Bachelor nation, we have arrived at the finish line.
On Monday’s season finale, Nick Viall‘s journey to find love came to a tear-soaked end as he chose between his two finalists, Vanessa Grimaldi and Raven Gates. Was it the most dramatic season finale ever? Not quite, but it was the fourth time we got to watch this guy pick out an engagement ring on national television. Here’s to hoping it was also the last.
SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen Monday’s finale yet, stop reading now to avoid spoilers.
The episode opened with Nick getting followed around by a pack of Christmas elves in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Nick: “It’s one of the more beautifully scenic places I’ve ever been to, and apparently Santa Claus lives here, which is pretty crazy.”
Don’t look now, Nick, but the tooth fairy is around the corner, too!
Then Nick met up with his parents and some of his siblings and you could just tell his poor dad couldn’t believe he was doing this again. Never a good look when your own father admits your journey to find love has been “excruciating.”
RAVEN MEETS THE FAMILY
The first girl to meet Nick’s family was Raven, who had actually already met his parents and sister Bella during a date in Waukesha, Wisconsin, earlier this season. Bella has officially gotten more screen time than any other family member in the franchise’s history. Is ABC prepping her for The Bachelorette 2030?
Raven came across well-spoken, honest and heartfelt with Nick’s family — even his dad was impressed at her level of maturity. She told them she was in love with Nick and that while he hadn’t said it back, she was pretty sure he felt the same way. She also made it clear she was hopeful — and ready — for a proposal. Overall, you could tell both of Nick’s parents were fans and could definitely see her fitting into the family. A+ for Raven.
VANESSA MEETS THE FAMILY
Up next was Vanessa, and things didn’t go quite as smoothly as they did with Raven — mostly because when she sat down with Nick’s mom, Vanessa pretty much admitted that she wasn’t “100 percent ready” to get engaged at the end of this.
Vanessa somewhat redeemed herself during her conversation with Nick’s dad, in which she told him how seriously she takes engagement and marriage — and how much she loves Nick. In fact, she even made him cry. (Like father, like son.) She also said she’s “very open to compromising” and moving away from Canada to be with Nick, which is actually the complete opposite of what she said last week. So … progress?
FINAL DATE WITH VANESSA
After a zero gravity plane and an ice bath, we were expecting something equally grueling for Vanessa’s last date with Nick — but surprise, surprise, they went easy on her this time with some horseback riding and a date with Santa, Nick’s bestie.
Santa asked Nick and Vanessa what was at the top of their Christmas wish lists and they both said love. BORING. You know Nick’s was to win Dancing with the Stars.
Nick and Vanessa when Santa gave them that ugly “Niko & Venla” heart-shaped plaque:
Later that evening, we were reminded yet again that Vanessa has no idea how The Bachelor works.
Vanessa: “If you end up with me because my relationship with you is slightly greater than someone else’s, I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that.”
Okay, but like, that is the very premise of winning this show.
Vanessa went on and on about how “unromantic” the possibility of Nick’s proposal was because of the fact that there’s still “another woman” in the picture. (It’s always funny how at this point, each woman silently refuses to acknowledge “the other woman” by name.)
Nick did his best to comfort her, but ultimately, even he acknowledged he couldn’t give her the reassurance she was begging for.
Nick: “It breaks my heart knowing that I can’t make Vanessa feel better, more than any moment I’ve ever had with Vanessa. Right now, knowing that she’s questioning whether she can get engaged to me is terrifying. But I’m not able to give Vanessa clarity about what I want to do knowing that I still have Raven here and that I have incredibly strong feelings for Raven.”
FINAL DATE WITH RAVEN
Nick and Raven went ice-skating and of course they lay down and straddled each other on top of the ice. There’s no way that was enjoyable in any way. (They weren’t even wearing jackets!!! And that’s a frozen lake!!! That can’t be safe.)
They also got to play with baby huskies. Ugh life isn’t fair.
Raven was so damn sympathetic. She kept asking Nick how he was feeling and comforting him, even though there was a 50 percent chance that he would be breaking up with her for another woman the next day.
And while Vanessa had been feeling conflicted, Raven was the complete opposite: She made it very clear that she was completely and utterly ready to accept a proposal, no reservations, no hesitations.
Finally it was time for Nick to pick out an engagement ring … for the fourth time.
Neil Lane: “We’re finally doing it, huh?!” (Pretty sure what he meant to say is: “I’ll believe it when I see it.”)
Then Nick spent some time pacing around Finland, reflecting on the two other times he had his heart broken and proposal rejected on national television — and whether it was about to happen again.
Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for arrived: Nick stood inside a quaint little Finnish cabin, waiting for his runner-up to arrive so he could break up with her … and out of the limo came Raven.
Raven gave her speech first, and it was incredibly cute and honest, much like Raven herself. Then it was Nick’s turn, and his delivery was all over the place: stumbling over his words, crying, trailing off …
Nick: “I think about every moment that we’ve had and how much I’ve grown to care about you, respect you, and how much love I have for you. Thinking about it last night and this morning … I just don’t know if I’m in love. I know that my heart is somewhere else. All I could think about this morning, when I figured out where my heart was, was just how much I loved being next to you last night. It just made it that much harder and I’m torn up inside letting you go.”
Nick, you had one job. You had a whole night to prepare this breakup speech and this was a disaster.
Raven, for her part, remained stoic and sweet, maintaining that she would “never regret” standing in front of him and telling him how she felt. Then he walked her out, and they said their goodbyes. (Pro tip for future Bachelors: Next time, maybe remember to give the girl her coat before shoving her outside IN THE MIDDLE OF FINLAND.)
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After saying goodbye to Raven, Nick had one last thing to do: get down on that knee.
Nick: “As hard as it was to say goodbye to Raven, I don’t regret it because of how I feel about Vanessa. I’ve been falling in love with Vanessa for a really long time. I feel like sometimes I’ve been fighting it. And I’m not fighting it any longer. I’m going to ask Vanessa to marry me and my only fear now is: What if she says no?”
Then Vanessa arrived, and Nick finally got to tell her what she’d been wanting to hear all along: that he loves her, is in love with her, and wants to marry her. