Ashley’s insecurities about her suitors having true hearts follow her to Thailand. That is a long plane ride to work out her thoughts and feelings about the show and whether the process will still work for her. The twelve traveling with her must still have the whim whams about the last Rose Ceremony – particularly William. How will they all cope in the humidity, heat and rain of Phuket?
Overcast skies let weak morning light through the windows of the LA mansion living room when Chris gathers the guys. He hints at last week’s drama and hopes they are all serious about being on the show. Then he gets down to business with the usual – three dates, two individual, one group, yada, yada; until he tells them that he doesn’t have a date card for them. The guys’ faces fall in disappointment. Oh, Chris is so cute…the writers use the new theme, Fresh Start, and he weaves it into, “I don’t think we can do that here.” In his dramatic patter, he tells them to pack their bags because they are leaving the mansion forever and traveling to Thailand! As if that doesn’t happen around this episode every season, now, but this year they have Ashley’s breakdown as a way to make it more interesting. Chris calms the exuberant cheers to finish the disclosure that they will be visiting the island of Phuket on the mother of all road trips. He takes his leave and they race to pack.
The very long plane ride into the next day didn’t do much to improve Ashley’s mind-set regarding You Know Who. Taking a boat ride around the islets of Phuket, she does her show opening rumination.
Ashley: Things are looking hopeful and positive for me this week; but I do feel I’m still holding onto the beginning of the relationship that I had with Bentley, and the truth is, a lot of times, I do think about him. I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t forget about him.
This bodes well for the atmosphere and tone set for this week, which is already heavy with rain clouds and humidity. Could it get anymore depressing?
As we wait for the guys to arrive, the Thailand Tourism Board gets a nice placement when Ashley inquires of the Navigator at the resort about things to do around Phuket and, after being told of a romantic journey through hidden caves, she leaves with a brochure.
Waiting to board the Thai Airline plane at LAX, Ames hopes Ashley can leave whatever made her sad in LA and start over in Thailand. As they settle into a villa at the Renaissance Resort and Spa in Phuket, Ben F echoes Ames with hopes that Ashley has left all her sadness behind.
That is a good build up to Ashley not wanting to disappoint the twelve who traveled to be with her and she thinks that now she isn’t focusing on one guy, it will be better and she can let go, be open and enjoy it. Yeah, right, Ashley.
Bentley, Bentley, Bentley…and Constantine
The guys gather around a table which holds a date card, and on the director’s cue, J.P. grabs it and reads, “Constantine – let’s sea Phuket together – Ashley.” The first hint of jealousy opens a crack when Nick says he hopes it rains on them. As it turns out…it does. The swells on the ocean are too high to sea Phuket, and a subdued Ashley and Constantine stare at each other wondering what to do until Constantine suggests they go into town to buy ugly shirts. So they see Phuket dodging the squalls that come inland. Constantine wants to discover if Ashley will fit into his family’s life, his world, so he is excited for the alone time.
They wind their way down narrow streets, past food stalls and temples, stopping to try on novelty items in a store. Constantine thinks one should talk to locals to get the feel of the town and the culture. Lo and behold, they find a man with a friendly face standing outside a store. They do, however, need an interpreter and, lo and behold, one (a young woman) is standing by just out of camera view. Chance, luck or direction – you decide.
Rather than learning about the town from the man, they notice he wears a wedding ring and go right for the personal information. He gives them pithy advice (according to the interpreter – but who knows) about how the man should never try to win and the couple should forgive and forget. The advice, while universal, is pertinent to this episode and I hope Ashley paid attention to the forgive and FORGET part.
Back at the villa, J.P. tells the guys that it is not competitive to hope Constantine doesn’t get a rose, “If he doesn’t get a rose that just means there are more for the rest of us.” Not necessarily competitive, but a slight wink to the jealousy sub-theme of this episode.
Lucas reads the group date card; “Ben F, J.P., Blake, Mickey, West, Ben C, Nick, Lucas, William and Ryan; let’s make the world a better place.” All are happy to be going on the date, but Ames is ecstatic that his name wasn’t included as that means he gets the second one on one date. He tells them to make the world a better place quickly so he can have a good date.
Sitting at a table outside a cafÚ, Ashley and Constantine clink beers to not winning, and he is happy they were able to have fun with a new experience for both of them. Ashley feels she got a little bit of heart back on this date. Constantine just hopes this fresh start is for real.
They dry off and share a night-time meal sitting on a cushy sofa in a thatch-roofed cabana.
Ashley: I’m hoping that Constantine is not noticing that I’m feeling a little bit off. I’m worried that a part of me wants to tell him about Bentley and just how strong and real those feelings were, but I’m also scared and don’t know if I can open up. I don’t know how to handle it.
All right, dear readers, this is where you can scream at Ashley that she should cut the ties binding her to this overnight heart throbbing crush. You can also scream at the producers for dragging their feet on disclosing facts about You Know Who to her. dot dot dot
Constantine likes that he feels he is connecting with her in ways that are normal. She wondered during the date if he was more of a friend, but appreciates that he is not holding back. He speaks to her about realizing that to have a real relationship he had to open himself to it. Ashley takes a hopeful breath and says that was her epiphany as well. She hugs him, doesn’t kiss him, but gives him the rose. (Sorry, J.P.) They frolic in the waves to finish off their new beginnings.
