‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: Crushes and Concussions

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Ashley works out some aggression.

Click here for a recap of the June 28 episode, featuring the return of Bentley.

This week’s episode of The Bachelorette saw Ashley get a little ruthless (good!) and then overcome by insecurity (bad!).

Our ever-shrinking group of lovers is still in Thailand this week, and as the episode kicks off, Chris Harrison announces that this is the dreaded two-on-one date week. That means that Ashley will be taking out two men at once, which is not only awkward in and of itself, but there’s an added pressure: one guy must be sent packing at the end of the date. Terrible for the men, great for the audience (and eager recappers). But first, lucky Constantine Ben F. (they resemble each other more and more as the weeks go by) gets the coveted one-on-one date.

(MORE: See previous Bachelorette recaps)

Perhaps date-planner Annie from last week was busy elsewhere, but this one-on-one date was decidedly lackluster. The two head to a Thai market (which, if you watched last week, you’ll remember was the back-up plan for a rained out romantic date with Constantine) where they paint paper umbrellas and then sit in front of a sacred temple and stare at it. Despite both proclaiming that it’s the most romantic place on earth, Buzzkill Ashley informs Ben that they aren’t allowed to kiss because the area is so sacred. Instead, the couple share a “mental kiss” which seems as if it’s meant to let viewers know just how hot the two are for one another, but really it’s just boring.

Then on to dinner, where Ben F., who is a winemaker in Sonoma, brags about his job saying, “It’s the most fun profession ever.” (Ha, we bet!) Then he woos our starry-eyed Bachelorette with a series of clichés about finally being ready for love and looking for someone to grow with — which she naturally loves (“Ben is saying everything I was hoping to hear”). Then, in front of a group of fire-dancers, they share a non-mental kiss and Ashley hands him a rose.

Group date time, and it seems that Ashley has finally decided to exact revenge on all the guys for the now-infamous roast from an earlier group date. This time around she has the guys focus their negativity towards each other rather than her, with a violent round of Muay Thai boxing. First up, Constantine, Ames, Nick, Lukas, Blake, Ryan, JP and Mickey all get some boxing lessons as Ashley bounces from guy to guy offering up perky words of encouragement while not-so-secretly ogling the shirtless men. After the men are insufficiently trained in the art of kickboxing, they line up to pick their uniform colors. “Every color of the rainbow” has been laid out for them according to Ames, who doesn’t seize upon his favorite color with the gusto of the other guys and ends up with the hot pink uniform. He claims not to mind, which is actually quite believable because right on the heels of the color fight is an actual fight, something Ames continuously notes he’s never done before.

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But there’s no time for pacifists when it comes to a love war, so the men square off for a series of public fights. First up is Blake the Dentist versus Lucas, two men that whenever they are on screen you can’t help but ask, “Who is that guy?” Blake in particular must realize how nondescript he’s been, because he declares that he needs to win this fight and show Ashley that he’s “more than just a dentist.” Luckily he does, showing Ashley and the world that in addition to being a dentist, he’s also extremely aggressive. Well done, champ!

Next up are Mickey and JP, and despite a rocky start for JP, the self-proclaimed smallest guy there, he ends up winning the match. At last it’s time for Ames to battle Ryan, and it’s not pretty. For the happiest guy in the group, Ryan certainly knows how to throw a punch, and he throws several Ames’s way right off the bat. After Ryan is declared the winner, Ames staggers off and then sits there smiling and showing even fewer signs of life than usual. Clearly Ashley is worried, so much so that she doesn’t even pay attention to the final match between Nick and Constantine. Instead, she rushes off to find some help for Ames (Constantine wins). While Ames climbs up into an ambulance, still looking dazed, Ashley tells him that she’s “really sorry” and tells the camera that she “had no idea it would go this far.” (Um, really?) Then away the ambulance goes, sirens blaring, which seems slightly unnecessary — but I’m no doctor or reality TV producer, so what do I know?

Later, the somber group gathers for drinks, but Ashley says that morale is low. “With Ames in the hospital, I almost feel like there is a dark cloud over the night,” she says. Which would seem like a thoughtful sentiment, except for the “almost” part, but, hey, there’s still seven more guys left, so the night’s not a total bust. As Ashley chats and flirts with the guys, a still-smiling Ames ambles into the room where’s he’s greeted with a round of handshakes and well-wishes. Ashley whisks him away for a private chat, wanting to hear all she missed out on by not going to the hospital with him. And Ames, bless him, is still smiling and dazed but manages to still charm, saying the the doctors had said that “I’m totally in love and I have a mild concussion.” And though Ashley is charmed and he did face brain trauma for her affections, the group date rose goes to Blake the Dentist, presumably for finally showing her that he’s “more than just a dentist”.

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Two-on-one date time, where Ashley gets to take out Ben C. and William on a river-boat (raft?) cruise. As these two particular guys seem to have absolutely zero in common, the date seems even more awkward than expected. As the guys guide the boat down the river with Ashley serenely perched between them, William decides he’s had enough of sharing and once they’re back on land takes Ashley aside. “I’m not throwing the guy under a bus,” he starts off, cluing us all in to the fact that that’s exactly what he’s about to do, then he proceeds to tell Ashley that Ben C. has told the guys he’s looking forward to online dating once he returns home. “Some people have you on their mind and some people don’t,” he adds, hitting Ashley where it hurts. Just like that, her Insecure Hat is back on and this time, it’s angry. Marching back to Ben C. she declares the two-on-one date over, telling Ben that it’s time for him to go. Even William looks shocked by this and Ben looks downright stunned. Though Ben C. doesn’t deny William’s accusation, you can’t help but feel a tiny bit sorry for him as he drifts away on the river raft.

But Ashley’s warpath hasn’t been completed yet, as she continues the date with William. He attempts to charm her, but completely falls short by noting that he’s “not fully ready to grow up” and that he’s “just looking for a girl to have fun with.” Note to William: Not the best thing to say to a woman who’s gone on two reality shows looking for a husband. So Ashley tells him that she doesn’t think they can return to they way they once were and she sends him home as well. Whew!

Unfortunately, Ruthless Ashley is only a mask for Insecure Ashley and as she moves on to the pre-Rose Ceremony party, her self-doubt is palpable. Telling the group, “I know some of you aren’t going to necessarily fall in love with me,” she then proceeds to take each guy aside and basically grill them about their intentions and feelings towards her. Insecurity is clearly rearing its ugly head as she asks Constantine if he feels closer to the guys on the show than he does to her, which is just weird. All the guys try their best to reassure, but she doesn’t appear to be listening. Why, you might ask? Oh, it’s because she’s still thinking about Bentley. (I’m imagining that audiences all around America were also pulling their hair in frustration over this, yes?)

During her sit-down with Chris Harrison, Ashley tells him that she can’t stop thinking about Bentley and she won’t move forward with any of the guys until she resolves her feelings with him. Noting that Bentley is always on her mind, she admits, “That’s not normal.”

“No,” Chris Harrison deadpans (because he’s the best), but then he promises to figure out a way for Ashley to resolve her feelings with Bentley. But first, she has to send one more guy home, and that guy turns out to be Nick, which is a surprise to no one but Nick himself, who says he’s “devastated.”

What an episode! And, according to the teaser for next week (which ABC unfairly teased last week), Bentley will finally make his comeback on the show. So tune in next week and be sure to catch up on the recap next Tuesday.

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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.

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