Ashley's hometown dates bring pizza, roller skating, and picnics, and one not-so-shocking elimination.

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated July 19, 2011 at 05:03 AM EDT
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  • ABC
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Welcome home, rose lovers! Won’t you have some coffee with Ashley here in her tidy single-lady apartment? Settle in, because she feels like reminiscing about her “journey” with the Final Four. Ben F., for example, “is a real guy, no question.” (Which, let’s face it, we can’t necessarily say about two of the other three.) Constantine is “exactly what I look for physically in a man.” Ames is “unique” — so much so that she says it twice. And then there’s JP, who has “a lot of resilience.” Who will get the boot? Let the hometown dates commence!

So Ashley packs up her little black suitcase and leaves her fluffy little dog in charge of the apartment, and heads off to Sonoma, California, home of sheep, wine, and of course Ben F. He greets her at his winery, where he pours her some Bordeaux from a giant cask and arranges a picnic in the rain. Ben tells Ashley that he’s only ever brought one woman home to meet his mom, and reiterates that his father’s passing has put him in touch with “the emotional Ben,” which gives him more “freedom of expression.” He certainly feels free enough to tell Ashley point blank “they have to like you,” because “otherwise it just doesn’t work for me.” Way to lay it on the line, wine guy!

Eventually the skies clear, and Ashley and Ben arrive at his mom Barbara’s cute and cozy abode. His sister Julia reveals that she was the one who signed brother Ben up for The Bachelorette, and she intends to have a big say in his romantic future. “I love my brother,” explains Julia. “He’s dated girls but they haven’t really stuck around for too long, and I haven’t necessarily liked some of them. I’m actually more protective over him than you may think.” Consider yourself warned, bitch! But Ben assures his sis that his “relationship” with Ashley is “effortless,” and that he’s “really into it.” Mom is understandably a bit wary, but of course supportive of her long-haired son. And how could she not be, after Ben pours out his heart to her about the loss of his father: “The first couple years after Dad died, I should have been a better son, and I should have done things differently,” he admits. “I have regrets about those things… I should have been there more in the beginning.” Mom assures him that he’s forgiven, and that Dad, wherever he may be, is proud of him. This reduces Ben (and me) to tears. “My Dad’s always with me,” he says, welling up. “I know that he’s proud of me, my mom told me… I miss him.” Godammit I hate when this asinine show makes me cry! And with that, the visit is over. No one-on-one chats with Ashley and Julia, nor did the Bachelorette get much time with Mom. A bad sign, or simply a boring visit? Only time will tell.

The next stop on our “journey” is the somewhat unfortunately named Cumming, Georgia, where Constantine is hanging out with a goose mommy and her babies by a lake, waiting for Ashley. He quickly whisks her off to his very own Italian restaurant, Giorgio’s, where he tutors her in the art of making a pizza and arranging tomato slices on a pile of romaine lettuce. They dine al fresco, as the Giorgio’s waitresses spy on them through the window, oohing and ahhing at the cute couple.

NEXT: The full Ames

Time to meet the parents! Constantine’s clan seems far more excited to be on camera than Ben’s more-reserved family was—but maybe it’s because they’re Greek, and the Greeks are a boisterous people. Dad Dimitri is a salesman, telling Ashley, “My son Dimitri is very good with kids,” but Mama Eleni has a more realistic view. “I want my son to find the love of his life,” she says, “but I think that they need more time. Everything’s wonderful when you’re jetted away to these awesome places… but in the real world it’s different.” So she cuts right to the chase and asks Ashley if she’d be willing to relocate to the (somewhat unfortunately named) Cumming, Georgia. While I think the real answer is hell-to-the-no, Ashley does the “I just want my partner to be happy” tap dance, and Mama is sufficiently appeased. Papa Dimitri, who may be the most adorable parent in Bachelor/Bachelorette history, just wants his boy to be happy. “I don’t want you to be rushed to anything,” he tells Constantine. “Have mom and I as an example. We’ve been married for 32 years, and we’ve had our ups and downs… But at the beginning it should be perfect. That’s what love is all about.” Awwwwwwwww! And just as Ashley thinks the night is over, the front door opens and a tide of Greek relatives floods into the living room, carrying wine and children and hooting for joy. And now is the time on The Bachelorette when we dance. Opa!

