Credit: Ralph Freso/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney

Winning! Won!

As that great sage Wes Hayden put it, “love don’t come easy.” The “journey” to love has not come easy for Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson. In fact, The Bachelor Season 16 did probably have, as Chris Harrison insisted, “the most controversial finale in Bachelor history.” (Not the most controversial“After the Final Rose” special, though. That is still Jason Mesnick’s award to lose.) It was controversial not because no one saw it coming — spoiler fans knew Courtney was The One several weeks before the season started and everyone else pretty much caught up by the time Ben and Court went skinny dipping — but because even Vienna Girardi wasn’t disliked by as many bachelorettes and viewers as Courtney.

Still, despite the “warnings” from (bitter?) bachelorettes, Courtney ended up getting the endorsement of Ben’s beloved sister, Julia, and Ben backed Courtney. All the way. Heck, his mom even offered them a damage control strategy: “If people say, like, ‘Well, Courtney sure had some problems relating to the other girls and maybe Ben didn’t pick the right person’ I can say, ‘Well, he saw a different side of her and that’s who he picked and he’s going to give it a try and see what happens.’” Heck yeah, Mama Flajnik. Own it. Besides, passion always wins over stability on The Bachelor. Just tell the haters, “Duh. Winning!” No one ever gets tired of that.

But while love may not come easy, heartbreak has become something of a specialty for first impression rose winner Lindzi Cox, who went from being texted to Dumpsville to being dumped at the base of the Matterhorn by the guy who got so mad when Ashley Hebert gave him the same runner-up deal on The Bachelorette Season 7. (Ben led Lindzi on even more than Ashley led him on.) At least then we had the Team Cupcake love story to celebrate. B + C never really established a strong following, beyond the Team Courtney support that slowly built in the past few weeks as a counterpoint to all the tabloids and bitter bachelorette blather. Can we now focus on supporting B + C = ♥ or is that a lost cause?

Read on for a full recap of the finale.

BEN HANDICAPS FINAL 2

Credit: ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney

• Every moment Ben spends with Lindzi gets better and better, but he just needs more time.

• Ben has had an incredible feeling about Courtney from their first date in Sonoma but he still has concerns about her.

Interesting that they are both good with animals — Lindzi with horses and Courtney with dogs, spiders, cows and cats. OK, maybe the cows snubbed her. But she really bonded with Ben’s dog, Scotch. 

BEN’S MOM AND SISTER SHOW UP

Their opinions are important but, as we saw on The Bachelorette with Ashley’s sister, sometimes family members can get a bad first impression. Ben’s sister, Julia, aka The Second Coming of Shawntel Newton, thinks she’s a good judge of character. After they talk about Lindzi, Julia asks if there was a woman that the ladies didn’t get along with. Funny she should ask!

The fact that Courtney didn’t get along with the ladies brought up major red flags for Julia. Ben said Julia doesn’t usually get along with the women he dates. So why, back in San Francisco, did he think she would get along with Courtney?

THE FAMILY MEETS LINDZI

Lindzi is self-conscious with Ben’s mom and sister, saying she doesn’t normally think about what others think of her when they first meet her. Ben’s mom grills her like a job interview. She talks about a “magic ingredient” bringing people together, which sounds like what Ben said on the overnight dates episode about Courtney, saying there’s a magical force that brings them together. Lindzi told Mom Ben is such a good guy and she doesn’t want to let him go. Ben’s sister is the tougher sell. Julia said Ben wants to dig deeper with her. Lindzi said it’s exciting to her that Ben could get down on one knee. Lindzi said you go into this thinking it will be fun and a great story to tell. (What?! She didn’t go in for “the right reasons” to fall madly in love with whoever was there?! Shocking!) Julia asks Lindzi about Courtney. “She’s very different from myself.” Lindzi is more of a people person and Courtney was “very shut off.” They decide in that situation you should try to make friends. Julia reiterates that the girl that the other girls don’t like is usually a red flag.

This is like Ashley’s sister vs. JP Rosenbaum all over again. Ben wants Julia to like Courtney but she’s leaning toward Lindzi. Ben says he loves being with Lindzi and Lindzi could be his wife. Ben’s mom thinks Lindzi is “the total package.” 

