The ghost of Bentley’s dickishness still haunts The Bachelorette in week four, and probably will for the rest of the season. When we last left Ashley, she was so distraught over his betrayal that she (gasp! put hand to forehead! roll eyes! faint!) canceled the cocktail party. This week, will our fragile dental student be able to extract his evil talons from her tender heart and allow the 12 remaining men even just a chance to stick their tongues in her mouth? Don’t count on it.
A good drinking game for tonight’s episode (if you want to go to the hospital, to find yourself a hot doc to marry while you’re getting your stomach pumped, girl-buddies!) is to drink every time you hear “Bentley” or “no regrets.” It’s a really great mantra for people like Ashley, who make bad calls almost constantly. “No regrets! I want to NEVER learn from my mistakes! Let’s go planking again!”
IT’S NOT A BAD CALL, AND YOU WILL HAVE NO REGRETS AFTER READING THIS RECAP:
Chris Harrison shows up at the mansion to remind the men what “dates” are and how “roses” work. If you have a kid and you let that kid watch The Bachelorette, I bet even he/she rolled his/her eyes and was like, “EVEN A BABY WOULD KNOW THE RULES BY NOW, CHRIS.” Then Chris says that Ashley wants a fresh start after Bentley ripped her heart out in a reenactment of Robert de Niro and Helena Bonham Carter’s final scene in Frankenstein, so she’s screaming, “OH, PHUKET!” and they’re all going to Thailand.
High fives and chest-bumps all around, my main manly bros!
We leave the men to continue their secret handshakes and hip-touches of happiness and join Ashley, who, still in mourning for Bentley, is wearing her white bikini of sorrow and riding in her red canoe of regret. If you couldn’t tell by the kind of racist music, we’re in Thailand now. She puts on her tied-in-the-front white wife-beater which represents how her stomach is tied up in knots over Bentley, who has beaten up her heart, though not his wife.
“MY secret? I buy all my clothes at Baby Gap.”
In need of guidance of any sort, no matter how pointless, Ashley goes to a Thai “navigator” woman to get “advice” about the best Thai date ideas for one woman and 12 men, as if the dates weren’t planned out, like, two months in advance. The woman tells her to take a boat ride in the rain or something. Honestly, I spaced out thinking about Ashley’s tank top and whether she bought it that way or cut the tie-hole herself. Also, who even cares? This is a fake meeting and I bet Chris Harrison penned those date card puns three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the men arrive at their private villa and are like, “Ashley who? Let’s play naked chicken in the pool, my duderific Thai brosephs!”
Date #1: Being SPONTANEOUS with Constantine
Date card: “Let’s sea Phuket together.”
We finally get to meet this Greek Jason Segel lookalike, Constantine, who in three weeks has had about three minutes of screen time. His name is so long, and I hate typing it, so let’s call him Connie, or Con-Man, for shorter. Ashley tells Connie they’re going to take a boat out to a private beach, but then an emphatic Thai man who doesn’t speak English comes up and is like! Ashley and Connie don’t have our subtitles, but they understand his hand signals. (A boat sinking, a tiny mouse woman dying, a crowd of men crying and hugging.) So they decide not to tempt death and instead “wing it” for the day and explore Phuket, just the two of them (and 8 to 15 crew members and handlers). Wise Thai boat man has some advise for everyone out there watching The Bachelorette right now:
Connie and Ashley go on the season’s requisite “market date,” like Brad & Shawntel and Ali & Frank and Jake & Tenley and Jillian & Kiptyn before them. (Notice none of those people won.) And like ALL those dates, they try on ethnic hats and then get a lesson from an ancient stranger who’s just sitting down in the street, thinking up philosophies and advices.
HATS! MARKET DATE!
This old man says the key to marriage is to ‘forgive and forget’ and ‘don’t try to win.’ Ashley is impressed especially with that second one, which is especially ironic. This is a competitive dating show whose entire purpose is to turn getting engaged into a game. “Don’t try to win.” Ha. Honestly, sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who’s really on these dates, mentally.