Ok, Ames, you have a very tough family act to follow. I hope you and Chadds Ford, PA (oh my God and I thought this guy couldn’t get any whiter) have what it takes to sweep Ashley off her feet. Ames, whose head seems to have changed shape yet again, reunites with the Bachelorette on a bucolic country estate and leads her right into the middle of a Tommy Hilfiger catalog shoot… Oh, wait… I’m sorry, it’s actually a family gathering, filled with plaid-and-madras clad WASPs who greet Ashley with as much chilly East Coast warmth as they can muster. (I’m born and bred in Massachusetts, so I can say this stuff.) Listen to this outpouring of emotion from Mumsy: “I’m pleased to say that Ames looks terrific. He looks healthy, he looks happy. Clearly she’s caught his attention in a very serious way, and I think he’s very taken.”

Sister Serena takes up the protective role, grilling Ashley as to how she feels about Ames (answer: “He thinks about things. He’s a man.”) and the process itself (“So, at the end of this you want to be engaged?” marvels sis). But then the conversation takes a sad turn, as Serena reveals that Ames’ father died when he was 10, and his stepdad also passed away from cancer. Not surprisingly, this is all news to Ashley — after all, there’s no time on exotically romantic fantasy dates to discuss anything besides “journeys” and “feelings” and how “amazing” things are. To be honest, though, on the scale of one to “amazing,” Ashley’s feelings for Ames are still in the single digits. “I want to feel [that passion] with Ames so bad,” she laments. “Will we be able to form that relationship that we need to form, or will we run out of time?” Let’s ask Ames: “She makes me feel fantastic,” he tells his sister. “I have that falling in love feeling.” In light of this news, Serena advises her brother to give Ashley “the full Ames,” which sounds gross but is in fact just her way of saying he needs to “open up” to the Bachelorette more.

NEXT: Ok, that actually looks like a fun date.

Ames wastes no time taking that advice, leading Ashley to a picnic under a magnolia tree, where he immediately starts piling on the flattery. “My mom loves you,” he gushes. “You’re totally her type of person. You are the best fit of anybody I’ve ever brought home.” Then he tries to show a little vulnerability, explaining how he was a bad student in boarding school, in part because he was so nerdy. “I was the, sort of, uh, unpopular guy in the class.” And for his last trick, Ames breaks out a fancy $5 word. “There’s an Italian Renaissance way of being romantic — they call it sprezzatura, which is you try and be as romantic as possible, but like, through your ordinary life.” Actually, the OED defines sprezzatura as “Ease of manner, studied carelessness, nonchalance, especially in art or literature” — but hey, cut Ames some slack. He’s doing his darndest to create a romantic connection with Ashley… and she’s trying to reciprocate, but let’s be honest, these two really don’t have any romantic connection — their kiss was about as platonic as a kiss can get. The date ends with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage driven by two random guys in dandy hunting gear, who may or may not be on Ames’ family’s payroll. We may never know.

Rally, dear rose lovers, because there is still one hometown yet to visit — that of Roslyn, NY, home to cute ducks, flowering trees, and of course JP. The sleep-deprived suitor has a surprise planned for Ashley, one that causes her to let out a long, soul-rending wail — “Noooooooooooooooo-oh-oh!” — at the big reveal. They’re going roller skating! (This outing actually makes me like JP a teeny bit. Like Jape, growing up I too, spent many a birthday party at the roller rink, though my rink of choice was called Cheap Skate.) “I feel like I’m back in seventh grade,” she gushes. “I love it.” After their couples’ skate, JP admits to Ashley that he’s only ever brought four girls home to meet the fam, and the last one was a total disaster that left him emotionally wounded. Not so wounded, though, that he’s not “100 percent” certain about his relationship with Ashley after a mere handful of weeks. (For some reason, that reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Saturday Night Live skits.)

