Chris Harrison blogs 'The Bachelor' episode 7

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There’s a lot of drama to discuss, but I want to answer a quick question I got several times this week. Why wasn’t there a two-on-one date last week? It’s funny how our fans come to just expect and understand when things are supposed to happen. Typically if we have a two-on-one date it would indeed have taken place last week, but much to your surprise we didn’t do it this time. You have to remember that while we do often stick to a general schedule it’s definitely not set in stone. I honestly don’t recall how far out we decided to not do a two-on-one this season, but you have to understand there are no rules here. Sometimes we’ll decide heading into the season what the schedule will be, but we always change our game plan on the fly as we go. A number of factors can change things up. It’s always a very fluid situation, and we always have to be ready and willing to roll with the punches and adapt to the relationships forming on the show.

As much fun as we had traveling around the world, we were all happy to be back in the states. But nobody was more excited to return home than Juan Pablo. Miami is his hometown now, and his family and friends were waiting. You could really see his shoulders drop and see him relax as he got home.

We have two big stories to deal with this week: Sharleen and the battle between Nikki and Clare. I’ve said from day one that Sharleen and Juan Pablo’s relationship is one of the oddest, most awkward relationships we’ve ever had on this show. From the moment she stepped out of the limo, Juan Pablo was taken by Sharleen. I found it really interesting how Sharleen would send him mixed signals. I think it’s because she was pretty confused herself. Whether it was fair or not is up for debate, but she definitely gave him plenty of reasons to think she was into him. When they were together, their chemistry was insane and they couldn’t take their hands and lips off each other. But if you listened to Sharleen, she sent plenty of signals the other way as well.

Read some of these quotes from this week alone. “I’m surprised by how attracted to him I am.” When asked about meeting her family, she said, “I think it can work” and “It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around it.” But what was Sharleen’s real struggle? The physical was there, but she said there wasn’t a “mental” connection. She went on to say she wished she were a little dumber. While talking to the girls and to Juan Pablo she kept saying she was doing the right thing, but why was this the right thing? You could clearly see part of her really enjoyed him and their relationship, but another side of her just wouldn’t let her have that. I look forward to talking to her at the Women Tell All so we can get some of these answers. I’m hoping now that she’s had time to gain some perspective she’ll be able to articulate what her real struggle was and why she just couldn’t embrace what was happening.

Nikki has really come out on as a top contender the last few weeks and she got the other one-on-one date this week. I know this date is going to really stir up our fans because I was blown away by it as well. Nikki meeting his family and especially his daughter is a huge deal — or is it? Unfortunately we didn’t show the deliberation where we discussed this, but Juan Pablo had a very interesting take on this and what it comes down to is a real difference in cultures. Back in Venezuela, it’s not a big deal at all to meet someone’s family early on, and in fact from what JP told me it would be odd not to. Now I’m sure a lot of people will also say why was it only Nikki who got to meet them? The answer is it worked well because Camilla had the dance recital. So there was an event and it made sense to do it with one of the ladies, but to parade all of them through would have been awkward. Speaking of awkward, how odd was it for Nikki to have to meet Juan Pablo’s ex? She handled it well, but what an uncomfortable moment that must have been. You also may have noticed that Nikki didn’t say it to him, but she became the first to admit she’s fallen in love with Juan Pablo!

Nikki is obviously one of the front-runners now, but so is Clare and she’s been there for a while now. She’s not ready to easily give up that spot. There wasn’t really just one thing that happened here. It’s a simple case of two women who want the same thing and they just don’t like each other. Because of this battle, the house and the ladies have kind of been divided down the middle. Chelsie and Renee are on team Clare and Andi is on team Nikki. The good news for these two is that this is the last week they have to really spend any time together. From here on out, the women don’t see each other except at the rose ceremonies — so while it provided for some good drama this week, it’s really a moot point now.

One funny inside note to give you about the cocktail party: We showed Nikki and Clare sitting in silence alone, but that moment went on much longer than we could show and it was beyond uncomfortable. It felt like an hour, but there was a good five or ten minutes where these two just sat beside each other in complete silence. It was really amazing to watch. We showed you enough to get the point across, but it went on for much longer.

Chelsie was sent home this week and we were all sad to see her go. She’s a great girl and was liked by all. Her relationship with Juan Pablo was good but just not good enough when compared to what he has with the others, and I think she knew that. There’s no way it will go unnoticed that after saying goodbye to Chelsie, Juan Pablo gave us a pretty solid “Mesnick”. A Mesnick, of course, is named after our old Bachelor and good friend Jason Mesnick, who famously cried hysterically while leaning over a railing.

Next week are the pivotal hometown dates, and these hometowns are unlike any we’ve had before. If you’re expecting easy, happy-go-lucky hometowns where everybody smiles and gives the bachelor their blessing, you’re in for a big surprise.

I also want to let you know that next week is a special two-day Bachelor event Monday and Tuesday night. Monday night will be hometowns, then Tuesday we head off to St Lucia for exotic dates, which as you saw in the previews are interesting, to say the least. You really do not want to miss the overnight dates on Tuesday. It’s truly, honestly the most intense, exotic episode ever.

More Bachelor from EW:
Bachelor episode 7 recap: Fight and flight

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