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Thrills! Chills! Mind bogging highs and death-defying plunges into troughs of despair! Yes, it's time for another week on the bi-polar roller coaster known as Ashley Hebert. The Bachelorette who's up!--she's down!--she's chirpy!--she's bawling!--she's optimistic!--she's destined to die a lonely old spinster! My stomach was so roiled by following her around through every soaring leap and sudden 90* plunge that I had to take Dramamine halfway through the episode. If a storm hadn't hit and knocked my satellite offline, I don't think I could have made it. This week, the Coaster visited the crowded, smelly, hellhole of Honk Kong, China; the place where they must have filmed Blade Runner; futuristic, flashing with neon lights like a House of Horrors, and covered in a permanent mist/smog. I was glad my TV doesn't have a "smell-o-rama"chip in it. Even the Dramamine wouldn't have stopped the retching if it had. Often this show edits people until they are unrecognizable to even their own families. Well that's one thing we don't have to fear in regards to Ashley. This is twice we've seen her and one thing couldn't be any clearer: this broad is nuts!
Dot, Dot, Dot...Period!...Until Ashley Starts Talking Again.
As the episode open with all the necessary Bentley recaps hammering away, Ashley handles the promo spot for the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce while at a building rooftop, Harrison greets the roving frat party and covers this weeks product-placement gimme', the Conrad Hotel. Harrison sports for the hotel as they overlook one of the world's most important centers for commerce and world trade. Yawn.
Whose daffy-assed idea was this? Hong Kong, City of Romance? Since when? Maybe Eraser Head Ames got all giddy being this close to so much action on the Nikkei Exchange, but for the rest of the world, the only people who think Hong Kong and Romance together in the same sentence are young entrepreneurs trying to get venture capital for a tech startup. It's the size of a postage stamp and inhabited by 2 billion people who managed to escape being raped by Chinese Commies only by being raped by British Imperialists instead. The only thing good about this location was giving me an excuse to include a picture of one of the most underrated superheroes of all time: Hong Kong Phooey; the only dog ever to change into a superhero inside a filing cabinet and the only one to store his supercar in a dumpster. Regardless, its dating time. But first...
Douchebag on Parade
Before the boys can get too deep into enjoying being trapped in a high rise marvel, its time to address the focal point of the entire season to this point: Big Head Bentley. And Ashley's mad this guy wasted so much of her time? How about my time, Ashley? You think you're pissed. Anyway, with the recap in the rear view, Harrison hustles down to Ashley's room to let her know that Cranium the Colossus is in the hotel and ready to see her. Ashley nearly faints with joy and makes it until the commercial break before she charges down to see him. The editing axe struck this scene so thoroughly it was hard to make head or tails from it. Basically, you get the feeling that Bentley was only too happy to come back and get a free trip to Hong Kong out of the deal. In between, he laced her with mixed signals (a hand on her leg, a smile, an offer to see her in Utah "if things don't work out.") while committing to nothing. She finally presses him into a corner and he pretty much tells her she needs to hook up with someone on the show. Ashley's face falls and she starts to get angry. "Why did you come back? Why didn't you just call? If you came on this show for the reasons Michelle Money said you did, just to mess with me and get me to fall for you, then mission fucking accomplished!" Argh! At last! She is blind but now she can see. Realizing she's been played, Ashley storms out and drops a string of F-bombs in her wake. The producer's seem to dig her profanity because they stage an interview where she snarls at the camera, "I'm done with you! Fuck you, Bentley!" But don't get too worried, folks, she'll be deliriously happy again in mere minutes. One of the perks of Ashley. She changes like the weather. She hits the door on the way out while Bentley sits there smirking like an ass and probably planning his wild vacation itinerary of visiting a few venture capital firms. What a D-bag. I would have been relieved had I not heard his name 50,000 more times in the episode. It's also important to remember for later that if Bentley had come back to rejoin the cast, she would have taken him back in a Hong Kong minute. Keep that in mind for later, when almost every guy on the show pops a rivet when she finally tells them she fell for Bentley.
Let's...Let's Wander Around Some More.
