Credit: Ralph Freso/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Courtney Robertson Hugs Ben Flajnik on Her Arizona Hometown Date on The Bachelor Season 16, Episode 8

There’s no place like home for Ben-Hur style chariot races, fake wedding vows, real regrets about past behavior, dorky cowboy hats, awkward parental threats and… good decisions? Bad decisions? Inevitable decisions?

There are a few different ways to look at the result of The Bachelor Season 16 hometown dates episode. If you’re of one mind, Ben Flajnik did the right — even noble — thing to send Kacie Boguskie home instead of Nicki Sterling, Lindzi Cox or the woman so many fans wish he could quit, Courtney Robertson. (Except this fan. #TeamCourtney. All the way. Especially after her statement of regret.)

Can you imagine Ben taking Kacie to the end, proposing to her and being engaged to her now as she watches the show back and sees Ben go skinny dipping with Courtney? Who would want that for Kacie? Her father would kill Ben. Kacie’s father also suggested it was speak now or forever hold your dumpings and Ben either followed Papa Boguskie’s advice or already knew it was the right call to ditch Kacie before the “fantasy suite” overnight dates.

But some fans are naturally going to believe this was a huge mistake — that Kacie was always Ben’s best bet and he’s a fool to let her go. Maybe he is. But they always seemed better suited as friends than fiancées. (Is Ryan “Mr. Sunshine” Park still sorta seeing Natalie Getz? If not, he seems more like Kacie’s type.) Either way, it’s too late for Kacie to be the Season 8 Bachelorette — she would’ve been a lock if Emily Maynard didn’t already have the gig. And even though we’re down to Ben’s top three it’s pretty clear from here that Courtney and Lindzi are his best bets; Nicki’s dad is a sweetheart but she’s on borrowed time; and Lindzi’s family is so much fun to hang out with, Ben should pick her just to keep horsing around with her parents and dog.

Read on for a full recap of Episode 8:

HOMETOWN DATE WITH LINDZI

Location: Ocala, FL

She rides up to him on a horse, just like she rode up to him on the premiere. He’s only the second guy she’s ever brought home. And the first guy texted her to Dumpsville, ‘memba? Ben is not familiar with horses, so this is a whole new world for him. Ben said he had a “good feeling” about Lindzi since the first night. They have a cute little picnic in this beautiful bucolic setting. She says she plays tough but she just has a guard up. She talks about how she dated someone for two years and it was her first serious relationship — they lived together. She thought she would marry him. He met her family; in hindsight, there were some “red flags.” She gets vulnerable, which is a big word for her. Ben likes this soft, sweet side of her. The Coxes have an adorable dog.

Weird coincidence: Lindzi’s parents were married at San Francisco’s City Hall, the site of Bendzi’s first date. How did Lindzi not already know that? The family goes on a carriage race ride where trash-talking is mandatory. How is Courtney not in this family?

Later, Lindzi tells her mom she can see a forever with Ben. Mom likes him but she doesn’t want her heart to be broken. Mom remembers Lindzi’s “end of the world” heartbreak from the last guy. Mom and Ben talk about Lindzi’s last relationship. How is it that Ben is just now hearing that Lindzi lived with the last guy? Ben isn’t sure if Lindzi is ready to get engaged. He admits to Lindzi’s dad that he’s not quite ready to propose, but he’s on the path and if he gets there he wants Dad’s blessing. Dad says he family is Lindzi, the dog, the horses and each other. He never quite asks for Dad’s permission so maybe he’s holding off until he needs to ask.

Ben says Lindzi could easily fit into his life. Definitely seems that way. If Courtney weren’t already in the picture, Lindzi would be his best choice. 

Credit: 5min.com Photo: Watch! Ben Flajnik Bonds With Lindzi Cox's Parents... in a Race on The Bachelor 16 Hometown Dates (VIDEO)

HOMETOWN DATE WITH KACIE

Credit: Katherine Bomboy-Thornton/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Ben Flajnik Hugs Kacie Boguskie on Their Hometown Date on The Bachelor Season 16, Episode 8

Location: Clarksville, TN — (Did Ben take the last train in?)

Kacie throws a little parade for Ben as his welcome. She does her baton twirling and other athletic moves then does the classic JUMP into Ben’s arms. She does seem to go to 11 with him, whereas his emotions are always around a 6 with her. He’s not bubbly. She’s extremely bubbly. Does that make them a perfect match or totally wrong for each other? Discuss.

Kacie talks to Ben about her dad and grandfather. They have a long history in this town. When her grandfather passed away her grandmother declared that she wouldn’t make it till Christmas. She was right. Kacie thinks it’s because grandma died of a broken heart. Aww. She has had great examples of love and marriage and that’s what she wants. She is making such a cute speech and he is giving nothing back. But she’s also laughing too much like Ben’s few comments are hilarious. There’s a disconnect with these two. Kacie warns Ben that her dad doesn’t drink and he’s a federal probation officer. Ben is nervous about meeting her dad. He talks about the lack of booze but can’t Ben have sweet tea for one night?

