The hot, humid yet beautiful islands of Fiji play host to this season’s finale. Ashley and her two potentials along with the production crew change location to the private island of Vomo where her family waits to greet her and where she will present her final rose.
During a boat ride to the island, she does her usual chatter about what is to come only her time on her journey is coming to an end and she thinks Fiji is the perfect place to conclude her love story. Walking through sand and pathways to her family’s villa, she gives a review of each of her men. There isn’t anything we haven’t heard her say before about them, but her comments serve as a reminder of why she (and we) are there.
Ashley: Ben is unique and being with him is effortless, yet with JP there is a passion I’ve never felt before.
The Prickly Sister Thorn
Shifting gears as she gets closer to the villa, she tells us that she is so happy her family is there to help her make this decision. Her sister, Chrystie, squeals and runs to hug her while her mom, Laurie, brother, Elliot , and step-father, Mike aren’t far behind. Ashley feels closest to her mother, but trusts her sister’s advice a lot more. She tells them that they will be meeting JP first and she has this burning passion and that when she looks at him, nothing else matters. Then she tells them that Ben is fun, goofy and outgoing (all the while windmilling her arms.) She states that her conflict is whether to go with her gut and passion or go with her head though the passion isn’t there, but could be in the future.
She tells them she is IN LOVE!
All right this is the Finale where the lead expresses the conflict of which to choose because both are so great. It is now editing’s job to bring out the conflict by showing both relationships in a rose colored light. But, wait, one of her roses has thorns, which plays beautifully into the usual problem they have making the second place finisher’s relationship look brighter than it is.
Chrystie: I do hope I like them, because if I don’t like them, then something is wrong.
JP arrives on the sun baked patio with a bottle of wine and a freshly shaved head. A glowing Ashley can’t wait to introduce him and tells us that they were accepting of him and trusting of her. Over the meal set on a heated patio, Laurie welcomes JP to the family, but Chrystie then asks a simple question and doesn’t like the answer.
Ashley along with Laurie and Chrystie seeks a cooler indoor spot for a chat and Crystie bluntly tells her she doesn’t think JP is the one for her. She doesn’t see the connection. Laurie intervenes, but Ashley only hears her sister. Ashley defends her connection in that this is more serious than it was with Brad. Chrystie thinks that Ashley is too much for JP; that she is too young and JP is too old. I interpret that to mean that Ashley is vibrant and JP is more reserved. Chrystie’s words hurt Ashley to the point of tears. Ashley tells her that she really, really cares about him. She values Chrystie’s opinion and had hoped for clarity, but at the moment she has become more confused. In other words, she thought her family (all of them) would welcome JP with open arms and she could take him to the final rose with confidence. But now, Chrystie has muddied the waters with her snap judgment, which she defends by claiming to be logical while Ashley is emotional. Laurie tells her to follow her heart, which, it turns out, isn’t that easy for Ashley.
Crystie sits with JP and immediately tells him that she was tough on Ashley because she is skeptical of their relationship together. JP looks stunned when she tells him she doesn’t see “it” between the two of them. Both Mike and Elliot counsel Ashley that what Chrystie has done isn’t right. That she shouldn’t have judged on so short an acquaintance; but Ashley walks JP back to the beach with her insecurities weighing heavily and leaves him with his own uncertainties about the state of her heart. Will this thorn be plucked or allowed to fester?
Laid Back Wins Sisterly Approval
As Ashley predicted, everyone approves of the laughter and fun Ben brings to his introduction. Ben arrives with wine. This time the family learned from the sweaty patio experience with JP and holds his introduction inside in the air conditioning. Ashley parodies her sister’s expectations by jumping up and windmilling her arms. “Tell me is this what you expected?” Ben is out of the loop on the reference, but goes along with the fun. She continues to force the fun with Ben by having him join her in their “dog talk” impressions winning her sister’s approval.
Ashley: I think that my family can see how I feel, that I am smitten. Everything with Ben is perfect in my eyes.
