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?|
And how did Ashley handle the pressure? She cried, she questioned whether she was cut out for this, and she talked flawlessly in the present tense about her past dates. Now that we’re at 02 P.B. (post-Bentley), we’ve grown accustomed to a more determined Ashley, an Ashley who dances less and simply won’t put up with you if there is no “physical connection.” In other words, even if she refers to you as “gorgeous,” it doesn’t mean she wants to sleep with you.
– 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.|
– As they prepare to release a Taiwanese wish lantern into the evening sky, Con executes three veteran moves. First, he turns it back on Ashley by asking, “What are your reasons for being here?” Perfect execution. Next, he shows some self-deprecation, declaring, “I realize I may be a little slow.” No argument here. Finally, he plays his Ace card, “What a powerful emotion love is.” Indeed. Ashley deems the date a “huge breakthrough,” and they consumate this breakthrough by pressing their lips together and breathing out of their noses. Overall, a safe play by Constantine on this high-stakes date — say little, do less.
– 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|
- Back at the hotel, JP is squandering all of the considerable goodwill he built up with GTOG. Ben’s date runs a tad long, and JP – so cool and poised in the face of Bentley’s unexpected appearance in Hong Kong – completely flips his sh*t. Did Ben and Ashley get physical? JP doesn’t want to talk about it. He takes his ball and goes home.
– 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.|
– The group date serves merely to illustrate what we already know: JP is a petulant also-ran; Lucas is dignified and overly traditional but may secretly enjoy wearing a dress; and Ames rocks. None of the men handles the pressure-cooker of the group date particularly well, but Ashley naturally bestows the date rose on the petulant also-ran.
– 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.
|“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.”|
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.”|