Monday, July 25, 2011

'The Bachelorette' recap: Island, Escaped

Hello rose lovers! It's fantasy suite time already -- can you believe how far we've come in our "journey"? Before we begin with tonight's adventures, just a quick editor's note about last week's hometown date episode. I wrote my recap based on a rough cut that ABC sent me on DVD, and clearly the order of the dates changed before airtime. Sorry for any confusion, and I'm also sorry that
the explanation does not involve me getting blackout drunk while playing a drinking game based on every time Ashley chewed her lips or fiddled with her bangs, as some of you suggested. Now, on to the "exotic" dates!
Splash! Ice-blue waves crash on the shore as Ashley arrives in Fiji on a pontoon plane. Fiji, as it turns out, is the latest in a long line of "perfect" places "to fall in love" and/or "get engaged" and find a "happy ending." Ashley reclines atop a pile of fluffy pillows on her hotel bed and narrates a recycled-clip flashback montage about the final three suitors. Ben is "goofy and silly and fun and playful" but also "sincere and honest"; Ben's doppelganger Constantine "has a really good head on his shoulders" and is "really smart," and their relationship has "so much depth to it" (see: their bonding session over a large plate of salad); and then there's JP, who "looked like a model" when he got out of the limo, according to Ashley. "Sometimes you don't need 20 dates with somebody to know how you feel about them," says the Bachelorette of Jape. (Ok -- but how about, like, 5?) And now, at long last, she gets to spend "private time with the guys alone," a prospect that's so monumental that she needs to curl up on the couch and journal about it. (Side note: Don't you hate it when people use "journal" as a verb, like I just did there? It's one of my top five pet peeves.)
But before Ashley and her boys can take it to The Next Level (honestly, someone needs to open a nightclub with that name -- "Hey baby, wanna go to The Next Level?"), first the Bachelorette is going to have to endure a visit from the Ghost of Rose Ceremonies Past. It seems Ryan Sunshine has made the trek to Fiji, because he feels there are "things unsaid and undiscovered" between the two of them, and he needs to "see it through." The flip-flop clad bachelor trudges sloooowly down a dirt road in the rain toward Ashley's Tatadra (dream house), looking like he's on his way to a lethal injection. Ashley greets him with about as much enthusiasm -- "Whyyy?" she moans. "What is going on??" -- but somehow manages to keep a smile on her face. Ryan launches right into his sales pitch, telling the Bachelorette that after she booted him, he flew back home and "got right back into the swing of things" at work... but he just couldn't approach solar panels and tankless water heaters with as much gusto as before. "I kept thinking, like, I didn't feel like we really had a chance to think things through," he tells her. So he picked up the phone and called Chris (Key: "called Chris" = "accepted a collect call from producers asking him to add some drama to an otherwise uneventful exotic dates episode"), and hopped the next pontoon plane to Fiji. "If you thought about me at all... then I want some more time with you so bad."Ryan's apparently encouraged by Ashley's response -- a tight-lipped smile and awkward silence -- because he just keeps talking. "Every time we talked it was just so fluid and great... With us, I just feel like we didn't really have a chance." And with that, he passes her a slip of paper with his hotel info on it and heads out, leaving Ashley with some time to think things over. "Now I wait," he says, "and hope that she feels the same way." (Spoiler alert: She doesn't.)
With that little stunt surprise out of the way, it's time for Ashley's date with Ben. They're on a boat! They cruise around the islands on a yacht, and slather each other with suntan lotion, which gets Ashley all hot and bothered. "My back? I can reach everywhere else, unless you want to do everything." You little minx! "We are giddy little school children," says Ben, who's rocking an endearingly Zen vibe throughout the date. "I'm happy -- I'm pretty happy." (On second thought, maybe he's just drunk. The two of them certainly seemed like they were three sheets to the wind during their little post-credits conversation about Ashley's toes.) Anyhow, yes, Ben bugs me sometimes, but if I have to choose, I think I want him to "win" the final... oh Lord have mercy what is that see-through white V-neck sweater he's wearing to dinner? Dude, we can see your mike pack strapped to your abs! Did your hotel room not have a mirror? Good thing you're funny: "Oh, honey, you cooked!" he jokes as they both sit down to dinner on the beach. But things soon turn serious. "I am available today, whereas two months ago, when we started this journey, I wasn't available," admits Ben. "I'm on my way... to, you know, the whole 'I love you' thing." Very smooth, sir. Will you choose to forgo your individual room to stay as a couple with Ashley in the fantasy suite? I think we all know the answer to that. After a make-out session in the pool, Ben scoops Ashley up in his arms and carries her to the bedroom. All aboard for The Next Level!
Ok, Constantine, you're up. Perhaps due to some kind of clerical error, Constantine has somehow gotten this far on The Bachelorette without riding in a helicopter, but that mistake's about to be remedied. They fly above blue water and lush green mountains, but the scenery doesn't get truly beautiful until they pass over a solitary figure standing on the shore -- it's Ryan Sunshine, who still hasn't heard a peep from Ashley, and his patience is wearing thin. "I've been waiting for several days now," he sighs. "The hardest part is the fact that I know that she's very close to me, and I can't do anything about it."