Chrystie takes Ben to sit by the pool and tells him she wanted to see Ashley being herself and she does with Ben, that it is refreshing. He admits to her that he is in love with Ashley, without a doubt. He figured out on their last date that they are best friends, but there is much more to it than just friends. He says that her unforced laughter on that date showed him that she is in love with him. He is ready to propose because it’s been an easy, natural progression.
Chrystie: I could see that Ashley was herself around him and that is what I was looking for.
This is a much more successful interaction and Ben feels good about it. Because he has been accepted into the family, he knows this is right and he sees them together in the end. Though, while Ashley enjoys the love and zest for life she gets with Ben, she can’t forget about that special bond she has with JP that could last a lifetime.
Ashley tells us that while she values her family’s opinion, she trusts her instincts.
Last Chance Mudbath
When Ashley greets Ben for their Last Chance Date, she leads him toward a surprise…a helicopter ride to their destination. I can’t help but notice that unlike her Fantasy Date with JP, Ashley and Ben don’t cuddle or even touch that much while enjoying the views. But, then she takes him to a pond of mud used in restorative cures. There is a lot of touching involved here as they smear each other before rinsing off.
Ben: I’m with a beautiful woman and I’m just a lucky man. We have that playful friend side, but at the same time gooping each other up with mud is quite erotic.
Ashley: There is nothing better than being here with Ben. I can never see myself having a bad moment with him. Once again it is perfect.
Ashley visits Ben at his hotel room where he chills champagne and plans to tell her that he loves her. He toasts to everything going well tonight and hoping everything is well received. She cheers to that. In a slow awkward way, he leads up to his feelings for her before he tells her there have been multiple moments that he loved her.
Ashley: I feel that love, I feel completely free when I’m with him and I would be very lucky to spend the rest of my life.
They kiss and cuddle on the bed as Ben remarks that all the walls are now down. He knows that Ashley is telling him that she loves him in the only way she can.
Prickly Thorn Removed
Once again Ashley and JP enjoy quiet time together rather than an adventure date. There is the prickly rose thorn between them and it must be talked out.
Ashley: I think it is good that I’m stepping back and making sure this relationship really works, you know the passion and the attraction. I want to be sure that I can see a life with JP.
JP vents about the reception by her sister saying it just kind of left a scar on the whole family get together. He doesn’t understand how she can judge them based on fifteen minutes.
JP: Why would she do that? Your sister really screwed me up. My biggest concern of all is that you would feel differently about us.
Ashley: It caught me off guard and it made me question, but I think any good relationship has to be questioned. What I see is that we are different and my sister was seeing that as we’re not compatible.
They agree that neither has felt the need to explain their relationship to anybody. It just works.
Ashley: I want a dynamic interaction.
JP: That’s what we have. I think we’re a perfect fit.
Ashley: I’m thinking about the reality of us.
While having this discussion she strokes his fingers as even though they are in serious mode, she has to touch him.
JP: When it comes to you, I’m flexible on everything.
Ashley: You’re willing to start a life with me and not just have me fit into yours?
JP gives her a wry smile and says, “Yes, I want us to start a new life together. When you’re happy, I’m happy.” Ah, the wise man who understands that a happy wife makes for a happy life.
JP takes a leap of faith and tells her, “I told your entire family and now I’m telling you…I am madly in love with you.”
Ashley’s dimples appear and she pulls him forward for many kisses all around his face.
Ashley feels stronger now that he has declared himself and they stroll down to the beach for a prolonged kiss as the scene fades to sunset.
The next scene opens with Ashley already in his hotel suite where he pops open champagne and invites her to the bedroom. There he presents her with a scrapbook/photo album with a photo already attached of their fantasy date time on the private island. He’s written her a letter and asks her to read it. It starts out with “Dear Ashley, this is the first chapter of the greatest love story ever told…” and continues in that romantic vein.
Ashley: I get lost in JP; I get completely lost in him.
JP: I didn’t want her to leave. Tonight, Ashley made me feel that I was the one.
