‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: Everyone Hates Ashley

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Ashley and Jeffrey Ross before the disastrous roast.

With all the cruelty and crying last night, this episode was almost painful to watch. But, somehow, we managed. 

In this episode we see super-perky Ashley spend most of her time in self-conscious tears after the men take turns negging her during a roast. While normally it might be a reality-TV dream to see a shakily insecure person be teased to tears, it just didn’t sit right in this particular episode. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

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With 15 guys left, there were three possible dates this episode: one group date and two one-on-ones. Right away it was announced that Ben C. would be getting the first one-on-one date, which was good for Ben C. because no one knows who he is, but bad for us because he’s dull. But before he had a chance to bore everyone to death try and impress Ashley, Masked Man Jeff decides that it’s finally time to reveal his face to our Bachelorette.

And what was the revealing moment that we’ve all been waiting for like? Completely underwhelming. Obviously, it was a good idea, strategy-wise, for Jeff to ditch the mask gimmick (“I’m at a disadvantage because she hasn’t seen my face yet,” he told the cameras. No kidding!), but the pay-off wasn’t worth the build up. If Jeff had turned out to be crazy handsome or even unfortunately disfigured with some sort of scar, I could understand the whole “getting to know the person inside” mask routine. But honestly, the whole thing seemed like an attention-grabbing attempt at cultivating a personality. Even easy-to-please Ashley wasn’t impressed, only telling the cameras  that “he’s a lot older than I thought.” (Ha, ouch!)

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Then Ashley and boring Ben C. are off to a dance studio, where our plucky Bachelorette teaches him a dance routine so they can (unbeknownst to Ben) participate in a flash mob. But since Ben doesn’t know about the flash mob part he simply thinks Ashley’s teaching him a dance. Because that’s a really fun date for a dude, right? But, bless him, Ben C. participates with a smile and later when Ashley asks him to do their routine in a park he obliges though he still doesn’t know about the flash mob. Once he’s in on the secret, he acts even more excited to be on this silly dancing date and, over dinner later, woos Ashley with his high ideas of romantic love. Naturally, he gets a rose and I’ll admit, he earned it.

Then we’re off on the group date, where the other Ben, Chris, Blake, Jeff, Ames, Ryan, Lucas, Nick, William, and Bentley have been instructed to make Ashley laugh (uh oh!). They meet her at L.A.’s Comedy Store where comedian Jeffrey Ross explains to them the activity of their date—they’re going to all publicly roast Ashley. If there was ever a worse idea for a date, I couldn’t even imagine it. Here we have one of the most insecure Bachelorettes in the history of the show, a woman whose self-doubt was her undoing on the last season, and they want her suitors to openly mock her? This won’t end well.

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And while most of the guys are quite tame, choosing to make fun of one another or tamely comment on Ashley’s diminutive chest (classy!), Wonderful William (who tells the camera that it’s his dream to become a comic and he thinks this could be his big break) crosses all kinds of lines when he opens by noting his disappointment that Ashley was the Bachelorette rather than Emily or Chantal. Ashley barely makes it through the rest of the act before she rushes off stage to sob herself silly. And though Bad News Bentley swoops in to comfort her (or “mess with her head,” as he puts it), Ashley is bleakly depressed for the rest of the date. William apologizes and seems sincerely sorry for hurting her feelings, but Ashley is now so racked with self-doubt that she can’t enjoy her group date. Though Ryan does manage to make her smile for a minute—securing the rose in the process—the date is an overall downer.

And then comes Bentley being as terrible as ever. The day after he denies to Ashley that he wants to leave the show, he announces that he’s leaving. He tells everyone that he’s going because he misses his daughter so much, but really, it’s because he doesn’t find Ashley beautiful enough for him (the phrase “ugly duckling” is actually used). I’m sure his daughter is going to feel great about that when she’s old enough to realize her father is an awful person. After Bentley bumblingly breaks the news to Ashley (seriously, why can’t this guy articulate a single sentence?), she cries again and he walks away in the rain. Bye Bentley, you big jerk!

Unfortunately for her, Ashley doesn’t realize how good it is that the sociopath is gone and she spends her next one-on-one date with JP moping and continuing to ruminate on her insecurities. Fun times! But of course, JP acts like the perfect gentleman and tells her that he just wants her to be happy and sneaks in a mini-makeout as well. That’s a rose for you, sir!

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On to the rose ceremony, where we finally get a good dose of Chris Harrison to distract us from this depress-fest and offer up some wisdom. After trying to metaphorically slap some sense into Ashley over pining over Bentley, he instructs her to focus on the remaining guys. So Ashley half-heartedly hands out roses to all the guys except for Jeff and Chris D. Turns out that William’s disastrous jokes weren’t so bad that he would be denied a rose and that Jeff just isn’t that interesting without the mask. (Though there is an amazing shot of him tossing his mask into the fire, looking crushed.)

Yikes, this episode was a downer. And while everyone except Ashley seems relieved that Bentley is gone, rumor has it that he’ll be back. So we have more mumbling cruelty to look forward to — along with more tears, I’m sure.

Check back next week for more Bachelorette recaps.

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Megan Gibson is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeganJGibson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.