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Avid viewers know that the producers have a story to tell. For this series it is the journey of Ashley and her quest to find a husband. In order to keep us interested in her plight, they need to pull bits and pieces from film and sound to keep us guessing and to advance her struggle toward what will be a happy ending for her and for us. To that end we have watched the Bentley saga play out, and tonight we watch Ashley find herself. There will still be conflict until the conclusion, but like with all the other series in this franchise it will be with the lead and not the suitors, or will it? Ashley narrates her own story this episode as she did the past episode by defining her choices and her fears.
She arrives at the Islands of Fiji by air then seaplane then boat to the landing at the Namali Resort and Spa. Once she has docked, she stands on a deck overlooking the bay and sets up her expectations and hopes for the date sequence giving us adjectives for each of the men.
Ben: goofy, silly, fun, playful, sincere and honest.
Constantine: physically attractive, a good head on his shoulders, mature, smart, thoughtful and true to his feelings.
J.P.: Absolutely gorgeous like a model, cute smile, sincere, a grown man, she has connected both physically and emotionally with him.
Before Ashley can go on her dream dates, she gets an unexpected visitor. We last left Ryan walking a path in Taiwan crying his little heart out – well, sort of. We pick him up in this episode walking a path through the Namali resort reporting that he didn’t get closure (a reverse Bentley – terrific for story telling.) He says he called Chris Harrison (which Chris confirms in his blog) asking for the chance to see Ashley. Many miles later, he knocks on the door of her suite and nervously asks for a second chance. Ashley, in shock, doesn’t know what to say so he tells her he is sticking around for a few days and she can talk to him later about whether she had regrets sending him home. Is this the last we see of Ryan? Uh, remember the No Regrets theme. He will get his closure later in the episode. This was just a teaser.
First date of the cycle and it involves a flying catamaran with a lovely large seat on the bow, snorkels and fins for viewing exotic fish in the Fijian ocean and a day of goofy, silly, playful fun.
Ben: Today was hysterically perfect. It’s amazing how easy it is.
They eat their evening meal on the grounds of Namali with waves crashing in the background. Toward the end of the meal, Ashley pulls out her first fantasy suite card and makes him read the words we all know by heart. But before they adjourn to a suite where the bed is sprinkled with Bachelor rose petals and take to cavorting in a pool surrounding the room, Ben tells Ashley that he looks to the future, while Ashley fishes for an I Love You from him. He tells her he feels fully committed. In a PI he says that his feelings are growing and he is on his way to the “whole I Love You thing.”
Ben: I’m not going to tell Ashley I love her tonight. I’m a little nervous.
We leave them to their privacy when Ben carries Ashley from the pool to the suite.
Ashley: I can see myself with Ben and I can see really falling in love with him.
Do we really need to discuss Constantine’s date? All right, if you insist, but compared to Ben’s date there was no cavorting, canoodling or laughter. Constantine is excited to ride in a helicopter for the first time…took his attention right off of Ashley. Then he seems distracted even while jumping off a gorgeous jungle waterfall. Anyhoo, during their picnic, Ashley comments to him that he takes his time. After all it took him 180 viewings of houses to buy before he found that perfect man cave. By the time dinner rolls around, Ashley sees that this potential for romance is dead in the water, but for the sake of the show, tries to pull a bit out of him. What she pulls out is one of the things she likes most about him – which is that he is true to his feelings. Well, he isn’t feeling – at least toward her. After a nice goodbye speech and without protest from Ashley he takes his leave, packs his bags and heads home. Okay, this next part is pure direction on production’s part as the last scene has Ashley pick up the unused fantasy suite card, stare at it, drop it on the table and also leave the area. Whew! See how Ashley’s story is playing out? She wouldn’t have given him a rose anyway, but this made the sequence much more quietly dramatic. So long Constantine – have a nice flight back to your man cave.
Now that Constantine is out of her life, she needs to sweep the decks so she can concentrate on the two men with whom she has connected. Ryan opens the door all nervous again and invites her to step out onto a deck overlooking the bay. Ashley doesn’t take long to get to the point, takes a stand and tells him goodbye – no regrets. Saddened after she leaves, Ryan spouts stuff about finding true love and leans against the deck rail. I really thought he was going to perform at least a half-Mesnick, but no such luck. All in all, though, he has set up a storyline about needing true love for them to use if (when) Ryan is the next Bachelor. Well done.
J.P. (Jordan Paul)
Ashley now wonders if either of the two remaining men are ready and willing to fall in love with her. She is going to take a risk and put it all out there for J.P.
A groaning welcoming hug shows what she means. She beams, he beams and they don’t let go of each other.
Ashley: J.P. has been my rock throughout all of this and I feel that all the stress goes away when I’m with him.
In a seaplane on their way to a private island, they cuddle. It’s a good thing they don’t need to talk because the background music is so swelling and majestic it drowns out the propeller noise.
J.P. glows when he talks about building memories with Ashley and this latest is priceless.
Ashley: What J.P. and I have is special and I think could last a lifetime.
Before they wade out into the ocean for some quality romance, J.P. tells her that his family loved her and his father said she would fit right into the family. Ashley almost bounces hearing this news.
J.P.: When I see Ashley, I see the woman I want to spend my life with; all worries fade away and it’s just me and her. That’s how it should be and it just feels right. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m definitely falling in love with her.
During their romantic evening meal in the middle of the jungle, he tries to find a way to express his feelings without saying, “I love you,” because there are still others in the picture.
As she did in Hong Kong, Ashley confides in J.P. that both Constantine and Ryan are gone. But, she tells about Ryan returning in such a way that he first thinks she’s talking about Bentley and provides viewers with a cute moment when telling her his thought that both laugh. (Finally – a laughing moment.)
Ashley to J.P.: I remember what it is to want to be the only one and you hold back a little bit and you can’t be where you want if you hold back.
J.P. (PI): I just need a little bit more (from her) before I take that leap of faith.
He promises her that this is not a competition to beat out Ben. He wants to be the last man standing, not because he wants to beat him, he just wants her.
J.P.: I need to know that she feels what I feel.
After he reads the fantasy suite card, both he and Ashley grin like little devils and make haste to a suite in the middle of the jungle. Ashley welcomes him to their home and after a little wine, leaves to change into something sexy. They lie together on the bed with the rose petals and the scene fades as they kiss and touch leaving much to the imagination. Oh, my blushes.
This whole date screamed young love Romance, BUT Ashley has to finish out the show and there is still fun loving Ben in the wings. Thus we get the whole stressing about whether either will love her back (the secondary theme of the season.)
The Last Two Standing
After consulting with the Bachfather about whether or not a Rose Ceremony is even needed, she decides to go ahead as she wants to offer each a rose in such a way that they have to make a commitment to her in order to continue. She repeats the Constantine leaving story as Ben hadn’t heard it then carefully presents her roses:
Ben says yes
J.P. says absolutely
With that worry off her mind, she advances the plot to another island of Fiji where they will meet her family, have some final dates and then the final rose ceremony.
BUT…before we get to see what we all hope is a happy and romantic conclusion to this saga, we must sit through The Men Tell All (or nothing as we know to be mostly true.) That show will air next Sunday, 7-31 from 9-11 PM. Then the following evening, Monday, 8-1 from 8-10 PM we will have the Finale and from 10-11PM the After the Final Rose Special. Then it is over…till next season.