Common decency, romantic chivalry, and even (brace yourselves) intelligence made all-too-rare appearances on Monday night’s installment of The Bachelorette. Oh, not to worry, Ashley The Dentist’s self-esteem is still lodged tragically in the septic tank of the Los Angeles mansion where her love affair with Bentley emitted its final death rattle, but as our heroine’s “journey” took her (and her remaining suitors) to Phuket, Thailand, a few decent guys actually got some screen time.
Things started out not so promisingly, with Ashley saying she was still holding onto the “relationship” she had with Bentley — which would be the equivalent of me clutching a losing MegaMillions ticket and calling it my lost pension plan. But the contractually binding show must go on, and so Ashley hit up the concierge at her resort to inquire about the best way to entertain 12 men at a time. (Insert your own off-color joke here.)
The smarminess ended there, however, as both of the week’s one-on-one dates turned out to be chaste, sweet, and not entirely soul-crushing. At the start of Date No. 1, a Thai-speaking skipper used the international symbol for “boat sinking in giant waves” to put the kibosh on Ashley’s plan to take Constantine out on the high seas. Thus, the duo retreated to a quiet row of shops and acted like normal tourists, trying on hats, sipping beers, and grilling elderly, non-English-speaking shopkeeps about the secrets to a successful marriage. (Okay, two out of three’s not bad.) Constantine, in his safety-orange shorts and wretched gym-shower sandals, came off like an earnest, floppy-haired Jason Segel (with maybe a hint of Vampire Diaries‘ Steven R. McQueen), which is to say he’s a different kind of cute than the hermetically buffed, waxed, and polished Ken Dolls that typically populate the show. I liked that Constantine understands that there’s a difference between getting excited about an exotic, foreign date and getting excited about the person you’re on the date with. And I liked that Ashley used the phrase “sweat like a beast” to describe her own experience in the humid conditions. Things ended with Constantine giving Ashley a piggyback ride through the surf, and our heroine declaring that “hopeless Ashley” might be tuning into “hopeful Ashley.”
Ashley’s second one-on-one was even more remarkable, seeing how her suitor exhibited interests beyond taking “journeys” and waxing poetic about her myriad “qualities.” Indeed, Ames shared with The Dentist that he’d been to 70 countries, and was a two-time veteran of Thailand, having visited once to partake in some mountain climbing, and another time to attend cooking school. I appreciated that Ames and Ashley managed to keep their traps shut as they took a kayak ride though the Phucket’s magnificent islands — Ames declared himself dumbfounded by the awesomeness of it all — and that their lunchtime conversation included a sidebar about having “nerd areas” in their respective apartments. What’s more, Ames proved he’s got a solid vocabulary and a decent sense of self-awareness (throwing out a relationship checklist is “a major evolutionary step,” he reasoned), not to mention an actual sense of humor. Consider the following exchange:
Ashley (perched on the bow of a catamaran): I feel like we’re on the Titanic!
Ames (laughing): Let’s hope not.
I worry Ames has too specific a personality to survive the fill-in-the-blank template of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, but this time around he got a rose, and finished things off with “something a lot more intimate than a kiss.” Hey now, get those minds out of the gutter. Dude was talking about the serious conversations he and Ashley shared regarding what they’d change about their childhoods, what they’re looking for in a prospective spouse, and what kind of an environment they think is ideal for raising kids.
Even this week’s group date (mostly) kept up the non-skeevy vibes, as Ashley and her harem cleaned and painted rooms at the Baan San Fan Orphanage, then played soccer with a group of adorable kids. Ben F endeared himself to Ashley by sullying a wall with a hideous mural that compared poorly to the cave paintings of early man (see image below). Ryan P annoyed the other guys with his “rah rah! I’m in charge!” attitude. And JP rebuked our attention-seeking heroine with a “not now, we’re working” brushoff. (JP made up for it later, at a post-orphanage swimsuit party, by giving Ashley a full teeth-cleaning with his tongue underneath a massive umbrella, mere minutes after she’d shared her first kiss with Ben F.)
By episode’s end, Ashley had not only uttered Bentley’s name 247 times, but she’d also decided she wanted to make sure she was giving all of her suitors a real chance. Well, all of them except one. When Ashley asked Chris Harrison if she could add an extra flower to the rose ceremony — thereby cutting only one guy, not two — I was sure she was setting up William for a vicious takedown after he’d called her flat-chested and used during last week’s roast. But alas, Ashley decided she’d had enough of widower West and the idea of trying to fill his late wife’s shoes. Way to kick a guy while he’s down, Bachelorette!
What did you think of this week’s episode? Should we start a drinking game next week where we take a shot every time Ashley utters Bentley’s name, or would that be too dangerous? And did you find yourself impressed with Constantine and Ames? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!