'The Bachelorette' Hometown Dates Recap: Ashley Picks Her Final Three
'The Bachelorette' Hometown Dates Recap: Ashley Picks Her Final Three
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Taxidermy dungeons. The Parent Trap moments. Dove funerals. Actual funerals. All these and more have happened on Bachelor(ette) hometown dates, when the dysfunction of real families meets the unreality of reality television romance. What horrors await Ashley as she visits the homes of her final four?

Nothing even close, as it turns out! But we'll still have fun with it.

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We begin at Ashley's house in Pennsylvania, where we watch as her luxury-soaked brain desperately attempts to remember the routines of normal life. She tries to sort the mail, but gives up. It's been two months since she read anything, and it hurts her head. She eventually remembers how to make coffee, and drinks the first non-alcoholic beverage she's had in two months. Everything in this place feels so old and strange to her now.

ashley-coffee-week9.jpg Hmm... that's funny. This champagne tastes weird and hot and brown.

The coffee jump-starts Ashley's brain into reminiscing about each of the four contestants still in the running to win her as their wife, because let's not forget this is a game show where the prize is the promise of the most serious commitment you'll ever make in your life. I get bored as we hear Ashley describe Ben, Constantine, Ames and JP for the millionth time in the same way. To fill the time, I imagine who would be whom if each of Ashley's final four were the Beatles. I think they'd break down this way:

Ben: John. The romantic, creative intellectual. Also with the long, girlish hair.
Constantine: George. The strong, quiet, dependable one.
Ames: Ringo. The funny, goofy-looking weirdo.
JP: Paul. The boyish, energetic hot one.

Next week, tune in for when I pointlessly compare Ashley's final three to the Three Stooges. (That will likely be more accurate.)

Date #1: Constantine in Atlanta, GA

I've been watching this show long enough to know that you can tell a lot about a Bachelorette relationship by the way they greet each other on the Hometown Date. Basically, if they run to each other and he picks her up and twirls her around, it's on. If there's kissing involved, oh boy. It's a fun little dance of expectations, emotions and boundaries. So tonight, we analyze the greets for clues!

The Greet: Constantine picks up but does not twirl Ashley around. This Tells Me: He likes, but isn't yet in like with her.

Constantine takes Ashley to his family's restaurant, Georgio's, where he teaches her how to make a pizza. She is impressed by his knowledge of toppings. He is impressed by her advanced "pepperoni placement skills." They love how easily impressed both of them are!

ashley-con-pizza-week9.jpg"I like how you sit." "And I like how you breathe!"

They then sit down to a doubly creepy lunch, because this time, we're not the only ones watching. Connie's waitresses are peeking through the window onto their private patio lunch, trying to read lips and praying that their boss's son gets a kiss. This restaurant is like a family, and family ALWAYS watch each other on dates and hope each other will get some action on those dates! The waitresses get their kiss, and get to swoon, but then it's time to GET BACK TO WORK!

con-waitresses-week9.jpg  I wish I was as invested in anything as this waitress is in her boss's son's fake TV lovelife.

It's time for Ashley to go to Constantine's family's house. Connie's mom and sister screech with joy, and his adorable dad even tears up a bit. This is a tight family, so the pressure is on to see if Ashley can legitimately fit in, or at least convincingly giggle her way through the interview.

The problem with well-adjusted families on The Bachelorette is that they make for boring hometown dates. Constantine's parents are both exceedingly nice, reasonable and supportive. They like Ashley, but they worry that these crazy kids with their whirlwind TV romances might be rushing things, but they trust Constantine and will respect whatever he does. So it's a real snoozer until it's time to say goodbye.