THE FAMILY MEETS COURTNEY

Credit: WENN.com

Mom and sister are already kind of against Courtney because she’s a model and they’ve heard that she didn’t get along with most of the girls in the house. (Yes, but they didn’t meet the other girls. They other girls were vicious. Besides, Courtney did get along with Casey Shteamer, who was sweet and stayed out of drama. And she has plenty of female friends off the show.) Julia said it’s different if the other girls were just jealous vs. Courtney instigating the issue. Ben doesn’t want his family to pre-judge Courtney. He wants Courtney to be the girl that he knows and loves for them.

When Courtney arrives, he says he’s a little nervous. She promises she’ll be on her best behavior. Ben’s mom asks about the reaction to the idea that she’s a model. The crazy music starts for her when they start talking about how she didn’t get along with the other women. Courtney tells the camera she’s normally a confident person but she could feel Mom and Sister’s skepticism.

Julia says things how they are and doesn’t hold back — which is exactly how Courtney is, so maybe they should get along. Courtney tells Julia she made an effort from Day 1 to get along with the girls. But she admits she could’ve tried harder to bond with them, but she felt like she was constantly defending herself so she put her guard up. But if someone was nasty to her it brought out a bad side of her. “I’m in love with your brother and I wouldn’t hurt him.” He’s in good hands, she says. “It feels right. It’s like what everyone says, when you know, you know.”

Julia said she’ll never know what really happened but she has to trust that Courtney is being honest. Sounds fair, based on what we saw. We didn’t see much of Courtney in the first episode because of all the Jenna Burke drama, so it’s possible she did try to get to know the other girls and they just didn’t get her or her humor.

Courtney tells Mom Ben is “special and smart and funny — we just laugh so hard when we’re together. I come home and my cheeks hurt, he’s so funny — and smart. I love him. I just love him. I just think he’s the best.” Mom agrees that he’s the best and wants the best for her. Now Courtney wonders if Ben is too good to be true, which used to be his concern about her.

Mom tells Courtney she thinks Ben is being influenced by what happened last time, proposing to Ashley and being rejected. Julia said her first impression is “I’m shocked. … I’m blown away. She’s a really amazing girl.” Julia tells the camera she learned a huge lesson “that you can’t judge a book by its cover.” She found Courtney sweet and thought she would fit in well with teh family. It felt natural with Lindzi because she’s so bubbly but if he wants approval about Courtney, he has it. Ben’s mom, Barbara, found Courtney to be “kind” and he thinks Ben has fallen in love with her. He seems happy and, as she put it, who doesn’t want to see their children happy?

But what do they think about Courtney now? There’s no reason they *should* change their minds since Courtney didn’t really misrepresent anything, but have they changed their mind anyway? It would be interesting to know.

FAMILY HANDICAPS FINAL 2

Julia called Lindzi “incredibly sweet and easy to like.” Mom found her to be a lovely young woman who is so accomplished in her career and hobbies “and just a lovely person.” Julia said Lindzi may still be apprehensive to tell him how she feels. (But she’s already done it, right?) Lindzi and Julia seemed to talk about how Lindzi still has work to do. Interesting note from Ben: He said his relationship with Lindzi is more of a slow burn and it’s possible that with more time their relationship could grow … and could it surpass what he has with Courtney?

They talk about how there’s a lot of depth to Courtney beyond being a pretty model. Julia said she was honest — “or I hope she was honest with me” — about not being proud of some of the things she did. Mom said something good, too: “She’s giving you, I think, her true side.” Julia said, as far as the complete package of what Ben is looking for in his wife, “I think Courtney is more of what you want. I think she’s very driven, obviously she’s not sugar-coating anything...” So, as it turns out, Julia is the anti-Ashley’s sister. She’s now pushing the Courtney angle.  

FINAL DATE WITH LINDZI

Credit: INFphoto.com

They take a horse-drawn carriage ride, then go skiing. Lindzi is very bubbly and excited about things. Even Nicki Sterling couldn’t be more bubbly and happy. At one point their gondola stopped, suspended over the Alps. At first, it looked like they were primed for another classic Team Bendzi adrenaline date — they have to jump out of the gondola!!! — but, no, they just talk about their “crazy” journey. The conversation feels a bit stilted, even with the soft guitar music helping them long. Ben says he can see a future with Lindzi. He pictured kids with her, visiting Florida. That’s kind of an ouch when you think about how upset Ben was when he felt that Ashley led him on. This feels like a leading-you-on speech, if Ben already knows he’s leaning toward Courtney. Does he still not know at this point?

