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The Bachelor Season 16, Episode 8 Recap: Over the River and Through the Woods

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Ready to travel cross-country and make awkward get-to-know-you conversation with four lucky families? Bachelor Ben is! Let’s join him on these hometown dates, shall we?

We begin in Ocala, FL, where Lindzi’s parents live. But wait, didn’t she talk about growing up with horses in Washington state? I’m confused. Lindzi has donned her cowboy boots and spurs and is ready to meet Ben. She climbs on a horse. Oh okay, that’s the Lindz we know and love. She’s excited to bring “her boyfriend” Ben to meet her family.

As she gallops toward him, Ben tells the camera, “There are times when I think, ‘I could love this woman.’” That doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement. I don’t have a good feeling about this.

They awkwardly hug over a fence while Lindz is still on top of the horse. “You look good on this thing!” says Ben.

Lindzi gets the horse ready for a romantic carriage ride as Ben stands to the side, unsure of what to do. He says he doesn’t really know anything about horses, but his dad used to love them, so that’s sweet. Ben proceeds to drive the horse and carriage in a zig-zag pattern down the dirt road. Lindz makes an obvious analogy about love and “falling off the horse and getting back on.” Haven’t we heard this before?

They stop to have a picnic under the trees. Lindz tells us that she’s ready to have a serious conversation with Ben, and admits to him that she’s vulnerable. Ben says he noticed that her “walls are coming down.”

Next she starts talking about her ex, the famous “Dumpsville, population: You” text sender. She tells Ben that it was her first serious relationship, that it was for two years, and that they lived together. She also says that in hindsight, her family probs knew best, because they didn’t like him when they met him. No pressure, Ben!

Ben’s just happy that Lindz is finally “opening up.” He says he likes her “soft and sweet” side, but has Lindzi really ever been anything but that?

Picnic time’s over, and it’s time to get back in the carriage and head “over the hills and through the forest,” to Lindzi’s parents’ house. It takes a few tries before they finally remember that the song goes “over the river and through the woods.”

As Ben and Lindz approach her parents, who are sitting outside, Lindz talks about how it was really hard for her parents to see her go through the last break-up. As if on cue, her dad releases the hounds in Ben’s general direction. (Not really, it’s just the family dogs, but still.)

Her parents walk up to greet them and Ben continues the awkward hug trend by hugging the mom over the side of the carriage while still holding on to reins. He shakes her dad’s hand, and then Harry (the dad) offers everyone some Chardonnay. Sounds like Ben will fit in here!

Lindz and Ben then tell her parents about their trip and dates, including their first date in San Francisco, which ended with a concert at City Hall, if you can remember that far back. The parents surprise everyone by revealing that they got married at City Hall in San Francisco! Spooky!

Next up, Harry challenges Ben to a family tradition: carriage racing. It’s like a scene straight out of Spartacus as the mom and dad race Ben and Lindz through the fields. Mom and Dad end up winning, and I bet Ben is telling everyone right now that he let them win. As he should. (But you know he didn’t.)

Hilariously, the losers’ punishment is to take the place of the horses and pull the winners’ carriage back home. This is just getting more and more awkward.

Safely inside the house, we find Lindz and her mom on the couch, talking about how Lindzi is “falling in love” with Ben. I FINALLY notice why Lindzi’s make-up always seems so weird. It’s because her lips are the same color as her skin! She is either wearing no lipcolor at all and her lips are freakishly skin-tone, or she’s wearing the WORST lipstick known to womankind. Either way, this needs to be fixed. Stat.

Anyway, Mom says she really likes Ben, and then she gets her own one-on-one time with the Bachelor himself, by a swimming pool, of course, to continue the theme of this season. Ben says that he’s enjoying being the one not planning the dates, and Ben says that he knew Lindz liked horses, but didn’t know it went this far. (He says it in a much nicer way though, thankfully.)

“We kept her away from boys and concentrated on horses, drill team, and cheerleading,” Mom says. “So she hasn’t had a lot of experience dating.” Typical Mom. For some reason, I feel like Lindz might have just a wee bit more experience than her mom knows.

