This week, The Bachelorette kicked off with Nick and Shawn right where we left them — at each other's throats. The two suitors, who have been battling since the moment Nick walked in the door to compete for Kaitlyn Bristowe's heart (midway through the season), were still deep in conversation about why they just can't seem to bury the hatchet.
"Maybe you're just so oblivious and maybe you just don't give a s—," Shawn said to Nick, who then accused Shawn of bragging about being Eskimo brothers with an unnamed country star. (ICYMI, "Eskimo brothers" apparently means he and the country singer had sex with the same girl in the same night — and Nick used his overnight with Kaitlyn to tell her that story about Shawn.)
Reflecting on the tension between Shawn and Nick, Kaitlyn said, "Nick and Shawn just hate each other," adding "It's actually taking away from what I feel for both of them." Not surprisingly, Kaitlyn seemed more than ready to leave the boys' bickering behind and head off to hang out with drama-free Ben.
Ben Brings Out the Big Guns
Kaitlyn and Ben's overnight date began with some horseback riding through the Irish countryside, followed by donkey-feeding (and donkey-escaping), but included plenty of heavy-hitting moments.
"I'm trying to be as logical as possible because I am falling in love with you," Ben revealed. "And there's not a question in my mind, but I was thinking, 'Is it the situation? Is it kind of just the place that I've been put in?' You know, what's going on? And then I realized, 'No, it's not the situation I've been put in, because I've been extremely skeptical,' but when you find the person, why hold it back? Why not dive in and start a life together? That just sounds fun to me."
For her part, Kaitlyn also seemed over the moon as she cooed, "This could be forever."
Later, once they moved their evening inside an Irish castle, Ben revealed that he'd just turned 26 during the taping of the show. "I wasn't going to tell you because we never talked about age and I didn't want you to think it was an issue to me, because it's not, at all," he explained to Kaitlyn. When she mentioned she would be turning 30 soon, he told her he thought of her "as the hottest older woman" he'd ever seen (though, to be fair, he said it with a laugh). Kaitlyn assured him she was as unconcerned about his age as he was about hers.
Then they headed to the fantasy suite, where they wasted no time getting settled in front of the fireplace for some more smooching before retiring to the bedroom. The next morning, it certainly seemed that Kaitlyn and Ben had enjoyed their "off-camera" time.
"I had a great time with Ben last night. We had a lot of fun. I think I got a half hour of sleep," she laughed to the camera later. "I didn't want to say bye to Ben this morning. I didn't expect to fall in love with him."
Real Men Wear Pink — or Nothing At All
Trying to get away from the heaviness of their last few conversations, Katilyn began her date with Shawn on the golf course — and forced the suitor to sport a bright pink polo for the occasion. Though their score keeping was sketchy at best, Kaitlyn decided that she'd won and somehow coerced Shawn to putt in the nude (for full disclosure though, he was wearing socks).
Shawn eventually got his clothes back on and joined Kaitlyn for a romantic dinner, where she came straight out and asked Shawn why he hadn't confronted Nick directly. "I did talk to him," Shawn replied. "I kind of wanted to do it for myself because I'm not a person who talks about people behind their back. I just went over to his place and I told him I think he's an a–hole, because he is."
Kaitlyn told Shawn that Nick had tipped her about his bragging about being Eskimo brothers with that country star, which Shawn brushed off. Nick is "insane," he said, before accusing his rival of acting like "a 16-year-old girl."
Though Shawn was visibly annoyed at the turn the conversation had taken, he and Kaitlyn wasted no time heading to the fantasy suite.
The Morning After
Shawn looked like he was ready to kill someone when he left Kaitlyn the following morning. Conveniently, Nick was on hand to pick up their previous conversation.
"If I hear my name come out of your mouth one more time to Kaitlyn, it's not going to be pretty," Shawn told Nick.
"Are you threatening me?" Nick asked repeatedly.
"You're just saying stupid s— and trying to throw me under the bus!" Shawn said to Nick. "You're just a little smooth-talker who loves hearing himself talk." Though he claimed he had a "great time" with Kaitlyn, it was unclear whether that was true.
Everything's Coming Up Roses, Sort of
A the Rose Ceremony, though Kaitlyn waxed poetic to Chris Harrison about all three guys, she ultimately told the host she had to trust her gut.
Nick nabbed the first rose, followed by his rival, Shawn — which meant that Ben was going home. For the most part, Ben took it well. "There's nothing about you or the situation that I thought couldn't work," he said. "And I would love to be able to share life with you, but that's not going to happen and that will be tough. It will not be easy not seeing you." And with that, he left, leaving Nick and Shawn to fight to the end.
Meet the Vialls
In the absence of hometown dates, Nick and Shawn's families all met up with Kaitlyn and the men at a hotel in Utah.
Nick started off their trip by comparing this time to the last time he was on the show. "I don't have any reservations about you or us," he told a beaming Kaitlyn. "I guess what I'm trying to say — and I don't think it's a big surprise — but I am totally in love with you, more than I can even say in words."
But the romance had to take a backseat to family time when it was time to introduce Nick's (large!) family. Though his mother and sisters expressed some apprehensions about Nick going through another potential heartbreak, they did warm up to Kaitlyn pretty quickly. Both Nick's mom and his youngest sister, Bella, grilled Kaitlyn, but she took it in stride. Kaitlyn declared that she felt like she was "part of the family" by the end of the day.
"We should make babies someday," Nick cooed as they kissed on the couch in her hotel room.
Shawn's Dad Is One Tough Customer
Though Shawn's mom was unable to make it to Deer Valley, the rest of his family more than made up for her absence. Shawn made it clear that his sisters' approval was crucial in order to move his relationship with Kaitlyn forward — and Kaitlyn passed their test with flying colors.
Kaitlyn also took the opportunity to ask his sisters if they thought he was ready to be engaged and was assured that he is. (She looked pretty happy to hear that.)
Shawn's dad, however, was less easily won over. "This is nuts," he told his son. "Has this changed you?"
Shawn replied that it had made him a better person, prompting his dad to ask just how much time they'd actually been able to spend together over the course of the show. Shawn didn't answer that question directly, but did assure his dad he loved Kaitlyn. Ultimately, his dad acquiesced, saying Shawn had to follow his heart.
Shawn took his dad's advice and told Kaitlyn, "I am in love with you and I have been for a while."
Kaitlyn was so overwhelmed by how well the day went with Shawn's family that she ended the episode (yet again) in tears.
Tell Us: Do you think Kaitlyn will choose Shawn or Nick?