Perhaps it was Nick Viall’s serial Bachelor franchise appearances that made Season 21 feel like it would never end. Maybe it was Nick’s Groundhog Day sartorial decisions—how many oversize turtlenecks and scarves can one man own? Or the way the bachelor’s final ladytestants looked nearly identical to each other and the two women who rejected him in prior seasons? Or Nick’s constant crying? Or the frozen climes of their final destination?
Whatever the reason, though it seemed like a far-off dream that would never materialize, Nick’s season finale did finally arrive. And everyone—from his family to eternal optimist jeweler Neil Lane—is over it. Could anyone love Nick? Will he be humiliated on television for our amusement once again? Or as Chris Harrison put it: “Will he let America down?”
Lest we forget, Nick’s heart has been broken not once, but twice. First by bachelorette Andi Dorfman, who he called out for Fantasy-suiting him without making him into an honest man (“If you didn’t love me, then why did you make love with me?”), then by Kaitlyn Bristowe, who also took Nick to the last ceremony just to let him go. But the public dumping has agreed with him. Nick is no longer a schlubby software salesman from Wisconsin: He’s moving to L.A. to dance with stars. He hangs out with Elijah Wood. He’s hocking his own line of men’s beauty products.
All that’s left is to get him hitched. So let’s get this over with.
We’re still in Lapland, Finland, where it is still freezing—a destination lacking opportunities to leap from yachts, but undoubtedly chosen as some sort of contractual stipulation to maximize Nick’s time in sweaters.
Before he could choose a winner, Nick would have to go on one last date with his remaining suitorettes: intense Canadian special-education teacher Vanessa Grimaldi and carefree Arkansan boutique owner Raven Gates. But first, Bachelor law requires family visits. So Nick dragged his family to the Arctic Circle to meet more of his girlfriends and rehash his prior failures.
Mom and Dad Viall are not shy about their desire for this to be the last time they’re trotted out in front of ABC’s cameras. Nick’s mom sips white wine and God bless her, still has tears to shed over Nick’s inability to find a mate. “We all have a little bit of emptiness in our hearts after Nick’s heartbreaks,” she says.
Everyone loves Raven because she is sweet and vulnerable and looks like Snow White.
Then Vanessa comes over in J.Lo hoops and a sassy off-the-shoulder sweater and tells the story of how she first fell for Nick during a spell of nausea on their first date—which made her somehow realize that he was the kind of man she had been looking for.
Nick’s dad drops some kind of wisdom: “It’s easy to love someone when it’s all fairy tale and that sort of thing,” and then cries and cries. Now everyone loves Vanessa, but still remain a little worried that she’ll break his heart. Like the others.
Nick and Vanessa really seem like a bad fit. She loves Canada and teaching and her big Italian Sunday dinners while Nick is “proud to be an American” and seems very into being on reality-TV shows and his new career as a groomingpreneur. Vanessa is intense and traditional while Nick seems like the kind to fly by the cuff of his turtleneck.
For their final date, Nick takes Vanessa horseback riding—her “ideal vacation.” She loves the snow “on the ground and on the trees.” Then Santa Claus pops out of a shack and invites them in for a fireside chat, where they share their wish lists for “love” and “ending up happy,” and stretch hard to make the outing into a metaphor for love: “Santa Claus is believing in something greater, believing in something magical.”
But Vanessa’s Santa high fades fast. She wants to feel special, not just better than Raven. “There’s something that’s not sitting right.” Her gut is telling her that something is off. She’s confused and crying on a mountain. She’s questioning whether she wants to be engaged at all.
While Vanessa considers that in a cabin somewhere, we turn to Raven—who is basically the opposite of Vanessa. She jumps into Nick’s arms feeling “super HAH” and they “AH-CE Skate” to a Sixpence None the Richer soundtrack.
Raven and Nick make out on the frozen pond—an outdoorsy thing the two are fond of. Then they sit by the “FAHR”—and actually, instead of watching anymore of this season we should just let Raven say things into the camera.
Then Nick inexplicably produces two puppies from somewhere in the woods and gives them to Raven who proclaims it the best day EVAH.
Things are so lovely with Raven! They get along so well and are so happy together! She’s not a blubbering mess. They share a loose grasp of the English language: To think this could all work out, that Nick could love her “is undescribable,” she says, especially for a girl from Hoxie, Arkansas.
Oh, girl. The puppies, the easy, drama-less dates? It all spells disaster for our Southern Snow White. This win is clearly going to the ice queen.
And the writing is on the wall on the day of the big reveal. Now, you might assume Nick wouldn’t let the woman he’s about to dump embarrass herself by spilling her soul on national television. You might think if anyone might soften the sting of rejection it would be two-time loser Nick Viall. But you would be wrong!
Raven ascends the stairs first. She is stunning in a sparkling white gown. She is Narnia’s White Witch. She tells him she loves him—how and why and in what amounts. And Nick lets her go on and on.
Then Nick says the worst things: He loves Raven but is not in love. His heart is somewhere else. He’s torn up inside letting her go. He’s been so selfish. He’s sorry.
And Raven classes up the joint with an honest declaration of affection—“I’ll never regret standing here telling you how I feel”—before dropping the mic.
Nick: I’m going to miss you.
Raven: I know.
She may cry in the limo (and she does) but with that exit, Raven betrayed an emotional maturity well beyond her 25 years. They should let her keep those puppies.
When it’s Vanessa’s turn, Nick doesn’t even make her speak first. “I’ll never forget the moment I started falling in love with you,” he says. “I do love you. I am in love with you… When I look at you all I see is my future.”
Vanessa rescues him right back: “I remember my first night, walking out of the limo and seeing you for the first time. I knew there was something special and different about you… I thought there’s no way he’s going to notice me. Instead, you’ve noticed every part of me.”
Finally down on one knee in front of a woman who will say yes, Nick asks, “Vanessa Grimaldi, will you marry me?”
In the immortal words of Neil Lane: “I just hope this one works.”