Related: What Your Favorite Sex Position Says About You

Mom again mentions Lindzi’s recent heartbreak (Dumpsville), and Ben says he’s worried that she’s not ready to be engaged. Mom assures him that she is.

Then, Ben drops a bomb while talking to Dad. He says he’s not ready to propose to anyone. But, he says, if it comes to that, he would like to have her father’s permission. This is very sweet. Ben looks nervous. Dad doesn’t really say yes or no, just that he would like Lindz and Ben to “continue the relationship.” I think this means, “Of course you shouldn’t get engaged on a television show, idiot!” But Lindzi’s Dad is too polite.

Ben talks about how when you get married, you inherit new parents, and how he’d really like Lindzi’s dad to be a part of his family, because he thinks he’s “salt of the Earth,” just like his own dad was. I have a feeling that the girls’ dads are going to play a big part in Ben’s decision, which is understandable, of course.

The All-American day ends around a campfire with s’mores. As if there’s any other way. The day also comes full circle with Ben making the exact same statement he began with: “I think I might be falling in love with Lindzi.” Again, not a lot of enthusiasm, but ok, we’ll try to believe you, Ben.

Up second on the Tour de Ben’s Women is Clarksville, TN, Kacie’s hometown. They meet at her high school, on Buster Boguskie Football Field, to be exact. This reminds me of Friday Night Lights, and I like Kacie even more. Kacie says she thinks today is “really going to change [her life.]”

Related: 10 Things You Shouldn’t Do Until You’re Exclusive

In maybe the cutest greeting yet, Kacie welcome Ben to Tennessee with the school marching band, and of course, with herself bringing up the rear, twirling that baton. It’s all quite impressive. She finishes the routine and runs straight into Ben’s arms. He performs the patented Bachelor move of lifting her up while she wraps her legs around him. It’s only two minutes in, and Kacie’s hometown day is already 10 times more exciting than Lindzi’s horses.

Kacie then reveals that Mr. Boguskie, whom the field is named after, is actually her grandfather! Her grandfather, whose life inspires her to find love, of course. She then tells the sweet and heartbreaking story of how her grandmother died only a few months after her grandfather passed, “because she couldn’t live without him,” but all Ben can say is “mm-hmm.” As he pops a bottle of wine. What, does he travel with a bottle on his person at all times?

Kacie further shows just how compatible Ben is with her family by explaining that her dad is a federal probation officer, and also, he doesn’t drink. Uh-oh. “Strike one,” for Ben, he says. “My business is booze!”

Ben asks Kacie how her parents will react if he ends up taking her with him to live in Sonoma, since she’s lived in Tennessee her whole life. “They’ll cry!” says Kacie. Ben is just getting more nervous, and tells Kacie, “Don’t take it personally if i don’t kiss you this evening. It has nothing to do with you, or me, or us.” He’s terrified.

They walk up to the door, and everyone squeals in greeting. Ben hands Kacie’s mother something in a brown paper bag, and I sure hope it’s not wine. They sit down at a table that looks like it’s set up for the Last Supper, since everyone’s sitting on just one side, but I guess it’s just for the TV cameras. Still, weird. Dad talks about how much they’ve missed Kacie and how he always wants to protect her.

Next, Kacie takes her sister Alison aside, and promptly says “That’s my future husband!” Sis wants to know how she could feel this way so soon, and Kacie explains that she’s learned a lot about herself, and she doesn’t have to pretend to be anybody when she’s with Ben. She also knows that her parents don’t understand the risk of being on the Bachelor, but she’s finally doing what she wants to do.

Dad pulls Ben aside next, and asks him why Kacie has made it this far. Ben answers that he likes how Kacie “communicates,” and is stuttering all over the place. Ben asks Dad if he’s ok with this process, and Dad admits that it makes him nervous, but he just doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt, including Ben, which is very sweet. He also says he doesn’t want it to be like Bam! Engaged! Bam! Married! And so Ben assures him that it would not be that fast. He also admits to Dad that he’s scared of making the wrong choice. You can tell that Ben, again, misses having a father figure in his life. Or maybe not, as Dad warns him, “If Kacie is not the one, then I hope you would tell her sooner rather than later, so she won’t get as hurt.” Oh, Daaaad! No! Ben tells us that he doesn’t think he’s the type of son-in-law Kacie’s dad wants. Uh-oh.