That night, the soft guitars continue and Lindzi says she uses humor as her “crutch” and defense. He likes knowing that she can be serious at times too. That’s ultimately what he wants in a relationship, someone he can go to and feel those things and be vulnerable. They are both vulnerable for each other. It’s rare in life to find someone you want to open up with. “I want to make you happy,” she says. “I see a life with us. This is exciting and it’s scary and I want to tell you something and I don’t want you to say anything because I know you can’t and I don’t want you to feel like you have to. … [Long build up!] … I love you. I see a life with you and I want to make a life with you.” She wants to be a great fiancee and wife for him. She’s ready for the next step. Ben nod and says “Good” as if she’s just talked about a nice new job prospect. Ben said he saw something in her early on, hence the first-impression rose, and she thanks him for being patient. “I look a this woman and I want to tell her that I love her.” Love for everyone! He doesn’t say anything to Lindzi because he still has a date with Courtney and he doesn’t think it’s fair. He didn’t worry about fair during the skinny dipping session.

Ben and Courtney kiss and she says she loves him again. Her hands are all over his neck and hair but he’s not holding her face the way he does with Courtney. She can’t stop talking, maybe because he can’t say anything back. Nervous babbling. 

FINAL DATE WITH COURTNEY

Courtney thinks about Ben first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Of course, she’s not allowed to talk to family or friends or watch TV or anything, so what else is she going to do? She said she’s not worried about Lindzi because Ben has “depth” and she’s never seen that side of Lindzi. Why would she? She’s not dating Lindzi. (Unless she is? Most dramatic finale ever!)

They take a helicopter ride over the Matterhorn and Ben puts it in the top 10 things he’s ever done. (What’s the full list? Where’s skinny dipping?) He makes another bad “heights” pun, which is disappointing from a man with “depth.”

Courtney said there’s so much she loves about Ben. She feels like she can trust Ben and she has trust issues with men. She wants to keep him. (Cute.) They play in the snow and have a winter picnic. Seeing how happy they are at this point is kind of sad when you think about what they’ve dealt with in the past two months. Not that it was unexpected on their end, they knew she had said stuff and was not liked, but still. Courtney tells Ben she has no regrets. “It hasn’t been easy for me but I really feel like you’re worth it.” Ben says Courtney makes him feel like a kid. It’s funny, ‘cause Jake Pavelka said something very similar about Vienna on Season 14. So maybe that’s the secret to winning The Bachelor — be childish.

Courtney says she’s had a pattern with men where they just keep taking and taking and never giving back. That does sound like Ben since he keeps taking “I love yous” from women without giving back. She gives Ben a gift, which is traditional in the finale. It’s ANOTHER SCRAPBOOK. Sort of. It’s a photo album. She also writes him another love letter. A really long one. “I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have found you.” He’s possibly the best thing that’s ever happened to her. In Belize he said something that gave her clarity. Past. Present and Future. He calls it really nice — “talk about being vulnerable.” Take that, Lindzi! She feels like she standing out on a ledge waving her arms, “I love you.” She’s starting to wonder if everything she’s feeling *he’s* not feeling. She asks if he has any concerns. He says nope, his mom and sister gave him clarity. It’s like they have nothing left to talk about.

She talks more about how it’s been hard for her to defend herself to the other girls and to him and then again to his mom and sister. (Get used to it, girl!) She was surprised to see him bring the issue up with his family, after they had already put it to bed. Ben says he’s confused. Sometimes he doesn’t understand her and she frustrates him but he’s come too far now. It’s like Brad Womack and Emily Maynard’s final tiff the night before the Season 15 finale; remember when Em wanted specifics on how Brad would take care of Little Ricki if she got sick at 3 in the morning? (Correct answer: Hire Ashley Spivey to be the nanny.)

BEN RECAPS HIS FINAL TWO

• Courtney: “Courtney is exciting to me and adventurous. There’s definitely a mystery to Courtney.” Ben knows there’s a risk to proposing to Courtney and that’s probably what makes it exciting. He also says her energy and the love he feels for her makes her 10 times more attractive than she was at the start.

He wonders what his dad would’ve thought. He wishes Papa Flajnik were still around to give advice.

