The women went into the week full of confidence, but Ben was feeling the strain of the episode's impending elimination. Even the stunning Alpine scenery wasn't enough to distract him from his concerns over Courtney's reputed catty behavior, and his growing and competing affections for each of the women. Here are the week's top five highlights:
5. Nicki Comes on Strong
Nicki, who was still riding the high of her successful Texas hometown date, was ecstatic to reconnect with Ben. They were immediately swooped up in a helicopter and treated to amazing views of the Alps, all while cuddling up in the close quarters of the helicopter's cabin. They touched down for a scenic picnic, and Nicki reiterated last week's confession of love. Ben still seemed reluctant to reciprocate, although he did admit to feeling a spark with Nicki, whom he has referred to as "the dark horse" of the competition.
Nicki used the dinnertime portion of their date to once again come on strong, quizzing Ben about the number of children he wants and assuring him that she's raring to put down roots with him. She dropped the "L" word a few more times, and eagerly accepted his overnight invitation. They steamed up the fantasy suite in an indoor hot tub, and Ben seemed to be warming up to her advances. "She makes me feel at ease, and I see a life with her," he said.
4. Lindzi Softens Up
Lindzi was up next, and once again found herself on one of Ben's special adrenaline adventures, which pushed them both to their physical limits. The twosome nervously rappelled into a 300-foot gorge, and for once, Ben seemed to be even more terrified than his female companion. Fortunately for the daring duo, their reward was some relaxing hot tub time, when Lindzi continued to let down her guard and hinted at her strong feelings for him.
She opened up even more during dinner, and Ben appreciated the softer, more vulnerable side she was showing. She expressed her love for our Bachelor in a less aggressive way than Nicki had, and Ben seemed to appreciate the difference. She accepted his overnight invitation with a caveat: "Normally, I don't just go and spend the night with anyone, but I'd love to." They got hot and heavy on the bed right away, leading Ben to close the door firmly on the camera crew.
3. Courtney Gets Called Out
Courtney's conniving ways once again brought out a backbone in Ben, who had been worrying about the rumors of her bad behavior all week. After a charming Swiss-themed date, on which the couple traveled by train and enjoyed a simple picnic in the countryside, Ben raised his concerns about the way she'd treated the other women, and even interrupted her when she got defensive, saying, "Regardless of the situation, it's pretty messed up." They decided to leave the tough conversation for later, but Courtney privately wept for the cameras and claimed that she's terrified of losing him and regretful of her atrocious attitude.
They moved on to a romantic candlelit dinner in a wine cellar, and this time Courtney brought up the conflict. She apologized for her actions and admitted that she should have done a lot of things differently. "This did bring out the worst in me," she acknowledged. Ben could have dug deeper, but instead decided that her apology was enough for him, and put the whole situation to rest with a toast and a kiss. For a while at least, his doubts were relieved, and they moved on happily to their private overnight.
2. Kacie B. Crashes the Party
Poor Ben's mind was made up until he answered the door to the season's sweetheart, Kacie B., last seen melting down in a limo last week after being eliminated. Kacie B. had come back for answers -- like much of America, she could not understand why Ben had sent her packing after weeks of what seemed like a deepening connection and growing love.
Ben gently revealed his reasons -- as expected, his extremely tense experience with her conservative family had thrown him off course. Kacie B. was aggrieved at his answer, but just when it seemed like she was ready to retreat, she launched into a denunciation of Courtney, cautioning Ben, "She's in this to win it." She could have given him more details about Courtney's classless conduct, but she delivered her warning with such sincerity and compassion that Ben had no choice but to take her seriously. She left an overwhelmed Bachelor behind, still heartbroken but equipped with some answers.
Ben was seriously rattled by Kacie B.'s revelations, and went into the rose ceremony more confused than we've ever seen him, with his misgivings about Courtney right back on the surface.
1. Ben Follows His Heart
The doubt and distress that Kacie B.'s visit caused Ben made this his toughest rose ceremony yet. He was uncertain of his picks until the last minute, but the result wasn't surprising: Lindzi got the first rose, and Courtney got the second. Nicki was sent home in tears.
Nicki was undoubtedly the safer pick, but Ben's feelings for Courtney are passionate, sensual, and electric -- and much further along. Even repeated warnings from the other women weren't enough to dissuade him from going with his gut. To Nicki's credit, she took the dismissal in stride, and seemed genuinely concerned that Ben will get hurt by the other women. Courtney has made it very difficult to tell whether her feelings for Ben are genuine, so that remains a definite possibility.
"The Bachelor" airs Mondays at 8 PM on ABC.
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