Sweaty Men and Diamond Rings
It’s the day of the Final Rose Ceremony and while Ashley ruminates on her options, both men make their way to meet with Neil Lane and examine the engagement rings he has brought all the way to Fiji.
Ben is both excited and nervous. He tells us that he knows this love is for real because it is not a feeling all that familiar to him. He chooses a ring with an infinity band studded in small diamonds.
Neil also has a part to play (since he came all this way after all and this isn’t his first dance) and asks Ben how the process has been for him. Ben tells him that it has been very natural, unforced and easy. He says that he and Ashley were friends first and foremost. Neil confirms that starting with a friendship is great.
Ben: This is a forever ring and I think it is perfect. I’m ecstatic to give it to her.
JP lets out a held breath when sitting down with Neil and acknowledges that the big day has finally hit him. He tells Neil that it has been a long road and he is both relaxed and anxious to be at the end.
Neil: What happens if she says no?
JP chooses a square cut surrounded by small diamonds both on the mount and the band.
(This section is filled with voice overs ad nauseum.)
First Man to Arrive and to Exit
Ashley slips into a sleek white long gown with feathers on the skirt that sway in the strong breeze blowing at the FRC altar site. She says that despite the rollercoaster, she is so happy the way everything happened because it lead her to this moment; but there is still a chance she could get hurt.
To the strains of majestic music, both sea planes are shown making their way with precious cargo to the beach head where Ashley waits.
A plane floats into the beach and Ben emerges to be met by Chris Harrison who guides him to the steps leading down to the beach and Ashley.
They hug and she positions him. They loosely hold hands and Ben comments that she doesn’t have a ring on her finger. Ashley begins her speech with,”I, um…” and he counters with, “Before you say anything…” He talks of his love and gets down on his knee to present the ring before she can stop him. After an awkward silence she takes his hand in both of hers and helps him rise.
Ben: Wow. I didn’t see this one coming.
Ashley: I know this was unexpected and, um, and I want you to know that this is hard.
Ben lets out a deep sigh and says, “I guess that’s it, right?”
He strides away and begins to climb the stairs before she catches up to him, wanting to say her piece. When she begins with positive words, he tells her not to sugarcoat the experience. He got dumped and his anger comes to the surface when he tells her that one can’t leave something like this on good terms. He is in shock and utter disbelief and says that good things don’t end unless they end badly.
He walks away and gives another PI of disappointment before boarding a skiff that motors him out toward the ocean over rough, choppy waves.
Last Man Standing
Ashley waves at the seaplane carrying JP in for a landing and tells us that he will be the best husband and the best father. Chris stands as a guardian of the beachhead waiting for JP to land. After a greeting he guides him, as he did Ben, to the steps leading down to his fate and Ashley. Chris shakes his hand, wishes him good luck and gestures toward the stairs. JP smiles from ear to ear when he sees Ashley. She greets him with, “Hello, handsome;” and he returns the greeting by telling her she looks gorgeous.
Quickly swinging him into position, she clasps his hands by twining fingers. JP speaks first and says that the hardest thing has been to not know. His biggest fear has been falling in love with her and having his heart broken again. To overcome that fear he needed to take a leap of faith and that is exactly what this is. The romantic moment heats up as he tells her that he smiles because of her and that he is madly in love with her. After they kiss, Ashley confesses her love and that she had been wanting to tell him for so long.
A beautiful sunset streams through overcast skies and with the wind whipping, JP sinks to one knee, and much to Ashley’s delight produces a ring to go along with his question, “Ashley, will you marry me?”
A beaming, smiling from ear to ear Ashley, says, “Yes;” he slips the ring on her finger, rises and they kiss and kiss and kiss. In between scenes from their journey to love, she pins on the final rose.
Ashley: JP, will you accept the last and final rose?
Ashley: I love you so much.
He picks her up for the twirl, they wade in the ocean getting her feathers all wet, and take a lovers’ stroll on the sand. True Love (as hoped for by those with rose colored glasses) has been once again realized on The Bachelorette.
But, how are they doing three months after the proposal? Look for my recap of the ATFR.