The Bachelorette: (S)he's just not that into you (spoiler alert)
Oh you crafty Bachelorette producers, what are we? New?
Even if one hadn't read the spoilers floating around out there about Constantine walking out on Ashley, it was obvious he was the least into her of the three remaining men and the least likely to survive the fantasy suite episode.
But since we might have got bored waiting for the inevitable, despite all the gorgeous Fiji scenery, we viewers were given a different source of faux suspense: the return of Ryan P.
Yes, Ryan returned to finish his sales job on energy-efficient water heaters, er, I mean, to get a second chance with Ashley.
What I think he was really doing was setting himself up as the next potential Bachelor, but I digress.
There was Ashley in her suite at the Namale Resort in Savusavu, reflecting on her three remaining men, writing in her girly-looking journal with the big green spots, when there was a knock on the door. We had seen a pair of feet heading up the path, then a plaid shirt and then the face of the season's most deluded contestant.
"I just feel there's things unsaid, things unexplored between the two of us," said Ryan in a voiceover. "We had something."
Dude, you had the first impression rose and a one-on-one date long after all of the frontrunners had their turns. That and a dime will get you bupkiss on this show.
Can't say Ashley looked pleased when she saw Ryan at her door. "What is going on here? What are you doing here?" she squealed. "It's good to see you," she lied after having a moment to collect her wits.
Ryan had been thinking about her non-stop; he wanted to know if she'd been thinking of him or regretting her decision to send him home. "If that's in your mind at all I want to spend more time with you so bad," he said, as Ashley looked horrified.
But phew, she didn't have to give an answer right away. Ryan left her with his room number and went off to cool his heels for a few days while Ashley went in search of some sexy time with Ben, Constantine and J.P.
Like the good little reality star she is, Ashley pretended that she had thought of Ryan and she had wondered about her decision. But "I'm not going to focus on that now," she said.
And why would she? She and Ben were about to spend the day on a yacht, and reminisce about their date in Sonoma and rub suntan lotion on each other (which apparently required Ashley to straddle Ben's pelvis while rubbing it on his chest).
"There is so much flirtatiousness going on between us ... it's like we're on a honeymoon or something," burbled Ashley as they prepared to go snorkelling together.
"I thought I saw my life with Ashley kind of flash before my eyes and it just felt right," was Ben's take.
Later, during candlelight dinner on the beach, Ben got to remind us once again of how much more open and emotional he had become since starting his "journey" with Ashley, so much so that he could make this heartfelt declaration: "My feelings are growing and I'm on my way to the, you know, the whole I love you thing."
Then it was time for the non-surprise of the fantasy suite card, which Ben happily accepted. After a tour of the suite and a little foreplay in the pool, Ben carried Ashley towards the really big bed and the cameras withdrew so they could presumably consummate the "I love you thing."
Next up was her date with Constantine, who seemed way more excited about taking his first helicopter ride than being with Ashley. C'mon, to celebrate the awesomeness of the experience, he high-fived her. Romance was not in the air, no matter how much Ashley tried to climb all over him.
More awesomeness was in store as Constantine and Ashley got to play around in a small waterfall. After a refreshing swim, Ashley got down to the business of trying to pry some sort of declaration of affection out of Constantine, because they were running out of time, dammit.
"I don't know how things are gonna happen and I hope that things just take off today and tonight," she told him. (Translation: I think you're really hot, I'd like some nookie before I have to kick you off the island.) Constantine just smiled vaguely at her and ignored the hand she'd placed on his knee.
Dinner came around and Ashley was still trying, sporting a short, low-cut red dress and a pair of hoochie mama heels. Still getting no response from Constantine, Ash laid it on the line: "I don't feel like you want to hold my hand or, I don't know, be around me all the time. It's hard because I have nothing to feed off of." (Translation: Why don't you like meeeeeeeeee?)
Ashley, he just wasn't that into you.
"I would want ideally for me to be madly, head over heels, 100 per cent sure, ready to meet your father and say, 'I want to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage.' I have too much respect for you, for myself or my family and, ultimately your family also, to do anything but that," Constantine said.
