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'The Bachelorette' recap: Only two score invites to fantasy suite

July 25, 2011 | 11:54 pm

Before diving into this week's episode of "The Bachelorette," a disclaimer: I already knew Constantine was going home tonight -- I just didn't know how he'd be packing his bags. That's because I recently attended the taping of the "Men Tell All" episode that's going to air Sunday, and he was there in the flesh to tell his side of the story. If you check back on Show Tracker later this week, there will be plenty of behind-the-scenes dish from the upcoming show -- including video interviews with "The Bachelorette" herself, Constantine and some of our other favorite guys who got the boot earlier this season.

OK. Let's get to Fiji, which, according to Ashley, are a set of islands in the South Pacific that are "so lush and warm" where "the sun's always shining." In other words: "Thanks a lot putting the whole 'Bachelorette' cast and crew up for free here, Fiji Board of Tourism!" (Uh, just an assumption. Obv.)

Immediately, Ashley broke down her final three suitors: We've got Ben, who is -- most importantly -- "sincere and honest." The other two guys, however, just seem to be pieces of meat, since Ashley always describes her feelings for them first in purely physical terms. "I've really had my eye on him straight since he got out of the limo," she said of Constantine. And JP? "He looked like a model. I thought, 'How did I get this lucky?'" I'm so glad she's focusing on the important things at this stage of the game.

But before Ashley could even get some time in the good ol' fantasy suites with her final three guys, a reject arrived in Fiji. That's right, we've gotten to the point in the season where some poor soul who has been voted off weeks ago thinks that despite all odds, he has a shot at getting back in the competition if he just shows up in a super dramatic fashion. This never works, of course. But no matter. Ryan -- a.k.a. "You don't want to meet my parents?!?" -- decided to fly to Fiji because he felt like there were "things unsaid and undiscovered" between he and Ashley.

"What if she's regretting sending me home?" he wondered.

Yeah. She's not.

Once Ryan arrived, he told Ashley he just wanted a chance to spend more time with her, and didn't feel like the "super spiritual" tai chi they did on their final date was a "conducive environment for passion." I'm guessing she probably intended for it to be that way?

Anyway, he continued: Once he was sent home, he called up trusty host Chris Harrison to explain his persistent feelings for Ashley.

"And he was like, 'She's in Fiji,' '" Ryan said of the conversation with Harrison. "But I'm like, 'I have to go.' " Oh, yeah. Such a sacrifice -- what, with ABC likely offering to pay for your flight and hotel stay in an exotic location and all.

The only good move Ryan made in returning was telling Ashley not to decide right away whether or not she wanted to spend more time with him. That at least bought him a couple of days of vacation on a nice island. Meanwhile, Ashley went out with the other guys she actually had feelings for, and then finally came back to send this goofball home to his solar panel business yet again.

But let's get to the guys who really matter, shall we? First up: Ben. Ashley clearly seemed comfortable with him, as she showed up to their date wearing barely any makeup. The pair hopped on a fancy boat and, in Ben's words, started acting like "giddy little schoolchildren." They were laughing and flirting and things even got a little risque when Ashley requested that Ben lather sunscreen on her back and nonexistent chest.

Their connection seemed so natural that I was really starting to root for the guy -- until the evening portion of their date. I get that the kid is anxious about revealing his feelings for Ashley. But I'm not a big fan of people who imply sentiments really obviously and yet refuse to address them directly.

Case in point? Ashley asked Ben what it would take for their relationship to get to the next level.

"One of us would have to come forward and fully commit," Ben replied hesitantly. Translation? Someone has to propose. And honey, Ashley sure as hell ain't gonna be getting down on one knee at the end of this thing, so you better learn how to man up.

Clearly dissatisfied with that response, Ashley continued to prod Ben about his feelings for her.

"My feelings are growing, and I'm on my way to the whole 'I love you' thing," he confessed. Dude! REALLY? If you're gonna say those three words, just do it right. You're basically saying you love her anyway, so why utter something so important in such a weak fashion?

The whole moment really turned me off, and made it clear why Ashley seems to find JP more appealing than Ben. JP, too, was this week openly afraid about dropping the L-bomb. So he didn't even go there. He didn't broach the topic. Like a boss.

Weirdly, I also thought Constantine pulled a respectable move this week -- even though he bowed out of the competition. It always seems unnatural when every contestant who shows up on "The Bachelorette" instantly falls in love with a girl who may not even be his type. Constantine wasn't that way. From the jump, he was open with Ashley about the fact that his feelings for her were progressing more slowly. But at home in Georgia last week, he suddenly seemed more comfortable with her, inspiring Ashley to believe their relationship might have a viable shot. Sadly, that wasn't the case. From the instant the two met up for their date at a waterfall in Fiji, it was evident that the pair had no spark.

"I don't feel like you wanna hold my hand or be around me all the time," Ashley worried. As it turned out, that was pretty much the case -- and Constantine was outta there within minutes.

Not that Ashley really seemed to mind. Astoundingly, she didn't even shed a single tear as Constantine left. Which is probably because she's so blatantly obsessed with JP.

"Sometimes you don't need 20 dates to know how you feel about somebody," she said this week of the Long Island native. Indeed, it seems that Ashley's chemistry with JP has been off-the-charts for some time now. Even the show's clever editing -- which tried to make it seem like JP would be the one peacing out instead of Constantine -- can't hide her overt giddiness when she's with JP.

Without saying "I love you" -- which "The Bachelorette" is forbidden from doing until the final episode of the season -- she gave JP just about every reassurance she could that she is head over heels for him.

"I've been waiting for you to get here," she smiled as he arrived for his date in some questionable sandals. "I've been counting the days."

Personally, I'm counting the days until JP can put a ring on it and we can call it a day already.

-- Amy Kaufman


'The Bachelorette' recap: On the hometown dates, J.P. rolls over the competition

'The Bachelorette' recap: Ryan's out in the cold, despite water heater expertise

Complete 'Bachelorette' coverage on Show Tracker

Photo: Ashley Hebert is "The Bachelorette"

Credit: ABC