RECAP: We’ll Never Confuse Ben and Constantine Again

Ashley Hebert’s season of The Bachelorette might not go down in the record books as one of the more stellar in franchise history, but it has likely set a record: most contestants to just walk away from a chance at true lasting temporary love with America’s most temporarily desirable woman.

With Constantine deciding to withdraw on Monday’s show at this shockingly late stage of the season (and yeah, you can argue that he could read the writing on the wall and spared Ashley from doing what she looked set to do anyway), that makes three of the guys who didn’t even wait for the Bachelorette to give them the boot – Mickey and Bentley (I assume you remember him) being the others. We’re not even going to talk about the guy who got drunk at the first cocktail party. And really, how many of the men have been sent home with the usual Bachelorette self-loathing after getting dumped? William? Ryan? And even Ryan seemed OK with his second ouster (I’m getting ahead of myself).

Fantasy Suite Night in Beautiful Fiji did nothing to shake the increasingly inevitable sense that J.P has this in the sack – er, in the bag. But I felt almost as sure about Chantal during the last Bachelor season, and she and her F-cup bra were left hanging by Brad Womack. So maybe the editors are doing their magic again, and Ashley has some hidden passion for Ben that’s been magically kept under wraps while she spills all her secrets to J.P.

But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Ben: “Almost” in love! Another reason I’m not buying Ben as the winner is that he’s getting what has proven to be the classic second place edit: the man who has held back emotionally due to past rejection or (as in the case of Ben and Ali’s #2, Chris) family tragedy, but has finally gotten up the courage to dare to love again … only to be tossed aside at the end. But even ignoring that aspect, does Ashley’s demeanor and body language around Ben suggest someone who is waiting on him to propose in a few days? Her words say “I’m falling for him,” but her eyes say “I wonder what J.P. looks like naked?”

Ben isn’t the most effusive guy in the world, but he seemed at ease on their date/cruise around Fiji, snorkeling and rubbing sunscreen on the Bachelorette. But at dinner, he revealed the dork within. After informing the viewers that this was where he would tell Ashley he loved her, he not only wimped out, he did in the worst way, saying to her, “I’m on my way to, you know, the whole ‘I love you’ thing.” I mean, I’m no Bentley, but that’s no way to go about it, right? Despite this epic fail, Ben got a Fantasy Suite invite anyway, complete with J.P. lurking in the foliage (I’m just assuming).

Thanks but no thanks: Ashley reminded us again that Constantine is completely her type physically, but man, is it unusual to get this far into a season without either half of a potential couple ever once displaying any spark or connection. Her voiceovers during their date (a chopper ride to a waterfall) revealed that she needed to start feeling passion, like now.  At dinner, she prodded him some about how slow he’s been to come across as if he’s really into her, and via this mutual back and forth, it seemed both realized they were feeling the same way: it wasn’t happening for them. Constantine informed Ashley he was not going to accept the Fantasy Suite invite (which technically had not yet been made) unless he felt he was in love, and since that wasn’t the case, he might as well just leave. After a quick hug – remember, this guy was Final 3 – Constantine was gone, without a single regret from Ashley except for her fears that maybe the other two would feel the same way.

Just one more word about hot water heaters: Make that the other three, as Ryan had flown to Fiji on his own initiative (so he said) because he felt Ashley had ignored their initial spark and had cut him too soon, on their first and only solo date. These return appearances from the rejected are becoming clichés on this franchise, and mostly seem like ways to fill out what would otherwise be very difficult two-hour blocs late in the season.  Frankly, it’s hard to see what Ryan found potentially hopeful about being sent packing in the middle of a date, but anyway, there he was.

After being forced to cool his heels in Fiji for a few days (there was hilarious footage of him standing on the beach as Ashley’s and Constantine’s chopper soared over him), Ryan finally got his answer from Ashley … which was the same as the one she gave him in Taipei. This time, though, Ryan seemed satisfied with the answer, after noticing that her demeanor was that of a woman in love. He wondered out loud if he was ever meant to meet the perfect woman, yadda yadda, an interlude that sure sounded like the groundwork for a future storyline, in case he’s the next Bachelor. That would be a fun season – instead of women being sent to the Limo of Rejection, they would go to a compost bin instead.

One more week, fella: J.P’s date was a lot like the others: seaplane trip to a tiny island. The only thing different is that Ashley is just clearly more excited about seeing him than the others. And while J.P. isn’t bringing up the L Word either (at least on camera – the producers might want to save that big reveal for the finale), he seems completely over his earlier bout of jealousy and is willing to just wait for everything to be over.

Once again, this week would be a case where Ashley shared some privileged information with J.P., presumably because she was confident about how he’d take it. She first told him she sent had sent two men home already, and since this was Final 3 week, you could see his eyes pop wide open at this news. But upon finding out it was just Ryan flying halfway around the world to get dumped again, he settled back down, relieved it wasn’t Bentley. After Ashley warned him that he had better drop the L Bomb sooner rather than later, it was off to the Fantasy Suite, and we’ll just leave it at that in the interest of decency. (But I’m pretty sure they did it.)

The most dramatic Rose – oh, who are we kidding? Remember how Brad called Ashley aside when it was time for the Final 3 Rose Ceremony on The Bachelor and decided he didn’t want to send her home in front of the others, but still wanted the ceremony anyway? Because we just can’t have these two-hour shows running 105 minutes (too bad the producers didn’t know ahead of time that Obama would be popping in), Ashley had her ceremony, Ben and J.P. accepted their roses, and that’s where we stand.

Next week: The final two meet Ashley’s family, including the tattooed sister. She might want to keep Ryan’s number on speed dial, in case we’re not done yet with dudes bailing.