Well folks, we’ve made it to the finale. And I have some great news. In my last recap, I assumed that the show would be moving to a completely different location after the rose ceremony. But I was wrong. The episode is picking back up in Finland. The reason this is so exciting? THE POM POM HATS LIVE ON!
Nick wants to make sure The Bachelor has an educational element in addition to the entertainment, so he gives us a geography lesson. We’re in the city of Rovaniemi, and apparently “Santa Claus lives here.” Nick, will you be receiving a new fiancée or a lump of coal in your stocking this year?
The entire Viall family has made the journey to Finland to help Nick make a decision. Or at least to chime in and remind us how many times Nick has been rejected. Tip: If your parents talk about your love life in terms of “seasons,” maybe it’s time to take a break from appearing on dating shows. Mom gets down to business immediately.
And the answer is “no!”
Well, maybe the family visits will help. Raven is up first. She’s already friends with Nick’s little sister, Bella, and met his parents, but there are plenty of other family members that must be wooed. Raven is prepared for the Viall family to be very protective, because this is the third time he’s been through the process of screening a potential life partner on national television. Bella is ready with tough questions…
…and Raven is very willing to tell everyone how much she loves Nick. The parents see her as mature, honest, and someone effectively not capable of hurting their sweet, little boy. When asked about his feelings towards Raven, Nick says, “I more than just really like her,” which sounds convincing, I guess.
Next is Vanessa. She’s asked to relay her entire life story in 20 seconds and then get into the details of her dates with Nick so far. She gets choked up talking about her feelings, which, of course, is exactly what Mama and Papa Viall want to see.
In one-on-one conversations, Vanessa admits that while she can’t picture herself “not ending up with Nick,” she definitely still has reservations. Is it okay that she doesn’t know if she’s ready to be engaged, even though she feels so strongly about Nick? There’s still so much they need to learn about each other. And, if Nick was unwilling to move to Canada, she’d be the first in her family to leave Montreal. “It’s scary to have to uproot my life for someone,” she tells Nick’s sister. The real talk gets realest when it’s time to chat with Nick’s dad. “Do you think that love is enough to make a relationship last?” she asks. “You have to be willing to sacrifice,” he replies. “If you can’t do that, it won’t work.” They both start crying, probably because they know that Vanessa is too independent and settled in her ways to give all that up for a boyfriend.
With family meet-n-greets out of the way, each of the women will get one more chance to win Nick’s heart. He and Vanessa start by taking a magical horseback ride through the snowy woods.
But wait, who’s that doing an awful job of hiding in the forest?
That is hands down the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in all my years of watching The Bachelor. I know I’ll be having nightmares about that for weeks to come. Of course, the lovebirds ride their horses over to a little cabin, and Finnish Santa opens the door to give them marriage advice and a gift. I know this is supposed to be cute and charming, but I am still reeling from the tree incident.
Later that night, Nick tells us that he’s looking for balance in a relationship. He is drawn to smart, strong, and confident women, but in the past that intensity has boiled over. Vanessa is concerned about the fact that Nick doesn’t seem to be sure of which finalist he’s actually in love with. “If we end up together because my relationship with you was slightly greater than someone else’s, I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that,” she says. She has a feeling in her gut that something isn’t right, and, as she admitted during the Viall family dinner, she’s not sure if she’s ready to be engaged.
Vanessa asks Nick directly if he thinks he’s ready to propose. His reply? “I think the week’s not over.”
Not good, Nick! NOT. GOOD. He tries to reassure Vanessa by saying, “When I’ve been with you, I’ve only thought of you,” which sort of does the trick. But not really.
Do we think that things will go more smoothly on Raven’s date? Nick needs the day to be sure he’s making the correct life decision. “It’s my last chance to figure out where my heart is at,” he says. And to do that, the two of them will be enjoying a playful and fun ice skating date.
The soundtrack of their love is, once again, Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me” Millions of teenagers momentarily pause the episode and rush to their local Blockbuster to rent a VHS copy of She’s All That.
“It’s just easy with Raven,” muses Nick. He asks her to wait beside a post-skate campfire and comes back with an armload of husky puppies!
Where did these puppies come from, Nick? I guess I’m the only one who’s concerned. Raven’s reaction: “I hope my kids with Nick are as cute as these puppies.”
Moving into the evening portion of the date, Raven is feeling very confident. Though Nick is admittedly stressed, he tells Raven that he appreciated how he’s able to just be in the moment with her. She effectively says that if he proposes, she won’t reject him. “I have no hesitation … I know that I’m ready … I know that I’m sure about it.” Nick has felt Raven’s sincerity and loyalty throughout the season, knowing that a life with her would be “filled with laughter, fun, and passion.”
Nick has a big decision to make … sparkly or SUPER SPARKLY? That’s right. Our trusty friend Neil Lane is here to help Nick decide on an engagement ring.
With hardware set, it’s time for Nick to “let (his) heart guide (him) to where it needs to go.” Does that mean picking Vanessa, who doesn’t think she wants to get engaged and is worried that neither of them are willing to make compromises to make the relationship work? Or will he choose Raven, who is so ready to go she’s already booked a venue, sent out invitations, and hired a Sixpence None the Richer cover band to play at their wedding? “Anything is possible,” our Bachelor says. “This could all still blow up in my face.”
It’s decision time. The first woman to arrive at the proposal cabin — meaning the final contestant to be sent home — is Raven. Her confident voice-over is truly heartbreaking as we know what’s about to happen. And Nick looks like he’s ready to vomit as she gives one final impassioned speech about her feelings.
Nick tells Raven how deeply he cares about and respects her. And though he “has love for her,” it’s not strong enough. “I don’t know if I’m in love. My heart’s somewhere else.”
A brutal rejection, a tearful car confessional. But have no fear, Raven fans — our Southern sweetie will be on Bachelor in Paradise this summer!
With Raven on the way to the airport, Vanessa arrives to greet Nick. “I’ve been falling in love with Vanessa for a very long time,” he tells us, but had been fighting his feelings. This man is truly terrified of leaving this show without a potential wife. Vanessa wants to make sure that Nick is “ready to love” her and not just put a ring on her finger. How’s this gonna go down?
“I will never forget the first moment I saw you,” he tells her. “I will never forget the first moment I started falling in love with you … I do love you. I’m in love with you.”
Vanessa returns the favor. “When I’m with you, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Thank you for taking another chance on love.” Nick gets down on one knee … will Vanessa stick to her convictions or be swept up in the romance of the moment?
Oh, please. Of course she said “yes.” The obligatory final rose is accepted, and the happy couple rides off in a horse-drawn sled. “Should we go start a life?” asks Nick. “Let’s go do it,” Vanessa replies. “Literally.”
Have fun, you two.
AFTER THE FINAL ROSE
Nick and Vanessa appear on the live after-show to discuss their status. Things have been tough since taping ended, but they’re doing the best they can in a long-distance relationship. They’ve made the decision to live in the US, not Canada, and Vanessa is starting a charitable foundation while Nick hoofs it on Dancing with the Stars. No wedding date has been set.
Sort of an anti-climactic end to the season. Rachel, you’re up next. Are you ready to take the reins and breathe some new life into this franchise?
The Bachelorette, season 13, can’t get here soon enough!