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'The Bachelor': Hometown visits and an early exit

February 9, 2010 |  6:45 am

118341_042_pre Well, folks, it wouldn't be "The Bachelor: On The Wings of Love" if there weren't some last-minute rose-ceremony drama.  Before we get to this week's tearful goodbye, let's discuss my favorite "Bachelor" tradition: the family visits!

Gia is the first bachelorette to show Jake her hometown: good old New York, New York.  She decides to take Jake on a boat ride around Manhattan, where she shows off her modeling skills.  She's really got some crazy tricks up her sleeve: When he asks her to give him a "sexy" look, she just strips down to her tank top.  Tyra would not be impressed, Gia. They take a lot of photos worthy of being any girl's Facebook profile picture before Gia reveals that her last boyfriend cheated on her with "all" of her friends. Ouch?

At dinner, Jake meets Gia's family: her mom, stepfather and brothers. Gia's mother, Donna, is what would happen if Kelly Cutrone and Snooki mated. I love her!  Dinner seems to go relatively well, but it's hard to ignore how out of place Jake seems with Gia's tough, old-school Italian family.

Also hard to ignore: the shell necklace Jake wore in a few of this week's talking-head interviews.  Where did he get that thing? 1998? Dawson Leery called, Jake...
Next on his whirlwind trip, Jake goes to Williamstown, Mass., to meet Ali's family.  Williamstown looks like a storybook town, and Jake comments on the fact that he's also had the opportunity to see Ali's current hometown in San Francisco.  In a bit of a departure from the usual hometown date, Ali takes Jake to her late grandmother's house, explaining that she was always close to her grandmother.  Though I could do without the anvilicious shot of the sun in the clouds as Ali says her grandmother is watching over her, it's a sweet moment. Ali's inner Regina George is nowhere to be found in this episode.

At dinner, Jake and Beth, Ali's mother, take a moment for themselves, and Jake asks for Beth's blessing in case he does propose to Ali.  "You certainly have it," Beth tells him.  After all, she's Googled him, and she did see a YouTube clip where he discussed the importance of inner beauty as opposed to outer beauty. Surely this totally original insight means he's perfect son-in-law material.

After an emotional goodbye with Ali, Jake takes off for Oregon to see Tenley and meet her family.  Newberg is another town that looks straight out of a WB family drama. Tenley invites Jake to her dance studio, because dance is her passion. She sits him down on a stool, and he watches with a frozen grin while she does a lyrical dance that she choreographed just for him. Meanwhile, in my apartment in Los Angeles, I want to crawl under my couch and die of secondhand embarrassment.

At the family dinner, Jake and Tenley's dad have a great talk. They discuss Tenley's fragile heart, then they cry together, and then they comfort one another with a hug.  (A very manly hug, of course.)  I have to say, Tenley's mother looks young enough to be her sister! They have a gorgeous family, and Jake seems to fit right in. There is, of course, still that nagging issue that Jake is the first man Tenley's dated since her husband cheated on her and left her.  Every girl needs a rebound boyfriend ... but a rebound engagement on national television? Really?

Last but not least, Jake heads to Florida to see this season's most polarizing bachelorette, Vienna. I'm not really understanding her outfit, but I think I've been catty enough in this recap, so we'll just skip that.  Vienna and Jake take a riverboat ride together before they head to her house to meet the family.

Vienna wasn't kidding in the first episode when she said she's a daddy's girl.  Her father, cuddling Vienna's dog (whose outfit is almost as classy as Vienna's), bursts into tears when he sees her. He flips into tough-guy mode when he takes Jake out to his tough-guy garage to lecture him about treating Vienna like a princess.  According to dear old dad, if Jake marries Vienna, "the house will always be clean and the children will be raised right." Well, isn't Vienna just a regular Donna Reed?

All is going according to plan until Jake and the girls get back to LA.  Ali knocks on Jake's door in tears, telling him her office has given her an ultimatum: If she doesn't duck out of the reality show early and go back to San Francisco, her job won't be waiting for her when she returns.

Uh -- what?  Didn't the producers tell her how long she'd be gone when she signed on for this? Wouldn't she have warned her employer when she decided to take a leave of absence, or did she just take a bunch of sick days in a row?  I do not understand.

She more or less asks Jake to assure her that she'll be the last woman standing. He looks like he wants to tell her she's the one, but of course, that might ruin the ending, so all he can tell her is he'd like her to stay and take a chance on him. She tells him she'll make her decision at the rose ceremony, and when she leaves his room, she collapses onto the floor of the hallway in tears. Oh, please. I understand that it's a difficult decision, but she's a grown-up; I'm pretty sure she could have made it back to the room before having a meltdown.

Before the rose ceremony, she and Jake snuggle tearfully on the couch.  He pulls her legs onto his lap, of course -- but isn't that Gia's thing?!  The scene seems to drag on forever, with lots of crying and kissing and mumbling.  Ultimately, Ali decides to leave.  "I came into this with everything I wanted in life," she says. "Except for you. There's a chance I could leave here with nothing."  I have to say, I completely respect her decision. If she'd given up her career and then he'd chosen Vienna, she probably would've had a psychotic break.

Jake has a moment of melodrama of his own after walking her out to the limo, but he gets over it and is all smiles by the time he gets back to Gia, Tenley and Vienna.  They seem happy that Ali's gone, but if I were them, I'd be a little insecure in the knowledge that one of them is probably slated to go home tonight.

What did you think of tonight's hometown dates? Whose family was your favorite? Were you upset that Ali left?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to check back next week to discuss the mysterious phone call Ali makes to Jake in St. Lucia!

-- Carina MacKenzie (follow me on Twitter @cadlymack)

Photo: Tenley, Gia, Vienna and Ali, just before Ali makes her dramatic exit. Credit: ABC

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