While I’m sitting here writing this blog all I really want to know is what all of you think of what went down this week and how it all happened. I’ve been asked several times this week if I think Bentley is the biggest “villain” we’ve ever had on this show. My first thought is that’s really something for you guys to judge, not me. My second thought is the “villain” title really doesn’t do justice to what went down here. It softens the blow and simplifies things too much in my opinion, but again that’s really up to you guys. There’s a lot more I will say about Bentley but I do want to talk about several other things, as this was an eye-opening episode from top to bottom.
The first date with Ben C. was incredibly cool. Like the Vegas date with William last week it was very public at the Americana at Brand mall for the entire world to see. I love these public dates, as it adds an extra dimension to our show, letting fans see what’s going on from time to time while we’re shooting. The flash mob was another excellent idea from our producers executed to the highest level, and the appearance by Far East Movement was the icing on the cake.
Before the group date came the moment that we’ve all been waiting for, the moment to end all moments, the unveiling of the mask. The giant thud you heard was this moment falling flatter than William’s jokes on the comedy date. I really didn’t have a problem with Jeff showing up in a mask. Ironically the guy showed up in the mask to make sure Ashley got to know exactly who he was, but in the end I don’t think he ever got to show who he was because the mask became his personality — it became bigger than him, and when he took it off he and Ashley really had nowhere to go.
After the less than impressive unveiling it was time for the group date at the famous Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, which was another very public date. The only difference is this date didn’t end so well. Jeffrey Ross was kind enough to lend us his talented comedic skills. I’m a big fan of the roast master and it was an honor having him on the show. I have mixed feelings about how this date went down. On one hand, it was supposed to be a roast and in that vein the guys should be able to pull no punches. On the other hand, you just can’t be so ridiculous to think that it’s ever a good idea to roast the girl whose affections you’re trying to win. With that said, William got way too excited about fulfilling his dream of becoming the next Dennis Miller and forgot to be a smart, sensible man. The big difference between William and a guy like Bentley is William quickly realized the error of his ways, felt sick about it and apologized many times. Ryan absolutely killed it during his one on one time with Ashley after the roast, saying just the right things and comforting her after a rough day, and he deservedly got the rose. During their one on one time on this date, Ashley basically called Bentley out but once again he pulled the wool over her eyes. I was asked this week why Bentley decided to leave and when. I’m not positive, but something about not getting the rose on this group date seemed to set the wheels in motion.
Whenever he decided he was going to leave, he pulled the trigger the next morning. Let me be very clear about my thoughts on Bentley and him leaving. I have no problem with him coming on the show. I have no problem with him coming on the show even if he was hoping our bachelorette was going to be Emily. You never know what can happen when you meet somebody. I also don’t have a problem with him deciding it was time to leave, that’s completely up to him. I also didn’t have a problem with him using his daughter as an excuse to leave and let Ashley down easy; that’s not the way I would have handled the situation, but so be it. My issue is he appears to have come on the show with bad intentions, and when he decided to leave, he messed with Ashley’s head by leading her on and letting her believe that there’s still a chance for them to be together. He knew Ashley had fallen for him, and instead of just leaving and letting her go he took one last inappropriate shot by ending it with that ridiculous “dot-dot-dot” garbage.
Many have wondered why he was ever allowed on the show and how he was allowed to stay as long as he did. The simple answer is it was always up to Ashley. She made the decision to allow him on the show that first night. After Ashley received the texts warning her about Bentley, we offered her the option of not even having to meet the guy, but she decided to give him a shot. Every step of the way — despite warnings from producers, myself and others — Ashley stuck to her guns and believed in this guy. In Ashley’s defense she wasn’t privy to all the things Bentley said behind her back. Ashley made a deal with herself that this time around she would open herself up to be vulnerable and give herself every opportunity to find love. She just never figured there would be a guy like this who would take advantage of that in such a negative way. I’ve talked to her this week and I know she feels foolish for being taken advantage of, but she shouldn’t. Yes she made the decision to keep him around, but I understand why. You have to open yourself up to really make this work and that’s exactly what she did.
My talk with Ashley in the deliberation room before the rose ceremony was a tough one. Her greatest insecurity and fear was realized and at that point she didn’t believe in herself or that this could work for her. The only problem is she doesn’t get much time to heal her heart and put things in perspective. She has twelve guys still here giving up their lives to find love, and they really don’t understand just how much Ashley had fallen for Bentley. As we move forward this will be the dilemma we deal with. Obviously you will be the real judge and jury as to what you think about Bentley and how he handled himself. More than ever I look forward to your questions and comments. For much more on the show you can check out our official web site thebachelor.tv. This week we’ll have some cool features, including “Ask the Bachelorette,” “Ask the Mask,” and a video from Michelle Money giving her final thoughts on Bentley. You can also always find me on twitter @chrisbharrison.
More Bachelorette from EW:
Ashley’s Bachelorette blog on people.com