The Bachelorette: The trouble with honesty (spoiler alert)
First off, an apology to my faithful readers who are fans of The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise. It was rather bad timing of me to take off for three weeks just when Ashley Hebert was starting her "journey" toward true love (because it's always a journey on these shows). And then I came back to such a post-vacation pile of work I never did watch the episodes I missed. But I'm back and, like Ashley, I'm ready to move forward. So let's get on with tonight's recap.
The big event, of course, was the return of Bentley. Let's see if I got this right. Bentley came on the show freely admitting he wasn't that into Ashley, but he did a good enough job of pretending to be into her that Ashley started falling for him. Then he left, mainly because Ashley wasn't beautiful enough for him, but instead of making a clean break he led her on some more, telling her he wanted to leave a "dot, dot, dot" on their relationship instead of a period. And this is the dork she's been moping after since he left? Ashley, Ashley, Ashley.
First off, why was Chris Harrison acting like Ashley should be impressed that Bentley flew halfway around the world to speak to her in Hong Kong? It's not like he was doing it on his own dime. At least Chris had the good sense to tell Ash not to swallow any more of Bentley's "vague dot dot dot thing" but to push him for some details.
When it came to the big meeting in Bentley's hotel room, it was awkward with a capital A. Bentley was still playing the game: greeting Ashley with a hug and a kiss at the door, touching her arm as they talked, pretending that flying to Hong Kong had been his idea (as if!), even claiming that he'd missed her, but also constantly looking away and out the window as if he'd like to be on the other side of it. Ashley started out confessing how hard she had taken Bentley's departure, wandered into delusional territory by saying she'd had a gut feeling about Bentley ("I don't know why you came into my life, maybe it's for me to teach you something ... maybe it's to be together, I don't know") and finally grew a pair and told Bentley off.
"If you came here for the same reason Michelle Money told me ... leaving me wanting you, mission accomplished. If that's what you wanted, mission f--king accomplished. I thought you respected me enough to give me the closure I needed," she said.
"Looking where you're at, this whole journey and process, maybe we should call it a period," conceded Bentley. "Why not on the phone?" demanded Ashley. "I wanted to see you," lied Bentley, smiling at her.
A player to the end. At least this time, Ashley figured it out. "Bentley, if you're watching this, (bleep) I'm done with you."
Well sort of. Though Ashley claimed to feel liberated after her encounter with Bentley, he wasn't done messing with her head, albeit indirectly. Ashley may have exorcised her feelings for the creep, or at least was trying to, but she was still feeling guilty about those feelings.
But before she could do anything silly, like say, tell the remaining eight guys about Bentley's visit, there were some dates to get through.
First up was a one-on-one with Lucas. The Texan made a game attempt to pretend he was enjoying the bright lights of Kowloon while Ashley made a game attempt to pretend she really was over Bentley. The date ended with the requisite romantic dinner, on a junk in Victoria Harbour, and Lucas opened up about his, gasp, divorce and how it was the hardest thing he'd been through. There was a chaste first kiss, followed by some serious smooching. Ashley declared it one of the most romantic nights of her life. "Lucas makes me feel like a woman," she said.
Next up, the group date, which probably to Ames' relief, didn't involve getting punched and kicked in a boxing ring. Dragon boat racing was the fun activity that Ashley and the producers had chosen. And what could be more fun than running around in a strange city where you don't speak the language and trying to recruit locals to be on your team?
At first it looked like Constantine and Ben, Blake and Ryan, and Ames and Mickey weren't going to make it off the beach, but each team managed to fill their boat: Blake and Ryan found a translator who helped them recruit; Ames and Mickey found a bona fide dragon boat racer who knew other racers; Ben and Constantine found shiny red kimonos, which apparently helped lure people to their boat.
Ames and Mickey won the race. And then, as everybody celebrated on the beach, a couple got engaged right in front of their eyes. And Ashley took it as sort of, kind of, maybe a good omen. "I really feel like I am a huge step forward in this process in finding my husband," she said, though not in a way that made me think she really believed it.
At the group date after-party, Ames made a big move by spiriting Ashley away for a view of the harbour from the hotel's 48th floor and sucking face in the elevator. And then it was winemaker Ben's turn for some face time after he admitted he was "on the path to love" with Ashley. But it was Ryan who got the date rose, to the chagrin of the other men, who find him so annoying that none of them even wanted to play pool with him.
Ashley saved the best date for last, in my view, with charming J.P. Poor fellow, the last time he had a one-on-one with Ashley, she was moping about Bentley. This time she decided to use part of their romantic dinner inside the walled city of Kowloon to confess that she had met with Bentley and gained "really good closure."
"The reason I'm telling you is because I feel so strongly for you and I want you to know about the whole journey," Ashley babbled.
"I want you to tell me whatever's on your mind. I'm glad you told me, it means a lot to me," said J.P. graciously.
Unfortunately, many of the other fellows weren't as generous as J.P. when Ashley shared her secret at the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party. Even the abundant cleavage in her sparkly silver dress did not distract them from the unwelcome news that not only had Ashley been more upset by Bentley's departure than she let on but she had met with him in Hong Kong.
Constantine, Lucas and Blake couldn't hide their annoyance (anybody know why Constantine is still around? he doesn't seem to be into her) and Ashley ended up walking away in tears.
Constantine groused that Bentley had managed to snag a coveted one-on-one with Ashley, even though "some of us are sitting in hospitals with concussions for boxing our asses off" (really Constantine? didn't see you getting taken away in an ambulance). Lucas complained that Ashley was "wasting my f--kin' time." Blake told Ashley her confession "belittles the time that I've been here" but backtracked when Ashley burst into tears.
Mickey was the most incensed. "I honestly feel like you lied to us," he told her. In fact, Ashley's attraction to Bentley annoyed him so much he asked to be sent home. Ashley complied, walking him to the getaway boat on the spot instead of waiting for the rose ceremony.
Seeing Ashley's tears softened Blake's attitude, but it turned out to be too little too late, especially after he admitted to Ashley that they never seemed to be "in synch." She sent her fellow dentist packing during the rose ceremony. Blake departed forlornly, saying, "Basically I just want a friend," to which I say, then why were you on The Bachelorette? Next time, get a pen pal or something.
Now Ashley is off to Taiwan with J.P., Lucas, Ryan, Ben, Constantine and Ames.
Don't expect smooth sailing, though, for the woman who is possibly the most insecure Bachelorette ever. There will be tears, there will be self-doubts and one eliminated bachelor will return, apparently throwing poor Ashley into even more of a tizzy.