Before the hometown date part of the show began, Ashley is talking about how she feels about each of the four guys that remain standing. She talks about Constantine being "the whole package" and loves his hair. She talks about Ben F.'s build and again with the hair. She talks about Ames' spontaneity and his humbleness. And, then there is J.P. She talks about being connected with him both emotionally and physically ... you see where this is going.
Now, before I talk about the hometown dates ... I want to point out that all of the guys keep saying things to Ashley about "you are only the second girl or fourth girl or whatever number I've ever brought home to meet my parents or sister or brother or brother's girlfriend or whoever." I want to make it clear that Ashley is the driving force. She chose to go to their hometowns. They didn't pick her to come meet mom. There is a difference.
And one more thing, all four of these guys are really great guys with amazing and loving families. That's a fact. I like them so much more than I like Ashley. Ugh, I wish I liked her more.
Constantine (Cumming, GA)
During a few of the previous episodes, I felt like Constantine was noncommittal when it came to his feelings for Ashley. He even expressed doubt about her coming to Georgia to meet the folks. In this episode, he seems to have a change of attitude, and talks about the possibility of love. He takes Ashley to his family's restaurant, Giorgio's, where Ashley points out that Constantine looks like "such a stud" as he walks around the place. Constantine doesn't have to talk or flex or even smile to get Ashley going. As they hang out at the restaurant, there is a gaggle of giggly waitresses ogling them as they kiss in a "private moment."
Off to meet the family ... there's Dimitri the dad, Elleni the mom, and Maria the very beautiful sister. Mom knows the "dating" world they have been leading is not the real world and expresses her concerns to Ashley. She wonders if Ashley would move to Georgia and be a part of their lifestyle. Ashley acts like she might just do that. Dad's advice to Constantine is "don't be rushed ... it takes time." That's some good advice. After dinner and advice from the inner circle, here comes the whole Big Fat Greek Wedding gang. I was waiting for Dimitri to break out the Windex and announce, "the name Ashley comes from the Greek word ..."
Ames (Chadds Ford, PA)
Poor sweet Ames. He runs awkwardly to meet Ashley as she arrives and, from that moment, the usually dapper Ames, keeps giving us glimpses of his boxers all night. We meet sister Serena, mom Jane and brother Jim. Ames tells his family he's been competing for the "ultimate prize." We find out that Ames lost both his father and stepfather to cancer, and he was close to both. After Ashley has time alone with sis and mom, it's pretty clear that she's feeling less attached to Ames than the other three. The writing is on the wall. Even the sister says she thinks Ashley is missing that "passion or spark" for her brother. She tells Ames to basically step it up a notch in the romance department so Ames promises to do the best he can because he admits he has "that falling in love feeling." So, he takes her to his favorite tree for a picnic and lets loose with some great quotes to woo her. He pulls out all the stops and loads her up with the "you are so awesome" lines. None of this helps him in the long run.
Ames tells Ashley that "the best is when the ordinary is extraordinary" and tells her about some romantic notion (don't make me look it up) that it's important to be romantic in your daily life. Hey, I loved all this stuff, but Ashley looked bored to death. I did a rewind and her face said it all. He gave her a kiss, and she pulled away first but he said later it was a "beautiful moment." He then took her for storybook ride in a horse drawn carriage, but the ending doesn't look good for Ames.
Ben F. (Sonoma, CA)
He greets her with a personal "Ash" and "Ash" notes that everything about him screams "sexiness." I don't think it's love she's feeling for Ben. They share a rain-soaked picnic after a walk around the vineyards and a little wine. Ben SAID he was happy and excited to see Ashley, but he didn't SOUND like he was happy and excited. This guy is cautious, as are they all. NOBODY wants to say outright they love this girl especially when there's only one winner.
Ben tells Ashley that his mom, Barbara, and his sister, Julia (another beautiful girl), are his whole world, and nothing is more important to him than them. "They are all I have," says Ben. He admits that his family has to like her or it won't work for him.
Julia, who signed Ben up for this ride, is skeptical. However, Ben says he's "into it." He claims he would have no problem proposing (and Ashley has made it clear she wants a husband out of this) if the relationship progresses. Ben tells his mom that "watching you and dad ... wanting to model" the relationship is his goal with his own marriage. What a sweetheart. Ben gets emotional talking about the loss of his father and what he meant to him. OK, Ben is officially my favorite. I wish my daughter was older or he was younger. He's a great guy, and I also like wine. So that doesn't hurt. I think Ben likes Ashley, but he has a lot going on.
J.P. (Roslyn, NY)
"I do not care what we do as long as we're together," Ashley says of her date with J.P. He takes her roller skating. These two have chemistry, and Ashley can't keep her hands to herself ... so if you believe the spoilers ... Anyway, there's a disco ball in the rink and they skate arm-in-arm to somebody else's version of the REO Speedwagon song "I Can't Fight This Feeling." Really, really corny. Then, they drink wine from paper cups. I liked the way Ben served it better. At the rink, Insecure Ashley is out in full force for J.P. to soothe. "Are you sure about us?" J.P. actually says, "I don't want to be without you." I gotta admit ... those are words a girl likes to hear.
Then, off to meet the family. FINALLY, a normal looking home (by normal, I mean middle class). J.P. seemingly has had a quiet, normal life. We meet mom Ilene (precious), dad Peter (where'd he go?), brother Roy and his girlfriend Andrea. Mom is straight up and doesn't want J.P to get his heart broken. She asks J.P, "Are you in love with her?" and J.P says, "All the signs are there." J.P. admits he's having trouble saying the "love" thing out loud yet, but he believes what he and Ashley have is special. I believe it, too. Mom is a little worried that it's too early for a proposal.
All along, J.P. has been the most open about his feelings for Ashley. He knows that he's putting it all on the line. Mom actually sees a spark for J.P. from Ashley, and Ashley says she is "smitten."
And then the hometown dates are over.
Back at the mansion, Ben has a weird new haircut, J.P. looks confident, Constantine looks blank, and Ames looks scared ... and then shocked when he is sent packing. He tells Ashley that he's been "lucky to have you in my life. It's been totally beautiful and unexpected. Even more poetic than I would have ever imagined. I will remember every second for the rest of my life."
Ashley didn't say much, and didn't give him any reason. Pretty cold. Ames told the "camera" in the limo as he left that he's worried about a "lifetime of adventures with myself." Let me promise you, Ames, that's not going to happen. There are a million women out there now wanting to get to know you. You can't help but love this guy.
Next week, Fiji.