The "ladies" grapple with the Fantasy Suite invite (don't worry -- all the Bachelor wants to do is "talk") and Sean sends a front-runner home
Gather ’round, rose lovers. It’s time we had The Talk. You see, when three women love a man very, very much, they allow a camera crew to follow them to a magical place called the “Fantasy Suite,” where they’ll give away just enough milk to keep the man interested without quashing his desire to buy the cow. Make sense? Great, let’s watch how it unfolds this year.
This leg of Sean’s “journey” opens with a gorgeous aerial shot of Si Kao, Thailand, where the Bachelor has traveled to meet his Final Three: Catherine, who’s “very funny,” “sweet,” and “a little weird, nerdy and goofy,” which Sean likes because, as he puts it, “I need more silly in my life.” Then there’s AshLee, who has “all of these Amazing Qualities that any man would want in a wife,” and is “so giving and caring” and “open and honest.” But what about Lindsay? “I almost sent her home the first night,” recalls Sean. “I thought Lindsay could be crazy — and not a good crazy.” But then she cut back on the booze and the Bachelor realized that Lindsay is “so loving, caring, generous, supportive, hilarious” and “seems to never have a bad day.”
Man, they all sound perfect! What’s a born-again virgin to do? Why, take those three “ladies” to a fancy hotel for some “alone time” in the Fantasy Suite of course! First up is Lindsay, who is anxious to let Sean know that in the days since she last saw him, she’s gone from “falling in love” to “in love” with him. Hop in the motorized pedicab, you guys, and hit the local market. Those brightly painted little chicks and mystery fruits on a stick are waiting for you! Despite the exotic surroundings, both Sean and Lindsay agree it’s the closest they’ve come to a regular date this whole time. “If we end up together,” explains Lindsay, “our normal vacations will be just like this.”
Complete with Survivor-style challenges, it seems: The Bachelor leads Lindsay to a food stall that’s serving up fried insects and larvae and other assorted local delicacies. “On the way over here, Lindsay said, ‘I’ll try anything but I will not eat bugs’ — so, we’ll see,” reveals Sean, who views this exercise in culinary sadism as yet another “test” for his potential bride. Rather than telling the Bachelor to shove his Wife Exams where the sun don’t shine, Lindsay gamely downs two bugs. She’s more woman than I am, clearly; I’d rather rappel down a skyscraper submerged in freezing cold water while wearing roller skates than put a larvae (cooked or otherwise) in my mouth.
With the grotesqueries out of the way, the duo head to the beach, where Lindsay tries to drop the l-bomb but can’t quite bring herself to do it — even after Sean declares, “You’re the best friend that I’ve been looking for.” Say it, squeaky! Say it! No? You’re just gonna make out with him instead? Okay. The monkeys at Yong Ling Beach don’t care if you wuss out — as long as you keep the grapes coming.
NEXT: AshLee details her ideal ring for Sean
At dinner — which takes place in front of some spectacularly colorful Thai temple parade floats — Lindsay continues to struggle with declaring her love, though she does manage to declare her willingness to relocate to Dallas: “I’d be willing to just move whenever,” she says. “I’m just so excited for our life to start.” And just as she’s about to muster up the courage, a parade of resplendently-garbed women with some truly glamorous manicures arrive to perform the traditional Thai Fingernail Dance. It would have been so fantastic if one of the dancers had presented Lindsay with the Fantasy Suite card speared on the end of her magnificent talons, but instead Sean just whips the card out from somewhere under the table. Naturally Lindsay says yes, and once they’re sitting on the king-sized bed next to the tray of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, Lindsay finally spits it out: “There is something that I do want to tell you,” she begins in that awful baby voice. “I love you.” Maestro, cue the orchestra — and Team Bachelor, get the hell out. Goodnight, Thailand!
The next morning, a refreshed-looking Sean meets AshLee at the docks for their start of their trial run. There’s no mystery as to how AshLee’s feeling — as Sean reminds us, she told him “a number of times” that she loves him — so now he just wants to know if AshLee can do things other than say I love you. Things “outside of her comfort zone.” Like, for example, swimming through a “deep, dark” cave to get to a private beach. “I want my wife to be able to trust me in certain situations,” explains the Bachelor. What is it with this guy and his effing tests? First Lindsay says she doesn’t want to eat bugs… so he makes her eat bugs. And now he’s all, Hey AshLee, you have a fear of abandonment, right? Okay, well I’m going to need you to follow me through this dark, wet, birth canal-like tunnel so I can see if you’ll be able to make it through without getting lost/losing it.
Eventually they make it through, of course, and Sean feels good because he loves to be AshLee’s “protector,” and AshLee feels good because, well, she’s kind of obsessed with Sean. “I don’t feel like there are two human beings that belong together more than him and I,” she gushes. (I don’t know, maybe Strunk and White?) That doesn’t mean AshLee’s all gung ho to head to the Fantasy Suite, though. “I’m not willing to morally put myself out there, and he’s doing the same with the other girls,” she explains. So when Sean whips out the envelope, AshLee reads the card and struggles for a response. “Um…” But the born again virgin comes to the rescue, assuring her that all he wants is to “talk.” And she LOVES it: “I know where you stand, and you know where I stand so, um, yeah.” Once in the Suite, they do just keep talking; Sean tells AshLee that he was confident from the beginning that “this was going to work out,” and AshLee tells Sean that she wants a “cushion ring with diamonds all the way around the band” in a size 6 ½. Oh god, isn’t it bad luck to tell the man you’re sharing with two other women exactly what kind of ring you want before he decides if he’s going to propose? I fear AshLee may have just made a fatal mistake.
NEXT: “You’re such a hunk!”
