Ashley's confidence takes a beating as the guys perform a "comedy" roast in her honor, and Bentley makes a beeline for the door.

By Kristen Baldwin
June 07, 2011 at 05:01 AM EDT
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First, rose lovers, a warning: I’ve contracted a hideously offensive virus from the pestilence-ridden disease bomb toddler who shares my home, so if I seem crankier than usual (hard to imagine, I know), that’s why. But if there’s any week to be cranky, it’s this one, right? Let’s get to it!

Chris, making yet another daring sartorial statement with a zip-up black sweater-thing, greets the “men” at Casa Bachelorette to drop off the date card, which is addressed to Ben C. Quick: can anyone tell me ANYTHING about this guy? (And “lawyer” doesn’t count — it says that much on the screen.) All I can tell you is he’s hoping that today, he and the Bachelorette will begin their “journey to love.” Either he’s been coached well, or this guy is custom-made for Ashley.

Ashley arrives, as self-loathing as ever: “I can’t believe all these guys want to date me!” I can’t either, especially when your idea of an amazing first date is throwing the poor guy into the middle of a flash mob. First though, they head to a dance studio to learn some classic moves, including “open the bottle” and “fly, fly, fly.” Ben’s a good sport about it, but he can’t quite keep his game face on for the next portion of the date, which involves lounging on a very public patch of grass. “I want to do our dance,” Ashley chirps. “Really?” says Ben, barely disguising the dread in his voice as he scans the crowd nervously. Of course, he agrees, and after playing through the pain of public humiliation for about a minute, the crowd rushes in behind them and begins to open the bottle and fly, fly, fly to the tunes of Far East Movement… who just happen to be there to play live. At the end of the performance the mob turns angry and demands that Ashley and Ben kiss — which they do, before fleeing for their lives.

Ben is either still running on adrenaline from the flash mob experience or he snorted some cocaine in the men’s room before dinner, because all of a sudden he is talking faster than that guy in the old Fed Ex commercials. “I want to live in a bubble with somebody I want to live in some unrealistic idealistic bubble where we are convinced that we are like more in love than any other couple that ever lived I know that sounds wild…” and on and on. It’s more than Ashley’s pretty little noggin can take. “Whoa!” she protests. “You are blowing my mind right now!” And though — or perhaps because — he sounds desperately needy and unrealistic, Ashley gives him the date rose.

Morning dawns on Casa Bachelorette, and as the birds chirp and the squirrels nibble on leaves, or whatever, the ominous organ music signals something far more serious in the offing: Jeff is planning to remove his painfully literal metaphor mask. The big reveal is… totally anticlimactic, as Jeff’s face is that of an average-looking white guy, perhaps slightly better looking than I would have guessed? Ashley, however, is not very impressed. “He’s a lot older than I thought he was,” she admits. Chris D. (another guy I couldn’t tell you one thing about even if you held a gun to my head) has the best reaction to the whole situation: “Let’s just say taking off the mask in front of Ashley is just compounding other bad moves… like WEARING A MASK.” Well said, sir!

NEXT: Tragedy = comedy + these guysMoving on, it’s time for the group date with Ames, Ben F., Chris, Blake, Jeff, Lucas, Nick, Ryan, William, and Bentley, who are taken to L.A.’s famous Comedy Store where they’re going to roast the Bachelorette! “If you can make a woman laugh at herself,” explains roast-master Jeffrey Ross, “you can make her do anything.” Obviously, this is the worst idea ever conceived in the history of time. Or, if you’re a reality TV producer, the most brilliant move in recorded history. If Ashley’s skin were any thinner she’d be translucent, so this — as we all know — is not going to end well.

Everyone scatters to their corners to write some jokes, but all of the guys are suffering from severe, fear-induced writers’ block — all of them, that is, except for William, who’s just giddy about the idea of doing stand-up comedy in a real comedy club. “If I can impress Jeffrey Ross,” he gushes, “it could open up the door for me to do my dream.” (Uh-oh, sounds like someone may not be here for The Right Reasons.)

