Here’s what we learned in the first few minutes of The Bachelorette (and I’m not talking about the lengthy recap they always make us sit through, just in case we fell asleep at the end of the previous week’s episode [likely] and forgot what the show was about): Fiji is amazing. FIJI stands for “Fuck, It’s Just Incredible.” That should be the new motto of their tourism board. I’ll expect a free trip as compensation for coming up with that gem.
It’s nice to remember that places like this exist when you live in a place where the neighbors leave a dead possum in a box outside of your apartment building.
Anyway… happiness, rainbows, water that sparkles like sapphires, lush emerald jungles. Ashley proclaims it: “the ultimate place to fall in love, hopefully get engaged, and find my true love here.” Maybe not in that order, though. She also says it’s the most beautiful place that she has “ever imagined.” Good news, girl — it’s for real.
Ashley arrives on Savusavu Island wearing a kabuki mask, a tiny outfit that she got in the Barbie section at Target, and her usual ridiculously high shoes (we find out in the outtake at the end of the show that her penchant for these shoes has led to quite the set of bunions, which Ben rightfully refuses to kiss). She squints her heavily made-up eyes at the ocean and thinks about each of her mens.
“Makeup too heavy to open my eyes all the way…”
She first started to fall for Ben on the group date at the orphanage in Thailand. Because there’s nothing sexier than being around dozens of children who lost both their entire families in one natural disaster. Ashley thinks Ben is goofy and silly and fun and playful, but also sincere and honest.
She had her eye on Constantine the moment he stepped out of the limo because he’s so physically attractive. Pause. Really. He’s a good-looking guy, but is he so much better looking than all of the other guys? He looks just like Ben, only taller. Not knocking her preferences… just sincerely wondering why she keeps mentioning how hot he is. Anyway. Constantine is mature and smart, thoughtful and honest. Their relationship is moving very slowly, but she’s convinced herself that this is a good thing. Being positive is a great attribute. Being delusional — not so much.
When she first saw JP, Ashley thought he looked like a male model. She loved his smile first. She later found out that he’s sincere, a grown man, and knows what he wants. She recalls their post-Bentley date, when she used him as a shoulder to cry on when the man who hated her with the passion of a thousand hot sons walked out on her. Because all good relationships start with the woman in pajamas, her eyes bloodshot and glassy, her heart in a million pieces, her mind completely lost…
So this week in Fiji is super important because it’s the week for overnight dates and will be the first time the daters have had any alone time with one another ever. That’s kind of weird when you stop and think about the fact that they’ve known each other for a couple of months now….
She’s sitting in her hotel room, writing in her diary [Dear Diary, I tried calling Bentley again, but his cell phone went to voicemail after two rings. I somehow got unfriended from him on Facebook, so I had to make up a whole new profile using the name of a girl I went to dental school with and a picture of Emily. Do you think he'll get the joke when I tell him? It's going to be so funny! Oh Diary, I can't wait to see him again! The plaid shirt I stole from his suitcase is starting to lose its Bent-scent and I'm going to need another one soon....].
So she’s writing in her diary and grooming herself when there’s a knock at the door. She opens it and is genuinely shocked to see Ryan standing there.
Ashley hugs Ryan and they sit down. Here’s your big chance, Ryan. You flew halfway around the world to see her — what do you have to say? Crickets. Ryan was clearly thinking he’d fly by the seat of his pants with his whole you-dumped-me-but-I-think-I-deserve-a-second-chance speech. He tells her that their only one-on-one date — which consisted of taichi and a trip to a temple — wasn’t conducive to passion. Look dude, ya’ll prayed to the love god at that temple. If this guy isn’t conducive to passion, nothing is:
Anyway, Ryan says he went back home and started working again but realized that working is for suckers, reality TV is where it’s at, so he rang up Chris H. and told Papa Chris he wanted a ticket to paradise! So here he is! Didn’t she feel something when he stepped out of the limo? Didn’t they almost have it all?!
