It’s here. It’s finally here! The Bachelor finale, when we get to watch Ben Flajnik fly in the face of, well, everything and everyone — especially logic — and propose to the woman we all knew he’d propose to all along: Courtney Robertson, the breakout star of this season, for better or for worse. (For richer or for poorer…)
It’s been a few years since I was a casual Bachelor fan. As a recapper, I tend to enjoy the controversial seasons, because they give me more — and new — things to write about. But as a fan, it’s been increasingly hard to keep the enthusiasm alive this season. I honestly can’t remember a Bachelor season that inspired as much disdain, frustration and disgust as this one has.
Most Bachelor(ette) seasons draw plenty of hate, whether for the star or certain cast members or the show in general. But most of that hate usually subsides by the finale, when the Bachelor or Bachelorette is down to a more reasonable number of potential mates (two), their feelings for both seem at least relatively deep and genuine, and the all-important, much-anticipated proposal becomes the focal point. That’s when, whether we’re completely cynical or not, we can let go at least a little bit and enjoy the fairytale element of the show, fake and fabricated as we still know that it is. Even though Jake was a creep, Brad was a bore and Ashley was annoying, I still liked them enough that I wanted each of them to find their ultimate — if deluded and shortlived — happiness. If only to put the shiny bow on their silly seasons and end on a high note.
But this season feels different. It’s fairly widespread opinion that Ben the Bachelor isn’t in this “for the right reasons” (“wrong” reasons including promoting his winery; the chance to boink lots of chicks; and the chance get famous and boink even more chicks), that he got attached and naked with Courtney way too early, and that he’s generally a disappointing turd with a center part. Since they skinnydipped together in Panama, he’s mostly been regarded as a lost cause. Viewers and even many of his eliminated bachelorettes have taken to the internet to encourage Ben to propose to Courtney — but only because “they deserve each other,” and so we can get the satisfaction of watching their already-doomed courtship reach full development before it inevitably crashes and burns. Yes, it’s pretty twisted — but if it keeps us invested, ABC has shown they’re more than willing to play along. It’s the game they created, after all.
We start the episode with yet another overview from Ben about his two final candidates. Lindzi is easygoing and lights up the room (that’s her bronzer), but Courtney has enchanted him from the beginning, despite her contentious relationship with pretty much everyone who isn’t Ben. The theme song to this season, David Gray’s “This Year’s Love” — a suitable title, one with an expiration date — plays as Ben looks up at the Matterhorn and contemplates his choice. He is incapable of making this last-minute decision on his own, since no man in his right mind would propose after two months to a woman he hasn’t dated without also dating others at the same time, so his mom and sister have traveled to Switzerland to interview the final girls and give him their input. “My backup has arrived!” Ben says. Looking at his situation like a cop who’s entering a deadly shootout. Fitting.
Ben’s sister seems like a smart, sensible woman. She knows how this show works, and immediately asks Ben whether either of the girls caused problems this season. He embarrassingly says it was Courtney. Sister calls it as she sees it: “That’s a red flag.” Ben’s mom is quieter and tenser. She mostly sits on the couch and stares helplessly at her son, likely uncomfortable with this entire scenario and wondering the kindest way to tell him this is all a huge mistake. But there isn’t one. So she just stays silent.
HEY MOM, ISN’T THIS GONNA BE FUUUUUN?
Who ARE you?
Meeting the Family
Lindzi is first up to meet Ben’s family, and she’s both excited and nervous. “I haven’t felt about anyone the way I feel about Ben! I’m hoping to spend the rest of my life with him!” Most of her soundbites could be predetermined by a Bachelor cliche soundboard. Ben tells his family that Lindzi won the First Impression Rose for riding in on a horse, and Lindzi is the first to flatter her bold move: “That was so cool!” Right, guys? Doesn’t it sound so cool?
They sit down to lunch (or is it dinner? breakfast? there’s always wine, no matter what!) and Lindzi admits that she gets nervous when she has to “eat proper.” Ben’s mom’s nose curls. But when the two of them sit down for a more casual conversation, Lindzi raves sincerely and excessively about how much she loves Ben, and that’s enough to eek an almost-smile out of Mom. But it’s still only a first, superficial impression: “She’s a nice girl,” is Mom’s overall summation of Lindzi in the end.