Hey Sean, remember that time you stood on Ao Nang Beach and pretended not to notice Catherine running up behind you with crazy eyes? That was awesome. Yes, it’s the final date of the episode, and it begins with Sean and Catherine boarding a boat for a scenic trip around the islands. “As I’ve been away from Catherine I’ve realized how much I miss her,” says the Bachelor. “But I left our hometown date thinking do we have the same life goals? Do we want to live our lives the same way?” (Meaning: Does she want to fit her life completely into his?)
As they cruise through the turquoise water, Sean tries to tackle these questions head on. “Do you think you could come to Dallas and… In this environment, it’s so easy to get swept away with everything,” says Sean. “But, like, when all the cameras go away, it’s just going to be you and me.” Oh sure, says Catherine. I’m totally over Seattle — and the farther I can get from my bitch sisters the better. You see, Catherine wasn’t actually ready to settle down until she thought she was ready to settle down and then realized she was wrong about being ready. Or something. And he LOVES it. “Catherine put my mind at ease about being ready to settle down,” says the Bachelor, who apparently doesn’t mind that she almost never makes eye contact with him when they’re talking.
Dinner proceeds apace, with neither of them touching their food. Before Sean can even pull out the Fantasy Suite card, however, his date launches into a long explanation of how she arrived on The Bachelor convinced that she would never accept an invitation to that den of sin because she wants to be seen as a “lady” (actual quote)… but then she spent the past week at home thinking about how quickly she’d torpedo her chances for the final rose if she was the only woman who didn’t give it up, so yeah, let’s do this.
“You’re such a hunk!” declares Catherine, after the duo has retreated to the Suite. “I never thought that I would be able to be with somebody like that.” Despite being gorgeous, Catherine has a pretty negative body image thanks to years of teasing (from her sisters?) about being “chubby” and eating too much. “I’ve honestly never been in a bathing suit more times in my life than I have with you,” she admits to the Bachelor, who insists that she’s “smokin’ hot.” Next up? More bathing suit time, of course, as Catherine and Sean smooch and giggle in the pool by candlelight.
(Then there’s a commercial for Oz, hosted by Chris Harrison and three well-dressed hostages at Casa Bachelor who bear a striking resemblance to Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz.)
The next morning, Shirtless Towel-Wrapped Sean ruminates on who he’s going to send home while fixing his hair in the bathroom mirror. “I know how special she is, and I know how much she brings to the table,” he says. “It just so happens that my other two relationships are stronger.” Before he pulls the trigger, though, he sits down for a debrief with Harrison, who kindly reminds Sean that this was the week he got the boot on The Bachelorette. “When I was standing there in Curacao at the rose ceremony, I was blindsided,” recalls the Bachelor. “I know she’s about to experience the same thing, and unfortunately there’s nothing I can do about it.”
NEXT: “She didn’t say goodbye to us!”
In other words, it’s all over but the crying. Oh, and the “private, personal video messages.” Are you ready to play Guess Which “Lady” is Getting the Boot Based on the Bachelor’s Facial Expressions While Watching the Videos? Lindsay’s up first, and based on the goofy grin plastered on Sean’s face the whole time — even when she says, “I met you in a wedding dress, and maybe soon I will be wearing one again for you” — it seems like she’s safe. There’s more of a poignant, sentimental smile on Sean’s face during Catherine’s message — though he does look he might cry or puke when she talks about how “comfortable” he was with her family. As for AshLee, well, Sean’s smile looks a little more strained during her video… and it doesn’t help that AshLee can’t get through her speech without breaking down in tears. (You couldn’t have smoothed that out in the editing room, Team Bachelor? Clearly the other two “ladies” got some forgiving edits.) By the time AshLee utters the heart-wrenching declaration “Because of who you are to me, I know that I am no longer broken,” Sean is choking back tears.
Arrrrgh, stop with the “it kills me inside” preamble and just get on with it, mister! The first rose goes to Lindsay (the video message test never lies!), and — 68 long seconds and a few ominous rumbles of thunder later — Sean gives the second rose to Catherine. As soon as the word is out of his mouth, you can see AshLee’s emotional shields return to their upright and locked position, and her icy gaze practically causes Sean to wet himself. AshLee stalks out of the room with nary a word to her competitors (“She’s pissed,” offers Lindsay helpfully) and practically stiff-arms Sean on her way to the Reject SUV. “Can I just explain myself, please?” pleads the Bachelor, who proceeds to offer no explanation at all: “I thought it was you from the very beginning. I felt like our relationship was… there was a lot of intensity there. And this was honestly the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make. I think the world of you… I hope you know where I’m coming from.”
Rather than answer, AshLee just fixes Sean in her terrifying death-glare before muttering “Whatever” under her breath and climbing as gracefully as possible into the back seat. Sean retreats to the Pity Bench alone, where he hangs his head in shame, in full view of his final two “ladies.” And poor AshLee manages to hold it together for quite awhile in the Reject SUV, and when she does start to sob, she turns her back to the camera rather than give Team Bachelor their money shot. Hang in there, honey.
Two. Episodes. Left. Can you believe it, rose lovers? Before we move on to the mindless beauty that is The Women Tell All, let me know how you’re feeling after tonight’s “journey.” Did AshLee’s ouster surprise you? (I probably should have known something was amiss back on the beach when Sean told her “I admire you for so many reasons” — that’s something you say to your grandma… not the woman you want to
get freaky have a conversation with in the Fantasy Suite.) Is Lindsay the one to beat? And seriously, what does Catherine have against eye contact? Post your thoughts now! And be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s blog over on PopWatch when you’re done. If you need me, I’ll be reconsidering my opposition to the “AshLee for Bachelorette” idea.
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