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'The Bachelor' Finale Recap: The Top Five Highlights

'The Bachelor' Finale Recap: The Top Five HighlightsThis week’s season finale of “The Bachelor” marked the end of one of the most controversial seasons in the show’s history -- and the episode lived up to the hype. Ben described the choice between wholesome, bubbly Lindzi and the enigmatic villain of this season, Courtney, as the hardest of his life. Comforted by the support of his mother and sister and the stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps, he pulled himself together and made his crucial decision confidently. Here are the week’s top five highlights, plus a look at what happened on “After The Final Rose.”

Julia Has a Change of Heart
Ben, who claimed to be having trouble deciding between the final two women, was relieved to the point of tears when his mother and sister arrived to give him an outside perspective on his situation. His sister, Julia, was instantly suspicious of Courtney upon hearing that she had failed to make friends with the other women, and became even more wary when she found out that Courtney is a model. “The idea of a model as a sister-in-law…I’m like, oh God, Ben, come on,” she said. “There are red flags when it comes to Courtney already.”

Both Lindzi and Courtney got a chance to get sized up by Ben’s mom and sister. Lindzi’s warm personality and vivaciousness made her an instant hit with both, and she unsurprisingly received the stamp of approval. Julia tried to get her to dish about Courtney, but Lindzi would only say that Courtney is “very different" from her.

Courtney had a lot more to prove than Lindzi during her visit with the potential in-laws, and the stakes were high. Ben was much more nervous than Courtney, and when Courtney immediately brought up her troubles with the other women, calling them “judgey,” the friction in the room was obvious. Having pulled her aside, Julia brought up her “red flag” concerns right away. Courtney admitted that she could have tried harder, and that the situation brought out a bad side to her. Her confession worked wonders on Julia, who did a complete about-face and turned into Courtney’s cheerleader, telling Ben, “I found her to be very, very sweet.”

When prodded, Julia chose Courtney over Lindzi for Ben, a move that no doubt shocked audiences.

Lindzi Falls in Love
Ben had one more date with each woman before having to make his big decision, and he picked up Lindzi for hers in a horse and carriage, continuing the equestrian theme to their relationship. The ski trip, followed by a romantic dinner, was Lindzi’s last shot to address Ben’s sole criticism of her -- that she hasn’t been open enough and vulnerable with him. “I use my sense of humor as a crutch,” she admitted.

Lindzi filled her date with confessions of love and visions of a future with Ben, saying, “No one has come along in my life that has been worth letting in.” Ben seemed appreciative of her honesty, and they shared a sweet goodbye. “I love you,” she whispered one last time.

Courtney Got Worried
Courtney kicked off her date with one last zinger at a competitor, saying, “One of the things I love about Ben is that he has a lot of depth, and I just never saw that side to Lindzi.” Ouch.

A helicopter picked up the couple and whisked them up 14,000 feet, where they were treated to incredible views of the Matterhorn. The twosome was dropped off at a pristine high-altitude lake, and had a grand time acting goofy in the untouched snow. “With Courtney, I’m completely and utterly myself,” Ben said. “I’ve always wanted to feel this comfortable around a woman.” Their ease with each other was evident as they laughed their way through a sled ride.

The evening portion of the date was plagued with much more drama. Courtney had taken a page from Blakeley’s book and made him a scrapbook detailing the journey of their relationship, a gift that included a sentimental letter. Courtney’s scrapbook seemed to be just as big a flop as Blakeley’s had been, and Ben’s reaction was less than effusive. This made Courtney concerned, and she once again brought up her insecurities with Ben. The tactic backfired, and Ben seemed taken aback. “I thought that things were going well, but there are times I don’t understand her, times that she frustrates me,” he worried. Their night ended on a strained note, and Courtney’s bravado seemed extinguished. “I’m terrified that Ben might do to me what Ashley did to him,” she said.

Lindzi Stays Classy
Unlike Bachelors before him, Ben had no uncertainties when it came to his proposal. “I can confidently say that I know what I’m doing,” he said, shortly before the customary ring selection with jeweler Neil Lane.

Lindzi was the first to take Chris Harrison’s arm and be led to where Ben was waiting, which was a sure sign that she would be hearing bad news. In a last-ditch effort to win Ben over, she made a nervous speech, saying, “I’ve never felt this kind of love for someone.”

Poor Lindzi -- Ben dragged out his rejection, revisiting different moments in their journey together. Then he broke the news. “I want you to know that I’ve fallen in love with you, but I need those moments to last a lifetime,” he said, as Lindzi’s face fell. “I’m in love with someone else.”

Lindzi reacted to heartbreak with an unprecedented amount of class and composure. She kept smiling, and even comforted Ben, who was physically shaking, with a hug. She looked shocked and sad, but there were no sobs. Her parting words were, “If things don’t work out, call me?”

Ben Makes His Choice
Courtney was flown in for the same ritual, and chose to wear long, black leather gloves as if to remind us of her status as the show’s villain. Ben teased her a little by making it seem as if she might be rejected, saying, “But -- I promised myself that I wouldn’t get down on one knee again until I was sure it was forever.” Courtney looked anxious until he said, “YOU are my forever.”

She gasped and accepted his proposal giddily, pulling off her glove to receive the ring that he knelt to give her. It was a relief to see Ben finally able to express his feelings for the woman who he’s been in love with for so long, despite the red flags that she’s raised across the country with her callous behavior behind his back. Although Ben’s choice is likely to have surprised many given the warnings he’s received about her, his feelings for her have always surpassed his feelings for her competitors.

They both seemed a little shell-shocked in the aftermath, but kissed excitedly. “I will love you forever,” she told him. “I’m so happy.”

After The Final Rose
The real scoop from last night came during the “After The Final Rose” show, which aired after the finale. This aftermath episode customarily features a happy couple bright-eyed about the future, but this season’s show revealed that Ben and Courtney had already broken off their engagement -- but it wasn’t for long.

Watching Courtney’s behavior on the show had proved too much for Ben, who said, “I just cracked.” He insisted that he never cheated on Courtney, despite the whirlwind of tabloid rumors that still beleaguer the couple.

The rumors, combined with what she perceives as Ben’s abandonment of her after the show aired, have left a mark on Courtney, who said, “There’s definitely some trust that’s been lost.”

The two then appeared on stage together, misty-eyed and still hopeful that they could make things work with a fresh, post-show start. Chris Harrison showed them footage of the proposal, and then presented them with a surprise: Courtney’s original engagement ring. Chris asked them what they wanted to do with the ring, and the audience gasped as Ben took it out of the box and put it back on Courtney’s finger for the second time. They’re back on! 

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