That's for sure, especially since Ashley is currently busy swimming under Bouma Falls with her "Greek god." And the aforementioned Greek god is busy trying to convince Ashley that he can, in fact make a commitment, despite the fact that he lived in 108 houses before actually buying one. "It's a big investment!" he wails. "There was so much I wanted from a house and I couldn't find it. [Pregnant pause] But houses and women are not the same." (I learn so much from watching this show!) Unfortunately for Constantine, that kind of thoughtful decision-making has no place on The Bachelorette. "There's a part of me that worries that he just can't jump into a relationship head-first," says Ashley, once again displaying her impressive ability to make someone's positive characteristic sound like a fatal flaw. "Constantine may need a lot more time, and that's something that we just don't have."
At dinner, the Bachelorette gives Constantine another shot to prove he can be as rash and careless as the next guy, but his initial answer answer goes nowhere: "That's honestly like a big thing that I've, like... I don't know." Eventually, though, Constantine gives what may be the most honest, intelligent, grounded speech in the history of this ridiculous franchise. "I would want ideally for me to be madly, head-over-heels, 100 percent sure, ready to meet your father and say, 'I want to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage,' and say that with 110 percent confidence," he begins. "And I have too much respect for you, for myself, for my family, and ultimately your family also, to do anything but that. I'm sitting here now, like, thinking, I don't have that yet... This fantasy suite, I know what it means -- and I also know what it implies. And I knew if I got to this point and I wasn't in love with you, I wouldn't accept the fantasy suite... I'm not pretending, and I haven't pretended to begin with, and I don't want to start doing that now." OH MY GOD YOU GUYS HE TURNED DOWN THE FANTASY SUITE OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE BACHELORETTE! MY MIND IS OFFICIALLY BLOWN!! CONSTANTINE FOR THE NEXT BACHELOR!!!
Being treated like a human being who deserves dignity doesn't sit well with Ashley -- in a fit of pique, she tears up the fantasy suite card and tosses the pieces to the floor. Commence shame spiral in 3... 2... 1... "What if I end up all alone, and all of this was for nothing?" wonders the Bachelorette, before letting the door to her suite slam shut.
Morning, Fiji frogs! Are you ready for Ashley to give Ryan Sunshine one final kiss-off? Great -- hop this way, please. After a short walk and a long, misleading set-up, Ashley finally works her way around to the big "but," telling Ryan, "I didn't feel, like, that passion [with you]... And the truth is, I've found that -- actually with two people!" Sheesh, Ash -- way to rub it in! With that piece of unpleasantness taken care of, it's time for JP, who gets the pimp spot for his date. He and Ashley climb aboard a pontoon plane and head for a little isolated island equipped with a beach and a hammock. There, they stand in calf-deep water and discuss their feelings, and JP is blunt (and slightly snippy) on the subject: "I want this to be over -- that it's me, that's it."
Simmer down, Mr. Fuzzy Noggin -- you know that's not how this works. First, you need to have dinner in the middle of the jungle, where Ashley will play a cruel practical joke on you. "I said goodbye to two guys this week," she tells JP, who responds with, "What???" She goes on to explain the whole situation, as JP grins triumphantly. Sensing his suppressed macho glee, Ashley warns, "Guys try to beat each other, and I don't want it to be about that." Oh, of course not. "I want to be the last guy standing not because I want to beat him," says JP. "I want you." Ask and ye shall receive, Cupcake! Ashley presents JP with the fantasy suite card, and they scamper off to their jungle villa for some NC-17 action. Cue the violins!
The next day, Ashley meets with Harrison for a rainy pre-rose-ceremony chat. They rehash the dates, and then the Bachelorette explains that she still wants a rose ceremony, even though there are only two guys left. "Even at this stage, people can have a change of heart," she tells the host. "It's a two-way street. The guys have to feel something for me. Plus," she adds, "we've got two hours to fill." (Yes, I made that last part up.) And thus begins the exercise in drawn-out futility, as Ashley studies the remaining suitors' portraits and stares wistfully out at the rain. Then she just sits there. For a long time, saying the same thing over and over and over -- some version of "I hope these guys like me too." Ok people, let's get a move on! Seriously, Team Bachelorette -- couldn't you have given us a longer preview of next week's Men Tell All special to eat time? (By the way, though they didn't show Bentley, they sure made it seem like he was going to be there -- so they had better deliver.)  News flash: Both Ben and JP accept this rose, and all is right with the world.
Well rose lovers, there we have it -- our final two. Thoughts? Hopes? Complaints? Were you as impressed with Constantine's exit speech as I was? Does Ben F. stand a chance? Will Ashley be able to keep her hands off her bangs during the final rose ceremony? Post your predictions below! When you're done, be sure to check out Chris Harrison's exclusive blog on PopWatch. Now, fire up your pontoon plane and let's talk Bachelorette!

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