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'The Bachelorette' Episode 8: Emily Maynard Heads Home(town)

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On this week's episode of "The Bachelorette," Emily went on a whirlwind tour of Bachelor-town, USA, and got a glimpse into the highly-produced family lives of her final four suitors.

We start out in Charlotte and are treated to some awww-worthy shots of Emily just bein' a mom with little Ricki. (Side note: Ricki has some really good braids going on. Way to keep your daughter on-trend, Em.) Before Em heads to bed in her giant lonely mansion, we get some flashbacks of each remaining dude, while Emily waxes poetic about her potential true-love-journey with each. Chris "can admit when he's wrong" (i.e. been a big whiny baby), Jef is "unique," Arie has a "youthful spirit" and Sean is a "gentleman." (Hmm... which one of these four is going to get kicked off today?) Cue Emily wistfully walking up her staircase ... and now we're off to the hometowns!

Instead of stills, this week ABC provided us with some insanely cheesy shots of Emily:
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(Photo Credit: ABC)

"ON A SCALE OF 1 TO POLISH"
Em's first stop is Chicago, where she meets Chris in front of the "Chicago equivalent" of a castle. Em thinks Chi-town is pretty, and Chris thinks they'd have a very nice life there. (Note: There's no way in h*ll that southern girl Emily is moving to Chicago.) Then Chris takes Emily to an empty Polish restaurant/bar -- clearly the most awesome Chi-town hotspot -- and talks about how is family is Polish. Very Polish. In fact, according to Chris, "On a scale of 1 to Polish, we're Polish." While Emily contemplates what exactly that means, her date feels the need to rehash his super uncomfortable behavior from last week, which is just as uncomfortable the second time around. At the end of the exchange he whispers under his breath: "I wanted to apologize for being a little baby." At least he knows.

CRAZY GOOD, OR JUST CRAZY?
To prepare Emily to meet his family, Chris makes sure to tell her that his mother is "overly-emotional." (I'm sure she appreciated watching that on TV last night.) The couple arrives in Hanover Park at Chris' parents house, where his mom, dad and two sisters greet them. After they all chat and Chris' dad makes a toast in a Polish accent, we realize that Emily's southern accent has all but disappeared. I guess she's trying to fit in with the city folk.

Em and Chris have one-on-ones with his parents and sister, where we find out that Chris texts his dad every day, and his dad doesn't want to see Chris heartbroken. (OK, well he's got another hour and a half...) Chris' sister Renee is the only one who senses that Emily might not be the future Mrs. Polish Chris. She asks Em to end it "sooner rather than later" if he's not the one. But Chris won't be deterred. "You make me feel good, like, crazy good," says Chris as he and Em awkwardly neck in the driveway. Then he tells Em he's in love with her, and they rejoin his family for a pretty epic Polish dance party. Well ... it was fun while it lasted, Chris.

SKINNY JEANS AND GUNS MAKE A HOT COMBINATION
Next, Emily arrives at Jef's giant beautiful ranch in St. George, Utah clad in a white dress and cowboy boots. "You look perfect for what we're doing today," exclaims Jef. Apparently nothing says off-roading and skeet shooting quite like a semi-sheer sundress. Thankfully, Jef is still in skinny jeans, and he still has his signature bouffant -- how else would we recognize him? When Jef proves that he's a master at shooting clay pigeons, Emily says what's on all our minds: "Who knew Jef and his skinny jeans would be such a good shot?" Not us. Turns out Jef also thinks guns are hot: "I just want [Emily] to hold a gun all day long." Ummm... not my idea of romance (or safety), but whatever floats your clay pigeon, Jef.

Then J and E sit on conveniently placed bales of hay under a conveniently placed umbrella and have a heart-to-heart while ABC tries desperately for some reason to cover up the fact that Jef's family is Mormon. "My parents are doing ... charity work," says Jef. So that's what the kids are calling Mormon missions these days, eh?

TIME TO MEET THE CLAN
Since Jef's parents are absent doing "charity work," Emily has to work extra hard to impress all of Jef's many siblings. I think there are at least five of them (two of whom look creepily like Em), plus a random assortment of tiny children running around. After they all sit down for a family-friendly dinner and "cheers!" with lemonade, Emily talks to Jef's brother Steve about the meaning of love and to Jef's sisters about whether Jef's ready to be a dad. "She's like, the coolest girl in the world," Jef proclaims about Em to his brother. Yup, definitely mature dad material.