Ben’s sister Julia asks her about “the other girl” — Courtney — and, sweetheart that she is, Lindzi tries to be diplomatic. “She’s very different than myself,” she says of the Model-Demon. “I’m more of a people person, and she was very shut-off. In that situation, why not try to make friends?” Because she was busy trying to make enemies! Julia says that Courtney’s reputation already doesn’t “sit well” with her, but she’d be happy to welcome Lindzi into the family. Doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen, but I hope Lindzi takes solace in that fact when Ben dumps her on top of the Matterhorn.
Lindzi leaves. Before it’s Courtney’s turn, Ben reveals that she’s “the model,” and Julia’s face drops. “Ugh, she’s the model?” Yuck! That’s strike two! Why wasn’t Julia involved in this entire season? She’s the voice of reason, AND she wears cute hats.
Not smiling runs in the family.
The next day, the family readies to meet Courtney, and after sleeping on it, Julia’s a little more willing to have an open mind about the model. “Maybe girls are intimidated by her beauty,” she says halfassedly, knowing that’s probably not the case, but trying to give her brother the benefit of the doubt.
The real red flag is this sweater.
Ben brings Courtney in. He looks tense and terrified, like he’s trying to balance a fragile, precarious egg on his nose. They immediately ask her about the “model” thing, and Courtney launches into a defense of how she was prejudged by the other women and she “really tried with everybody,” but no matter what she did, it was never enough for those mean girls. She plays with her hair and looks away, which are very obvious signs of TELLING THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH ALWAYS.
Julia takes Courtney out to the balcony to ask some serious questions — the better location to push her off if she answers incorrectly. Again, Courtney says that the other girls weren’t “interested” in getting to know her, but admits that she could have tried harder and put a guard up. “If someone was nasty to me, it brought out a bad side of me,” she says — but only because she was SO IN LOVE with Ben! “I’m in love with your brother and I’d never hurt him,” she says. Julia is like, “Sure. Yeah. I guess I’ll just have to take your word on that.” I guess we’ll ALL just have to take your word on that.
Cruelly taunting all those other women was really hard on me.
Then it’s time for Courtney to sit down with Ben’s mom, and the model gives her cutesy little laundry list of why she loves Ben: “He’s funny, my cheeks hurt, he’s smart, he’s the best! I just love ‘im!” Mom looks convinced. Or maybe that’s just her face? It’s like a family of Martha Stewarts. Always half-smiling. Never truly emoting. I like them, but it’s unsettling. Maybe Courtney really would fit in.
Julia admits to Ben that she’s “shocked” and “blown away” by what an amazing girl Courtney is, and she learned a lesson about not judging a book by its cover. “I found her to be a very kind person,” says Mom, and notes that Ben looks like he’s really fallen in love with this one.
For her part, except for her (self-deceptive?) lie about trying to make friends with the other girls, Courtney is really putting in the effort with Ben’s family. She wants to impress them and she DID admit that she “has things to work on,” though she always seems to take on a vague and evasive angle when pressed to actually name what those things are.
But still, this puts us in an awkward position, doesn’t it? As always, the question underlying this whole thing isn’t whether Courtney is putting in the effort, but whether she’s being genuine. Either Ben’s family is RIGHT and Courtney is actually awesome, and ABC has been intentionally editing out and undercutting that side of her all along. Or they’re WRONG, and we just watched them get duped the same way Ben got duped. I don’t know which is more frustrating.
After meeting both girls, Ben and Julia and Mom sit down to hash out the differences between his two potential fiancees. AGAIN. They basically tell him that both girls are gems and he should just go for it with the one he likes/loves best. (So, propose to Courtney. I mean, obviously.)
Last Chance Date with Lindzi
Ben picks up Lindzi in a horse-drawn carriage for their very last day as a fairytale couple. Or a couple at all. They clomp along for a while, and then Ben reveals the REAL date: They’re going skiiing “right by the Matterhorn”! AKA where Lindzi’s getting her heart broken later! COOOOOL!
They share a picnic in a private gondola (as you do), and then the gondola stops suddenly. “This is the place and time when I need to open up to Ben,” Lindzi says. Time for a mid-air afternoon delight!
Oh, she meant opening up about her feelings. Lindzi already told him that she loves him and wants to marry him — how much more opening up could she possibly do?! “Can you see an us in your future?” she asks, trying to get a roundabout solid answer out of him, since Ben is contractually obligated not to say the L-word until the very end. Ben bumbles his way through an “Uh, yes.” Oh, girl.
