I'm not gonna lie, the first half of this episode was pretty dull. Dear Fleiss and company: I can handle bad. This train wreck of a show is at its best when it is totally craptacular. But boring? Not okay. If you have to play the Sentimental Music more than like, twice in the first half? That's a bad sign.
Brad wanted to do an Ashley-on-Ashley double date because he has pretty serious doubts about both Ashleys. As much as he's worried this will be awkward, it's a necessary step on the road to finding a Wife. Hey, Brad? I know plenty of guys who are married that have never been on a date with two chicks at one time. Just sayin'.
Turns out that for the 2-on-1 date, Brad and los Ashley will be performing in Cirque du Soleil's Viva Elvis show. The ladies are going to test out their chemistry with Brad by...dancing inside a giant diamond ring! YES.
Shawntel and Chantal debate about who Brad will pick and their conclusion is: "somebody's gonna go home. you guys aren't both gonna marry him". Geniuses, these girls are. (Side note: how great would it be if they did the Bachelor, Big Love-style? Like, you get to the final three, and the show is over. "Ashley, Ashley, and Ashley...will you marry me?" Think about it, Fleiss.)
Some dude in glasses who I think is the director tells us that Brad and one of the ladies will actually be performing in the show tonight. The difficulty is...Brad gets to decide who that will be. His decision will be made, I guess, based on how much chemistry he has with the Ashleys during practice. No pressure! Brad and Ashley S. dance in the air, with the assistance of some harnesses. While "Are You Lonesome Tonight" plays, the cameras zoom in on Ashley H sitting forlornly on the stage. Subtle! Then Brad dances with Ashley H and Ashley S feels confused and vulnerable and I just want to give her a big hug. Also, Brad looks pretty goofy in the short shorts they've got him in for this gig.
At dinner: Brad Really Cares about both girls, which is why he's chosen them for this stupid-ass date. He gives some speech rife with bullshit and Bachelor words (connection CHANGED journey connection connection) and finally tells Ashley S that he thinks she's wonderful but he has to Follow His Heart and let her go. Brad...you suck. Back at the suite, some burly guy in a bandanna arrives and glances from bag to bag, all dramatic-like, because this is his ONE BIG MOMENT, before finally hauling away Ashley S's suitcase. All the girls are SHOCKED. Also, it totally figures that Ashley H. would have a hot-pink suitcase.
Brad walks Ashley S. out and she cries a little. Or...a lot. Aww, honey. Come to Houston and I'll buy you a beer?
Brad can't wait to get inside and suck face with Ashley H. Their Connection is so intense! Bleh.
Brad and Ashley get ready for their performance that evening. They have the same dressing room? I smell shenanigans. Brad's costume is...totally ridiculous. Ashley H. and Brad dance in mid-air while Elvis croons about lonesomeness and Ashley S. drives sadly into the night. Wait, where is the giant diamond ring? I feel gypped.
Only one more beer, I swear. Magic Hat No. 9. Come to momma.
It's a good thing I just got that beer, because this is the part of the show where Brad calls his freaking THERAPIST. ABC, you are pushing me to the very brink of sanity. They talk about how he has CHANGED, or something. I don't actually know because...I skipped this part.
Cocktail party! It is the most awkward freaking party ever. Everyone's sitting around glaring at each other. Chantal pulls Brad aside. He likes her but is worried that she's too dramatic. She confronts him about how the group date was All About Emily, and he explains that it doesn't mean he likes Emily any more than the other girls - it's just that any time he sees a woman crying, he has to go comfort her. Which I'm calling bullshit on, because ALL THESE WOMEN cry ALL THE TIME. Chantal seems happy with this, though, and they are cute together again.
Brad has some alone time with Alli. In order to make Alli and her booty feel special, he has brought her some champagne and the world's tiniest chocolate cake.
Hey, did you know there's a girl named Marissa here? There is, and she has written Brad a note. Uh-oh. Actually, it's a bunch of little notes, all in one envelope. Brad thanks her woodenly. Makeout buddy Britt is alive, too, and she is wearing a beautiful red dress and some serious hooker shoes. Michelle grabs Brad and takes him into another room and (gasp) SHUTS THE DOOR. Then she tells Brad he's...not allowed to talk? Some creepy music plays and Michelle is super scary intense with the hair and the eyes and the chin and Brad looks so beautifully simple I can't help but think of this:
Props to Meghan over at Buddy TV for first pointing out the Michelle-Vanessa connection. Although she's so eeevil I think I might've come up with it on my own.
Michelle goes on for a while about how she's Different and Brad can't look her in the eye, because he's afraid he might turn to stone, and her face keeps getting closer and closer and finally he kisses her because otherwise she might cut him with her finely chiseled jaw. They kiss for a while and then she's like, okay! time to send some girls home!, and they get up and Brad chuckles a little and it's SO SCARY. Michelle voiceovers that she and Brad Connect and she doesn't need him to talk much and Chantal has like, the greatest wtf? face ever.
Harrison is alive! He hates to break up this hellishly awkward party, but it is Big Decision time. Shanwntel, Emily and Ashley H. already have roses.
Brad gives a speech. In case you forgot in the 17 seconds since he last said this, he is looking for a Wife. Uh-huh.
Roses go to: Michelle (arrrgh. but...please stay around to entertain me?), Alli, Britt, Jackie....
And the Final Rose Tonight goes to...Chantal.
Lisa and Marissa are going home. As Lisa shuts the door of the suite, the camera lingers lovingly on the closed door, as if to emphasize the awful finality of it all. She gets into a taxi. Wait, no limo? Cheapasses.
They toast! And coming up, on the MOST CONTROVERSIAL SEASON OF THE BACHELOR...Costa Rica! Kissing! Feelings! Sexy photo shoots! MICHELLE SO CRAZY. Cliff diving!! Africa! FREAKING AFRICA!!! SHARKS!! All coming up on the MOST CONTROVERSIAL SEASON OF THE BACHELOR, EVER. Jeez, Chris. Twice in like, five minutes. Do I have to get another beer and chug that one, too?
I decide to save that for next week. Be there.
Updated to add: Rachel, who is a genius with MSPaint, sent me this gem:
It totally made my day.