.
When they finally stopped for a rest, Kaity told Zach how much fun she’d had that day and that he’d be meeting her family that night. Though her dad wouldn’t be there (he left when Kaity was only 4 months old), Zach would meet her mom, “who means so much to me.” Kaity got emotional when she told Zach what a great mom she was and that she wanted to be just like her someday.
Kaity Gets Her Mom’s Stamp Of Approval
When they met Kaity’s family, Zach admitted that he’d had an “immediate” spark with Kaity and wanted to get to know her better. They talked about their first date at the Natural History Museum, where they ate dinner with the dinosaurs. After telling the camera that she’d never seen her daughter be so physically affectionate before, Kaity’s mom Anne said, “Honey, let’s go have a chat.”
Kaity told her mom, “I feel really good about Zach. I’m very happy. He’s literally the perfect guy.”
Anne asked Kaity if she was in love and could see herself engaged to Zach, despite the other women he was still dating. Kaity said, “Obviously, it’s not normal for your boyfriend to be dating three other women.” But she respected her mom’s opinion so much, that if Anne didn’t see them as being good life partners for each other, she would seriously have a conversation with Zach and rethink their relationship.
Zach was next to sit down with Anne, and she told him that Kaity seemed very smitten with him. She said that her daughter didn’t “give her heart easily,” but when she did, she’s in it 100%. Then she asked Zach how he was feeling about her daughter.
Zach told Anne, “I never in a million years would have thought I’d be in the position where I’m dating other women.” He added, “But with Kaity, how it’s grown into this really strong relationship, I’m at the point now where I can 100% see a future with Kaity.” And there it is.
Anne pressed him on it, asking if he was saying that he might be falling in love with Kaity. Even though he didn’t want to throw around the L-word, Zach admitted that he could absolutely “see myself falling in love with her.”
Meanwhile, Kaity’s Aunt Jill was asking her how she thought Zach would fit in with the family, seeing as how close they all are. Kaity assured her aunt that Zach would fit in just fine.
“He’s such an amazing guy,” she told her aunt. “He’s so genuine. I’ve been able to open my heart, and I haven’t been able to do that in so long.” Kaity added that Zach made her feel so safe and comfortable. “Safe and comfortable” seems to be a theme.
When Jill asked if Kaity was in love with Zach, she said, “I see my future with him. I see him being the father of my kids. I see him being my husband.” But she confessed that she hadn’t been able to say she loved him yet, because she was scared. Since Kaity has been left by two father figures (her bio dad and a stepdad), Kaity was afraid to make herself that vulnerable. She didn’t know if she could deal with “another man walking out of my life.”
Kaity sat down to get her mom’s opinion of Zach, because she needed the validation that her mom was seeing all the good things Kaity saw in him. Anne told her, “He’s kind, he’s sweet, he’s charming. He ticks all the boxes for you, Kaity. I would completely 100% support this moving forward.” Whew! Kaity was super relieved to have her mom’s approval.
When they left her mom’s house, Kaity sat down with Zach and told him, now that he’d met her family and he seemed to fit in, she could tell him that she was falling in love with him. “He’s the man that I want, that I’ve literally dreamed of,” Kaity said.
Sean Lowe Helps Zach Decide Who To Cut
Back in Los Angeles, Zach was stressing out, knowing he was going to have to break someone’s heart. He said he didn’t know what he was going to do yet. But then there was a knock on the door . . . and it was Sean Lowe! The Season 17 Bachelor had returned to help Zach decide which lovely lady’s heart to break.
Zach detailed for Sean each of the four families he’d been to visit. They were all lovely and loving — except for maybe Ariel’s brother Bobby. Sean laughed that the brothers can sometimes be tougher than the dads.
Sean told Zach that he’d been in the same position, with four women who all had “wonderful qualities, wonderful families.” But as he thought about all four women and struggled with his decision, his mind kept drifting back to how much fun he always had with Catherine (Giudici). He said it dawned on him, “I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”
But even after talking with Sean, Zach still didn’t have any idea of what he was going to do. Hopefully, it’ll come to him when he’s standing at the rose podium. Maybe he’ll also remember who he had the most fun with.
The Rose Ceremony: And Then There Were Three
And we’re back where we started, at the Bachelor Mansion in LA. Jesse Palmer greeted each of the four remaining women as they arrived for the Rose Ceremony. When Zach arrived, Jesse asked if he was ready for what he had to do.
Zach said it would be the “hardest decision I’ll [ever] have to make,” and he was dreading walking through those doors and saying goodbye to someone. I’m not sure he’d even decided who he was going to cut yet. I hope he doesn’t decide to go by dress color, because three of the women were dressed in black, while Gabi was the only one wearing bright blue.
The moment had come. All the women looked stressed, as Zach told them, “I have to make an impossible decision,” but he had made that decision “solely on the basis of the strongest connections.” The rose recipients were: Ariel, Kaity . . . and “the final rose tonight” (thanks, Jesse), Gabi. Jesse returned to ask Charity to “take a moment and say your goodbyes.”
As he walked her out to the waiting limo, Zach told Charity, “I know you don’t want to hear this from me, but you deserve all the love, and I couldn’t give it to you.” As boring a Bachelor as Zach may be, I love that he says this to the women when he lets them go. It’s not because they weren’t lovable. They each deserve love from someone who can give it to them, but Zach just isn’t their person.
I guess the driver starting the car’s engine while they were still talking was a cue to “wrap it up.” Rude. After telling Charity, “I’m grateful to know you,” Zach gave her a hug farewell. She wished him luck, and then she was swept away in the Black Limo of Sadness. I wonder if she took the Midnight Train to Georgia? Too soon?
Join us tomorrow night for the Women Tell All. Can’t wait for the catfights!
TELL US – WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT ZACH SENT CHARITY HOME THIS WEEK? WHICH WAS YOUR FAVORITE FAMILY? WHO WILL ZACH PICK?
[Photo Credit: ABC/Nino Munoz]