A kiss isn’t a commitment, Lindzi!
They finally get to the top of the mountain and then standing-up spoon all the way down. Then we immediately jump to Lindzi’s hotel room, where she’s getting amped up to share MORE feelings with Ben. What?! They spent an hour going up the mountain, and then stopped after going on one run?! But skiing makes it so much more difficult to talk! MORE SKIIING PLEASE.
Lindzi worries that she uses her sense of humor (oh… uh… is that what that is?) as her crutch. Ben, with all the sense of humor of a soggy rock, says something vague about how he likes Lindzi’s unique, multi-faceted ability to be both funny AND serious at various points of her life. She says “I love you,” and he says, “That’s good.” She thanks him for being “patient” with her, which is laughable when you remember that he’s been dating and kissing 25 other women this entire time. In her last-ditch effort to REALLY make him know how much she cares, Lindzi literally and emotionally drapes herself all over Ben. She whispers, “I love you. I want this. I’m 100% sure,” directly into his mouth, digging her nails into his head. Even if Ben soon forgets about her impact, his skull won’t.
Last Chance Date with Courtney
“What’s that other girl’s name? I don’t know what Ben’s connection is with Lindzi, but I’m not too worried about it,” Courtney says, back to her over-sharing, over-confident ways. “One thing I love about Ben is he’s got a lot of depth” (that’s why he’s able to be in love with so many girls at once) … “and I never saw a lot of that in Lindzi.” Now that’s what I call a SLOW BURN.
Ben and Courtney travel by helicopter over the Swiss mountaintops, and the thrill of being 14,000 feet above land bonds them together even more. They get dropped off by an alpine lake, and Ben pulls a picnic basket on a sled. If a Bachelor date ain’t got a picnic, it ain’t SH*T. They cuddle in their cozy sweaters, drink mimosas out of glasses and wait for their meal to cook on some weird new-age portable wood-stove while the Matterhorn stands picturesque in the background. You know, NORMAL DATE STUFF.
Weeeeeeee … have never experienced a real life relationship together!
This “snow has never been walked on,” says Courtney, yet there’s a camera man following them around as they kiss and go sledding and make snow angels. I feel so sorry for him. And not at all sorry for Ben, who says he’s very confused about the big decision ahead of him.
That night, Courtney FINALLY gets (another) one of her wishes, and welcomes Ben into her private hotel room. She’s completely head over heels for Ben, but in the back of her mind, she’s still worried: “I have had a pattern with men where they just keep taking and taking and never give anything back.” She gives Ben a gift to show how she feels: It’s a photo book from their televised dates together that a producer-intern made for her. Aww! Inside the book is also a long-ish love letter, which Courtney reads aloud. It says things like “thank you for trusting me and believing in us,” and “I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have found you” and “you feel like home to me.” THEN SHE DROPS THE “SOMEDAY WE MIGHT HAVE CHILDREN” BOMB! Where’s your gift and love letter and promise of offspring, LINDZI?! This girl knows how to play the game.
But Ben’s “aww, shucks” acceptance of the gift isn’t enough for Courtney. She wanted him to break the unspoken Bachelor rules and say “I love you, too,” and she’s back on the defensive now that she didn’t get it. They get back into the same-old tense conversation about whether Ben trusts in “the real Courtney.” Cathedral bells ring and ring and ring and RIIIING, like an alarm-clock nightmare come to life.
Her plan backfires, and Ben leaves feeling more unsure and frustrated about her than he has in weeks. And he’s supposed to propose tomorrow! HE HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO MAKE A CHOICE AND THEN PROMISE TO MARRY THAT CHOICE! What’s he supposed to do NOW?!
Again, Ben recaps the difficult decision he has to make: Courtney versus Lindzi, Lindzi versus Courtney. You’d think this would be a little clearer by now. God, Ben, you’re such a procrastinator.
Lindzi and Courtney simultaneously wake up from another night alone. Each looks out from her balcony while soft-lit scenes of her and Ben play in her mind’s eye. “It’s crazy to think I could be getting engaged to him today!” says Courtney. Yes, it is. It IS.
A hawk flies above Ben and cries, “DON’T DO IT!” but Ben doesn’t speak hawk, and he’s too caught up in his own thoughts to listen to the logic of nature.
