Thailand … where fantasies can come true. No, not that kind -- get your minds out of the gutter! "The Bachelor" is a PG show (most of the time).
For the final three, though, the overnight dates signal the next stage of achieving a dream -- the dream of getting engaged to Sean.
Sean seems to have strong feelings for all three women. With AshLee, the relationship is intense and emotional. With Lindsay, it's fun and sexy. With Catherine, it's goofy yet serious. The daylong dates -- followed by cameraless time in the fantasy suites, should the women accept his offer -- are a chance for the Bachelor to really get to know his future wife. With Sean's beliefs, likely nothing more than a makeout session takes place, but even so, it's good to have some real alone time before, you know, getting down on one knee to propose.
It's been the season of torture, so of course, Sean subjects Lindsay to her biggest fear: eating bugs. Yuck. Well, Lindsay is a good sport and slurps that sucker right down.
As usual, they are very touchy-feely and kissy throughout the date and into the evening. As Sean talks about how she's the best friend he's been looking for, Lindsay's trying to work up the nerve to say "I love you." Finally, over dinner, she takes a deep breath and says those three little, but meaningful words. Sean beams. He proffers the fantasy suite; she takes it. Come on, as if these two kids are going to pass up the opportunity to make out all night.
AshLee's torture is giving up control, so Sean takes her cave swimming. Nervous, she keeps asking for a floatie, but he just tells her to hold onto him. They make it through into a beautiful cove area, and AshLee gushes, "If Sean proposed to me today, I would say yes. There is no doubt in my mind that I love this man … I don't feel like there are two human beings that belong together more than him and I." Way to play hard to get, AshLee.
Over dinner, Sean delicately brings up the fantasy suite. Knowing her beliefs, he doesn't want to pressure her, but feels that it's important they spend the time together. AshLee knows he respects her and though she's hesitant at first, accepts.
No torture for Catherine … hmm, maybe this means something? They go sailing and, of course, Catherine has to do the whole "I'm queen of the world" Titanic thing. (Which is always weird to us, because, you know, the Titanic sinks and pretty much everyone dies.)
Anyway, these two probably do the most talking of the three dates. "I haven't been this vulnerable or myself with anybody," Catherine confesses. He calls her his best friend (what happened to Lindsay?!) but wonders if she's really ready to settle down in Dallas and start a family.
"Of the three remaining girls, our lives are probably the most different," he notes.
Over dinner, Catherine reveals she's very traditional when it comes to relationships -- she isn't one to make the first move, usually. And as far as the fantasy suite, before the show, she was adamantly opposed to it. But now … well, things have changed. Catherine wants to spend that time with him. Off they go to the fantasy suite.
Watch a deleted scene from Sean's date with Catherine:
When Chris Harrison sits down with Sean for a chat, the host brings up the fact that this is the week Sean went home on Emily Maynard's season. Ouch, way to reopen that wound!
Sean has made his decision on whom to send home -- and it's going to be heartbreaking. "I thought sending Des home was the toughest thing I've ever done. I think this trumps that," he says. "I don't know if I have the words. I don't know if I have the courage."
This is the most glum we've seen this guy all season.
The rose ceremony begins and Sean gives the first rose to Lindsay. No shocker there.
Then he picks up the second rose and stares at it for what seems like forever. He seems to be sweating profusely. Finally, he heaves a big sigh and whispers, "Catherine."
Whoa! He's sending AshLee home! And the expression on her face is … scary. Like horror movie villain scary. She stalks off as Sean scurries behind her.
"Can I at least explain myself to you?" he pleads. "I want you to go away with closure."
Ah, the magic word when it comes to breakups. AshLee pauses on her way to rampage around Thailand.
"I thought it was you from the very beginning," Sean whispers. "I think the world of you … I did not want to hurt you."
Without saying a word, AshLee gets in the car. "This wasn't a silly game to me," she snaps. Meanwhile, Sean is again sitting on a bench, head hanging. But this time, both Lindsay and Catherine can see him. Awkward!
As her car drives around (probably for hours until the producers broke her), AshLee's ice queen exterior finally dissolves into tears.
"I thought Sean was the one," she sobs. We know, honey. You told us many, many times. Lesson: Don't count your proposals before they're popped.
Check out Twitter reactions to AshLee's elimination, then sound off in the comments below!
— Nicole Marie (@__NicoleMarie__) February 26, 2013
— sarahsinging (@sarahsinging) February 26, 2013
I hope Sean picks Lindsey! They are adorable together. :) #bachelor
— Olivia Solomon (@OliviaSolomon06) February 26, 2013
Catherine and Sean are meant to be! She brings out the fun side of him! #Bachelor
— Jenna Bonnici (@JennBee3) February 26, 2013
Watch the full episode:
"The Bachelor" airs Mondays at 8 PM on ABC.