Speaking of J.P., he, Ben F. and Blake lounge around back at the villa gossiping about how the date is going and the kisses taking place. J.P. and Ben F. admit that the image stings a little bit.
Blake: It’s the nature of the beast – everyone is going after the same piece of fruit.
Ben F. advises to remain patient, otherwise you drive yourself crazy. J.P. admits to being “on the way” and Ben F. says to him that he can see that. They agree that this isn’t normal for anyone, but J.P. also admits that it chaps his a**.
Bentley, Bentley, Bentley …and Bachelor Gives Back
Before Ashley welcomes her suitors to Baan San Fan Orphanage, she tells us that her heart is more open now than when she left LA. Once the guys gather around her, she reminds them of the December, 26, 2004 Tsunami that left many orphans. The goal of this date is to brighten up the buildings with paint and the children with personal and sports supplies.
Clueless J.P. gives a PI in which he praises Ashley for her humanitarian effort. “She could be anywhere today, but she chose to be here. It’s exhilarating we’re here to work and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
They clear the rooms to paint, begin painting the exterior, move in plants to brighten the landscape, and new mattresses for the children. (I have a question here – with the rain and humidity, how did they get the paint on the interior walls to dry fast enough to move everyone back in the same day – small detail, but I’m just saying.)
Ryan goes into micro-manager mode and manages to macro annoy the rest of the guys. Blake says it is his different personality that grates. Ben F. has a Ryan meter that reaches its max this time around. “He is constantly on and it’s a little much.”
Ashley wants to begin her campaign to re-connect with the guys, but runs into roadblocks; mainly the fact that everyone is working so hard to finish their projects before the day ends. She feels that J.P., in particular, rebuffs her when he tells her this is not time for flirting; they’ll flirt later. She starts buzzing around Ben F. who is on his own painting a mural on the hallway wall. Even though he says he can’t paint, Ben F. puts up a recognizable elephant. Ashley adds some generic flowers and comes up with a hand print slapped along the base of the wall with paint.
The children return and, after running through their rooms, try out the sports equipment including bicycles, a soccer set-up and hula hoops with Ashley and her gang of helpers. There are lots of smiles and whooping and hollering from the children, along with satisfied smiles from the grown-ups.
J.P. (close to tears) I was not expecting the impact this date had on me. I’m forever changed, and she made it possible.
J.P., you will learn post filming that the Bachelor franchise has a charity program they employ when they travel outside the States. It was a wonderful thing in which to participate, but it wasn’t Ashley’s idea. The Bachelorette (ABC) website has more information about how the viewers can help with this particular project.
Bentley, Bentley, Bentley …and Blue Ice
The after party takes place in a lounge area of the resort featuring an ice bar with blue lighting. Whenever anyone stands close to it, their faces are up lit in a blue color. It’s kind of interesting and kind of freaky at the same time.
Ashley still hopes to re-connect because she owes it to them. They toast an exhausting, but rewarding day’s work…then on to letting the connections begin – or not.
Ben F. gets the guitar music when he sits to talk with Ashley. He wants to know her thinking and she states that she went through a hard time the previous week, more than people understand, but she is trying to get back on the horse. They flirt a bit and he goes in for the kiss as the music crescendos.
Ashley: This kiss with Ben F. was really, really good. I think a lot had to do with me feeling it in an emotional kind of way. I definitely like what I see.
Around the blue ice bar, Blake, J.P. and Mickey talk about Ryan and his too-out-there personality. Blake worries that Ryan embodies everything she is looking for in a person, but Mickey tells him, “No way.” J.P. thinks that if Ryan gets the group rose again, people would just leave.
Ashley pulls Ryan aside and asks him about the different personalities on the show, but he downplays that question with one about what is she looking for. Her answer is that first and foremost she is looking for a feeling. Someone that makes her feel really secure. Plus she wants the physical-ness, the touching. They discover a connection and both are happy with it.
Ashley’s heartbreak cure includes focusing on the person in front of her and basking in their compliments. She is a little worried about J.P., though, because he seemed really standoffish during the day. She doesn’t know where he stands.
With an umbrella overhead, J.P. takes her down to the beach where she asks him if they are okay. He says they are, so she moves on to their experience with the kids. He tells her he had a great experience regardless of what happens and that scares her into thinking he might leave. After a reassurance that she will have to force him out, he tells her he can’t stop thinking about their one on one date – which was perfect. She lights up and with a little teasing he brings her into a kiss and, the umbrella lost and forgotten, they go for it in the pouring rain.
Ashley: Kissing J.P. is magical. The best kisses I’ve had here yet, by far.
He romantically tries to pick her up to carry her and falls on the first attempt, but finally succeeds and carries her back to the guys and their jealous mutterings.
J.P.: There is chemistry, a lot of chemistry there.
At the villa, Constantine reads Ames’ date card. “It’s more romantic in the rain – love – Ashley.” Ames is ready, after two group dates and great conversations, to take it to the next level and see what’s there.