Ben moves on to Kacie’s mom, in the hopes that she’ll be easier on him. Not so much. She tells him that she’s watched the Bachelor a lot, and sees that the final couple usually end up moving in together. She is not ok with this; her daughter will not live in sin with a man before she’s married. Ben basically is like “umm yeah, ok,” and says he doesn’t expect they’ll see eye-to-eye on everything, but that he respects Kacie.

Kacie’s mom and dad must have planned this tag-team situation, because Dad then relays the same thoughts to Kacie. He doesn’t want them to get engaged right away, because marriage is sacred, and he wants Kacie to make every decision “prayer-fully.” He also makes it clear that if the time comes for Kacie to move to California, she would be in a separate apartment than Ben. Got it loud and clear, parents.

Kacie keeps the convo going and insists to her dad that she’s in love with Ben, and if he asks her to marry him, she will say yes. Dad tries again: “If Ben were to ask me if he could marry you, I would at this point say no.” Kacie is frustrated. “Ultimately, if I want to marry Ben, I’m going to,” she says defiantly. Ben takes off into the Tennessee night, and Kacie is unsure of where she stands.

Nicki is from Fort Worth, Texas, so that’s where we find Ben next. “I love Texas!” Ben exclaims, in the way that someone who thinks it’s all country music, line dancing, and BBQ would. He says he loves Texas horses, steer, and most importantly Texas Nicki. He hopes he shows her some of her Texas pride.

Nicki says that today is a huge day, because last time she brought someone home “under these circumstances” (what, with a camera crew?), she married him. And now here comes Ben. She greets him with the patented legs-around-the-waist move, and then they go shopping for cowboy boots. Nicki makes a bad joke about how finding a mate is like finding boots: You have to find the perfect fit. After trying on many, many ugly pairs, they both settle on some and head out into the Texas day. Nicki is wearing sequins, but Ben looks even more ridiculous in a big belt buckle and 10-gallon hat.

The theme of this episode must be picnics, because Nicki and Ben also sit down for one, as she brings up her divorce again. She says that she doesn’t think her parents said anything last time she brought a guy around mainly because they didn’t want to upset her. This time, though, she thinks they’ll have questions for Ben. One would hope. Time to go meet them! But first, some major making out.

Nicki has changed into a different inappropriate, off-the-shoulder sweater for the occasion, and Ben has thoughtfully brought Nicki’s mom some flowers. Ben, why didn’t you bring those to Kacie’s non-drinking family??

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Nicki’s parents are divorced, but they’ve come together for the big day. After some talk about their Texas-cliche filled date, Nicki talks to her mom in private about how in love with Ben she is. Mom is happy and excited and doesn’t seem worried in the least! I’m beginning to see how Nicki’s first marriage happened. Nicki then talks to her dad and also tells him that she’s in love with Ben. Dad echoes Kacie’s dad and says that he just doesn’t want her to get hurt again. You can tell he feels guilty about Nicki’s first marriage, and it’s kind of heart-breaking. They are both blinking back tears. Maybe I was, too.

Dad makes a toast at dinner and says Ben and Nicki have his “total support.” The couple head to a bedroom to talk, and she tells him that she’s in love with him. Ben doesn’t really have much to say back, and they just make out some more. As Ben drives away, Nicki says “If it can be this good now, it could be this good forever!”

Finally, we arrive at Courtney the Model’s hometown of Scottsdale, AZ. As she waits to greet him, Courtney tells us that she feels badly that her poor relationships with the other women might have hurt her relationship with Ben. He pulls up, and she runs to greet him, but just with a regular hug, no legs around the waist. She brings him up to the house that her father calls “The House of Little Girls,” which might sound creepy, but sounds a lot prettier in Spanish, as Courtney said it. Ben again has flowers for Mom, AND a bottle of wine. Pulling out all the stops!