Ashley pulls the ol', "I love you guys, I'm moving in!", which is a big hit. (Note: Be careful, this is a cute thing to say to your new boyfriend's parents, but NEVER to his friends or pets or fellow inmates.) So Ashley is like, "I'm moving in! ... Just kidding, I'm leaving right now!" ...But wait. They only think they're saying goodbye, but then the doorbell rings, and no less than a BAJILLION of Constantine's female cousins pile in for a "Welcome Home Constantine And What's Her Name" celebration! It's a Greek flash mob, and Ashley is literally pulled into the circle for a dance.

con-dance-ash-week9.jpgOPA!

It's a great party. How do I know it's a great party? Because it has THE sign of a great party:

con-dad-makeitrain-week9.jpgThe sign of a great party is a dad "making it rain."

Despite her not being Greek, Constantine's parents are sold on Ashley after the visit. In a flash forward to the Everybody Loves Raymond (the Greek spin-off) scenario that would be their life together if they got married and moved next door, the entire family watches from the doorway as Constantine kisses Ashley goodbye. They actually multiply the longer the hug lasts! 

con-huggoodbye-week9.jpg
con-wholefam-week9.jpg
"SURPRISE! AGAIN!"

Date #2: Ames in Chadds Ford, PA

The Greet: Ashley and Ames run to each other and hug, but he doesn't pick up or twirl her. This Tells Me: They're destined for the Friend Zone.

Ames is thrilled that he gets to introduce Ashley to his family. This is his thrilled face.

ames-week9-intro.jpg"We're like boyfriend and girlfriend!" ("Because all my girlfriends have three other boyfriends!")

When Ames introduces Ashley to his family, he regales them with stories of their time together and gives his version of that time he got a concussion. He tries to make it sound like he got the sh*t kicked out of him for love. Ames tells stories like he's dictating his memoirs: "So alluring was the prize... that I ended up in the hospital."

Later, Ames' sister sits Ashley down by the family's OLYMPIC SIZED INDOOR POOL to interrogate her on her feelings. It looks like the set of an ESPN interview with Michael Phelps.

ames-pool-week9.jpgAshley's smile says "yes!" but she repeatedly shakes her head "no" and shares lukewarm sentiments about how Ames is "different... in a good way" and "like an onion... it's worth it to me to keep peeling those layers." Even with signs of his extreme wealth all around her, Ashley just can't muster real romantic enthusiasm for Ames, and worries she's still missing the passion with him. And that's something our Bachelorette can't just wait around for! Girlfriend's on a deadline, and Fantasy Suites are coming up next week. On The Bachelorette, it's not a coincidence that there's only one letter difference between boner and goner.

Clearly some sort of clairvoyant, Ames' sister sits him down and tells him that if he wants to make Ashley his wife, he needs to step it up in the romance department. "If the passion's there and the spark's there, let there be a little fiyah," says Sister, admirably dancing around actually talking about sex with her little brother.

To try and up the romance, Ames takes Ashley to his favorite tree (he has a favorite tree!), a magnolia in bloom "in the most beautiful garden in the area." (He knows and has evaluated multiple gardens in the area!) They bring a picnic, which is a pretty normal thing for Ames, when he's not running marathons and jetting off to Asia at a moment's notice. Ames tries to impress her by pulling out some old Italian Renaissance word (Sprezzotanno? Sprezzaterro? Sbarro?) that mean appreciating the little things, which, as Gwyneth Paltrow has taught us, rich people are totally GREAT at. Unfortunately, this image of Ames as a sensitive, artistic, tree-appreciating (don't forget RICH!) soul still doesn't seem to be doing anything for Ashley's loins. He tries to awaken them with a horse-drawn carriage ride, but this bumpy buggy still seems headed straight for the Friend Zone to me. Sorry, Ames -- your princess is in another castle. At least something tells me he won't take it too hard.

ames-horsecarriage-week9.jpg
Being rich is FUN!

Date #3: Ben in Sonoma, CA


The Greet: Ashley runs to Ben, and he picks her up and gives her a kiss. This Tells Me: He wants to show her how much he cares, but he's not ready to full-on twirl her yet.

