*Warning: This post contains spoilers from this week’s episode of The Bachelor, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t read.*

Ah, it’s been one week since the announcement of the first black Bachelorette, which feels like a nice (and important) win in a world where news can be pretty rough (even if it was a spoiler). This week’s episode promises to provide a little bit of structure for once in the season, because the contestants daters are going on the infamous “hometown” dates. These dates almost always make or break relationships, so let’s see what happens!

RAVEN’S HOMETOWN DATE

Raven’s hometown date was first, and the main thing you need to know about it was that Nick and Raven made out in a swamp. Yes — a swamp. Though I don’t think many of us picked Raven out as a frontrunner from the start, she’s super sweet and the two really do have chemistry. He did pretty well with her family (they all seem great, but the moment she had with her dad where she told him he was the only man he’d want to walk her down the aisle was a huge standout) and the date went pretty well, as far as hometowns go. Nothing was a big red flag, but it also wasn’t really my style either (*cough cough,* did I mention the swamp make-out?).

Raven said she felt reassured that “something special could come out of them” and though she wanted to say she was in love with him, she just couldn’t do it. She was afraid of rejection, and given the odds, that’s totally fair. However, at this point in the game, it’s typical that most serious contenders have said the three magic words, so not saying it can often make those on the show feel their relationship is stunted (this is in reality-land, mind you). The two said goodbye with Raven totally aware and self-conscious of this fact.

RACHEL’S HOMETOWN DATE

Rachel’s hometown date started out at church, during which the pastor gave them a shout-out and called Nick Rachel’s boyfriend. Way to put pressure on the situation! Nick gushed about Rachel to the camera and said she has always been the “easiest person for him to be around,” so we’re all wondering what happens with them, given what we know about Rachel becoming the next Bachelorette.

After church, Rachel quickly brought up the fact that they’d be an interracial couple and that they might have to deal with some things he’s not used to because of that, and he said it was something he’d thought about. They didn’t talk about it in depth, however, so maybe that’s part of why they didn’t work out — it might’ve been something that he didn’t put enough thought into, and Rachel deserves someone who’s aware enough and thoughtful enough to think about things that affect her.

Nick sat down with Rachel’s family for dinner, and the issue of race was brought up immediately with Rachel’s sister and her husband (who is white). Rachel’s sister said that any partner of Rachel’s would need to have an understanding of what it’s like to navigate the world as a black woman, especially given the changing political climate. Though Nick seems pretty naive about some things, seeing talk about topics like these on mainstream TV as part of the dating process is exactly why shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette need to be more diverse. Rachel and her mom had a great talk about the relationship later —  it was much more realistic than the other talks we see on the show about the natural progression of relationships, and it makes me so thrilled that Rachel is going to get her own season (though I hope, for her sake, her breakup with Nick wasn’t too bad).

CORRINE’S HOMETOWN DATE

Oh, Corrine. What else would Corrine do on her hometown date but shop? Not only that, but at the “most exclusive mall in Miami,” where she’s on a first-name basis with everyone. And she picked this date to show what a normal day looks like in the life of Corrine, so… yeah. Nick tried on $800 sweat pants while Corrine drank Champagne, and then proceeded to buy him who knows what for a total of $2400 while he had a hives-inducing panic attack. Sexy! After they left the store the two stopped to grab coffee, and Corrine decided to tell him she loved him (well, she said, “I… love you,” with a huge pause) before they kissed while she kept her eyes open. Needless to say, he did not say it back.