Ashley and C-Man cheers to “making the best of a rainy day,” but they’re the only ones having fun. The “B” in “Plan B” stands for boring. Ashley is still thinking about Bentley (don’t forget to drink) and I’m losing my sympathy for her. Boo hoo, one douche left, but you still have 12 better guys trying to marry you all at once. Ashley and Connie race through the streets in the rain like quirky maniacs, but even that is dull. I feel sad about how boring their date is because Connie seems like a good guy, and Ashley is sucking the fun out with her Bentley hangover.
They have dinner on a fancy canopy bed sitting on the beach. I imagine that a homeless king (maybe he got exiled from his country?) sleeps there usually, but for tonight, it’s all theirs.
Look at those blue drinks, what an EXOTIC HOMELESS KING BEACH BED PARTY!
Connie asks Ashley how she’s staying so positive (haaaa, he doesn’t know her at all) and she wonders if she should tell him about how hung up she is on Bentley. Tip #1 for all ladiez everywhere: Never tell a current date how much you still love the guy who dumped you. If you feel like you need to do that, then you need to be NOT dating. Anyway, then Connie goes on about how into Ashley he is, and Ashley reveals that she is “insecure” (NO, REALLY?) and fishes to see if he will leave her like Bentley did. The more she asks, the more she deserves to get left.
Back at the mansion: The other guys are fantasizing about what Constantine’s date is like, and they are giving him more credit than he deserves. “He’s kissin’ her!” says JP. (No, he’s not.) JP gets all jealous when he finds out that some of the other guys have kissed her, and Blake reminds him that this is the nature of the show. “Everyone is going after the same piece of … fruit.” (Raise your e-hand if you didn’t think he’d say “fruit.”) JP stands for Jealous-Person. “It chaps my ass,” he says about all that darn kissin’ and canoodlin’. Don’t worry, you guys. That just means he CARES. We can still like him.
Back to Constanizzzzzzzzz: Ashley and Connie have lots of feelings, which is funny because I stopped caring so many minutes ago. He’s grown and learned and blossomed or something. Ashley offers him the rose but not before she frames the conversation around Bentley again, saying that Connie gave her a “fresh beginning” and she loves his “realness.” She gives him the rose with a very lackluster, “I wanted to give you this…” and he says, “I think it’s a great idea.” What? “Idea?” Wake up and attempt a little romance, Connie. And then wake ME up when Ashley decides not to give a guy a rose on a one-on-one. They walk out to the water, where Connie gives Ashley a very sexy (lol, jk) piggyback ride and they do not kiss AT ALL. I like Constantine, but that date was more boring than two boars with two electric drills at a James Blunt concert in Boring, Oregon. (VERY boring.) I miss Jeff the Mask.
Date #2: Giving back with Blake, Ben F., JP, West, Mickey, Nick, Lucas, William, Ryan and Ben C.
Date card: “Let’s make the world a better place.” (Ha, good luck making up the karmic difference of being on this show.)
Ashley greets the guys in a rain jacket and her favorite cowgirl stripper outfit because today is about being good role models for the kids. Then she puts on her Captain History cap to tell them that Thailand was struck by a terrible tsunami in 2004, and they’re going to be fixing up this orphanage (actually, she says they’re going to “TAKE IT OVER”) for the children who lost their parents in that terrible disaster. They get busy painting, installing furniture, planting flowers and laying on the praise for Ashley because they think that she organized this volunteer day in between her busy to-do list of “trying on dresses” and “not eating.” Ryan quickly gets on the other guys’ nerves because of his “different” personality. That is man-code for how he is bossy and annoying. Ben F.: “He’s constantly on.” Lucas: “We’re all leaders. He needs to back off a little bit.” Meghan: “He looks way too much like Matthew Morrison. Can we talk about how creepy THAT is?”
Ryan is “different.”
Ashley says she is impressed the guys are so busy fixing up the orphanage that they forgot to flirt with her. Just kidding, she’s actually annoyed and worried she’s “losing the connection” with some of them. Cool self-esteem, Ashley. You’re jealous of orphans for all the attention they get. Ben F. paints a mural on the wall, and the best I can say about it is “at least he tried.”
