The Bachelorette recap: Dazed and confused
Even after a boxing match sends Ames to the hospital, Ashley can't stop thinking about Bentley.
The first thing that struck me about tonight’s episode, rose lovers, is that Ames really shouldn’t use so much product in his damn hair! When he alighted off the plane in Chang Mai with the other guys, that shot of him in the jet way — his bangs blooming in a messy pouf over his ample forehead — was a revelation. He looked hot! Alas, his hair wasn’t free from its gel confines for long, and soon it was sitting stiffly atop his head as he bloviated on about Chang Mai: “Chang Mai is the perfect place to fall in love with Ashley. It’s famous for having for thousands of monks in saffron robes wandering around.”
Anyhow, the episode opens at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hotel, where Harrison drops the men off at their private villa while also dropping the bomb: It’s two-on-one date week! With that, he deposits the date card and disappears. Ashley arrives for her date with Ben F., sporting a bright pink sleeveless top that clashes mightily with Ben’s cherry-red polo. Well, at least they’ll be able to spot each other in a crowd. They clamber into a Thai taxi and head to a colorful street market, where they sample local cuisine and paint delicate paper umbrellas. They cop a squat on a bench by a beautiful, elephant adorned temple and stare lovingly into each others eyes, and… [needle scratching on vinyl] “You know we can’t kiss here?” Ashley tells Ben. “That’s how sacred this place is.” With that whispered warning, the sexual tension goes from fun and flirty to feral cat in heat, and the duo share a cute “mental kiss” with their eyes closed. “I just want to jump on him — merooww!” growls the Bachelorette.
Evening falls and the duo arrives at a romantic outdoor dinner — too bad Ashley is wearing a potentially mood-killing paisley strapless romper. Ben F. powers through, however, filling Ashley in on the life of a winemaker, which involves being “out in the fields” and “bringing the fruit in.” He goes on to say that the loss of his dad more than four years ago left him a little emotionally shut off, an “emotional zombie” if you will. (I think I’m going to steal that phrase — it’s a good one.) Over the past year, Ben says, he’s been dismantling the emotional walls. This all sounds promising, but Ashley still wants to know what Ben’s “agenda” would be for a new relationship. “My agenda is focus on her,” he says. “Spending time together, nights in, cooking, you know, wine parties… Just making her the priority.” And she LOVES it. “Ben is saying everything that I was hoping to hear,” marvels Ashley. Of course he is — he’s a winemaker, not an idiot. He gets the rose. Bring on the dancing girls and fireballs!
The next day, it’s group date time for Constantine, Ames, Nick, Blake, Lucas, Ryan Sunshine, JP, and Mickey. The card said “love is worth fighting for,” and you know what that means: amateur Muay Thai boxing! “This is a really hot way to see the men,” explains Ashley, who wants to “see if I can find the masculinity in these guys.” Um, sweetheart, if you have to look that hard for it, you may not get that fairy tale ending you’re hoping for. While Lucas has his game face on — “I’ve been in some street fights” — Ames and his Ivy League bone structure appear a bit worried. “We could end up with black eyes or broken noses,” he says, before quickly adding, “But Ashley’s worth it.”
NEXT: Ames gets his bell rung
The guys are put through a rigorous three-hour training regimen, which involves getting punched in the stomach while doing sit-ups and being forced to do push-ups with sinewy Thai men sitting on their backs. Ames’ adventures in Muay Thai provide constant entertainment, whether he’s wiping out while trying to kick the punching bag or winding up with the hot pink boxing gear (you snooze, you lose pal!). After being herded onto a truck and driven into town, the men climb out to discover that they’re going to be boxing each other in a public ring. Hey, if Ashley’s going to take an emotional beating at a comedy roast, it’s only fair that the guys get their asses kicked physically, right?
