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Jason lowers his guard with Becca in Buffalo visit on 'The Bachelorette'

This is my first time watching a full, two-hour episode of "The Bachelorette."

Well, almost a full episode.

The preview link supplied for the hometown episode (8 p.m. July 16, Channel 7) didn't include the tension-filled last several minutes when Bachelorette Becca Kufrin determines which one of the four suitors who have brought her home to meet mommy and daddy has to go home for good.

During the season, I fast-forwarded through all the parts that didn't include Buffalo's hero, Jason Tartick.

The game plan differed this time because in addition to seeing how Buffalo looked, I wanted to see how his formidable Final Four competitors looked.

Bennett Graebner, the Buffalo native who is one of the program's showrunners, gave an accurate description of how the area looked in the 20 minutes or so devoted to Jason with Becca.

"As those of us who hail from the great city of Buffalo surely know, a few minutes of television can’t possibly get across everything that the 716 epitomizes," emailed Graebner.

"However, a date that includes Delaware Park, chicken wings, HarborCenter, and a delightful Buffalo family is a good place to start. And if you look closely, you’ll see a wide variety of shots of Western New York landmarks including City Hall, Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, the Peace Bridge, and of course Niagara Falls."

You certainly have to look closely. The landmarks go by fast. Buffalo probably owes Graebner a debt of gratitude for disguising how unseasonably cold it was during Becca and Jason's visit here in Buffalo in April.

[Related: Read more about Graebner's role on "The Bachelor"]

Buffalo and Western New York look good. There is no mention of Buffalo weather, which is a good thing.

There are several brief shots of the landmarks, including Niagara Falls. However, we don't see Jason and Becca at the falls together, possibly because the producers didn't want them to freeze to death.

'The Bachelorette' and her date enjoying wings, visiting sites around WNY

Jason has one clear advantage in the competition. Becca says he is a great kisser. She has said it a lot this season. And she says it a lot tonight. "His kisses are the best," she says.

He also is a great advocate for his hometown. He tells Becca it is "a special place" and "has made me who I am."

You can tell he loves Buffalo. However, his story line over the arc of the episodes is his inability to remove his guarded personality and tell "Becster" – his new pet nickname for her – he loves her yet.

You gotta love his parents. They are loving and supportive. He acknowledges to his mother that he feels like he has been "playing from behind" all season but adds he thinks he has caught up and surpassed the competitors.

One thing that can't be beat in Buffalo is wings.

So it isn't surprising that the landmark that gets the most attention is the Anchor Bar, where Wing King Drew Cerza leads a chicken wing contest. Jason turns playful, messing up Becca's face with blue cheese. That's if you can even mess up Becca's face. She looks like Princess Kate.

Jason also gets to show off his skating and stick-handling skills at HarborCenter, telling Becca he deserves a kiss if he scores a goal on her.

That sounds like a win-win for Becca.

"I know I am falling for him hard," says Becca.

Then it is off to meet the parents, Jason's brother and brother-in-law.

Things appear to be going very well, though mom can't read whether Becca is falling for him and she and his dad are worried how he'll feel if he is ultimately rejected.

Jason realizes he has to step up and tell Becca his true feelings because she has told him he is more reserved than some other guys.

After he gets a pep talk from his brother and brother-in-law, Jason goes for the big finish. He finally tells Becca he loves her, saying he only says things when he means them. I'm sure he would have had many women at hello. It is a great "I love you" speech.

"It means the world to me, too," says Becca.

They kiss.

Another win-win.

"I could really see him as my partner for life," says Becca. "And his kisses – they're the best."

Unfortunately, Becca says similar things to Jason's competitors. Except the kiss part.

Garrett, a medical sales representative, goes first and shows Becca how to plant tomatoes on the family farm in California. He is divorced and his parents worry about him getting hurt again. He has been viewed as the favorite since the season started.

Blake, a sales representative who lives in a small town in Colorado, goes third, and shares a painful personal story. Then he surprises Becca with a concert at his high school by an Australian pop star named Betty Who. Who? I never heard of her. But she is Becca's favorite and I am outside of the "Bachelorette" demo. Advantage Blake.

Blake's dad gets my vote for honesty. He tells Blake that couples eventually fight and that may happen when they are "not on the fantasy dates you are on."

Surprise. His parents are scared to death he'll be hurt again.

"I can see Blake in my life forever and his family in my life forever," says Becca.

Now to Colton, the 26-year-old virgin from Parker, Colo. He takes her to Children's Hospital to play with children to show another sensitive side of him.

He seems to be a sweet guy. He's never brought a girl home before. Mom says she has never seen him happier. Of course, all the moms say something like that.

And guess what? His parents are worried if he doesn't get the final rose.

The preview last week suggested that Colton's dad didn't want Becca to pick his son. That was a curve ball, an intentional misleading edit.

"I'm falling for him," says Becca. "I could see a future with all four of them."

Like Jason's mom, I'm not sure how Becca feels about the Buffalo hero.

But if Jason is eliminated tonight or doesn't eventually get the final rose in a few weeks and instead gets the big kiss-off, I'd bet he is better prepared than the other three guys to deal with it.

After all, finishing second would be sooooo Buffalo.

(Update: Jason received a rose at the end of Monday's episode, which means he will be one of three men back for next week's episode.)

Email: apergament@buffnews.com

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