Tuesday, July 26, 2011


The payoff for last week's tedious hometown dates is this week's Overnight Fantasy Dates. (And this one's a doozy.)
As the group arrives in Fiji — the one place that Ashley has always dreamed of visiting, a fun fact she feels the need to repeat constantly throughout the episode — it's down to three suitors: JP, Ben and Constantine. And these guys are all so great, Ashley knows she's going to have a hard time choosing who to send home. After all, they're all so good-looking. They're all so sincere. But are they all so devoted to Ashley? She doesn't know, but she's ready to find out and she knows this week is more important than all of the previous important weeks because "it's the week of the overnights."
That's right, it's the ultra-romantic set of dates where each of the remaining guys is offered (via a note from Chris Harrison) the opportunity to spend the night with Ashley in a Fantasy Suite. Okay, when I put it like that it sounds more like a high-class brothel arrangement than an ultra-romantic date, but we're this far along, so we might as well just go with it.
But before she can set off on even one date, Ashley is in for a (not that shocking, thanks to last week's trailer) surprise: Ryan's back! The camera follows the rejected suitor as he stalks around Ashley's Fijian chateau looking less like the grinning goof we're used to and more like a serial killer, searching for his next victim. (Where's your smile now, Ryan?) He tells us that he's not quite ready to let Ashley go and he needs to know for sure that their burgeoning spark wasn't cut short. Basically, Ashley is Ryan's Bentley. (Also, what sort of horrible Pandora's Box did Bentley open, where guys who've left can just come and go as they please? If you don't have a Rose, you don't have the right to be there, period. That's the first rule of Bachelorette Club. This is all your fault, Bentley.)
However, it's quite clear from the moment that Ashley opens the door that Ryan's return isn't quite as welcome as Bentley's had been. "Ry," she says, her hand to her mouth, most likely to cover her grimace. "What is going on?" Then Ryan sits her down and proceeds to explain why he hasn't been able to let her go: he thinks that their chance to find "passion" was prematurely cut short. Which might be a plausible excuse if their romance had been cut short by outside circumstances, not cut short by her telling him she wasn't into him. That's usually a sure sign that the "passion" isn't going to happen. Nevertheless, Ryan leaves her his hotel address, telling her to consider giving him another chance, before he leaves. He explains not putting her on the spot with, "I didn't want her to have a quick, knee-jerk response." (Um, because it would have been no?)
While Ry sweats it out, Ashley goes on an ultra-romantic Fantasy Overnight Date: Boat Edition with Ben. As they board their love boat, they quickly attend to the matter of Ben's mom and sister and the fact that they were chillier than icicles to Ashley. Ben tries to reassure Ashley by saying that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, his family did actually like her. That's enough for our Bachelorette, who'd much rather focus on her Fijian date. And, oh my, flirt alert! These two are like "giddy little schoolchildren," as Ben puts it, from the moment this boat date sets sail. From a saucy sunscreen application that's loaded with sexual innuendo (I hope schoolchildren don't act like that!), to a cuddle-fest as the sun sets over the water, it's clear that goofy Ben has wormed his way into little Ashley's heart. We haven't seen this level of flirting since JP's earliest dates.
As the two reconvene for dinner and their late night rendezvous, Ben's sartorial choices are questionable (a sheer white shirt?) but Ashley tells him he looks great anyway. Someone's clearly caught the love bug. And, as Ben tells the camera, he thinks he's caught it too. And does he tell her how he's suddenly realized he's falling in love with her over dinner? He does not. Instead, he chooses to tell her with his eyes, noting that he can tell how she feels as well, via her eyes. And amidst all this eye talking (which isn't the greatest form of communication for a reality show) Ashley does manage to hand him the official Overnight Invitation from Chris Harrison. He, obviously, accepts the offer to spend the night with Ashley and the two head to their Fantasy Suite for the evening. And just before the camera crew leaves for couple alone for the first time ever, Ashley tells us that she's "really falling in love with him."
But no matter how much she's falling for Ben, she has other men to attend to and next up is Constantine. As they two meet in a field, running towards one another, Ashley's voice over explains how her relationship with Constantine has moved the slowest of all the guys' (warning sign!). Constantine does seem genuinely happy to see Ashley though not nearly as happy as he is to see the transportation for their date: a helicopter. He's positively giddy over their ride, which is a sweet, if not somewhat disproportionate reaction for a grown man. And as the helicopter lifts off the ground and flies away, the camera cuts to Ryan, standing alone and forlorn on a beach below, "just waiting." Sorry, Ry, things aren't looking good.