Then it was time to meet the family, and we saw Corrine’s dad saying Nick had three strikes before they even met — yikes. Sounds like a huge uphill battle, but TBH, I’m not sure what we’re rooting for here. I guess it’s just time to make some popcorn. We did finally meet Raquel, however, who was delightful! There was a super awkward moment after they offered Nick an olive (correction — one of Corrine’s dad’s “world famous” olives) and he made a very strange face, but have no fear; he quickly course-corrected and said, “I don’t eat olives a ton, but that may be the best olive I’ve ever had.” Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

Then, we had probably the first Bachelor vs. nanny talk we’ve ever had when Nick and Raquel sat down. Raquel asked what Nick’s intentions were, and said she just wanted Corrine to be happy. Meanwhile, Corrine’s dad was talking to Corrine and asking whether Nick was able to make a living (?) and if he was going to be able to make her happy (that one is fair, I guess). He reiterated this fear when talking to Nick, and told him Corrine had said she was happy being the breadwinner, a sentiment Nick was obviously not expecting. And yet still, he asked her dad if he’d be okay with the two of them getting engaged. Corrine and Nick said good-bye, and she said to the camera that she was in love with him but that she just wished he wasn’t dating three other girls — then she burped. What a strange hometown date.

VANESSA’S HOMETOWN DATE

Vanessa took Nick with her to work for the first part of her date, where she teaches special education adults. Her students obviously love her, and Nick got emotional watching her talk to them. She then had the students make a scrapbook of photos of them together as an activity, which seems… weird? Afterward, they talked about Vanessa’s family, and she gave Nick the heads up that because her parents are divorced, they’d be splitting their time between her mom’s side and her dad’s side.

They started with her mom’s side, and though Vanessa tried to give Nick a primer on everyone’s names first, it was basically futile due to the sheer size of the bunch. Dinner conversation didn’t start off on the best foot. The family didn’t get the sense that Nick was super serious, or that the two had talked about future plans much. Vanessa’s mother pulled Nick away to talk and ask the “hard questions,” and when he said that he loved how beautiful she was (among other things), she said, “I don’t really want to know about it looks-wise.” Burn! Her sister then asked, “Have you like, talked about real things?” and I literally laughed out loud. This is the stuff I want to see when I watch a reality dating show, not people pretending that it’s normal to gloss over huge, life-changing details as though love will just magically make the puzzle pieces fit.

Vanessa talked with her sister and did a pretty good job quelling her sister’s concerns, but during her talk with her mother, she seemed to get shocked back into reality a bit. She admitted she was falling in love with him but it was less of a jubilant revelation and more one of stress and anxiety. The date ended on a sober tone, as the two both seemed to realize there were a lot of questions they both still needed to answer. They headed to meet her dad with that in mind.

Vanessa’s dad got right to it and asked why she was special, and Nick said there was a “vibe.” Cool, bruh. Her dad said that he just wanted her to be happy, and Nick said he respects Vanessa, to which her dad quipped, “But you’re dating three other women.” Touché! Nick happened to pick that moment to ask for his blessing, and was turned down on the grounds that… well, there were three other women in the running. Vanessa’s dad asked if Nick had asked the other dads for their blessing, and when Nick tried to skirt the issue, he was asked again, and more directly. It was truly brutal to watch in the BEST way.

It’s great to see these people forced to get truly real about what they’re doing, because at the end of filming these shows, these ARE real people, and sometimes the folks who aren’t “main characters” are truly trying to find love. Even if that wasn’t true, there is potential for hurt, at the very least because of representation for some of the audience. Vanessa’s dad told her what he and Nick had talked about, and she revealed that it made her question their relationship and where Nick’s thinking was when it came to the other women.

AFTER THE DATES

Nick stood on a balcony and looked pensive thinking about the week, while the women recapped their dates and ran over every detail of their relationship with Nick (also from balconies). There were multiple shots of New York, which I thought was extremely odd. Raven contemplated telling Nick she loved him before the rose ceremony, and Vanessa talked about having unsettled thoughts and questions; she also said she wanted to talk to Nick before roses were handed out. We then saw a pair of heels walking down a hotel hallway, and there was a knock on Nick’s door… and OMG, it was Andi, who was Nick’s gateway Bachelorette.

Now the NYC shots make sense — that’s where Andi lives, as far as I know, and they probably wanted us to put two and two together. So, why is she there? What does she want to talk to him about? They’ll literally probably have a drink and she’ll give him some sweet advice, and that’ll be it. I predict either Corrine or Rachel will go home at the start of next week, but who knows, because nothing Nick does makes sense.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us @BritandCo!

(Featured photo via Drew Cason/Getty)