That night, Ben meets Kacie’s parents and sister. Kacie’s papa has the best accent. Her sister is very pretty in an Ashley Spivey way. Kacie tells her sister, “So Allison, that’s my future husband.” Kacie tells her sister she has learned a lot about herself and she knows she usually puts on a front. This process has taught her to take risks and not settle. She didn’t always do what she wanted and some of that is because of how their parents are — their dad doesn’t like to take risks. She’s doing what she wants now. She’s very confident about herself and Ben. Too confident.

Ben talks to Dad and Dad is very skeptical. Marriage is very, very, very serious. “Don’t rush into anything,” Dad says. Ben seems to be squirming. He doesn’t want to get married right away even if there is an engagement. Dad doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt — Kacie or Ben. Ben admits that one of his fears is that he doesn’t make the right decision in the end. (Uh oh) If Kacie is not the one, Dad says, he would hope that would be communicated to her very soon to keep her from getting hurt. Dad does not give a warm, accepting vibe to Ben but he’s acting the way a normal father should act. This whole “process” is a gigantic leap of faith and most dads would probably not be thrilled about it.

More trouble! Kacie’s mom has a serious problem with the idea of Kacie moving in with Ben. That’s what couples normally do in Bachelor Nation, but that’s not OK with her. Mom would be disappointed if Ben and Kacie lived together before marriage. Kacie talks to her dad about the seriousness of marriage. They don’t have to worry about her taking this seriously, that’s for sure. She’s already talking about moving to San Francisco — but getting her own place, not moving in with Ben. Kacie tells her dad she’s fallen in love with Ben. Dad wants to know if the other three girls have fallen in love with him too. Good point. Kacie feels like they have something nobody else does. “I would say yes, if he were to ask me to marry him,” Kacie says. Dad counters, “If he were to ask me if he could marry you, I would probably say at this point ‘No.’” Good thing Ben isn’t asking for blessings at this point.

Kacie is frustrated because she feels like her parents don’t trust her judgment. The date was supposed to make her relationship with Ben stronger but it did the exact opposite instead. No romance. Awkward. Sad. She’s not sure what’s going to happen. 

HOMETOWN DATE WITH NICKI

Credit: Bill Matlock/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Nicki Sterling and Ben Flajnik Take a Nature Walk on Her Texas Hometown Date on The Bachelor Season 16, Episode 8

Location: Fort Worth, TX

Ben loves Texas. He should’ve married Brad Womack. He admits his relationship with Nicki has been “slow to go” but he wants to see what happens. Nicki says the last guy she brought home she married. Ben is the best man she’s ever met, so the bar is pretty low. Nicki takes Ben shopping to get cowboy boots. Seriously. He and Brad would have a great bromance. Nicki makes a shoe/relationship analogy. She thinks she’s the best fit for Ben. If that’s true, we haven’t seen it so far on this show. Hipster Ben dorks out in his cowboy attire (stick to beanies, man) but he seems to be having fun. It does flatten his hair, though.

Nicki tells Ben she’s a Daddy’s girl. Her parents don’t want to see her get hurt again. They didn’t speak up last time when she jumped into something she wasn’t ready for. So… she’s jumping into The Bachelor? How is this taking it slower? She seems to be doing the same thing she did last time. Nicki shouts everything. She’s extremely bubbly, like Kacie, which is the opposite of Ben. Again, is that his best match or worst match?

Ben meets her mom, dad and brother. Her parents have been divorced for almost her entire life. Nicki’s mom likes Ben a lot. She sees more between Ben and Nicki than she saw with Nicki and her ex-husband. Really? How come we haven’t seen the Nicki/Ben love story? Nicki and her mom have a cute talk about how she’s falling in love. Or is she just falling in love with love? She really wants to get married so is she just projecting because Ben is there? Mom is definitely not pumping the brakes. This family may be too lenient — like the opposite of the Boguskies.

Nicki tells her dad that she told Ben in Belize she was falling in love with him. She said in the beginning she would never say that unless it were true. Dad knows if it doesn’t end up being her and Ben it will be so hurtful. He doesn’t want to see that again. “I may have too readily given your hand in marriage the first time ‘cause I have such complete faith in your judgment.” Now he has regrets. He wishes he had asked a few more questions and he apologizes for letting her down. Oh, papa. This conversation is tailor-made for The Bachelor in that it always seems ridiculous that the fathers so quickly give their blessings. “It’s still hard letting you fly,” Dad says tearfully. “I want to protect you forever.” What a sweetie.  

