By Artistry and Finesse
[Check out this week's Raw Emotion Podcast here]
You can learn a lot about a person when the stakes are high, and the stakes can't get much higher than they were on this week's episode of the Bachelorette. The final six gentlemen were competing for four spots on next week's Hometowns, otherwise known as the dates where Ashley comes to each Gentleman's hometown to meet his family, the Gentleman goes off to one room with his father to hear things like, "Son, we love you and just want you to be happy. We're behind you 100%. You're our son," and Ashley goes off with the Gentleman's mother to laugh disproportionately hard at the Gentleman's baby pictures, all in search of the coveted but closely guarded "Blessing." But that's next week, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have work to do.
With so much on the line, it's no wonder that the pressure of this week brought out these guys' true colors. Ben handled his Moment with confidence and poise while JP was small, resentful, and petty but managed to survive based on his body of work throughout the season. Constantine and Ames played it close to the vest by doing, almost literally, nothing. They, too, got roses. Lucas, on the other hand, failed to get a rose and was seconds away from getting his rifle and proclaiming "From my cold, dead hands!" but was able to walk himself back from the brink of disaster. And Ryan's carbon-neutral flame was finally extinguished -- he was shellshocked and uncomprehending when informed of his ouster -- but he shouldn't fear. The man has a higher calling. More on that later.
|2 horse race?|
Read on for the FULL RECAP...
- The week starts in Taiwan, but from the outset, the energy is low. Ashley proclaims it's her 7th fresh start of the 7 episodes so far and rather than describing the week as "huge," Chris Harrison calls it merely "very important." Critical distinction, not lost on GTOG. Anyway, Taiwan, Ashley informs us, is known as Asia's "hidden jewel" because "not many people know about it." If by that she means "not many people on this show know about it," we'll buy that.
- During the first one-on-one date of the evening to an "adorable little village," Constantine sticks with the tried and true strategy of saying little and hoping Ashley confuses him with Ben. On the train ride to said village, Con holds our heroine's hand and touches her uncomfortably tight jeans, something Ashley deems "a really good start." It is only when Con gives Ash a hopping piggy-back ride through the town center that we realize 1) the small Asian gentleman he's charging toward has got to be freaked out by this; and 2) it's possible nothing can overcome Ashley's attraction to men who look vaguely like Rafael Nadal. Constantine says little. His expression remains fixed. It may as well be a mule Ashely's riding down main street. Yet there she is, over dinner, responding to a question about what she sees in the charisma-free Con by announcing that he is "exactly what I'm attracted to."
"That's cool," he replies. "I think your answer is genuine as hell."
|Boring as hell.|
- Back at the Mansion, the next date card arrives to announce that Ben has secured the second one-on-one date with Ashley. Ryan is beside himself, but declares that he will "set the tone going into Hometowns." We have absolutely no idea what that means.
- For new frontrunner Ben, Conny is not a hard act to follow. As they dart through Taiwanese gorges on a moped, Ashley feels "protected" and "like he's the man." Ben, for his part, feels "like she's the woman" and like this is "right out of a fairy tale." Uh oh. Ben doesn't like to throw around what likes to call the "L-Bomb" or the "L-Word," but guess what. "There are no emotional barriers. The walls have been broken." Folks, we don't need to tell you what happens when you have one man, one woman, one moped, and no walls.
|Bow Chick-a Wow Wow|
- Meanwhile, Ames looks pleasantly astonished. At what, we don't know.
- In the grand tradition of anyone on a group date with a virtual stranger, Ames, Lucas, and JP join Ashley to take wedding pictures, her second wedding-picture date of the season. That's only 11 less times than Ames has worn a shirt with shoulder flaps. GTOG has obtained this exclusive photograph from next weekend's Hometown date with Ames.
|His father, two brothers, and three uncles.|
- Ryan's 1-on-1 date with Ashley may be the most anticipated moment of the entire season. This date means everything to Ryan. It also means everything to the other Gentlemen because they are genuinely relieved that he will finally be out of the house for a few hours. In our view, that feeling is totally unjustified. What isn't there to like about Ryan? While you're complaining about your job, he's bathing in his zest for his own zest for life. When you take the easy way out at the fork in the road, he plants a tree. And when you're on Cloud 9, he's on Cloud 10 accusing your cloud of being filled with acid rain.
- The date itself gets off to an ominous start, and everyone seems to know it except for Ryan. Ashley is looking for a physical connection with Ryan, Ryan is dreaming of wedding bells/energy producing wind chimes, and we are scrambling for our sunglasses to protect our eyes from his pink linen shirt. Ryan is so excited and so happy to be on the 1-on-1 that he doesn't even flinch when the two biodegradable apple slices that he and Ashley throw on the ground reveal that, under Taiwanese tradition, their relationship is doomed. So as Ashley puts on her constipated face while Ryan lactates ebullience about the benefits of tankless water heaters, the writing is on the wall. This is going to be a disaster.
|"You don't want to meet my family? And you drink bottled water?"|
|"You really want me to leave? And you're against cap-and-trade?"|
|"That bitch doesn't recycle."|
- Ryan's meltdown is Fukushima Daiichi, only pinker, frosted tippier, and with no carbon footprint. As only he can put it:
I'm shocked. I don't want to be alone. I want to share this life with someone. I want it. She was the one for me. I ... I didn't see it coming. I ... I want someone more than you have any i... Uhhhh .... Ugggghhhhh ... Are you kidding me? .... Hhhhhhuuugggghhhh ... huhh ............. ugh .... ugh... Jeez ... ugghh ... hugghhh ... Uhhhh ......................................... Um .... Ecccchhheemmmm .... I ... I ... I ... want I want someone more than you have any i... uhhhhh ... I want to find that person. Huggggghhhh. I want to love someone unconditionally ... I want real love. I want real, never ending love. And I can be myself with. And she can be everything she wants and more. And I want to find a partner that shares the same joy in life that I do. And wants to do great things. And wants to be a great mother. And I want to be a great dad. I will be. Someday. ... Someday. I will be. I will be.- After a commercial break to mop up the tears, we finally get to the consistently best part of the show -- Chris Harrison's pre-rose ceremony interview of Ashley. Unlike last week where Harrison conducted an 8 minute interview without asking a single question, this week's interview is loaded with hard-hitting questions like "How are you feeling?" and "What went wrong?" This elicits a clear glimpse into Ashley's mind. "I'm not sure I'm making the right decisions," she laments, followed almost immediately by, "I know what I need to do tonight." Translation: Sayonara cocktail party.
|"Wait .... what? I don't understand."|
- As if she's putting words in our mouth, Ashley then voices-over, "I think this rose ceremony is the most critical rose ceremony." Ben accepts this rose. Constantine accepts that rose. And to his everlasting credit, Lucas turns to Ames and wishes him luck. Then this happens:
It's all Ames can do to focus on the moment at hand and not engage Lucas in a full blown conversation about fairy tales and their various implications. Ames gets the final rose, we get to meet his family, and that's a victory for humanity.
- It's clear by the end of the episode that being the Bachelorette is very taxing on Ashley, which is probably why it couldn't work out with her and Lucas Norquist. As our raw notes say, "Ash is crying. She feels pressure. She can't breathe. Not sure she's cut out for it. Hates feeling this way." She might as well have been describing the GTOG Raw Emotion Podcast.