“I know the woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with!” Ben finally says — and then, as if the words were his personal Bat Signal, Neil Lane appears to sling some FAT ASS engagement rings.
Soooo … you want a ring that says “I love you the most and I’m excited to get to know you better”?
“As I’m looking at these rings, there’s only one woman I’m thinking about, one woman I want to propose to, one woman I want to spend the rest of my life with,” Ben says. A minute ago he was completely uncertain, and now he’s SO SURE that he’s willing to pick out a girl and a ring on the same day.
Too busy being The Decider to even get a haircut, Ben puts on his suit and gets ready for the big day. Courtney and Lindzi each put on long, opulent black gowns — and, as if just for my personal delight, each then puts on a RIDICULOUS cape. In her gorgeous and frigid white cape, Courtney looks like the Ice Queen, while Lindzi, in a plush green cape, looks like … a Russian ice skater at a formal dinner. I think we all know who’s going to come out on top here.
And so it goes. The first helicopter arrives, carrying the woman whose heart he first needs to stomp all over on his way to eternal happiness, and that woman is … Lindzi. “It’s the beginning of a lifetime of bliss,” poor, mistaken Lindzi tells us via voiceover as she walks to Ben.
Not the woman of Ben’s dreams … but definitely the cape of MINE.
They make awkward small talk (“HI, how are you?” “Uhhh, good!”) and then Lindzi launches into a little speech out of anxiety about how much she loves him that ends with “…how are you?” Uhhh. Ben launches into his speech that CRUELLY includes “I’ve fallen in love with you … BUT. I need those moments to last a lifetime, and I’ve found that with someone else. I’m sorry.” Aww. I thought I didn’t know Lindzi well enough to REALLY feel this along with her, but it still hurts to see her numbly nod her head and try to process what a chode she’s been in love with this whole time.
“Wow … bad day to choose to go sober.”
“Aw man, aw man, aw man,” Ben says as he walks her out, because he doesn’t know what else to say. “I’m mad at myself, you know,” she says. “Just not giving you what you needed.” NO, LINDZI! It is not your fault. I really hope and believe that you know that now. “And if things don’t work out … call me?” NOOO, LINDZI! Hush now, I beg of you!
As she walks to the helicopter of shame that just minutes ago was the helicopter of hope, Lindzi (in voiceover) says that she’d be shocked if Ben really wanted to marry Courtney, and he’s gonna look like a fool if he does. “I wanna go home now.” And she does. Fare thee well, Lindzi. We barely knew you, and yet I’m kinda bummed we won’t see a Bachelorette season starring you. Imagine, an entire season on horseback!
As he awaits the next helicopter Ben inspects the Neil Lane engagement ring intended for Courtney — looking for the imperfections that he never looked for in her? “Good things happen to good people,” she says as the helicopter lands. GAWD, that’s such a perfect soundbite that I’d want it framed if that was possible.
Her “I’m so in love” voiceover lays it on heavily as Courtney approaches the nature-altar up there on the Matterhorn. Ben says “You kinda took my breath away!” He takes a moment and then gives his love-speech: From Panama, where “we were on this same wavelength of sorts,” to Belize, where he had a “revelation” on top of the Mayan ruins after she played with that tarantula like she could control its spider-brain, he always has great moments with Courtney. “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.” THERRRE IT IS! COURTNEY’S FACE GASPS AND LIGHTS UP! ARE THOSE ACTUAL HUMAN TEARS, MAYBE?
Ben gets down on one knee. He pops out that massive rock. “Hooo my God,” she says. “Will you marry me?” “Yes, of course, I will! Ben! It’s beautiful. I love it. I will love you forever.” “I will love YOU forever.” “Oh my Dad!” “I love you so much.” “I love YOU!”
Then, of course, there’s the “one more thing” that he has to do … “Courtney, will you accept this rose?” She takes it and says “I do.” Then they turn to the camera. “We found a fairytale,” Ben says like he’s reading a budget report. “With a few bumps along the way, ya know, but we found a fairytale.”
I got the (final) ro-OOOOOOSE!
Sure. Sure you did. But whether it’s a “happily ever after” or not, I’m very happy to be able to say this about this Bachelor season: THE END!
Oh, except for that pesky After the Final Rose Special…
(Images courtesy of ABC)