Then Jef takes Emily to a beautiful overlook -- somewhere else on the 80-bajillion acre ranch -- and proceeds to win the hometowns by reading a list of all the things he loves about Emily, including quite a few items about being a dad and hanging with Ricki. (Yes, this season has indeed included two multi-page handwritten letters. Luckily this one is not nearly as awkward as Ryan's.) I was torn between wanting to vomit and being genuinely won over by One-F Jef. After this show of affection, I'll be shocked if he isn't in Em's top two.

DO RACE CARS TRUMP SHOTGUNS?
Emily arrives in Scottsdale, Arizona just in time to see Arie driving really fast around a racetrack. "Arie definitely looks ... stupid hot," states Em. Then she changes out of her high heels and into a jumpsuit, and rides in the passenger seat with Arie for a little while. Afterward, Arie expresses that his uber-European family might judge Em's All-Americanness. He says that his mom will be the least open-minded. "On that note, let's have a drink," says Emily. Smart girl. Because while Jef's Utah ranch may have been a dry campus, Arie's house certainly is not.

IT'S ALL DUTCH TO ME Arie introduces Em to his mom, his race-car driver dad and his twin brothers. His brother is a fan of her Southern accent. Then, because things need to get super awkward, Arie's family starts speaking Dutch over Em's head:

After the Dutch gets translated, Arie's skeptical mom pulls Em aside and grills her about her past engagement to "Bachelor" Brad Womack. After Emily explains herself to mom, the women seem like BFFs. (I'm assuming they bonded over their love of sparkly things -- did anyone else notice Arie's mom's bejeweled dress straps? -- and making out with Indy 500 drivers.) Arie and his dad have a man-chat in which his father expresses that Em has "great qualities," and Arie says he's ready to propose. "I'm definitely going to marry Emily," he tells the camera.

THE SIMPLE LIFE
"This is me! This is my simple life!" yells Sean holding puppies. We've arrived in Dallas, where Emily describes Sean as "wholesome," "well-rounded" and "perfect." She doesn't think he has any skeletons in his closet, which tells the audience that Sean is holding onto some SHOCKING secret which will CHANGE EVERYTHING and the entire course of "Bachelorette" history. The big reveal turns out to be that Sean still lives at home. Em pretends to be OK with it by saying "Cool!" but really is horrified. Only after Sean brings her around his family home and complains that his mom didn't clean his childhood room, which Em then offers to clean (???), do we realize that it's all a big, awkward joke. Oh Sean, you're not the funny guy. Don't try to be.

CAN I LIVE IN KENSINGTON COTTAGE?
Sean's family is actually pretty cute, and we even get to meet his niece and nephew, Kensington and Smith. Turns out Kensington has an immaculately decorated cottage in her grandparents' backyard, which is larger than most Manhattan apartments. "It even has an air conditioner!" yells my roommate indignantly. (Ours is currently set to 68 degrees to make it circulate at least a little.) After dinner, Sean puts Emily into her giant travel SUV and bids her adieu. However, he needs to have another "Rocky" moment so he chases the car down screaming "Emily!" and kisses her one last time.

CHRIS HARRISON IS ALL SERIOUS BUSINESS
Emily chats with Chris Harrison about how this is the hardest decision she's ever made, even though we all are just waiting for her to kick 25-year-old Chris to the proverbial curb. She even musters some tears for the faux-stressful occasion while she stares at the guys' photographs. Then, because you've probably forgotten what you just watched for the last two hours, we review Em's last week in a haze of memory fog before she heads out for the ceremony.
SAFE: Arie, Jef, Sean
ELIMINATED: Chris (duh)

Chris is shocked and wants an explanation. While Emily tries to be gracious, Chris yells about how bitter he is that he told Em he loved her. What he seems to forget is that he's on a television show where contestants use "I love you" in place of "I enjoyed spending time with you." In the limo, he reveals his true anger by nobly declaring that he's "10 times the man those dudes are." So long, Chicago.

NEXT WEEK, IN THE CARIBBEAN
Whirlwind! Jumping off a boat! Helicopter! Em makes out with everyone! Everyone's in love! Arie wants to propose! Em's falling in love with more than one person! Em cries! Em feels guilty! She's scared of everything!

LOOK: The Best Tweets About This Week's "Bachelorette"

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