We started out the most dramatic season finale ever (and this time, maybe they got it right) with the requisite flashbacks with the voice-over asking, "But will he propose?" Who's in charge of continuity in this series? It was less than 24 hours ago that we saw both Ben and J.P. getting down and proposing to Ashley. The producers have zero confidence in their product. They just can't believe viewers watch each episode.
Tonight was the night we saw the boys meet Ashley's family in Fiji. And it might very well have been the best meeting of the family in series history. Not only because Amy Winehouse came back from the black to guest star, but because she called it as she saw it. Japes, not the funnest guy to begin with, was a little stiff meeting Ashley's mom, step-dad, brother and sister. He made Ames look like Andy Dick. Big sister Chrystie noticed this right off the bat and asked Ashley at the dinner table if J.P. makes her laugh. Ashley stumbled through an answer and the rest, as they say, is history. Tears flowed, accusations thrown, names called. And despite her typical big sister ways, Chrystie, I think, nailed it. And the best part is she didn't back down. She told J.P. what she thought flat-out (he's too old and "demure" for the wild and crazy Ashley) and just can't see them together long-term. Then in a tete-a-tete with Ashley, Chrystie didn't soften one iota. It was awesome.
Ash's mom told Ashley to follow her heart which is just about the last thing in the world Ashley should do. She has one of the stupidest hearts we've seen on this show. It doesn't know what's best for her. The best advice would be to listen carefully to what her heart is telling her... and then do the exact opposite.
Chrystie told J.P. that she wouldn't be happy if he proposed, questioned why a man of his age would be single (he's 34), and said there wasn't anything he could do to turn things around. Yeah, yeah, she did her mea culpa on the After The Final Rose show, but she had little choice.
When the two sisters sat down and hashed it out, Chrystie rightfully pointed out to Ash that her heart (or gut) once led her to the cretinous Bentley, too, so how could she trust it now? She said she wants to protect Ashley from herself. And mentioned, on a few occasions, that she's a rational person (despite the poor choices she made with body art) rather than an emotional one like younger sister. That's exactly how I am, too. And I have those types of discussions with friends and loved ones where they're all emotional and I'm trying to shove rationality down their throats and I can see now how horribly frustrating it must be to listen to someone like me. But here's my argument for rationality over emotion: How do emotional people get over some negative emotion that's got them all in a tizzy? They eventually use their brains to get through it. Why not just skip the middle man?
J.P. was pissed off at Chrystie and wasn't all too thrilled with Ashley's reaction, either. He wanted more support from her. The guy is fragile. How many times did he talk about heartbreak tonight? And how many times have we heard about his last bout of heartbreak? Is it possible Ashley chose him because she didn't want to have to deal with the fallout of breaking his heart?
Next up was Ben, who wowed the Hebert family, sister included. Throughout the show, I was so impressed with him. He's young, good-looking, successful, thoughtful, fun, articulate, intelligent, and does ridiculous dog voices. And he and Ashley seemed like the perfect match. When he was interrogated by Chrystie, I thought he must have been tipped off about what to say because he nailed it. He told her he was in love with Ashley, said he could tell she was in love with him by where the laughter was coming from (fending off the question of whether he makes her laugh), and stated that they were at the right age and points in their careers (i.e. not an old geezer like J.P.).
One knock on Chrystie's otherwise sound arguments came when she wondered if they would be able to maintain that upbeat, positive energy long-term. Afterall, she said, she's been married and divorced. Well, that explains things. Methinks Chrystie has unreasonably high expectations of marriage. Long-term relationships have ebbs and flows. It's not all dance dance party party all the time.
On their last date, Ashley and Ben sauntered along. Ashley asked Ben what he expected. He had no idea. I seriously was thinking he should say helicopter because it is The Bachelorette, afterall. And sure enough, there's a helicopter. It whisked them away to a healing mud bath where the two of them caressed mud all over each other erotically. That night, he finally tells her he loves her and they start kissing, their walls fall down and they're like two kids in love. She wraps her leg over him as they make out, revealing a zit on her bum. Yes, like two kids, indeed. But it's scenes like this, and the numerous other make-out scenes with Ben, that I just know must be eating away at J.P. How can a jealous guy like that watch what she had with Ben and just let it slide?
On her date with Japes, he also tells her that he's in love with her, upping the ante by including "madly". They also kiss, but it lacks what she showed with Ben. A hint, though, did pass her lips. As she pulled away, she said, "You're the best ever." Okay, but with Ben, she never pulled away.