At least he tried.
See? Best I can say. The orphans show up, and Ashley uses the mural to quiz them on their English. “What is this?” she asks. “An eye?” say the kids. (“And what is this?” “We don’t know, it’s not drawn very well!”) I bet Ashley is really jealous of all the attention that wall just got. The orphans are all about to be like “What is The Bachelorette? Who are you?” until the men distract them with free bikes and hula hoops. Ashley hula hoops in front of the group just to remind the poor kids that this show is about her.
“ME! ME! ME! Everybody, join in, let’s chant! ME! ME! ME! ME!”
Later, at the ORPHANAGE MAKEOVER WRAP PARTY (best phrase I’ve ever written?) I’m finally getting on the I Don’t Like Ryan train, driven by conductor Blake. Even his facial expressions are over the top and cheesy. He’s already someone’s corny, embarrassing dad who says things like “Okey dokey” and “TMI” because he’s “fun.” Maybe that is why Ashley is into him. Daddy issues.
Ashley is barely wearing any clothes tonight, just a fishnet top (to catch all the compliments!), heels and a bikini. I like it; the medium is the message. Speaking of fishing: Ben F. and Ashley connect over how strong and special she is after the Bentley “situation.” God, Ashley get over it and yourself. Then they make out. Even though he says “ruh roh” in between kisses, I still like Ben F. Ashley then sits down with Ryan, who “feels for” her. I feel that he is what would happen if Matthew Morrison and Ryan Seacrest had a baby together (like they wish they could, if only SCIENCE WOULD CATCH UP). Meanwhile, JP, Blake and Mickey are so sick of Ryan that one of them says if Ryan gets the group date rose, “people might just leave.” Oh NO, not again! As in, “Oh, no, that would never happen again.”
JP seems “standoffish” to Ashley, so she steals him away for a chat on the beach. Ashley is fishing HARD for reassurance, asking JP why ever would he want to be with her, and what if he decides to leave her tomorrow? It’s obnoxious and NOT sexy to make your insecurities the focus of every conversation, lady-pals. But I guess it is to JP, because he lays one hot kiss on our Bachelorette.
A+, 100% satisfaction, would kiss again
It’s OK and totally normal if you closed your eyes and imagined he was kissing you that way, gal-friends. Not saying I did, but I can completely understand why someone might do that and the gratification they might get out of doing so, oh, say, four times during a commercial break. ANYWAY, they have enough chemistry to overcome Ashley’s insane insecurities, and that’s saying something. JP picks up and carries Ashley back, and the rest of the guys furrow their cromagnon brows in jealousy.
It’s time for Ashley to give away the date rose, but first Ryan “steals her away really quick” so he can tell her how super-duper special she is. Fed up with Mr. Sunshine, the guys scream “GOOBER!” after him like petulant children. (But they’re right, he is a goober.) They have nothing to worry about though, because Ryan’s steal was pointless, and Ashley gives the date rose to Ben F. for his decent kisses and murals. To end the night, Ashley and her man-harem run into the pool to celebrate their single day of giving back in an otherwise self-involved “process” of giving up.
Date #3: Sea caving exploring with Ames
Date card: “It’s more romantic in the rain.” (Glad to see they’re just “going with it.”)
Ashley hopes uptight, shy Ames, the one who’s run a million marathons and works on Wall Street and definitely has a Dark Secret and/or Passenger, will be able to let loose with her on a one-on-one. She asks him if he is ready to get on a boat and he’s like, “Look at me. I was born in a polo. I own five yachts. I went sailing with Dick Cheney once. I’m always ready to get on a boat.” So they get on a boat and talk about how Ames has been to Thailand twice already, because of course he has. He regales Ashley with the time he got so rich and bored that he went to Thai cooking school at the last minute. Ashley loves how “witty and funny and spontaneous” Ames’ bank account is. AND now she knows he can make her some legit pad thai. It’s a real love connection!
