I’ve noted that in recent seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, it’s become pretty clear in the early going who was going to win in the end. Ben Flajnik had centered in on Courtney before the gang had even vacated the mansion, and his main goal the rest of the way was getting Lindzi and the rest of them to believe they still had a chance.
But this current season has been a huge exception, either because the producers have gotten better about hiding the real contenders from us, or because Sean Lowe himself didn’t realize who his true favorites would become until things were well under way. Think back to that first night. Neither of our new final two, Catherine or Lindsay, got a little bio segment prior to the limo arrivals, something that’s practically a given for anyone who ends up going final four. Catherine was scarcely heard from for the first few weeks of the season, and the main impression Lindsay made on the season premiere was that she was really young, couldn’t hold her booze, and scared the hell out of Sean with her wedding gown.
And now, one of them will be Sean’s future ex-fiancee in two weeks’ time. I guess I can wait till then to point out the reasons why I don’t see whichever relationship results as being bound for glory, much less the altar, but the main focus this week will be on the departure of AshLee in third place – the quietest exit from one of the women since Michelle Money got sent packing by Brad Womack. I predicted weeks back that when AshLee was eventually cut, the decompression would be one of the hardest we’ve ever seen, but to her credit, she didn’t give Bachelor cameras the satisfaction of breaking down on camera.
The final three arrived at the resort of Si Kao in Thailand for the week that always includes the option to visit the “Fantasy Suite.” After Sean killed some time recapping the season so far and the “relationships” he’s developed with the multiple women he’s crazy about, it was time for his day out with Lindsay, who is still 24 going on 15. She tells the camera she is looking forward to telling Sean “I love you” should this date go well. They start out traveling to a market, which features things like painted chicks and various fried insects, which he insists they eat (because putting unpleasant things in your mouth is another one of those relationship metaphors The Bachelor loves so much).
After a setup like that, saying “I love you” should be a breeze, right? Maybe not, as they proceed to a beach and have some very stilted conversation. I’m sorry, but these two have NO chemistry when their tongues aren’t down each other’s throats, and I can’t imagine how they haven’t bored each other to tears yet. After they feed some monkeys on the shore, the pair moves on to dinner, where Lindsay still can’t quite bring herself to make the Big Declaration. It’s not until after she accepts the Fantasy Suite invite that she manages to finally choke out the three little words, which the show treats like a triumph along the lines of Chariots of Fire. This is the only Fantasy Suite visit that isn’t prefaced by Sean saying that he just wants to spend some extra time together, so don’t think Chris Harrison is pimping you out or anything. This doesn’t mean they did the dirty, but come on, it’s Lindsay. Do you think they talked about recovery from the tsunami? What else could they have been doing in there?
Next up, it’s time for AshLee, who, it turns out, has a lot more going on in the boob department than she’s let on (or let out) so far. Hey, it’s Final Three, so no holding back! As usual, AshLee talks about Sean in a way that makes me sad for her even before I officially know she’s history. “I’m here with the love of my life. Words can’t express the overwhelming joy that I have when I’m with him,” she gushes before reminding us of her abandonment issues yet again … sigh. They take a boat ride out to a cave in the coast, which they must pass through in order to get to a secluded beach. The idea is that she has to hang on to him as he pulls them through the dark, scaaaaaary water – part of this show’s annoying paternalism that Sean totally buys into.
As they proceed into the cave, AshLee stretches the risk-as-metaphor thing beyond the breaking point when she says “it’s like when you’re with the person you love – you’re going down this dark alleyway.” Who has she dated in the past, Jack the Ripper? But she continues, “What scares me here is taking a risk and not knowing the outcome. What if he says ‘You’re amazing, but you’re not the one?’” What if, indeed.
They make it through the cave and cavort at the gorgeous beach. Later, at dinner, there’s a discussion of why neither has found the right person yet, even though AshLee’s first marriage has been a major topic of discussion on the previous two episodes. When the topic of the Fantasy Suite comes up, she makes it clear she’s not going to be part of a nookie assembly line, but once he says, in so many words, that sex is off the table, she relaxes and agrees to the night of “talk.” The date has seemed to go decently, despite her intense humorlessness, until they’re in the Suite and she informs him what her ring size is and what style she prefers. NOW she’s going to start joking around? That is hardly the place and topic to begin.
Finally, it’s time for Catherine’s date, and the question of whether they can truly be compatible – by which he means, will she leave her home and job and agree to move to Dallas and start pumping out the little Lowes. They take a cruise around the islands, and it’s a reminder that they always seem more like a potential married couple than he and Lindsay do – those two seem like high schoolers necking under the bleachers. There may not be the raw passion just yet, but their small talk seems natural, and that’s no easy feat to achieve with Sean. She actually worries that he sees her as too much of a dork and as being not serious enough, which isn’t an insecurity you hear often from people who look like her (you definitely get the sense that she never dated “the football player” before now).
She tells Sean that she does believe she’s ready to make a commitment (bringing up her sisters’ concerns from last week while assuring him they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about), and suggests a kid in the near future is probably doable also. She mentions she is “traditional,” which is obviously music to his ears. Catherine also points out that being traditional extends to the Fantasy Suite, though she says that her initial reluctance to go to those lengths has waned because he’s so awesome. He assures her that going to the Suite is only about spending “uninterrupted hours” together, and not about the romantic sound of tearing open the condom packet.
The next morning dawns with rain on the horizon. The uncertainty that marked the final four Rose Ceremony is gone this time: Sean says he is clear on what he has to do, and he can’t believe it’s come to this, since he never imagined sending her home. Since AshLee is the only one of the women who has seemed like a frontrunner the whole season, this seems like a big hint. But there’s a lot of time left, so both he and us are subjected to videos from the last three. They tell us nothing we didn’t already know, as Lindsay babbles and Catherine is slightly more articulate but still appropriately girly, talking about falling in love. Sean is smiling as he watches those two videos, but as AshLee drones on, beginning to cry (OMG) in the middle of the damn tape, he can only watch sadly. “Because of who you are to me, I know that I am no longer broken,” she says, as he looks as guilty as a man can look.
The women have all arrived in the pouring rain, with Catherine wearing what looks like one of my old beach towels, and Sean is ready. He helpfully reminds everyone that this was the week when he was sent home by Emily Maynard, and that he never saw it coming – just like AshLee when Lindsay and then Catherine get the roses. Her reaction isn’t quite what I expected: not shock or sorrow, but sheer cold anger.
After standing still for what seems like forever, AshLee simply begins heading for the SUV of Rejection, with no word to the other women and certainly nothing for Sean, who chases after her trying to explain even though she asks him not to. When he catches up at the car, he can only tell her that he didn’t want to hurt her, a message which she doesn’t seem to totally take in:
On the ride away, it takes her a very long time to even begin sniffling, let alone sobbing out loud (when she does finally cry, she turns away from the camera). “I let him in,” AshLee sighs with the tone of someone who won’t be making that mistake again soon. “This wasn’t a silly game to me. This wasn’t about a joyride, and about laughter and joking and having fun,” she spits out, and frankly, when you remember how Sean was around all three women, I think we may have zeroed in on why AshLee is back home right now, organizing away.
Next week: The Women Tell All, when we see just how long AshLee’s silent treatment lasts.
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