J.P. also made a visit to the props department and got them to put together a photo album. Then he headed over to the writers' room and got them to pen the most obsequious note, which, natch, she fell for:
My dearest Ashley,Ashley told us she gets lost in J.P. and she's totally infatuated with him. Me, I don't get it, but then again it's not for me to get. I think he's one of the least charismatic finalists we've seen in a long time. Maybe she was looking for a father figure. And when we saw her printing in her diary (yes, she allowed the camera to film part of her diary entry), you really got a sense of just how young she is. Printing? I've heard from teacher friends that cursive writing is on the outs but this is the first I've seen of it from an adult, let alone a near-dentist.
This is the first chapter to the greatest love story ever told. The past few months have been the happiest of my life and I can't wait to see what the future holds. Meeting you has changed my life forever and falling in love with you is the best thing that has ever happened to me. When we look back years from now, still happy and very much in love, we'll always remember this time in our lives when Ashley and J.P. first began. I love you, baby, with all my heart and I can't wait for the next chapter.
Then it comes time to break Ben's heart. And despite her making the wrong choice, it was perhaps the best break-up in series history. Going into it, Ben was as confident as we've seen him all season. He talked about proposing to her and saying "she will say yes". He called their relationship a fairy tale (little did he know it was a Grimm fairy tale) and tearfully spoke of his deceased father, whom he lost 4.5 years ago but he'd be getting a new family member today. Ouch.
He strode confidently up to her. Her first words were, "Um... I..." and Ben took that as a cue he was the guy. So he took over, telling her how completely and utterly vulnerable he was. To prove his point, he got down on one knee, opened the ring box, flashed a big smile and said, "Will you marry me and make me the happiest man on Earth?"
Doh! And so began the greatest exit in series history. "Wow. I didn't see this one coming." As Chris Harrison said later, it was one of the most genuine reactions they've ever seen on this show. Finally, someone who doesn't walk back arm in arm. He simply said, "I guess that's it, right?" and walked off. Ashley caught up to him telling him how much she cares about him. "What I don't need you to do is sugarcoat it." This was Ben's shining moment. He showed emotion and intelligence with this gem: "You can't leave something like this on good terms. It's not possible. Good things don't end unless they end badly." He's a wise sage, that Ben.
Yay, Ben! Ben for the next Bachelor. That's a given, right?
I don't know why he thought J.P. was a safer bet than him, though. Because he and Ashley both live on the east coast? I can't think of any other reason. After sitting with the producers and saying there were no hints along the way, they gave Ben an Eskimo funeral, putting him onto a small boat and sending him to sea. Actually, we know from the After the Final Rose show that he took several flights back home, so where was that motorboat taking him? It was heading to the open waters.
When J.P. showed up, it was anti-climactic. Ashley said she thought Japes would make the best husband and the best father. Maybe. She's know better than us. I just didn't see anything that suggested he'd be any better or worse a husband or father than Ben. When he couldn't wipe the perma-smile off his face, Ashley said she always tells him he's going to get wrinkles when he's older. All I could think was he's got them now.
On After The Final Rose, the crowd cheered over the announcement of the selection. Am I completely out to lunch on this? Since I don't read anything about the show, I have no idea what the people think. Wasn't Ben the favourite? But maybe the ladies were cheering because it meant that Ben was still available.
You know I'm not a fan of the endless recaps in this series. It's bad enough when it's only been one week since the last episode, but how ridiculous is it to show recaps when what they're recapping occurred five minutes ago?!
Ashley continues to redefine her look, coming out as a dark brunette this time with her hair parted on the other side. Just when I was getting used to her old new look. When Ben sarcastically said, "Nice ring," there were gasps from the ladies. Jeezus, people are overly sensitive.
Ben asked her when she knew she'd chosen J.P. She replied that at one point she thought it would be Ben, but "it gets to a point where you have to follow your heart and that's what I did." Uh, can I have a follow-up? When exactly was that point, was the question. Was it that day, earlier in the week, day one? When? What kind of non-answer was that? She has a career in politics ahead of her.
Then we were treated to a special sneak-peak of a new series... for nine minutes yet! The only thing worse is that I think it sucked me in. Damn you, ABC.
The line of the night goes to Chrystie for accepting J.P. Rosenbaum into the family by talking about the amazing Christmases they'll have together. Classic.
So that's it. I guess I wish them the best. We only get to see a fraction of their relationship so maybe she made the right choice. It's highly unlikely, given her heart's faulty intelligence, but one never knows, do one?