We’re right there with them when they kayak into sea caves:
Some Bachelorette camera man went to art school!
Ashley’s hair just gets completely ruined, but she doesn’t even care. “Navigating these caves is exactly like navigating a relationship,” Ames says, because we’re too dumb to figure out this metaphor alone. “When you turn a corner you don’t know what to expect, but it might be something beautiful.” LIKE A DEAD PIRATE. They decide to not talk and just “take it all in” for a while, but it’s a “comfortable” silence says Ashley, who SHOULD be tired of hearing herself talk by now. They sit down and eat something weird and talk about what they look for in a partner. Ashley wants someone “devoted,” and Ames wants someone “spontaneous.” Ames speaks sweetly and charmingly, like a grown up, about what he’s looking for. I no longer think of Ames as an Ivy league serial killer, but there is still something bothering me…
Ashley is starting to realize she had “Bentley tunnel vision” (that sounds like torture of the cruelest order) the first few weeks, but now she’s seeing all the good qualities in the other men. Like Ames. He’s funny and he says Ashley is beautiful a bunch of times — she likes that! She also likes that his apartment is full of white boards with math on it because they’re both such “nerds.” Hot girls love calling themselves nerds, almost as much as real nerds love RPGs. But Ames is winning me over, because he asks Ashley interesting questions and knows how to hold a conversation and put her at ease. (And, as Carla wisely noted to me, “You know he’s not in it for the travel.”) Maybe all that obsessive marathon running is just an indication of his “DEVOTED” (*wink*) personality.
Ames seems to truly admire and respect Ashley, which is refreshing, if somewhat unearned at this point. It’s a smart move whether he means it or not: Praise is like oxygen for Ashley right now. Or maybe more like Oxycontin. She’s jonesing for it, hard. Ashley and Ames are so full of compliments for each other that they barely touch their food. She gives Ames the rose and, notably, they don’t kiss at all, either. I interpret that to mean that, even though she says she’s getting over him, Ashley’s mouth still yearns for the poisonous forked tongue of the Bentley goblin. Gross.
Cocktail Party and Rose Ceremony
Ugh, more talk of Bentley. “I’m still somewhat in a dark place, but I’ve been able to take some steps forward,” says Ashley, who really needs Brad’s therapist right about now. Or a good soap opera “SNAP OUT OF IT” slap. Ashley plans on spending the night asking the guys “serious questions,” which means we’re going to spend it wondering why we’re still watching this.
First, Ashley asks West if he’s ready to move on after his wife’s death. He says yes, definitively, he’s ready and he wants to find happiness again, but she didn’t listen and says she’s hesitant to “fill the shoes” of his dead wife, and doesn’t think he is ready, either. She’s clearly just not into him and just looking for an excuse to dump him. Next, Lucas bores Ashley to tears, that’s obvious enough. But he’s a nice guy. “Give me a shot, I just like having a good time,” says lonely Lucas. He was married to his college sweetheart but they fell out of love, so Ashley asks him “How do you keep the passion alive?” which is a trick question, for sure. Instead of kissing her as an answer (the smart move) he says, “You’re a sweetheart.” Bye, Lucas.
Blake is the leader of the anti-Ryan party, but at least he has the integrity to tell Ryan to his face. Ryan is like, “I don’t understand, I don’t have problems with guys,” which is exactly what a guy who has problems with guys would say. Then he gets self-righteous: “You can’t hang with the fact that I’m freaking happy a lot? I’m sorry I’m not grumpy a lot!” Then — OH MY GODDDD, THEN — he relates his happiness to how he’s not fighting in Iraq right now.
Who, me? ANNOYING?
This is where the problem with Ryan lies: He has almost no self-awareness. Someone with a shred of self-awareness would realize how sanctimonious that just sounded. Maybe he really is happy all the time, but maybe he also lacks the social cognizance to connect with other people on a mutually reasonable level. Just because someone isn’t constantly chipper doesn’t mean they don’t feel lucky or blessed or grateful not to be fighting in a war. And (most) happy people know how to talk to others without shoving their superlative sweetness down all the throats. You have to be able to read a situation and meet someone half way. Blake’s analysis of Ryan is that “it’s like he’s eight years old. That kind of zest for life is fine … every now and then. But when you deal with it every single day, it becomes infuriating somehow.” I totally get it, Blake! A range of emotion lets us know that someone is, in fact, human. Ryan is a resident of the Uncanny Valley.