Lucas, who I swear to God is being shown speaking on camera for the first time, starts the evening rolling by directing his jabs at the other guys: “Ames, when’s your forehead going to give birth?” (Good one.) Most of the guys follow suit, until it comes to Jeff, who begins by pretending to pick up Ashley’s tiny boob off the floor… or something. As terrible as that joke was, it awakens the sleeping insult beast that dwells in hearts of the other guys: Ben F. congratulates Ashley on being the “third runner-up” in last season of The Bachelor, Chris wonders if the show should be called Brad Womack’s Leftovers, and Bentley makes one of many cracks about Ashley’s small chest. But the pain train doesn’t really start rolling until William — dear, desperate to be famous William — gets to the podium to show these other douchebags how insult comedy is really done. “I thought I signed up to be with Emily or Chantal, and then Ashley’s here,” he sneers. “Really, who gives a sh–?” Pssst, William: The key to insult comedy is actually to add some comedy to your insult. (Props to whichever bystander yelled “Too soon!”)

For once, Ashley’s reflexive, braying laugh is silenced as she struggles to make it through William’s set without crying. Once the roast is over, the Bachelorette barely makes it off the stage before breaking down in tears in the back of the club. Seeing this, Bentley — seizing on an opportunity to “mess with her head” — arrives to console her. And to his credit, he manages to comfort her without once adding inflection to his voice. When she sighs that she’s afraid some of the guys were disappointed that the Bachelorette wasn’t Chantal or Emily, he murmurs a series of generic compliments with about as much emotion as someone dictating a telegram: “You have everything — STOP. Your body, your face is beautiful — STOP. You’re the best dancer in the world — STOP.” He tops it off with a statement of fact that’s meaner than anything said on the roast stage: “With 25 guys, I promise you, at least 24 of them were really excited it was you.” And she LOVES it.

NEXT: No, Bentley. Your hair actually looks shaggy, and you use too much product.

The mood at the post-roast cocktail party is grim. William pulls Ashley aside and attempts to do some damage control, but instead he just digs himself deeper: “I wasn’t even thinking about you and your feelings.” Now that’s something you want to hear from a potential spouse! Despite being so phenomenally dense, William clearly feels bad for what he did — so much so that he tears up, says he deserves to be sent home, and orders Ashley to go talk to one of the other guys, because he’s too toxic to be around. Well, sport, if you were trying to make her feel worse, you succeeded. “All I wanted was for him to comfort me,” she says, “but instead he wants to leave.”

The night goes downhill from there, as suitor after suitor unsuccessfully tries to turn Ashley’s frown upside-down — though Ryan Sunshine does distract her with a tentative make-out session. In this raw emotional state, Ashley finally decides to tell Bentley of the warning she received about his nefarious intentions before the show. “I decided I wanted to give you a chance because I feel something for you,” she quavers. “But I’m also really scared that you could be that person to hurt me.” (Foreshadowing!) I’ll say this for Bentley: He may be a lousy villain, but he’s a lousy villain who only lies when absolutely necessary. When Ashley confronts him with the charges, Bentley doesn’t defend himself with a blatant falsehood — “Of course I’m not here to promote my family fun business!” Instead, he keeps one toe on the truth with this non-denial denial: “I will say that it doesn’t really apply to what we have going on here at all,” he mumbles. “Michelle Money knows my ex-wife and, um, I wouldn’t even say that that would be a great source of information. Yeah.” Ashley buys his story, if you want to call it that, but she gives Ryan Sunshine the date rose. This makes Bentley so angry his voice almost attains a modicum of modulation as he informs the camera, “I’m checking out.”

And he means it. The next morning, Bentley packs his bags, tells his fellow bachelors that he’s taking off — “I can’t be away from my daughter anymore,” he explains — and then takes his poufy hair and flat affect out the door. “These freaking idiots — they believed me,” he scoffs, after hugging the men goodbye.” None of them had any idea that I don’t care about Ashley… I played everyone. That’s something that’s never been done before.” Congratulations, sir! You were false and mean-spirited on a reality show. How very pioneering of you. As for your sociopathic soundbite — “I’m going to make Ashley cry. I hope my hair looks OK” — you should send Team Bachelorette a fruit basket for feeding you (or frankenbiting) that bit of brilliance.