Joining the group, Ashley picks up the date rose and she tells them she wants to give it to the guy who exemplifies all she is looking for…the camera highlights first Ben F. then J.P. However, before she can start her presentation, Ryan leaps off the couch and smarmily tells the group he is going to steal her really, really quickly. (Head games, Ryan? It worked because now all the guys are wondering what you are saying to her that will win you the rose.) Lucas calls after him, “Goober!” as Ryan pulls Ashley away merely to say he looks forward to having more conversations with her. (I guess this falls into the dramatically funny category.)
J.P.: If Ryan is right for her then I’m not right for her because Ryan and I are nothing alike.
She finally presents the rose to Ben F. much to Ryan’s chagrin.
J.P.: It makes me nervous to get so emotionally committed, to go all in; I don’t know what is going through her head. (J.P. if you only knew…you and the others have more to worry about than Ryan’s juvenile tactics.)
To top off the evening they drop covers and jump in the pool for a late night frolic.
Bentley, Bentley…and Ames
Ashley meets Ames at the docks and this time the weather holds so they can enjoy a cruise around the islets surrounding Phuket. They marvel at the low clouds and how everything looks mystical and magical.
Ames: I’ve been a few times here to Phuket, but I traveled alone. I’m at a point in my life where I would love to travel with someone. I feel so lucky to be spending time with this charming and beautiful woman.
Ashley discovers that for Ames last minute is the best minute and his personality intrigues her; he is witty, funny, spontaneous, yet grounded.
They hop on a rubber kayak and head into caves carved into the rock of one of the islets. These must be the romantic hidden caves. They float from one into another – silent, they soak in the beauty. Beaching on a strip of sand, they lunch and agree the atmosphere is other worldly.
Ames asks what intangible quality she looks for in a man and, after thinking a moment, she says, devoted; as in to his wife and family. Ames tells her he is looking for someone open to his spontaneity and able to empathize.
Ashley: I’m afraid I would have overlooked Ames if Bentley were still here. The unexpected does happen. Now that Bentley’s gone, I’m seeing so many great things in other guys.
They dine under a thatch-roof at an elegantly set table. Ames confesses to us that he really likes this girl, that she is beautiful in all circumstances – rain or shine, day or night, at sea or on land. Both are wearing dark blue outfits and that likeness opens the academic nerd conversation. Both embrace their peculiarities (white boards and dental supply closets) as similarities. Ashley is pleased that Ames asks really interesting questions and has a depth that she had never really seen before. She thinks it’s cool that he doesn’t have a list.
Ames: That’s a major evolutionary step to throw the checklist out.
Ashley: I’m so glad I got to know the true Ames; he’s smart, charming, flirtatious and really funny. I did not know this about him.
She fakes him out when presenting the rose and he appreciates her humor as he accepts it with a hug.
Ames: She brings out a side of me that is funny; that I never even knew existed. We didn’t kiss tonight, but we talked about very important things and I feel we have a strong foundation to build on.
Bentley …and the Rosettes
Upon entering the Rose Party, Ashley says that she has been in a dark place, but has been able to take some steps forward. She wants to use the party to hopefully continue heading in the right direction.
Her plan is to quiz the guys to see whether she could really get hurt again, and to start things off, she questions West about being over his lost love and his readiness to separate that from a new love. He says yes, she remains skeptical. Though Lucas has been footloose since his divorce, this Texan assures her he would approach her in a restaurant.
While she is trying to figure out who would be true, the guys worry about the Ryan effect and whether she will see through his mask. Blake shares his views on Ryan with Ryan and Ryan shares his disdain for Blake with Ashley. Drama, Drama, Drama. Ashley loves Ryan’s positive energy and knows that he could bring out the best in her. Hang onto that unpopular thought, Ashley.
The Bachfather calls Ashley in for a sit down while various suitors estimate their chances of receiving a rose.
Ashley tells Chris that it actually turned out to be a great week. The dates showed her that this could work for her. Chris, at his needle-sharp best, takes her back to the bad place and rattles her by getting her to admit she is still somewhat hung up on Bentley.
Chris: Is it the dot, dot, dot?
Ashley: It is the dot, dot, dot…the door is still open – no closure. But there are a couple of relationships that I see that may surpass what I felt for Bentley, and that’s what I’m hoping for.
Because of the Ames surprise (he was supposed to go home on their date) she wants to be more open to those she isn’t certain she wants to send home and asks for an extra rose to be added to the pile. Granted.
Order of the Roses:
Constantine – date rose
Ben F. – group date rose
Ames – date rose
West heads straight for the car at the bottom of the steps. He once again says that he is ready to love. Violins play him down the hill with a melancholy melody.
They will stay in Thailand changing location to the exotic, historic city of Chiang Mai. There will be elephants, rafts, ceremonial dances, and a brutal boxing match that results in injury to one of the bachelors. …and…You Know Who returns.
Ashley sits on Nick’s back while he does push-ups then takes him on in either arm or thumb wrestling. They hit a cold hot tub which has J.P. mimicking Nick’s distress.
See you next week for another trying, drama filled show. What else is there in the Bach/ette series?