So after one of the other men clearly clued her in, Ashley sits down with Ryan and asks if he’s ever NOT happy. Ryan assures Ashley that this is his true self (“I’m bursting with a lot of love in my chest,” like a Care Bear.) and the other guys just can’t understand him. I mourn his First Impression Rose. I thought there would be more behind that million-watt smile. Instead, it’s just more watts and smiles.
After the cocktail party, Chris Harrison sits down with Ashley, who says Ames is the sweetest guy she’s ever met and the group date was her favorite group date so far, but none of that ACTUALLY matters because she’s still hung up on Bentley. She just felt so strongly for him and still has her “woman’s intuition” that there is more there with him, you know? Would someone please just give her a CAT scan, because I think she hit her head and her feelings got put backwards inside her brain somehow, you know?
Ashley throws Chris a pink, perfume-scented curveball and asks if she can send only one man home tonight. She wants to BREAK DER RULES, Brad-style. (“Breaking the rules” has become so common on this show that it’s actually a rule at this point. There is no spoon.) “There are eleven men here I could see myself with, and I want to give them a shot.” It’s all about “NO REGRETS,” which I hope Ashley gets tattooed on her neck before she leaves Thailand. Well that sucks for the one guy who can’t even get into the Ashley Might Kinda Like Me But She’s Not Sure Yet Club. Who do you guys think it is? I hope it’s William, but I think it’s West. Ashley is way too insecure to be with someone who has real pain and hardship in his past.
Chris Harrison raises some eyebrows when he brings out another rose and tells the guys that it’s Ashley’s “no regrets” rose. “I hope I’m not Ashley’s one regret in the room,” they all say to themselves. But one of them is. Let’s find out who!
Ames, Ben F. and Constantine have their roses. And the rest go to…
Lucas (Whoa, dark horse coming into the lead!)
Ryan (Blake looks piiiiiissed, I’m loving ittttt)
JP (That’s my boy!)
Nick (“The Barbarian”)
Mickey (I forgot to mention that last week we saw Mickey in the morning wearing a scarf, so now he’s “Morning scarf”)
Blake (Dr. Love)
William (DING DONG, whomp whomp)
Ben C. (Whose face, Carla pointed out, looks like a bad drawing of a handsome person, and now I can’t get THAT out of my head.)
That means the one guy that Ashley would consider a regret is poor, dear West. Way to single out the widower as the one who’s Not Good Enough For You. Not the guy who made you cry at the roast, or the guy who may have a pixie stick snorting addiction (that’d be Ryan), or the guy who looks like a dolphin and wears morning scarves. Poor West: “Since my wife passed, this is the first time I put it all out there.” I hope he goes home and no less than 12 stronger women than Ashley make him their #1 man.
Next Week: Ashley and her 11 are going to Chiang Mai, where she will ride elephants, kiss a lot and see fire breathers. Then some of the men will box each other (fight! fight! fight!), and someone will go to the hospital. After which (when someone GOES TO THE HOSPITAL because he got PUNCHED IN THE HEAD), Ashley will get jealous that all the attention isn’t on her. She will also get mad that the men feel closer to each other than they do to her. Weird, since they spend 98% of their time together, without her. And weirder still, since Ashley is still SO hung up on Bentley that they’re going to (gasp! put hand to counter! grab knife! make stabbing motions!) bring him back so she can get closure and/or beg him to inseminate her. Hard to tell which will happen, maybe both, but one thing’s for certain: There will be a LOT of crying.
Until then: What did you think of tonight’s dates? Is Ashley making you angry with all this Bentley talk? Are you going to go buy 50 tied tank tops now?
(Images courtesy of ABC)