I suspect it was no accident that this week’s episode of The Bachelorette began with our dim heroine Ashley returning home to her Philadelphia apartment and a solitary coffee mug. After all, isn’t the overarching theme of ABC’s reality-dating franchise that any individual left partnerless by season’s end will eventually die alone in a La-Z-Boy recliner, a pack of cats feasting on his or her rigor-mortised hand?
Yes, people, sometimes a mug isn’t just a mug. Sometimes it represents the endless horizon of pain and regret stretching out in front of our star-crossed players, a horizon that asks questions including, but not limited to, the following:“How come I never asked out that cute blonde waitress who works at my big fat Greek Italian restaurant?” “Why did I endure an income-impairing brain injury in a Muay Thai boxing ring?” “What in the name of Satan’s shears did I do to my hair before the latest rose ceremony?” “Why am I carb denier?” And, of course, “Is there an Osmond’s chance in Salt Lake City that Bentley could still be thinking about me?”
I know, I know…I’ve gone too dark and too existential for a Bachelorette recap. But how else to approach the strange and somewhat sad week where Ashley meets and greets the lovely families of her final four suitors, then declares that she’s just not that into one of ’em? And anyhow, next week’s recap is sure to be super-upbeat, since we’ll be delving into the orgy of exotic scenery, creepy envelopes, shared hotel rooms, misinterpreted feelings, and (likely) tears that are essential to the overnight fantasy suite round of play. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. No! We must forge onward and dish this week’s dates, in chronological order!
Look, it’s a goose and her babies waddling through the park! I’m not sure what it symbolizes — maybe the imminent get-together with fine-ass Constantine and his large, loving family? “Physically, he’s exactly what I’m looking for,” says Ashley, stating the obvious, since dude is hot as a pizza over, and since two out of her four remaining men sport dark, shaggy manes and big, powerful builds. Constantine brings Ashley to his restaurant, Giorgio’s, where they proceed to make a pizza and score a rare Bachelorette victory for carbs and cheese. Our restauranteur asks Ashley to add her favorite ingredients to the pie, and she makes a real live funny by miming the act of hurling Constantine right into the middle of the dough. “The placement of the pepperoni is crucial,” he instructs (not a euphemism). Meanwhile, a pack of Giorgio’s waitresses gather ’round and smile while secretly plotting Ashley’s death. My mom (visiting for the week) musters up the courage to say what the waitresses can’t or won’t: “He doesn’t need her!” And soon, we’re at Constantine’s home, where the sound of doubt from his adorable dad (“I think Constantine looks happy?”) and incredibly reasonable mom (“Everything’s wonderful when you’re jetted away to these awesome places…in the real world it’s different”) is drowned out by the sound of raucous Greek dancing from Constantine’s extended family. Yassou! (Or something to that effect!)
Ames trots out through the Pennsylvania forest to greet Ashley, and something weird is going on with his backfield. Is that a t-shirt bunched up below the tails of his plaid lumberjack shirt, or are his boxers rising up in protest above his belt line? Only his stylist knows for sure. Ames’ mom and sister Serena are thrilled to see their boy is “very taken” and “smitten” with Ashley, but they both question if it’s reciprocal. In fact, Serena cuts right to the chase and asks Ashley exactly how she feels about Ames. “I’m not ready to stop learning about him,” Ashley responds feebly, and next thing you know the ladies are comparing the smart, funny suitor to an onion, then lamenting how annoyingly perfect he is. Serena! Whose side are you on, girl? Ames then takes Ashley for a picnic underneath his favorite tree and waxes poetic about a life in which they can discover the extraordinary in the ordinary. Dude even has an Italian word for it! Ashley is all, “Oh em gee! You and I think the same!” (“Oh em gee!” was implied) but I’m not sure she actually recognizes the words “extraordinary,” “ordinary” “magnolia,” and possibly “Italian.” This just isn’t gonna work, is it?
“Ben is so sexy: The hair, the fashion, the sense of humor,” says Ashley, but I can’t get past her heaping sartorial praise on a guy who just last week was decked out in a white knit cap, seersucker sports jacket, turquoise v-neck t-shirt, black shorts, and flip flops. The duo take a stroll through Ben’s vineyard, and the double entendres begin to flow.
Ashley: “Am I about to taste your wine today?”
Ben: “Lots and lots of it”
Alright, kids, time to cool off. What better way than a picnic lunch in freezing temperatures that have Ashley shivering throughout the conversation. The duo begin to envision a life together in California, and Ben says all the right things until talk turns to Ashley’s mom. “She can come and visit during the holidays,” he grins. Um, just during the holidays? Shouldn’t dude have said “She can come and visit any time she wants”? But Ben redeems himself by talking meaningfully about his dad’s death and how it affected him. In fact, the guy’s in such an introspective mode, that by the time they sit down for dinner with his mom and sister, he’s apologizing for not being emotionally available in the wake of his father’s passing. It’s the kind of heavy conversation that needs to be washed away with a light plate of…roller skating!
Yes, JP takes Ashley to the rink, and in spite of her unfeasibly tight jeans, she manages to stay on her feet as the duo dances and kisses to REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” The camera cuts away from their lip lock to a giant disco ball, signaling that one or both of these people has a reasonable chance of appearing on the next season of Dancing With the Stars. (They can’t be worse than Trista, right?) JP coyly tries to get reassurance of Ashley’s feelings by noting his last relationship went sour because…he never got reassurance from his lady. JP then takes Ashley to the house he grew up in for 33 years, which makes me wonder if he’s living at home with his mama (oh yes, son, I’m talkin to you.) (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Ashley and JP then betray the kind of major philosophical difference that can bring down a relationship: She squeals with delight about the carbohydrate-loaded lasagna that’s in front of her; JP huffs, “That’s more carbs than I’ve had in six weeks!” But hey, if it’s pasta the lady wants, I suspect JP will give it to her, since he sounds on the brink of tears when he talks to his mom about the idea of proposing to Ashley. For her part, Ashley says she’s “smitten” with JP — a word she learned during her visit to Ames’ family! Escandalo! And then mom brings out a weird autographed poster of Kirk Cameron, and JP is so embarrassed about his one-time obsession with the Growing Pains star, he pretends it’s a photo of himself from his Bar Mitzvah.
Finally, it’s time for the rose ceremony, and it’s Ames who’s chosen to walk the plank to a lifetime of loneliness. The poor guy looks so bewildered and confused, I’m wondering if it’s a flashback to his Muay Thai nightmare. Ames says the Bachelorette experience was more poetic than he could have ever imagined, and now I’m sure his concussion hasn’t quite cleared up. Get him to an ER, stat! At this point, my husband, who’s pretending not to watch or care, nods agreement when I offer my opinion that it’s going to come down to Ben and JP. And then, immediately, he’s filled with remorse and fury: “It’s appalling that I have an opinion on this!”
Anyone else have that feeling by the end of the episode? Did Ashley send the right guy home? Who do you think is going to “win” it all? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!