Ben recognizes that the tables have finally turned: "It's my turn to surprise YOU all day," so I hope he makes her roast him (along with all his ex-girlfriends) in a public forum! Fair is fair.

Nope, Ben decides to take it easy on Ashley, and takes her to his winery, because he knows the real secret to romance: Getting a girl drunk is good, but getting her drunk on wine that you made yourself is golden. They taste his latest vintage, and then taste it again on each other's lips. Then they sit down for a rainy picnic, and Ben says he's only introduced one other woman to his mom, so this is a big deal. Ashley asks what his father was like, which puts Ben in a sensitive (yet ... sexy?) place, according to the soft Spanish acoustic guitar playing in the background. This is his sensitive yet sexy face.

ben-picnic-week9.jpg"This process has put me in touch with the emotional Ben," says the normal Ben. Then normal Ben tries to psych out normal (emotional) Ashley about meeting his mom and sister by saying, "It needs to be good, otherwise it just doesn't work for me," and then tells her she has nothing to worry about. His turf, HIS mind games!

Ben tells his sister that he's expressed more to Ashley than he has to anyone in six years, and says he would have "no problem proposing" to Ashley at the end of this. Emotional Ben continues to express, this time to his mom: He "likes her," and he "likes her a lot!" Then he apologizes to his mom for not being there for her more after his father died, which is genuinely sweet and important and probably not a moment us strangers should be looking in on. Ben starts to tear up as he thinks about how proud his dad would be of him right now, and how much he misses his father: "It's times like these that I'm really happy, and I wish he could see it, but he can't." Oh geez. The Bachelorette just made me feel real emotions.

ben-crying-week9.jpgWARNING: EMOTIONAL BEN IS HIGHLY, ADORABLY CONTAGIOUS.

Date #4: Long Island with J.P.

The Greet: JP and Ashley speedwalk to each other, and share a long hug. This Tells Me: My whole theory might be crap. I totally expected a twirl from these two! But their long, cozy hug still tells me they're in it for the long haul.

JP has planned a mystery date to welcome Ashley to his hometown: A trip to a retro rollerskating rink! This guy is good. They've got the whole place all to themselves as the 80s slow jams play, the disco ball spins, and the feelings ... oh, the feelings, how they grow! Ashley feels like she's in 7th grade again. OMG, they're frenching!!!

jp-rollerkiss-week9.jpgAshley is fawning all over JP and keeps talking about how cute he is and how lucky she feels. She's not very good at hiding who her frontrunner is, but I don't even care. The suspend of this season has long been dead, and they're legitimately cute. When he falls over rollerskating and she kneels down and plants a kiss on him, it's like a scene out of a Kate Hudson rom-com.

They set up a little stool in the middle of the rink so they can share a snack, and more feelings. JP says that he's brought home four girls to meet the family, and the last relationship ended so badly that they're all a bit wary this time around. But where he was full of doubt about the last relationship, he feels 100% certain and secure with Ashley.  This is his certain and secure face.

jp-certainface-week9.jpgAshley sits down to dinner with yet another well-adjusted, thoughtful, respectful (BORING) family. JP's mom gets all mom-ish and feels conflicted about how great Ashley seems, but how guarded she feels as a mother. She doesn't want JP to get his heart broken again. She asks the big question: "Are you in love with her?" and JP says, "There are a lot of signs pointing toward it, but I'm having trouble admitting it yet." (That's a yes.) He tells Mom that he doesn't think he's going to get dumped, and he feels confident that Ashley likes him the best. He's open to the possibility of proposing to Ashley, if he gets the chance. (For a guy who's completely certain his heart won't end up broken, JP sure talks about broken hearts a lot!) Now Mom is really concerned, yet also delighted. So many emotions are coursing through her all at once! Did Emotional Ben get to her, too? Mom asks Ashley to basically promise not to break her son's heart, and Ashley assures her that she is "smitten by" JP and that they have something very special.