He shushes Ash before she can speak, slipping her the address of where he’s staying in Fiji and telling her to think about it and get back to him. So. I kind of want to know if he flew himself or if the show flew him over there. This is important information. FUTURE BACHELOR SPOILER ALERT: rumor has it that Ry-ry’s the next Bachelor. Could this have been a stunt by the producers to amp up the drama for his season? Poor Ashley. Always the pawn in someone’s attention-seeking game…
Ashley’s first date of the night is with Ben F. Because it’s The Bachelorette and the rules state that all forms of transportation must be used, the date will be held on a yacht. They climb aboard and put tropical flowers behind their ears and have delicious drinks in pineapples. Sigh.
They recap their hometown date and talk about how nervous they both were. Ben tells Ashley that he got a “good feeling” from his mother and sister about the visit. Strange. Did he not bother asking them “hey, what did you think about the girl I brought over the other day? You know, the one who came for dinner with the three camera crews.” I feel like he would have discussed that whole experience with them, but who knows. Perhaps they’re not a communicative family. Or. They just didn’t like her. My money’s on the latter.
As the yacht moves along, Ben and Ashley lotion one another up and flirt and I suppose this could have been sexy… but it just seemed pretty awkward. It was like watching a couple of 13-year-olds flirt. Like they sort of look like grown-ups, but they don’t quite act like adults so it’s all a little squicky. Ashley says it feels like they’re on their honeymoon. The child bride and her emotionally stunted husband.
After some snorkeling and more beauty shots that irritate me because I’m sitting in a hot, humid, hazy city with no crystal clear waters and no pineapple drinks (I want my drinks in a goddamn pineapple! Is that too much to ask??), they get changed and go to dinner. Ben is rocking a see-through sweater and Ashley says he looks like a stud. Sigh. They’re playacting, right? This is all pretend. They’re in a romantic setting so they’re going to pretend they’re romantically interested in one another. The environmental cues have tricked Ben into thinking that he’s in love with Ashley and he confesses to the camera and to us that he’s ready to tell her that tonight.
And yet. He does not. They have one of those boring conversations about feelings and emotions and what comes next after the show ends. Oh! And you know what? Ashley went through an entire scene without wearing any makeups! This is a big deal. I’m kind of proud of her… she’s had so much eye makeup gunked on all season that I was starting to get worried about her vision. I bet she’s got super strong eyelids now, though. They have to continue to blink even with the weight of the false lashes, the glue, the foundation, the glitter and what not… And she looked just as good without the makeup as with the makeup. I bet Emily couldn’t pull that off…
Anyway, blah blah blah, long story short, Ben doesn’t tell Ashley that he loves her, but she does give him a key to her fantasy suite and a card from Chris H. that says “slip this long, firm key into Ashley’s lock to open up the fantasy suite.” Or something similar to that. All I know is that every Bachelor “fantasy suite” around the world has the same old-fashioned looking key, so clearly it’s supposed to be euphemistic. Either that, or Fiji has not embraced the modern convenience that is the magnetic key card, which can easily be slipped into a wallet or bra.
Ben agrees to spend the night in the fantasy suite with Ashley and it is all sort of amazing. There’s a pool (a pool!) in the bedroom! I know what you’re saying: GTFO! But it’s true! I saw it. I saw Ashley and Ben swim in it. And then Ben picked Ashley up in his arms and walked out of the pool… and…. dissolve. Ashley interviews to the camera (in full makeup — but with the same outfit from dinner) that she knows that Ben has strong feelings for her and her feelings are as strong as she’s ever had for him and she’s falling in love.
Ashley’s second date is with Constantine. One of the first things he says to her when they meet up in the jungle is how badly he wants a haircut because he’s growing a Euro-mullet. Signs that a date is about to go really well: one party talks about their grooming right off the bat. Ashley’s anxious about this date because she says it’s going to be critical to finding out if Constantine is willing to fall in love with her.
The mode of transportation for this date is a helicopter, and Constantine is very excited because he’s never been on one before. He should have known that if there’s one thing you’re guaranteed of getting on The Bachelor/ette, it’s a chopper ride. They fly over the gorgeous islands and blue water and craggy reefs and Ashley says: “I have a Greek god to my left and the crystal blue waters below me…. I cannot picture a more perfect date.”
How about doing all of that with someone who actually likes you? Doesn’t that sound like an even better date?
