Things don't get any clearer when Ben and Ashley give a master class in "dog voice" performance art; let's just say Ben sounds like Peter Lorre with a chest cold and Ashley makes a sound even dolphins would find excruciatingly high-pitched and piercing. But you know what? This horrifying display of schmoopiness actually makes it clear how much more compatible Ashley is with Ben than she is with stiff-as-a-board JP. Big sister sees this too, and her one-on-one chat with Ben is a lot less tense than the beatdown with JP. "I appreciated Ben's open honesty," she says. "I could see that Ashley was, what I felt, herself around him." All the more reason she'll probably pick JP, right? If we've learned anything on this "journey," it's that Ashley is a sucker for a bad decision.
The next day, Ben has one last chance to wrench Ashley's head out of her ass. They meet up on a stretch of grass by the beach, where a
boat tractor motorcycle jet-ski spaceship helicopter arrives to pick them up for an aerial tour of the island, followed by a dip in a "healing mud bath." Cue the sexytimes guitar music! "When you're lubing each other up with mud," says Ben, "it's really erotic." I am going to take your word for it, sir. That night, Ashley arrives at Ben's room, where he's set up a little snack on his bed -- but he cuts right to the main course. "There have been multiple moments where I wanted to tell you that I am in love with you," says Ben with a goofy grin. Ashley rewards him with a tight-lipped smile and a makeout session, one that Ben thinks translates to victory. "Based on that kiss, I absolutely think that Ashley's telling me that she loves me the only way that she can right now."
When it's JP turn for his final date, he launches right into complaining about Ashley's sister and how judgey she is. To her credit, Ashley tries to initiate a discussion about how her sister might have reached the conclusion that they weren't right for each other, but Jape and his blindingly yellow t-shirt steamroll over her attempts at conversation. "I know she's wrong," he insists. "I've never thought about trying to explain us to anybody, because it works." Are you sure about that, pal? Ashley isn't. "You're willing to, like, start a life with me and not just, like, have me fit into yours?" she asks timidly. Well, duh! says stubblehead. Haven't you been listening to me this whole time? Sheesh! Then he goes in for the kill: "I am madly in love with you." Later that night, we get the Ritual Exchange of Trinkets Found in the Hotel Gift Shop, as JP gives Ashley a photo album. Apparently he's been taking fiction-writing classes as well, because he's written an inscription: "My dearest Ashley, this is the first chapter to the greatest love story ever told... When we look back years from now, still happy and very much in love, we'll always remember this time in our lives..." Ok, I think we get the picture. Let's just get this over with.
Good morning, boys. It's d-day... are you ready to pick a grotesquely ostentatious ring from Mr. Neil Lane? Ben's up first, and he chooses a chestnut-sized diamond surrounded by "two uniting lines" that represent "infinity." (Unfortunately Neil did not bring his rhinestone ring that represents "six to eight months, tops.") JP is, as usual, a lot less relaxed than Ben, and it doesn't help that Neil Lane suddenly turns into Barbara Walters, asking, "What happens if she says no?" (Don't worry, Neil -- I'm sure ABC will make sure you get the ring back.) Jape chooses a plain-by-Bachelorette-standards square diamond, and heads on his way. Now, let us head to the driftwood-and-flower-bedecked Proposal Platform!
NEXT: Damn, that's cold.