Blake and Lucas are up first, and the mild-mannered dentist comes on strong against the oil worker and takes him down fast. JP and Mickey get the call next, and it seems that JP has the right attitude: “If I gotta go in there and take a beating like a man, I’ll take a beating like a man. There’s no crying in Muay Thai.” Turns out, he does have to go in there and take a beating like a man… because Mickey proceeds to just brutalize him. JP bounces back strong though, and proceeds to pin Mickey into a corner while pummeling his midsection, and he’s ultimately declared the winner. Finally it’s time for the real showdown: Ivy League Ames vs. Ryan Sunshine. The pink-clad wonder dances around the ring and offers a few weak kicks, but he’s no match for Ryan’s “violent shots to the head.” After the match, Ames is woozy and dazed — “it’s pretty clear he got his bell rung,” intones Mickey — but he insists he’s fine. (And I gotta say, a concussion looks good on him. Slumping limply in his folding chair next to the ring, he had, like, a bit of a young Elvis thing going on.) As Nick and Constantine pound each other in the ring and Ames stares blankly into space, Ashley runs to fetch a PA who brings Ames to an ambulance, and he’s carted off to the hospital. Don’t worry, buddy, I’m sure the guys will grab your masculinity along with your other belongings and bring them back to the house.
The post-date drinks commence later that night, and Ames is still missing. “The mood is definitely down at the party tonight,” sighs Ashley. Still, she tries to make the best of it, but all the conversations center on the day’s brutal activities. Mickey lands a clever blow to the solar plexus of Ames’ dignity by assuring Ashley that getting punched for the first time can be quite a shock. (Mickey, of course, has taken plenty of blows in his time.) Eventually Ames strolls in, be-blazered and charming as ever, and of course Ashley dotes on him. “I usually find it hard to speak to her because she’s beautiful,” says Ames, “but this time I can’t speak to her because my head is not working.” Um, pal, perhaps you should, I don’t know, go lie down and recover from your brain trauma? I think the health of your cerebral cortex takes precedence over a TV romance.
NEXT: All we want is life beyond Thunderdome
Meanwhile at Casa Bachelorette’s Thai Annex… knock knock knock! There’s an Accent Table of Doom at the door. (Hey buddy! Glad you could make the trip.) It’s come all this way to bring the two-on-one date card to Ben C. and William — “guide me to love” — as well as the ominous couplet from Harrison: “Two men, one rose. One stays, one goes.” Back at the group date, Blake is working hard to secure the still-elusive “romantic” moment with Ashley… but it’s Lucas who gets the opportunity to sidle up to the Bachelorette, mainly because she demands an impromptu golf lesson and proceeds to back that thing up right into his flat-front khakis. Still, Blake gets the pity rose, because Ashley knows he needs some “positive reinforcement.” How very romantic!
Ok, rose lovers, it’s time to enter the Thunderdome. Ben C. and William arrive for a Thai river rafting date, but the cell phone salesman miscalculates when he takes the lead. “I felt like a third wheel on the raft,” he gripes. “I’m in front steering, her and Ben C. get to just talk. I thought to myself, ‘I am losing the rose in this moment.'” (Dude, are you even steering? There’s a guy walking in the water next to the raft and pulling it along himself.) Overtaken by insecurities, William — who says he can be the most romantic guy in the room or the biggest dick in the room — decides to amp up his already-annoying personality to 11. It’s not a good strategy; you can tell by the way Ashley whines “So what’s up, Williaaaaaam?” that she is already over him as their one-on-one time begins. As well she should be: Billy goes right for the kill, telling Ashley that Ben C. is “ready to go home” and that he’s told the guys that he’s excited to “clean up” on “the dating websites” when he gets out of Casa Bachelorette. Oh, gurrrrl, don’t buy it! But she does, and she marches right over to the picnic blanket and declares, “Ben, I’m going to be sending you home right now!” While he insists he was “kidding around” about trolling match.com, he still finds himself floating away on the Reject Raft. “What a terrible way for things to end,” he sighs in his clipped, even-toned voice. “What a shame.”