OK, now clearly, this was an editing trick, but as they’re flying overhead, we see Ryan standing on the beach looking up at the sky forlornly. He bends down and starts poking around in the mud and the whole scene is just sad and silly. While Ashley’s off gallivanting about in a helicopter, Ryan has supposedly been lurking around the caves of Fiji awaiting her decision.
Ashley and Constantine end up at a waterfall and go cliff jumping and swim around before sitting down to a picnic of exotic fruits. Constantine says that he missed Ashley after the hometown date. She wants to know where their relationship is headed and not-so-subtly asks him how many houses he looked at before he committed to buying his. 108, he says. Ashley gives him a look. Houses and women are not the same, he protests. Yes, Ashley says, but you really think things through before you make a decision.
Caution is my middle name!
She tells him how much she likes him and points out that they don’t have a lot of time left. I hope things take off today and tonight. They look at one another blankly. Then Constantine shrugs and smiles. Later at dinner they talk about Ben, which is not a good sign. Finally Constantine admits that he hasn’t been able to connect with her and that he can’t accept a fantasy suite invite from her.
Where does this leave us? Ashley wants to know. I’m peacing out, says Constantine. She stares at him until he gets up and hugs her goodbye and walks out, leaving her alone, without about eight different cocktails and a fantasy suite key. Good riddance, I say. There was not chemistry between them. Well-played, though. He got a trip to Fiji and a helicopter ride out of it all and he got out before she forced him into her fantasy lair. And you know there wouldn’t have been any sexin’. It just would have been cuddling in bed with talk about emotions and positive affirmations.
You gotta kiss a lot of horny toads to find your horny prince.
The next day Ashley heads over to Ryan’s to tell him that while he’s good on paper, kicking him to the curb was the best decision she could have made at the time because she doesn’t feel any passion for him. He says he’s happy for her but had envisioned a different ending to their story. My life’s great but it’s missing real love, he says. His heart is open and ready for the right person to come along… on the next season of The Bachelor probably. Anyway, he stands around trying to look lonely and heartbroken and the sea spews angrily behind him because nature is pissed off by this charade they’re going through right now.
Not looking too heartbroken for someone who got dumped twice.
After donning a crazy-looking top that causes a pain behind my right eyeball, Ashley meets up with JP. They are taking a seaplane someplace “romantic, fun and adventuresome.” They fly to a tiny island that they have to themselves and stand on the beach recapping their hometown date. JP’s dad said that Ashley would be a welcome addition to the family.
They talk about living in the moment and not letting the fact that she’s dating other men ruin it. Ashley says that they have something special that could last a lifetime. Later, they go to dinner in the middle of the jungle — Ashley wears some ridiculous shoes, of course — and she tells JP that she got rid of two guys this week… because Ryan weaseled his way back in and Constantine left of his own volition. So… not exactly, but this is her show so she gets to spin what happened anyway she wants to.
JP is so relieved that Bentley didn’t reappear that he doesn’t freak out and he has to reassure her that he wants to be the last guy standing because he wants her… not just because he wants to beat Ben at the game. She gives him a fantasy suite card and he accepts and they go to the suite and have sexy awkward times, making out on the bed.
Looks super comfortable…
The next day is rainy and Chris Harrison is there — two sure signs of the end times — and Ashley dishes about her dates. Ben’s perfect. What she feels for JP is indescribable. She doesn’t really get why Constantine left. It was harder to say goodbye to Ryan because he’s such a good guy.
So, why did you pull me away from the bar to have a rose ceremony when there are only two guys left and you’re keeping them both, Chris wants to know. Ashley wants to go through with the rose ceremony because she needs the guys to accept the roses. I think, for Ashley, the roses represent some sort of morally binding contract. It’s the only way to ensure that this won’t end in heartbreak for her.
“My lawyers tell me that the acceptance of this rose indicates an implicit agreement to love me, cherish me, and make me full good about myself at all times.”
So she offers Ben a rose and he accepts. And she offers JP a rose and he accepts. And they all gird themselves for the finale — which will provide lots of drama, a fabulous dress, beautiful scenery, and a possible proposal.
One stays, one goes; They sold their souls, for a single rose.