There's no doubt that things got intense and emotional during the hometown dates episode of The Bachelorette, and Rachel's tough decision to send Dean home demonstrates just how serious things are getting on the show. Things are bound to get even more interesting on the July 24 episode, because, breaking the mold of the Bachelor franchise, Rachel's final three Bachelorette contestants are meeting her family. Typically, the finalists do not meet the Bachelor or Bachelorette's family until it has been narrowed down to the top two, but Rachel has made it known this season that she is doing things her own way and is breaking traditions.
UPDATE: As Rachel noted on the July 24 episode, the three men met her family before fantasy suite dates because her sister, Constance, was eight months pregnant and would have been unable to travel to meet them at somewhere other than their hometown of Dallas.
EARLIER: During Monday night's episode, Rachel will surprise her remaining three men with a trip to Dallas to meet her family before they jet set off to Spain for the overnight dates. Rachel has made it known before how much her family means to her and how close she is to them, so it makes sense that she would introduce the men to her family a full episode earlier than normal. There has been no official statement made about the reasoning behind moving up the family meetings, but Rachel's close connection with them is probably one of her biggest reasons.
In a sneak peak of the next episode we get to see some of Rachel's family's reactions to meeting the men; some of the impressions are good and some hint at trouble for her remaining suitors.
In one scene, Rachel's sister is shown talking with Eric and lays it all out on the line for him, saying, "I can see her getting there sooner than you just because you've never been in love." Then in a another scene, Rachel's sister is talking to Rachel and says, "Is he ready to get down on one knee? I just can't see that." We aren't sure who she is talking about in the second quote. She could be referencing Eric, who's never been in love, Bryan, who seems too smooth for his own good, or Peter, who isn't sure if he is ready to get engaged.
The concerns Rachel has about each of the men is probably another reason why Rachel brought in her family in earlier than the Bachelorette usually does. Rachel has been very clear that at the end of this she wants to be engaged and she's also been vocal about not only her strong feelings for each of the remaining three, but also about the reservations she has for each of them. Rachel most likely wanted her family to come in and act as a sounding board and give her a second opinion before making the important cut down to the final two.
If you are an avid Bachelor viewer, you know that when the contestants meet the family is when things get serious (i.e. Vanessa's emotional heart-to-heart with Nick's dad last season). Rachel is smart and she is methodical (she's a lawyer for heaven's sake), so it's not a stretch to think that she wants to make sure that she is being presented with the opinions of those who she trusts before she makes the ultimate decision.