Oh, the horror that was last week.
With visions still haunting us of Bentley Williams overdouching it and Ashley Hebert actually caring enough to cry and question her future on The Bachelorette when he left, we approached this week's episode with trepidation.
But would a jaunt to beautiful Phuket, Thailand, restore our faith in Ashley's faith in love? (Well, not at first, because she wouldn't stop talking about that damn Bentley...)
Things didn't look too promising when, on her first one-on-one date with restaurant owner Constantine Tzortzis, the drizzly weather prevented them from boating to a private island. But they made the most of it, walking around the marketplace and chatting.
We didn't see much chemistry, but they got along well enough--even though Constantine spent way too much time talking about how he probably missed out on a few opportunities to get close to other women because of his hang-ups about commitment. (Then again, Ashley and her hang-ups were probably into that.)
Meanwhile, back at home, poor little J.P. Rosenbaum was finding out that he isn't the only guy who has shared a kiss with Ashley since this rodeo began.
"This isn't normal for me," he fumed to Ben Flajnik. "Chaps my ass, man."
Speaking of Ben F., that's who rang Ashley's bell during the group date, which, for a change, was awesome. The Bachelorette took her troops to an orphanage, where they painted, did yard work, built furniture and, at the end of the day, presented the kids with brand-new bicycles.
Ben took it upon himself to start painting a mural, and Ashley told him later, job-interview-style, that he "really impressed" her.
Apparently, now that Jeff "the Mask" Medolla is gone, the guys need a new outlet for their frustration, and this week the otherwise-dashing Ryan Park was it.
Talking about how Ryan, who played the annoying taskmaster during the group date, had gotten the last two group-date roses, they mused that a third time in a row might cause a mass exodus.
At the postdate cocktail party, J.P., who was obviously still irked about finding out how The Bachelorette works, took Ashley aside to passive-aggressively vent, telling her he had an amazing time with the kids, "regardless of what happens."
When Ashley asked why he put it that way, he said, "I think you know." Hmmm, we don't think she did.
Best of all, she then thanked him for "putting up with" her during their post-roast date last week. (Yeah, Ashley needs to man up.)
But all was forgotten when Ryan shattered the bro code by interrupting Ashley just as she was about to present the group-date rose. The worst is that he had absolutely nothing to say. He really did come off like a "goober," just as one of the guys suggested when Ryan walked away with Ashley midsentence.
"That was sweet," Ashley said politely. (P.S.: It didn't work. Ben F. still got the rose.)
Then it was onto the Bachelorette's first solo date with Ames Brown.
This time, the weather was nice enough for a boat trip and then a two-person kayak jaunt through caves and other fit-for-a-kiss romantic spots. The connection deepened over dinner as the two of them traded pertinent info. No surprise, he got a rose.
Finally, the entire group reconvened at the weekly cocktail party, where Ashely grilled widower West Lee about whether he was ready to be in a new relationship or not, and then nodded politely as Ben Castoriano droned on about how much he liked to have a good time.
Blake Julian ended up confronting Ryan about his relentless perkiness, and then Ashley asked Ryan whether he's actually always like that.
"I've got a lot of love for just...living," the solar energy exec (he harvests the sunshine, how perfect) explained.
For the record, whether it was indicative or real life or craft editing, Ashley mentioned Bentley--or compared how she was feeling to how she felt about Bentley--at least once every 10 minutes.
But apparently she felt rejuvenated enough to really sink her teeth into her remaining choices, so she asked Chris Harrison for an extra rose to hand out. Meaning, one guy had to go it alone tonight.
The lucky fellas to join Ben F., Ames and Constantine were Ryan, J.P., Blake, Mickey, Lucas Daniels, Nick Peterson and, droner though he be, Ben C.
And with that, West was gone with the wind.
(Originally published on June 13, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. PT)