Knock knock knock! There’s a Douchebag of Doom at the door! Bentley isn’t kidding when he says he hasn’t rehearsed his “big performance” — he’s all awkwardness and pain-delaying hugs when he gets to Ashley’s abode. True to form, he makes her do all the work.

Bentley: “This morning, I missed my daughter more than anything.”

Ashley: [Fixes bangs]

Bentley: “Um… Um…”

Ashley: “Are you leaving?”

Bentley: “Yeah.”

Ashley: “Are you coming back?”

Bentley: “I don’t think that’s an option.”

NEXT: Stay off the pole, Cozy!And like the insignificant coward that he is, Bentley blames it all on his daughter. (If he was truly the epic bastard he fancies himself to be, he would’ve told Ashley point blank that he’s just not that into her.) I can’t decide what poor Cozy will spend more time on in therapy: That her dad intentionally acted like an asshat on a reality TV show or that he openly admitted on camera that he wasn’t, in fact, leaving said reality TV show because he missed his daughter… but instead because the chick he was competing for wasn’t hot enough. Stay off the pole, Cozy!

Ashley is, of course, devastated. Despite all evidence to the contrary, she insists on believing that Bentley is there for The Right Reasons. (I suspect that deep down, she knows he’s a worthless jerk-off, which is all she believes she deserves.) As he’s breezing out the door Bentley throws the Bachelorette some crumbs of stale emotion — “I still want to keep the dot-dot-dot” there,” he tells her — ensuring that she’ll be all the more pissed when the Men Tell All special rolls around. And then we get Ugly Bed Cry they’ve been teasing all season, as Ashley curls up in the fetal position under the covers and sobs. “My heart is totally broken. Was I wrong about everything?” Well, yes. But there, there, honey. You may have brought this on yourself, but it still doesn’t make it fun to watch.

In a extra-specially cruel twist, Ashley has to pull herself together for her date with JP just hours after Bentley’s hit-and-run. Though he’s essentially eating takeout across from a quivering pile of emotionally spent jelly, JP manages to be charming and soothing, even when faced with lose-lose questions from Ashley like, “If you’re always breaking up with girls, how do I know that you’re not going to break up with me?” Eventually, he finds himself drinking wine and lounging in rented pajama bottoms in front of a roaring fire. How could he NOT get the date rose?

Even after a nice rebound date, Ashley’s still feeling wobbly and unhappy the night of the rose ceremony. Fortunately, Harrison is (finally) there to offer some sage counsel. He gently tries to suggest to Ashley that she didn’t, in fact, love Bentley (as she claims), but that instead she loved the “idea” of him, since he was “forbidden.” He even shoots down Bentley’s lame-ass “dot-dot-dot” caveat: “A real man… would have done everything he could to fight for you.”

The beaten-down Bachelorette decides to skip the cocktail party and go straight to the rose ceremony, which plays like yet another game of “Wait, did that guy speak this week?” as Constantine, West, and Mickey get the first few roses. Next, Ben F. and his groundbreaking bowtie get a bud, followed by Blake, Nick, Ames, Lucas (again, who?), and William, who finds himself in the final “This is Your Last Chance to F— Things Up” slot. That means we’re saying goodbye to Chris and, of course, Old Man Mask. Sadly, he sacrifices the mask on a funeral pyre before boarding the Reject Van to Alonesville.

Sheesh, that was a depressing episode, huh rose lovers? (At least we finally got to see that long-promised shot of Jeff on the toilet, during what appeared to be a scene from ABC’s new sitcom pilot, Douchebag and the Mask.) Once you’ve recovered from the evening’s events, get busy posting your thoughts in the comments section. Is Bentley the worst villain in Bachelorette history or just the worst wannabe? Either way, what on earth did Ashley see in him? Now that he’s gone, who’s your pick for the front-runner? Pull on your sweatpants and let’s talk Bachelorette!

More Bachelorette from EW:

Chris Harrison blogs Bachelorette episode 3

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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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