• Lindzi:  Lindzi has so many amazing qualities. She’s warm and funny and always has a smile on her face. She has this glow about her. He feels at ease around her and could see himself spending his life with her. (Random side note: In some angles, Lindzi looks like Anna Paquin. Just in some angles, though.)

Lindzi says it feels right. There’s that spark and passion. She’s excited and terrified. She’s worried that Ben doesn’t know the true Courtney. But maybe Ben is the only one of them who does know the true Courtney.

Courtney loves how Ben is sweet and thoughtful. He makes her laugh and feel very special. He brings out the best in her. (True.) She finally knows that true love is and she found it in this whirlwind fairy tale romance.

Ben leans over a balcony, which is mandatory for Bachelors after Jason Mesnick’s infamous Mesnick cry, followed by Jake Pavelka’s copycat Mesnick

NEIL LANE IS BACK!

Credit: ABC Television Group ©2011 Disney

Neil Lane is The Man! He gets the final rose every season. What a great gig to just fly to these exotic places for the happiest moments of the Bachelor/ette’s journeys. Ben knows whom he wants to pick, as he’s picking out a ring. But... why does he act like this is the first time he’s met Ben? Weird.

TIME TO DUMP SOMEONE

Ben is trusting his gut and following his intuition. "The woman that I want to propose to today brings me more joy than I could've ever imagined. It feels like we were meant to be. Like we were put on this planet to be together." Say what you want about Ben, he gives good speech. “It feels different this time. This is right.”

He has to say goodbye to a woman that he’s in love with. It’s Lindzi. Poor dear. She says it’s the moment women dream of their whole life. Nightmare, maybe. And not just the top with that skirt. Lindzi immediately starts talking about falling in love. Ben does his usual poker face so it’s hard to tell. Then he does the usual thing. He starts by talking about how she lights up a room and she’s what he’s looked for in a woman his entire life. He sugar-coats it. He does what he didn’t want from Ashley: the lead up to the drop off. “I want you to know that I have fallen in love with you.” WHAT? Bad Ben. Bad, bad, bad Ben. “But I need those moments to last a lifetime and I’ve found that with someone else. I’m sorry.” That sucks. “I’m in love with someone else.” He did not have to do it like that. Totally Team Ben when it comes to Courtney, just not this send-off. Poor Lindzi blames herself for not giving Ben what he needed. That’s a far cry from Ben’s anger when Ashley let him go.

Lindzi: “Well, good luck. And if things don’t work out, call me?” Ben nods. Ha! How sad.

Lindzi thinks Ben is going to look like a total fool to pick Courtney. Maybe, but Lindzi just got dumped then tried to take him back, which sounds pretty foolish — and eerily like what her Dumpsville ex said she tried to do recently: get back with him, then get dumped by him AGAIN.

BEN PROPOSES TO COURTNEY

Credit: American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Courtney says she’s either going to feel like the happiest, luckiest girl or she’s going to be shocked, heartbroken and dumpfounded. “Ben and I have the potential to be amazing together, we just have to get through this.” You said it sister. “I’m a good person and good things happen to good people.” Well, OK then.

Courtney’s voice-over says she wasn’t on her best behavior with the women but she never lied about her feelings with Ben. She looks sleek and stunning in her dress. She says she has a pattern with men where they appreciate her at first then take her for granted and stop giving back. She hopes her best days with Ben are not behind them.

Ben tells Courtney she took his breath away. “What a journey...” He recapped their ups and downs from their first date in Sonoma where he felt like they were on the same wavelength to Belize where he had a moment — past, present and future — at the top of the ruin. When he’s with her he has these incredible moments.

Ben: “I think you are an incredible woman, an incredible woman. But I promised myself that I wouldn’t get down on one knee again unless I was certain it was forever and I want to tell you that you are my forever. You’re my forever.” She starts laughing and crying. “I have waited a really, really long time to tell you that I’m in love with you, more than you’ll ever know and this whole experience and journey has been worth it, every step of the way. So, with all of that said, Courtney, will you marry me?”

Courtney: “Yes, of course I will. I love you so much. [...] I will love you forever.”
Ben: “I will love you forever.”

They have an “Oh my dad” moment. So sweet, actually. Good for them! And, yes, Ben remembers to ask her to accept the final rose. “I do.”

Ben: “I’ve loved you for a long time.”
Courtney: “I love you forever. You’re stuck with me.”
Ben: “I’m OK with that. Believe me.”

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