Speaking of something very special... it's time to check out JP's bar mitzvah poster, which JP accurately describes as "kind of like a cross between Kirk Cameron and Doogie Howser":

jp-barmitzvah1-week9.jpgUhhhh, yes! Enhance.

jp-barmitzvahface2-week9.jpgHAHAHA, YES! ENHANCE!

jp-barmitzvahface3-week9.jpgPerfection.

Whoever that kid is who wrote "congrats" over his face was such a little punk! As he kisses her goodbye, JP says he's afraid to fully admit how he feels about Ashley. But showing your middle school mullet to the girl and, by extension, the world? Baby, that's love.

CHATTIN' WITH CHRIS

Ashley's back in L.A. at the Bachelor mansion, and ready to run down her final four with host Chris Harrison, who is chipper, having just woken up from a week-long nap. It's time for the awarding of the superlatives to her potential husbands, whose photos Ashley must look at while she thinks, because she can't remember what they look like.

ashley-final4-photos-week9.jpg"I know I just saw them and met their families, but I swear, two of these are the SAME PHOTO!"

Constantine: Ashley says his hometown date was the best, and she respects how slowly and surely he moves, romantically. "There's more depth to our relationship now."
Ames: Ashley loved seeing where Ames came from (and finding out it's NOT the moon!) and thinks that Ames would make the best husband.
Ben: The date that he planned for Ashley was "perfect," and she was impressed by his welcoming family.
JP: His mother was the sweetest woman, and Ashley loved how open and accepting his family was.

Ashley Status Report: She's proud to say that she is currently operating on NO regrets. Now, speaking of living with no regrets, it's time to crush someone's heart-dream and broadcast the whole experience on television!

ROSE CEREMONY

Ashley wishes she could take all of these men to Fiji with her, but ... OH HOLY CRAP, did you guys see that Bachelor Pad promo? Am I just having a beautiful dream or did Jake actually say, "I hope she falls three thousand feet to her death" about Vienna? MY LIFE HAS (HORRIFIC, HATE-FILLED) MEANING AGAIN!

ashley-rose-week9.jpgIt hurts extra-hard to return to Ashley's snooze-filled journey after that. But it's time for either Ames' forehead, Constantine's hair, Ben's identical hair or JP's beautiful bald head to say goodbye.

And the roses go to...
Ben
JP

Constantine

Ames seems to be in shock as he realizes there's no rose for him. I guess the romance just wasn't there, even under his magical magnolia tree. Ashley walks him out, and for the first time Ames is (almost) speechless. With tears in his eyes, Ames thanks Ashley for a beautiful, "poetic" experience that he'll remember for the rest of his life. Yes, he said POETIC.

In the limo, Ames smiles a smile of hurt and fear and a little bit of rich-guy "meh, I'll land on my feet"-ness as he says, "Now I'm back to sharing a life of adventures with ... myself, which is ... less enticing." He talks the way British people write, and yet still sounds masturbatory? This man is a marvel.

Next Week: Ashley takes her final three to Fiji, where they'll FINALLY get in an effing helicopter for the first time this season. Then: More feelings picnics, which will lead someone to make a decision of some kind (WHAT?!?!?), and someone else to "fly all the way to Fiji" to surprise Ashley. (It's Ryan. No surprise. No duh.) Then, in the finale, Ashley will call her own sister "SUCH A BITCH!" for saying one of the guys isn't right for her! (Her sister who is an EXTREME COUPONER!) AHHHH, YES!!! That is exactly what I needed to revive my excitement for the rest of this season.

What do you think of Ashley's final three, my beloved Bachelorette babies? I think Ashley made the right call this time. I loved Ames in an anthropological way, but it was clear, his magnolia tree was as in bloom as his and Ashley's love wasn't. And since we'll be seeing him in just a few weeks on Bachelor Pad (or so we hear!), parting is more sweet than sorrow tonight...  

(Images courtesy of ABC)

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