'The Bachelorette' recap: JP puts a ring on it; Ben leaves angry
Not that it was very difficult, to be fair. Ashley has been so clearly smitten with JP for weeks now that not even crafty editing could hide their intense chemistry.
I will admit that there were moments during Monday night's finale where I feared the outcome would be derailed by the evil force that was Ashley's sister -- aka Kat Von D. Listen, there have been plenty of crazy families on this show in seasons past, but I'm not sure any have ever been as psychotically desperate for screen time as Ashley's sister, Chrystie. Who, by the way, recently made an appearance on TLC's "Extreme Couponing." Not. Even. Kidding.
So Ashley is about to finish her up-and-down journey on this thing, and her family arrives in Fiji to weigh in on her final two suitors. We've got stepdad, who is apparently mute. Her brother, who is sporting some unfortunate puka shells around his neck. Mom, who has an, er- strong northern Maine accent. And then there's Chrystie, whose arms are coated with a slew of truly tasteful tattoos, including one distractingly huge geisha.
Oh, but listen, folks. Despite her decision to get all of that hideous ink, Kat Von D wants us to know that she is the "rational" one in the family.
Almost immediately after Ashley arrives to show off JP to her brood -- attractively dabbing her forehead and cleavage with a sweat rag -- Chrystie starts asking him the important questions. Most vital of which, apparently, is: "Does he make you laugh?"
"I think I make myself laugh," Ashley responds. Which was an incredibly awkward thing to say, mind you. Just say the dude makes you laugh. He's about to have a one-on-one with Neil Lane and needs some reassurance!
And that was all Chrystie needed to hear.
"What's going on here?" she asks, pulling Ashley aside for a quick sit-down. "I don't think he's the one."
There's more. Ashley is "too much" for JP, who at 34 is far too old and "demure" for her little firecracker of a sister. The harsh words prompt Ashley to immediately bursts into tears -- yet another indication that she hadn't even been considering choosing Ben up to that point.
JP goes in for a talk to try to win Chrystie over, but it's a losing game.
"You're much older than her, and in my head, I think, why hasn't he found anyone yet?" she says, followed by the line of the night: "Can you handle that much fun?"
Oh, yeah. Ashley is just a barrel of monkeys. Dude. Kat Von D. What if JP started grilling you on why your marriage didn't work out?
JP, predictably, is fuming over the snap judgment. And Ashley, insecure as ever in her own feelings, starts doubting herself.
"The truth is, I could be with Ben," she ponders. What a rousing endorsement for the sole remaining Josh Groban-look-alike, whose interrogation is up next. Because Chrystie clearly feels sort of bad about being such a you-know-what regarding JP, she seems to go easier on Ben. But she's really won over when Ben and Ashley start doing something they call "dog voice," in which their voices get frighteningly high and they pretend to be speaking to imaginary puppies. If that doesn't mean they're compatible, I mean, I don't know what does.
Once Ashley is finally free of her family, she's able to spend some one-on-one time with Ben, who opts for a quirky "Gilligan's Island"-themed outfit for his final date. If he wasn't already out of the running, I'm pretty sure that straw fedora sealed the deal.
While Ben and Ashley had a sexy-time date in a mud bath -- where it looked like they could have picked up some kind of foreign disease -- it couldn't rival the intimacy of Ashley's date with JP. Plus, JP brought out the big guns: A gift. He writes a cheesy note in a photo album that only had one picture of the two of them on a beach with the promise that if he was chosen, they could fill out the rest together. JP got skills, yo.
And then Neil Lane -- jeweler and makeshift therapist -- shows up in Fiji to offer both guys free diamond rings to put on Ash's finger. Neil is kind of the best. Even though he's blatantly just trying to get a little airtime for his brand, he totally tries to engage with the guys as they're picking out rings.
"Long road?" he asks JP sympathetically, "What happens if she says no?"
Um, let's cool it with the questions, Neil. JP is still reeling from Chrystie's sneak attack.
Not surprisingly, JP makes a much classier ring selection than Ben does. Which makes it all the more sad that Ben is about to be sent home. Is watching the runner-up get get smacked down not always beyond tragic? Everyone I was watching the finale with was shielding their eyes with blankets and shrieking in discomfort.
Ben shows up, oblivious to Ashley's tears -- which are about to start falling as she prepares to reject him.
"Before you say anything," Ben begins, getting down on his knee and asking for Ashley's hand in marriage. Girl! Have you not seen any of the past seasons of this show? You don't let the guy get down on his knee when you know you don't want to be with him. That's just cruel and unusual punishment.
Ben doesn't see the rejection coming at all and is quickly enraged when he realizes he's going to be heading back to Sonoma empty-handed. Ashley tries to tell him that's he great and smart and looks just like Josh Groban and blahblahblah.
"I don't need you to sugarcoat it," Ben says, walking out. "JP is a wonderful guy. I'm sure you'll have a nice life together."
Ashley's upset, until hunky JP comes walking out of the seaplane in his well-tailored suit.
"Hey handsome," she says, prompting us all to vomit.
They both drop the L-bomb numerous times, JP proposes, Ashley accepts, then they hug and kiss and Ashley calls JP "baby" 400 times and then they walk in the ocean and ruin Ashley's not-that-nice dress. Yay!
And according to the "After the Final Rose" special, the pair are still together. Ashley is planning to move to New York, where she can be close to JP's mom Ilene and her button sweater and far from her sister and her mean tattoos.
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Ashley chooses JP as her final pick in Fiji. Credit: ABC.