So let’s meet the folks! JP’s parents Eileen and Peter greet the couple warmly with hugs and “positive energy,” and then serve them some truly delicious looking meaty-pasta-cheesy concoction that is quite literally making my mouth water as I type this. “That’s more carbs than I’ve had in six weeks!” jokes JP. (OK, Cupcake. Take it down a notch.) While the family sees that JP is clearly smitten with Ashley, brother Roy is a little concerned — “I guess I was a bit surprised that he seems to have fallen so far so fast” — and Mama thinks her son needs to tap the breaks a bit. “I never want to see your heart broken the way it was broken before,” she tells JP. Needless to say it chagrins her to hear that Jape is fully prepared to propose if he in fact survives the final rose reaping. “If I feel it, yeah. Why not? If I’m in love with her, what’s to stop me from proposing now versus three months from now, six months from now?” Mom’s response — an incredulous silence — prompts Jape to keep digging: “I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I’m open to the possibility that it might…”

NEXT: The Fortunate Four become the Thrilling Three

During her one-on-one, Mom gently tries to get Ashley to admit exactly how much of a trollop she’s been during this whole process: “JP has only you to think about, but you have all these other men that you have had to think about — how do you do that?” Ashley mumbles something about how she’s “just kind of balancing everything” right now, but mom is not going to let her leave the living room without sweetly and politely making it clear that she’ll be very, very upset if her boy comes home brokenhearted. “He looks at you with love in his eyes,” she says, “so I’m nervous.” (Side note: Was the camera man drunk in this scene? What’s with all the commotion in the background?) Naturally, this devolves into a “You’re so sweet” “No you’re so sweet” lovefest, and then out comes the embarrassing Teen Beat poster-size bar mitzvah portrait of JP, rocking a mullet and an ’80s sitcom sidekick smirk. And Ashley LOVES it. JP knows the visit has gone well, and of course he assumes that he’ll be the last man standing. “For some reason I can’t sit here and say I am in love with Ashley — yet,” he explains. “Maybe when I am one of the last two, maybe then I’ll be strong enough to say it.” (Emphasis his.)

Oh, Casa Bachelorette, how we’ve missed your ornate McMansion elegance! Ashley arrives via limo (naturally) and sits down for a pre-rose ceremony debrief with Chris Harrison, where she laughs off her former fixation on Bentley. “Who’s that?” But this is no time for levity, because it is time to send one guy packing. Ben gets the first bud, then JP (suck it, JP — you’re not always the frontrunner!), and lastly Constantine — which, frankly, I find confusing seeing as he and Ben are essentially the same person. Why double up? After announcing the final name, Ashley steals a quick glance at Ames, whose expression conveys the following emotions, in order: confusion, amusement, shock, disorientation, and minor seizure. Or maybe that last one was a wink. I couldn’t quite tell. Polite to a fault, he first tries to make the Bachelorette feel better — “I’m lucky to have you in my life” — but then his facade crumbles and he tears up… but just for a second. Then he’s back to being very, very nice: “It’s been totally beautiful, and full of the unexpected, and even more poetic than I would have ever imagined.”

He remains composed in the Reject Limo, where he laments that instead of enjoying “a lifetime of adventures with this beautiful woman, now I’m back to sharing a lifetime of adventures with myself, which is… uh… less enticing. A lot less enticing.” While he doesn’t want to be “rude,” Ames feels shocked about getting the boot. “I hope I find love.” Cheer up, pal. Gee, I wish The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise had some kind of spin-off where you could leave your class and polite pleasantness at the door and spend a summer enjoying depraved sexcapades.

Well rose lovers, what say you? Will you miss Ames and his dazed smile? Is there any way we can hope for a doppelganger final two showdown between Ben and Constantine? And is it me or was Ashley’s rose ceremony dress tonight actually not hideous? Post your comments below, and be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s exclusive blog over on PopWatch. Now toss yourself a nice big salad and let’s talk Bachelorette!

Episode Recaps

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?
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 14
episodes
  • 159
rating
genre
creator
  • Mike Fleiss
network
  • ABC
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