Back on the Overnight Fantasy Date, things have gotten adventurous as Ashley and Constantine arrive at a waterfall and go diving into the pool below. Afterwards, the sit by the water munching on coconut and discuss... real estate? Ashley seems to have concocted this theory on Constantine's views on relationships based on the number of houses he looked at before purchasing his home. "People are not houses," he wisely says in his own defense, but Ashley's not convinced. She's clearly telling him that she won't be on the market forever and he might have to move a bit quicker than he's comfortable with. Careful, Ash, this could backfire. (And by "could", I mean "will".)
As the two meet up for their dinner date, Constantine has clearly thought about Ashley's (totally muddled) house analogy and he tells her that though he hasn't "held back" during the dating process, he's "still unsure."
And, we're back! Where, to everyone's complete surprise, Constantine tells Ashley that he has to turn down the Overnight Fantasy Suite because he's not 100% feeling it. "If we're going to be honest about it, this means the end of the road for me," he says, effectively dumping her, leaving before their dinner is even finished. Seriously, fellow Bachelorette aficionados, this must set a record for the number of guys who have chosen to leave the show. First Bentley (which we could actually count twice), then Mickey, and now Constantine, have all decided that Ashley wasn't for them. Constantine, of course, was the most decent about it, noting that his "biggest fear was hurting Ashley or embarrassing her." (Awww!) However, this latest disappointment is just another opportunity for Ashley to spin with self-doubt as she worries, "what if I end up all alone and this was for nothing?" Sooo....
Knock, knock. Hi Ryan! Ashley finally gets around to meeting up with Ryan which is suspiciously convenient timing for her ego. You can practically read her mind as she greets him: Hey, now that Constantine's gone, why not give ol' Ry another chance, eh? And Ryan, bless him, practically lights up when he sees her, he's so excited. But it's clear from the start that Ashley's not really interested in reconnecting or finding "passion" with Ryan; this is an ego-boost date for Ashley. She doesn't waste much time telling him that she doesn't feel the "passion" for him that she feels for the other two guys and that they aren't going to be reconnecting after all. As she leaves, Ryan tells us that "it hurt the first time Ashley let me go, and it hurts again now." But he's confident (or crazed) that he'll have his storybook ending someday, as he continually repeats "it'll happen," until the camera just has to cut away.
Now that Ashley's ego is partially restored, she's ready for her next Overnight Fantasy Date with JP. Their Fijian adventure involves a plane ride around the islands, taking in the sights, as what sounds like the theme music from Jurassic Park plays in the background. Their plane lands and the two hang out on a deserted beach (well, deserted apart from the camera crew following them around) and frolic in the water. JP tells her that his family adored her, he adores her and that he wants to be the last man standing. To be honest, we've heard it all before JP, and after the cuteness that was Ben and Ashley's date, this routine is starting to get weary. Maybe he'll step it up at dinner?
Turns out, he will not, but only because Ashley blindsides him. Looking at him coyly, she informs him that she's already sent two guys home that week and you can practically feel JP's hopes shoot for the sky. Ashley then takes her sweet time explaining that he's not actually the last man standing, but that Ryan came back and she rejected him again in addition to letting Constantine go home. She then hands JP the episode's second official Overnight Invitation from Chris Harrison, which he gladly accepts. The two then make their way to their Fantasy Suite, where Ashley changes into just a button-down shirt (um, Ash, the camera's about to leave, couldn't you have waited ten more minutes before slipping into something more comfortable?) and the camera cuts away as the couple begins to make out on the bed. (Easy there, guys!)
At last, it's the Rose Ceremony, and although there's no one left to kick off this episode, Ashley still wants to have it. Why? She explains to Chris Harrison, she just needs to hear that Ben and JP still want to be with her (surprise, surprise). So Chris goes out to greet the guys. "A little rain," he notes. "But it doesn't dampen the beautiful time we've had in Fiji." (Chris Harrison is nothing if not a poet.) What follows is clearly the least dramatic Rose Ceremony of all time as both guys are given a rose and both guys accept.
And so ends the Overnight Fantasy Date episode, which means that fun times are over. We only have two episodes left and next up is the petty squabbling (my favorite!) on the The Men Tell All Special, where the rejected guys gather together to put their two cents into the show thus far. And then we have the heartbreak of the final episode, when Ashley chooses between underdog Ben and overconfident JP (for the record, I've changed my mind from earlier recaps: I'm on Team Ben now). Who will it be? There's still a week until we find out, but I'll be taking bets in the comments below. Until next time, Bachelorette-ites.