Furthermore, hell was going to freeze over before she got him into the fantasy suite.
"I know what it means. I also know what it implies," said Constantine. "I also 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 without much further ado, Constantine wandered off to pack his bags and Ashley was left with two fancy drinks, a useless fantasy suite card and her old pal insecurity. "At this point with J.P. and Ben, it doesn't mean they're necessarily gonna fall in love with me. What if I end up all alone and all of this was for nothing?"
But hey, when life gives you lemons, there's nothing to be done but to hand them off to someone else. It was time to go and break Ryan's heart for a second time.
The poor guy was all a-flutter when she finally showed up at his door ("My heart's going out of my chest") and Ashley kept the suspense going as long as she could.
"If I were to write down on paper what I was looking for ... you were exactly it," she said.
"Saying goodbye to you was the hardest goodbye I had ... it was hard because it was premature. To see you come to Fiji, it just reassured me that you are the guy that I knew you were. You're willing to take the risk and put yourself out there. I think you're one of the best guys that I ever met in my life" .... wait for it ... "but I did know that it was the right decision.
"I didn't feel that passion; I know that that's what I need in a relationship. The truth is I found that with actually two people."
Ryan lapsed briefly into self-pity ("Am I ever gonna find it?" he said, referring to his own happy ending) before rallying and telling Ashley, however insincerely, how happy he was for her.
"At least now I know that my heart is open and accepting. When the right person comes along I'm gonna hold onto that and I'm not gonna pull back ever again. It will happen, it will happen, it will happen, it will happen," Ryan practically chanted.
Were you listening ABC?
Finally, it was time for Ashley to slough off Ryan's despair and go on her date with J.P.
Their mode of transport was a seaplane, which took them to a deserted island (well, deserted except for the camera crew) where there was lots of kissing and snuggling, and Ashley and J.P. secretly confessed their devotion for each other. (Ashley: "I think we have something really special and I think it could last a lifetime." J.P.: "When I look at Ashley I see the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.")
During their romantic dinner in the middle of the jungle, Ashley gave J.P. a revisionist history of Constantine's departure: "At dinner, we just decided there was nothing there between us, so Constantine is not here anymore." (Na-ah, girlfriend, he walked out on you.) She also told him about Ryan's return and second rejection.
Ashley wanted to make sure J.P. wasn't letting his worries about her relationship with Ben ruin their thing, but he assured her he wasn't. "I want to be the last guy standing, not because I want to beat him. I want you."
J.P. held back from using either the L- or the M-word, despite Ashley's warning he had to lay it on the line, but she was pleased enough with his answer to give him a kiss and cuddle contentedly into his chest. By the time they got to the fantasy suite, they didn't even bother with a swim. Ashley changed into a white shirt (shades of Chantal and Brad on last season's Bachelor) and they started kissing on the bed before the cameras withdrew.
So two guys, two roses, no waiting, right? Wrong.
Ashley told host Chris Harrison she still wanted to have a rose ceremony because the men could still have a change of heart, so she wanted them to accept the roses as a sign that they were ready to get engaged.
So we had to go through the farce of Ashley telling Ben and J.P. that Constantine had gone home (even though J.P. already knew) and that she was taking the risk that they would reject the roses and her (as if). And we had to watch her hem and haw and finger the two flowers while the two guys stood there, as if there was any doubt she was handing them over.
So now the three of them move to another part of Fiji and the fellows meet Ashley's mother, stepfather, brother and sister. Looks like sis is a handful, though, telling Ashley she thinks she's "too much" for one of the guys.
At first, I thought we were skipping The Men Tell All special, but turns out it's airing on Sunday (9 p.m. on Citytv) with the finale on Monday at 8 p.m.
Who's she gonna pick (I have not, nor will I be reading the spoilers)? She seems more passionate about J.P. But then again, I thought that Brad was going to pick Chantal last time around and I was wrong about that.
All I can tell you for sure is that I'll be recapping Sunday's episode and live-blogging Monday's finale.
(The photo of Ashley Hebert is by Ken White for ABC.)