Nicki tells Ben that was the best day of her life. She does go to extremes. “I’m in love with you,” she tells him. She wants him and San Francisco. Maybe she should just move there on her own? Ben tells the camera there were moments where he looked over at Nicki and thought “I love this girl.” He has great gut feelings about Nicki abut her ability to make him happy for the rest of his life. Why, because they both love Texas? 

HOMETOWN DATE WITH COURTNEY

Credit: Ralph Freso/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney Photo: Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson Toast With Champagne on Her Arizona Hometown Date on The Bachelor Season 16, Episode 8

Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Courtney is so happy to be away from the girls and she’s looking forward to spending time with her favorite guy. “I feel badly. I feel disappointed in myself for treating the girls the way that I have. This is hard for me. I’m not proud of everything I’ve done or said, but I’m falling in love with him and I feel like he’s worth fighting for.”

Good. For. Her. It really was just the wrong environment for her and she’s woman enough to admit it.

Courtney tells her family she like-slash-loves Ben. Her mom is skeptical. Mom tells Ben one time she made the wrong decision and after that she would never NOT heed her mom’s advice. Didn’t mom tell the tabloids Ben wasn’t hot enough for her daughter? Was that just a rumor? Courtney’s sister has good hair too. Sister knows how Courtney has trust issues with men. “I feel like I’ve been with the wrong people only to appreciate the right person.” Loving Courtney tonight. She tells her sister about the skinny dipping.

Ben talks to Courtney’s dad about marriage being the ultimate gamble. Ben likes Courtney’s strong, independent nature. Dad wants a son-in-law and grandkids. “That can be arranged,” Ben quips. So Dad is already sold just to have some testosterone in the family. Mom doesn’t trust men that much. She’s the harder sell. Courtney tells her mom with Ben it’s new and she doesn’t want to look back. “He makes me feel appreciated.” Ben tells her how he feels about her and makes her feel special. She’s never had that. If he keeps that up, she’ll be ready to say yes. Mom is surprised but she thinks they are well suited in their personalities. Mom likes Ben, though, so the tabloids were probably wrong. She thinks Courtney loves Ben, which is good to hear.

Ben is so formal with everyone’s family though. He can’t be open about how he feels but it’s like one job interview after another.

After the family talk, Courtney pulls Ben outside to a spot where she imagined getting married. She brings a bow tie and rings and has Ben write vows. “I’m figuring out ‘What are the things I like most about this woman?’ She challenges me. She keeps me on my toes. She’s funny. she’s confident. She’s sexy. She’s beautiful. I don’t know. She keeps me thinking. She keeps me thinking.” So much for “vapid.” Courtney is afraid to put herself out there, but she compares it to skydiving — if she were afraid of heights she would jump out of a plane. Their vows are really sweet. Courtney tells Ben she loves him. They have a fake wedding and Courtney says she liked her test run as Mrs. Flajnik.

DELIBERATION

There’s Chris Harrison! We haven’t seen many bromantic talks this season. They recap the hometowns. Ben was really comfortable with Lindzi’s home and saw her vulnerable side for the first time. Ben shares his concerns about Kacie’s mom not wanting them to live together. He calls Kacie one of the most kind and gentle women he’s ever met. Too gentle for him? He liked how Nicki opened up. He liked seeing Courtney “in her element.” That’s the Courtney that he knows when they are together. She just can’t be around other catty Bachelor girls is all. It brings out the worst in her. 

ROSE CEREMONY

Credit: ABC via WENN Photo: Kacie Boguskie Cries in the Bachelor Season 16, Episode 8: The Hometown Dates

It’s been an eye-opening week for Ben.

1. Courtney
2. Lindzi
3. Nicki

Leaving: Kacie

Ben walks Kacie out and apologizes. She says “That’s fine.” She doesn’t want him to be broken-hearted. She knew there was a chance she could be broken-hearted. She was scared of it. It’s not much of a talk. Where’s Ben’s charm when he needs it? See how sometimes you do need to sugar-coat things, man?

In the limo, Kacie cries and says she thought she knew what he was looking for but she was wrong. “I had no clue this was coming. …  It’s not me. I thought it was me. I was stupid. … Why am I not good enough? Like, I don’t get it?” She’s really sobbing now. “This is why I don’t love, this is why. I loved him and I don’t know what to do now. What the f--k happened?” Yikes. 

COMING UP

They are going to Switzerland for the overnight dates. Courtney doesn’t want Ben to think she’s fake. She knows she’s said some things to the girls and she hopes those things don’t come back and bite her. Too late! But the girls also said mean things to her (and everyone else), so what’s the big difference?

**BONUS SCENE**

At Courtney’s house. Courtney’s sister Rachel outs their skinny dipping scene. But Courtney’s dad skinny dips in their pool? Like father, like daughter!

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Credit: YouTube Photo: Bachelor 16 Preview: Ben Flajnik's Final 3, Overnight Dates, and a Surprise Visitor in Switzerland! (VIDEO)