The wingman, exhausted from working hours on end to secure Bentley's free vacation, lets Ashley feed us the date line up for the week. There will be two, 1on1's, and one Group Date this week. The boys read the card back at the Conrad and we hear that Lucas the Enigma is about to drop the Enigma and step out into the light. Universally despised (especially by me) Sunny Ryan, predicts Lucas' doom; which means he's in for a rose. Ashley promptly takes him to downtown Hong Kong to wander around a little more. Ashley is now fully recovered, she happily informs us and drops a few hundred more "Bentley's". Having nowhere interesting to go and very little to do, the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce arranges for a Chinese Parade Dragon to meet them in a city square and put on a little show. Cosmopolitan Ashley, who has marveled to Lucas that Hong Kong is like New York(inside a snow globe) watches the Dragon, laughing. Lucas, the West Texas Cowboy, stares at the thing like its from outer space, tells us he has never been to New York, and looks like he wants to whip out his grandaddy's 4-10 shotgun and blast it. They then wander over to some seedy street vendors and sample the local exotic cuisine...just like Ashley did with both Ben and Constantine. They eat what we are told are pig intestines and Lucas scowls and asks for a hamburger. I must be a rednecked peckerwood like Lucas. I've never been to New York either and I would have asked for a hamburger too. At some point, Ashley leads Lucas out onto a gaily lit junk that's moored in Hong Kong Harbor and they eat some real food. Or try to. I'm sure the smell from 15 centuries of people dumping crap into that polluted harbor could have knocked a buzzard off a shitwagon, but they give it a try. Mostly though, they let Lucas loose the enigma and talk about his divorce a little more. He finishes by telling her, "God has a plan for me." Ashley, whom reports insist is a devoted atheist, must have wondered like I did why god wanted Lucas to get divorced, but whatever. He gives us no details why they got divorced except that they fell out of love. Thanks for the nitty gritty. Lucas seems a solid guy, but man is he boring. He then (in his boring, courtly, southern gentlemanly way) asked to kiss her and they go at it with less heat than West Texas cousins. So, to sum up: compatibility? No. Chemistry? Ha, you jest. Rose? Sure, why the hell not? Ashley is nearly 50% Bentley-free and in a giddy mood. She pins the flower on him and he shows us that West Texas oil field wildcatters know cliches too: "Mannn, that thar was the best 1st date a maaah lifeeee!" Yee-haw. Date over.
Dragon Boat Racing
Ok, I'm not gonna' wreck em too bad here; at least they tried to do something fun. Awkward but fun, but at least they tried; which is a helluva lot more than they've been doing most of this season. Ashley, dressed like MaryAnn from Gilligan's Island gone horribly wrong, meets the boys at the beach, splits them into three teams, and tells them they are going to row Dragon Boats in a race, but first they will have to recruit crews from the locals to help out.
The Teams are:
Red Team: Consisting of the look-a-like twins, Vino Ben and Constantine Hercules, who seem to have a major bromance in the works.
Blue Team: With sworn enemies, Blake, the smarmy dentist, and relentlessly chipper asswipe, Sunny Ryan.
Black Team: Consisting of failed boxers Mickey Finn, and Eraser Head Ames.
All three groups head off into the market square and try to recruit team members to help them crew their boats. Romantic? Uh, no. But potentially fun, which is more than we can say for the last month of this show. Sunny Ryan, using his sunshiny entremanureialship, quickly signs an English-speaking, professional Dragon Boat crew. Mickey and Ames wander around and I was honestly disappointed Ames didn't break out the local lingo and sign an Olympic-caliber Dragon Boat crew and get his own tech startup financed while he was it. But no. They do however, put together a fair squad. Bromancers Constantine and Ben meanwhile, struggle around and try and sign on couples because everyone knows women make such fantastic competitive boat oarsmen. Huh? Anyway, they quickly realize that A) this whole thing is stupid, and B) they suck at it, so they decide to go buy some loud robes and just have fun. Arriving on the beach, Ben and Constantine appear in silky, fire-engine red robes that look like Hefner's pajamas and bring with them a herd of about thirty middle-aged Chinese women. They crew their boats and off we go. Ashley rides on the bow of one of the boat's still dressed like MaryAnn gone wrong while Ryan and Blake and their professional crew take off like rockets. Ames and Mickey try and stay even but fall back quickly while Ben, Constantine, and their 30 Chinese grandmothers get "smoked like a salmon." Once they are all safely back on dry land, some couple down the beach seems to have gotten engaged so they can help Hong Kong with their overpopulation problem a little more. Roller Coaster Ashely sees this as another hopeful augur that someone will eventually marry her and heads UP! for the moment. They head to after boat race party back at the hotel lounge and give all the boys a chance to curse Ryan for being a dickweed. They show pretty much everyone who is left comment on what a wearisome piece of work Ryan is, so we can prepare ourselves for when he gets the rose. Before Ryan gets rosed for being fake, Eraser Head Ames takes Ashley into the elevator and WHOA! Looks who's drunk? Bout damn time! Not since night 1, when Tim the alcohol salesman overtested his wares, have we seen anyone tipsy and I'll be damn if it isn't the Eraser Head! Ames takes her into the elevator with a snifter of brandy, presses the button for the 48th floor, drops the effeminate Iy League manners and WHOA! He mauls her! The elevator stops on the 21st floor and some shocked Chinese had to have their shouts edited out:
"Disgusting Americans! Get a room!"
Ames calmly presses the 48th floor button and dives on her again, tonguing his way all the way to the 48th floor observation deck. I've been hard on this guy but he's clearly changed his ways! Props to the Eraser Head! I'm so pleased by his performance I'm even gonna' skip the puke-inducing recap of Ryan getting the date rose for being a fake.