Ben tells the camera that Courtney has always been the one he likes best, really, and it’s very important for him to see that she’s not just a girl that can’t get along with other women. Courtney, her parents, her sis, and Ben sit down for a meal on the patio, and Courtney full-on says that she “like-loves” Ben. Mom doesn’t really get it either, and says she very skeptical of this whole deal. She brings up the fact that the last time Court was hurt, she admitted that her mom had always been right about boys. You better really impress this mom, Ben!

Time for some sister chat, and Courtney says that her sister’s opinion is very important to her. She explains to sis that Ben has made her appreciate new love, and she feels that all the wrong people in her past have allowed her to appreciate Ben as the right person. Tears!

Cut to Dad and Ben. “I always like to tell young people that marriage is life’s greatest gamble, and there’s only a 50% chance of winning. Ready to make that bet, Ben?” Ha! This speech seems straight out of a bad movie, and so romantic, too. Ben avoids the question and says “I’m ready to be in a serious committed relationship.” Dad’s all-in though, and flat-out says that he’s ready for a son-in-law, and grand-kids too! All righty then!

Back to Court and sis. Court shares the skinny-dipping in Puerto Rico tale. Sis says that Dad is “over the moon.” (Clearly.) But mom is a tougher cookie. Court sits down with her mom, and you instantly notice that they both have the same baby-talk mannerisms and puckered face. If Ben wants to know what Courtney will be like in 30 years, this is exactly it. Court reveals to her mom that she’s “falling” for Ben, and that if he proposes, she’ll say yes! This wins mom over, and she says that Court looks happy, and so she approves.

As Ben and Court make their way out of her parents home, she says that she hasn’t told Ben that she loves him yet, but she wants to. And even though they just had a meal with her parents, allegedly, they sit down for yet another picnic. Courtney finally “opens up,” and tells Ben that she sees them together, and that she’s serious about this. She’s so serious in fact that she takes Ben over to visit this area of her parents’ property (are they still at her parents house??) where people have weddings. They’re even setting up for a wedding right now! Oh God, what is crazy Courtney planning now?

They sit down in the chairs lined up at the makeshift altar, and Court opens up her satchel, which, surprise, is full of wedding props! Her white sundress makes sense now. There’s notebooks to write vows, and a bow-tie for Ben. Then they really sit there and write vows. Ben’s nervous about where all this is going. The charade continues as they walk up to the front and a man posing as an officiant tells Ben it’s time to read his vows.

Ben wrote very sweet, heartfelt, and honest vows to Courtney, but the problem is that we at home all know that Courtney is a crazy psycho. Even if this ep isn’t showing that side of her. Oops, wait. Courtney starts reading her vows and it’s STRAIGHT OUT OF SEX AND THE CITY. Well, just the beginning. But still. Then they put little straw/grass rings on each other, and the groom kisses the bride. Mazel.

Ben’s now back in L.A., and it’s time for a sit-down with Chris Harrison. Ben says he has a tough decision, and that hometowns couldn’t have gone any better. He said he was really comfortable with Lindzi’s family, but didn’t feel so welcome with Kacie’s parents. Nicki always makes Ben smile, and he was really impressed by her family. And of course, he says Arizona showed him “the Courtney I know,” and that he could have written a lot more in his “vows.”

Rose ceremony time! The gals are once again lined up in their cocktail party finest. There are many questionable sartorial decisions, including Courtney’s mosaic-giraffe-print sequins and white booties, Kacie’s white sack dress, and Nicki’s unflattering strapless black dress. Chris reminds everyone that they haven’t been back in LA since night one. And now here’s Ben. “It’s been an eye-opening week, and the last thing I want to do is hurt you,” he says. But, alas.

First rose is for Courtney. Not a shocker. Lindzi is next. And lastly, Nicki.

Ben walks Kacie out, and she crumbles in front of him. “I knew there was a chance I could be broken-hearted,” she tells him. And then she completely falls apart in the limo. “What the fuck happened? Why am I not good enough??” Good-bye, sweet Kacie. Your Southern charm and disdain for Courtney will be missed. Ben, you better watch out for Kacie’s parole officer father!

Next week, on The Bachelor: Switzerland, hot tubs, and another mystery woman arrives at Ben’s door!

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