You know what’s an even bigger shame? The Forever 21 one-shouldered pink-and-black minidress monstrosity Ashley wears to dinner with William. It’s a damn shame. While the cell phone salesman is giddy to be on what is essentially another one-on-one date with Ashley, he’s a bit too secure in his position. Ashley’s been holding him at arm’s length since the disastrous comedy roast date, and his tattletale behavior on this date clearly hasn’t raised him in her estimation. Nor has the fact that he insists on referring to himself as a “30-year-old boy.” And the Great First Date Curse strikes again: Ashley sends the manchild packing with a dry kiss-off. “I think at this point in time, there’s no turning back,” she tells William. “I’m going to walk you out.” At least he’s learned a valuable lesson about himself: “I am the world’s biggest f—ing jackass.” Who’s got two thumbs and a ride home in the Reject Limo? This guy! Still, I wish he didn’t interpret this tiny life speed bump as proof positive that life is not worth living: “I just want to curl up in bed, you know, and not wake up.”
NEXT: Not cool, Team Bachelorette. Not cool.
Cocktail party time!! Ashley’s not in a great place, though: “I feel like something’s off tonight.” (Pssst — it’s your dress, honey. It’s clinging to your cleavage for dear life.) One by one, the guys bring the Bachelorette their gifts of flattery and fawning attention, though Constantine also brings a big steaming pile of honesty wrapped in a bow. Frustrated that Constantine hasn’t immediately professed his love, Ashley confronts him: “Do you feel closer to the guys than you do me?” He pauses while the devil on his shoulder yells “Say no! Say no!” but the angel wins. “Naturally,” he admits. Ashley pretends to understand, but her narrowed eyes and pursed lips tell another story. Even JP and his laser-focused glare of love doesn’t make Ashley feel better, because — here’s a shocker — she’s still pining for Bentley. “I think the truth is I do need closure with Bentley if I’m going to move forward with any of the guys.”
Clink clink clink! Chris Harrison to the rescue. He can tell Ashley’s a mess and he knows why, but he wants to hear her say it. “What is it exactly that’s on your mind?” queries our fearless host. Ashley is almost too embarrassed to say it. “I know you’re going to not be happy with me,” she begins, before finally mumbling, “It’s Bentley.” Harrison holds his tongue though you can tell he wants to smack some sense into her. “I feel like it’s getting to the point where it’s not really fair to the guys,” he frowns. “I promise you this is not going to have a happy ending the way we’re doing it.” (That’s pretty much the case no matter how they do it, but maybe I’m just quibbling.) Ashley says she won’t be able to move on until she talks to Bentley to ask him “a few simple questions,” one of which is probably “Do you think I’m pretty?” Harrison, truly the MacGyver of romance, says he’s going to do everything he can to make “something happen,” and then sends Ashley on her way to break one poor sap’s heart. In a not-so-shocking development, Ashley sends Nick home, which is too bad because I never did figure out if it was a soul patch or a birthmark. (I don’t know — I’m going to go with soul patch. What do you think, rose lovers?)
And lo, though we were led to believe last week that Bentley would make a surprise return tonight, in fact we have to wait yet another week for the Bachelorette’s reunion with King Douchebag in Hong Kong. That’s the bad news. The good news is, when the guys find out they drop the “I’m here to find love” crap and hose Ashley down with a torrent of testosterone-y anger — which, of course, makes her cry. Now that is worth waiting for.
So, rose lovers, what say you? Were you sad to see Nick, Ben C. or William go? Can anyone beat JP in the race for Ashley’s heart and hand? And how annoyed are you about the Bentley bait-and-switch? (Speaking of Bentley, did anyone see his ex-wife and daughter Cozy on Access Hollywood Live? If so, can I interest you in some ridiculous baby headbands?) Put in your mouth guard and let’s talk Bachelorette!