By Chris Harrison
Updated July 12, 2011 at 05:05 AM EDT

The hardest thing for me about writing these blogs is deciding where to start. This week I have been debating, do I talk about Emily’s interview first or the episode itself with Ashley? I decided I’d give you a few thoughts about Emily at the end of the blog. Our final big stop on this crazy travel leg of this journey across Asia is Taipei, Taiwan. The week before hometowns is a bit awkward, and always a tough one every season. Most of Ashley’s relationships have moved forward to the point where they are ready to be exclusive, or as exclusive as the show will allow. So the guys are done living together, done seeing each other go on dates with Ashley and done with group dates. With all that said I started off the week by giving the guys a little good news that there would be three one-on-one dates with no roses on the line. This always takes the pressure off those dates so they can just enjoy without worrying if they’ll be sent home at the end of it.

Constantine got the first date and it was a pivotal one. To borrow a phrase from Ashley ,she and Constantine had a breakthrough. He was one of those guys like Ryan that she knew she cared for but wasn’t sure if she had any chemistry with. Constantine really rose to the occasion and they had an amazing date. One not-so-romantic note about their date was the fact that they almost passed out due to smoke inhalation on the train ride. When they went through a tunnel the smoke billowed into the cabin and there was no escape. Ash, Constantine and the entire crew were coughing up a lung and gasping for air when they finally got out of the tunnel.

The next date was with Ben… or was it Constantine again… hmmm… hard to tell them apart! Seriously I know many of you have commented on the fact that they look like they were separated at birth, but if you spend much time with them at all it’s really easy to tell them apart in looks and personality. There really wasn’t a lot to Ben’s date as far as his relationship with Ashley. The two of them are in a great spot and all this date did was move it forward another few positive steps. They have such great chemistry and he knows just what to do and say to put her at ease. There was no question in anybody’s mind that he was getting a rose and a hometown date.

Then came the final dreaded group date of the season. After this week the guys won’t have to endure group dates and they really won’t see each other except at the rose ceremonies. JP was in a foul mood all week and being put on the group date only made it worse. It’s not that he’s necessarily insecure but it’s tough for these guys who care for Ashley at this point to have to watch her date the other guys. JP did deliver the line of the night when he described Ames’ outfit as the “offspring of an ostrich and Elton John”. While JP and Lucas were wallowing in their misery Ames was his usual positive, delightful self. He carried on as if he didn’t have a care in the world and continued to impress Ashley.

Easily the most noteworthy moment of the episode came during Ashley’s one-on-one date with Ryan. He was so excited to finally get his date with her. He was having a blast and really feeling good about everything when Ashley pulled the rug out from under him and sent him home. The usually positive Ryan was crushed and speechless. He didn’t know what hit him and didn’t know what to say or ask Ashley. He never saw that coming from her. Ashley explained herself excellently by letting him know at this point if she doesn’t feel it, why lead him on any further and then drag his family into it? Despite the honest intentions it still hurt her and Ryan. After that date I could tell Ashley was done playing games. She didn’t want any part of a cocktail party. She knew the four men she wanted to go home with and didn’t want to prolong the situation any longer than it needed to be. Although I always play devil’s advocate just to make sure they are positive that’s what they want, I understood and really respected her decision to forego the cocktail party.

Much like her relationship with Ryan, Ashley just wasn’t feeling it with Lucas at this point. Lucas was a little put off in Hong Kong and since then his relationship with Ashley just got a little stagnant, and at this stage in the game you just can’t have that. Ryan and Lucas are both really good guys and I told Ashley she really couldn’t go wrong with any of these guys. I felt any of these four men were going to respect her and treat her right — it’s now just a matter of chemistry between them. Next, Ames, JP, Ben and Constantine will take Ashley back to their hometowns to meet their families. This is always one of my favorite episodes each season and you will see it all play out next Monday.

Before I let you go I obviously want to talk a little bit about my interview with Emily. I honestly don’t have much to add to what she said as I really feel good about the interview. I believe I asked the pertinent questions yet stayed respectful of her and Brad and I feel she answered them fully while doing the same. Emily got out of the car emotional, so I knew it was going to be a tough interview for us both. I care for her and Brad very much, consider them friends and I wish them the best. I talked to Brad before and after the interview and all he cared about was Emily. Before the interview he asked me as a friend to be there for her and not be to hard on her, which I don’t feel I was. After the interview all he wanted to know was how she was doing. These two care about each other very much and respect each other even more. A lot has and will be written about them but the truth is they are two good people that loved each other very much but as Emily said that just wasn’t enough to make it work. I have a lot of respect for Brad for deciding not to show up, yet giving Emily his blessing to do the interview and speak freely. I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with Emily. I always have been blown away by the strength of this woman and she continues to impress. However sad the news I’m glad that the millions of fans that have followed their saga have gotten the answers they deserve. I hope you also got a chance to go online at our official web site to watch my interview with Ali and Roberto. I loved catching up with them and was happy to see how well they are doing.

We’re all on our way back to the states for the infamous hometown dates next week so I’ll see you next Monday night as Ashley continues her journey and her search for love. As always please leave your comments and questions below or find me on twitter @chrisbharrison. I suddenly got a blue check mark next to my name this week on twitter so apparently I am now officially who I thought I already officially thought I was!

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The Bachelorette

Chris Harrison hosts the romantic reality competition series in which one single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs. Will you accept this rose?

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