Nothing is more emblematic of the tried and true Bachelorette formula than the moment at the beginning of Episode 4 when Chris Harrison confronts the Gentlemen and announces that, wait for it, they will be leaving the mansion. What??? Jaws drop. Eyes go wide. Dudes faint. You mean the Journey to find love continues in some exotic locale? You have got to be f---ing kidding me, Harrison! This has never happened before. We're all incredulous. Yes, our host reveals, we will be heading to Phuket, Thailand. "Wheels up" in two hours.
|"Goose. Iceman. Final Rose Tonight."|
I have three syllables for you, Ash: Con. Stan. Tine. Yes, after our heroine "plans" her Phuket dates with a nice Thai lady named Annie, to the forefront steps Constantine, the...hang on....checking my notes from the season premiere...ah, here it is...the restaurant owner who gave Ashley a pink dental floss bracelet when he stepped out of the limousine, for the first one-on-one date of the evening. If you were wondering why we haven't heard Constantine utter more than a word or two since that initial meeting, wonder no longer. I'll explain in a minute. But first, Contantine must face a test that's challenged many a Gentleman in seasons past: the date rain-out. When you're scheduled to go out on a sailboat, but then the native fisherman comes over tells you it might not be a good idea on account of the weather. Con - may I call you Con? - go to the Bachelorette playbook, man! Your forefathers established that at times like this, you a) immediately say you wouldn't have it any other way; b) frolic in the rain; and c) move in for the kiss.
What does Con do? Whither Ames? Read on, if you dare...
Con does none of these things. Instead, he walks Ashley into town - where she pronounces everything she sees, including but not limited to impoverished children and mongrels, "cute" - and he says to her, appropos of nothing, "You know what helps a lot at times like these? Locals." Next thing you know, an elderly Thai gentleman is telling them about his marriage. You see what Con did there? He did go to the playbook, but he skipped directly to the part where you seek out a wise old man to give you advice on love. Well played.
|"Only thing that would make this better is more destitute locals to stare at."|
Meanwhile, the other Gentlemen prepare for the Group Date. Blake the Dentist marvels at the nature of the whole Journey, where everyone is "going after the same piece of fruit."* But far from pursuing Ashley, these Gentlemen spend the next, I don't know, it felt like 7 hours, painting and generally rehabilitating an orphanage damaged by the tsunami. J.P. notes that the Bachelorette is "so selfless" to forego a more traditional date to be here. You're right J.P. Ashley really pulled out all the stops to make this happen. Ryan, AKA Apollo, works feverishly to bring joy back to the orphans, annoying all of the other Gentleman in the process. Ashley kisses Ben F. and J.P. in rapid succession, while thinking about orphans. Apollo steals Ashley from the group, further enraging the other Gentlemen, and reminds her, with what is beginning to sound like some measure of desperation, that they have a Connection. Ben F. gets the date rose, and everyone jumps in the pool.
All of which brings us to Ames. Ames, participant in 39 triathalons. Ames, traveler of 70 countries. Ames, the only Bachelorette contestant ever to follow the word "Wow" with the word "indeed." This guy has been flying below the radar, but no longer. Ames is to conversations what Ashley is to inexplicably emotional breakdowns on national television: he's more than capable of having them. If only Ashley could respond in kind. Upon hearing Ames's tale of a spontaneous trip to cooking school in Thailand, our heroine replies, "You're cracking me up right now." Yes, Ames really snuck up on Ashley. His immense forehead and Nazi-like attire aside, she never saw him coming. She loves their ride through the Phuket caves, she loves his intelligence, and when he says something profound, she says, "I agree with that, but what are you, like, looking for in a woman?" And Ames, bless him, can actually articulate an answer. The date rose is a foregone conclusion, but Ames's instincts fail him when it's time to move in for the kiss. The encounter ends with this awkward sendoff from Ashley: "All right, Ames. Yaaaaay." Yay, indeed.
As Ashley seeks reassurance, Ryan endures a full frontal assault by Blake, who pointedly questions his reasons for being so happy all the time. In essence, Apollo is asked, why do you need to shine so bright? Ryan is outraged. Why the hell shouldn't he be happy? "Think about the soldiers," he says, his irritation growing. "How can you not be so stoked to be here?" By the time Ashley herself asks him what's up with the Mr. Sunshine routine, Apollo is showing the first signs that he may crack. "I'm bursting with a lot of love in my chest," he barks.
|Never trust a man who says "stoked."|
* If Ashley were a piece of fruit, what kind of fruit would she be? A lemon?
*** Except his first marriage.