Your Only Romance for the Last 5 Weeks
While the boating action done, a date card has arrived and Lucas, the texas Cowboy reads off the name of J.P., the skinhead. With some closure on the Bentley mess finally delivered, this date should be critical. Now this was the part my DVR skipped when the satellite went out and I went online to day to watch this. I ca't remember a whole lot about where they went and what they did, but I remember the important part. I have given up trying to guess about the loony editing this show has spouted the past few seasons, but what I saw sure looked like a firm frontrunner staking his claim. The dinner part was the most instructive when Ashley finally told J.P. about her Bentley obsession. J.P takes it calmly and takes an optimistic stance, thanking Ashley for being honest and glad she has gotten closure. What's clear is to just what extent this guy digs her and damn if it didn't look mutual. J.P swears he's never felt a connection this strong in his entire life and Ashley exclaims that J.P. is the most handsome man in the entire world! Really? The Jewish skinhead from Long Island? Hey, different strokes and all that, but this was really sweet. No acting appeared to be in the effort either. These two looked like they forgot about the cameras and went goo-goo over each other. Roller Coaster UP! But I am unspoiled, so this could all be misdirection edit for all I know. But it looked cool anyway. Rose? Zero doubt. Date over.
The Men Grow a Few Pairs!
The cocktail party begins, and Ashely, fresh off two successful dates, is UP! for the moment. Careful, young lady, you're about to meet one of the 90* hairpin dives. She marches into the party brimming with confidence and can't wait to unburden herself about the Bentley affair to all the men. Hey, I'm sure she thought, "J.P. took it well." Wrong move. All men are different on this score, and the fact that J.P. took it so well is that he appears to be in love with you, Ashley. The rest? Eh, not so much. She sits down among them and tells them the cold truth about Bentley. "I had fallen for him. I suffered through this more than you knew. Since he left, half of my heart has been with him." Faces fall. Constantine Hercules strikes first, "The one on one date we had, we spoke of honesty; this seems to contradict that."
Lucas the Cowboy: "Why did you wait to tell us!"
Blake, who has had no 1 on 1 at all, gets to hear that Bentley got a 1 on 1 in a hotel room. He is mad, as is Mickey Finn, Vino Ben, even Ames seems somewhat displeased. They're all mad except J.P., who appears smitten with her, and Mr. Fake Ryan. Intercuts show Private Interviews and these guys are livid, especially Lucas. "I hate it when people waste my time! And she has wasted my time!"
Ashley bolts away bawling and then sits down 1-on1 with many of them to hear how pissed off they are. Blake strikes hard: "Why am I even here? I haven't had a 1-on-1 and you don't seem to care about me at all!"
Sunny Ryan gets her alone and kisses her hand, her cheeks, her ass; any part of her so he can get the rose. Not normal, folks. J.P defends her much like he is defending a lady he obviously considers "his woman." Props to the Skinhead; he did the right thing. The rest aren't as close to her and all feel like yesterday's dogbreakfast. Men don't like feeling like the 2nd choice anymore than women do, maybe even less. We have giant egos. Ryan and his fake shtick merely prove how fake he is. He should have been pissed off. I also saw Ashley look at him suspiciously for the first time while he tried to schmooze her. Every other guy except J.P., who was told privately, is as mad as a hornet or at least disheartened. Not Ryan. No, the cheesmachine wanna-be is just burbling all over her about how wonderful she is. If you doubt me, Dear Reader, remember who warned you about Jake Pavelka from his 1st night on this show. It's more than editing; every one of the 8 remaining guys have said they don't like Ryan, but his story arc so strongly resembles Jake's it makes me nauseous! (Don't do it Fliess!) Mickey Finn, who may have been on the chopping block or not, has had enough. He sits down with her and basically says he's through. Ashley tells him to get moving then. The editors were all over this but Mickey had seen enough and departs. He climbs into the boat and sails off on the polluted harbor as the other men stand in salute above a rail and raise their fists to him. It makes me wonder if the producer's didn't start to move forcefully to stave off an exodus. Lucas already had a rose, but looks ready to chuck it into the harbor and go with Mickey. Ashley races in and apologizes her ass off bawling to help stem the tide. She was trying to be honest and didn't feel she could be until the matter was resolved. Hey Harrison, Fliess, this is your faults! You didn't need to let her stew a month. She was in a no-win situation and it blew up in her face. Props Ashley, you did you best. Props J.P., you defended her without denouncing the other guys for being justifiably pissed off. Props Mickey Finn for having a strong enough sense of worth to hit the bricks. Considering the reactions of the men, if anyone here is engaged to her besides J.P., I'll be stunned.
Already Safe: J.P., the Chivalrous Skinhead; Lucas the Texas Cowboy; Ryan the Douche.
1) Vino Ben--not sure where his heads at.
2) Constantine--This guy isn't even slightly invested in Ashley.
3) Eraser Head Ames: becoming a pirate favorite.
Next Week: Hell, I don't know; they didn't say.