The Bachelorette Recap: Punched. Drunk. Love?

On Monday night, ABC aired a very special crossover episode combining The Bachelorette: Extreme Insecurities Edition and the ABC News hidden-camera series What Would You Do?, in which ordinary people are confronted with ethical dilemmas to see how they react.

Producers sent human self-esteem issue Ashley and eight of her suitors to a Muay Thai boxing camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where the guys underwent an hour or so of training, donned colorful silk shorts, and headed into the ring to pummel the living famewhore out of one another. Ames, by virtue of his Ivy League degree, pleasant temperament, and ability to correctly use the word “saffron” in a sentence, was immediately marked as someone who needed to be brutalized until his brain function was brought down to the level of everyone else in the room. Ryan P, on the other hand, proved he already had cerebral issues (or that he’s a robot programmed to smile pretty and spout mindless platitudes) by describing the date as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience I’ll never forget.”

Still, for all of Ames’ intelligence, not even he had the courage or common sense to take Ashley aside and say something along the lines of, “Y’know, after a mere afternoon of training — during which time I was knocked to the floor by a stationary punching bag — I think I’m going to take a pass on the whole ‘getting thrashed about the face and torso’ festivities.” Nope, Ames (who got stuck with the bright pink boxing duds) took his punches from Ryan P, and wound up receiving a scenic ambulance tour of Chiang Mai, getting diagnosed with a mild concussion, then returning for an evening cocktail reception where his attempt to converse with Ashley devolved into a wilted word salad.

A few other random thoughts that passed through my head during the group date: “Wait, Ashley’s not going to ride with Ames to the hospital?” “Would somebody get that poor dude some clothes?” “How did Ashley keep a straight face when she said to the guys at the afterparty, ‘I don’t want to know what it’s like to get hit.'” “Wait, Ames isn’t drinking champagne while he has a concussion, is he?” “How did Blake score the date rose after his tepid ‘love is a marathon, not a sprint’ speech?” “Why does Lucas’ golf lesson seem more like an audition for the upcoming ‘Fantasy Suite’ episode?” “Why didn’t God open up a hole in the Earth’s surface and swallow Nick whole after he used the expression ‘take our relationship to the next level’?”

Aside from the horrific group date — again, I still can’t fathom that eight out of eight men bought in to the whole “I’m gonna take a beating like a man” philosophy — Ashley also embarked on a one-on-one date and a two-on-one date during her Chiang Mai tour.

* The individual date with Ben F — with stops at a street market and some breathtaking temple ruins  — was sullied by the couple’s infantile “mind kissing” outside the latter location. To his credit, Ben F came off as sweet and mature — and his discussion of working to transform himself from the “emotional zombie” he became after his dad’s death showed he’s actually achieved a certain level of self-awareness — but I couldn’t help but feel like Ashley’s mind was elsewhere, as if Ben F simply seemed too stable and grown-up for her tastes. During their dinner, I had fun filling in the invisible thought bubble floating above Ashley’s head. Sample text: “Why isn’t he sticking his tongue down my throat while simultaneously texting the flight attendant he met on the way to Chiang Mai?”

* Ashley’s two-on-one date began as a battle between the disinterested vacationer and the TV star wannabe, and ended in a much darker place. Ashley quickly sent Ben C packing after William tattled that he’d once heard his rival mention his desire to register for online dating sites when he got back to the U.S. (Anyone else chuckle at William telling Ashley he wasn’t trying to throw Ben C under the bus as he simultaneously ground the guy into the pavement underneath said bus’s tires?) Ashley then took William to dinner, where his confession about wanting to live life as “a 30-year-old boy” led to his ouster as well. Suddenly, we had William confessionalizing about the unimaginable fate of living life outside the glare of the TV cameras: “Oh my God. Feelings of being a loser. Looking in the mirror and not being satisfied with yourself. I am the world’s biggest f****** jackass.” And then, “I leave here, I go back to nothing.” And finally, “I just want to curl up in a bed and not wake up.” Here’s hoping ABC sprang for some therapy time for the ousted bachelor before discussing whether he’d make a good cast member for the summer run of Bachelor Pad.

* Speaking of therapy bills, when Ashley finds herself needing comfort, she thinks of Bentley? I could wax incredulous about our heroine taking 20 minutes to coyly tell Chris Harrison she wanted to talk to the skeeviest creep in Bachelorette history, but since it looks like next week’s episode is all about Cozi’s dad, I’m gonna save my bile for then.

* Burning Question of the Week: Two episodes in Thailand and not a single comment on the awesomeness of the local cuisine? As someone who’s been to Chiang Mai (and Bangkok)  I can say there is either something seriously wrong with these people’s taste buds or the ABC catering department.

* Loser of the Week: Ryan P — who looks more and more like Glee‘s Mr. Schue to me every week — for acting like a complete d-bag to the porter who came to pick up William’s luggage.

* Winner of the Week: Constantine, who admitted to Ashley that he “naturally” felt closer to some of the guys in the house than he did with her. Finally, someone willing to say out loud that it takes more than a single one-on-one date to determine whether or not you’re ready for a walk down the aisle. Here’s hoping the Bachelorette producers don’t find a way to beat the dude senseless on next week’s show.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Were you grossed out or amused by the boxing date? Is anyone else passing the point of exhaustion with Ashley’s insecurities? Enough so that you’re considering not watching the rest of the season? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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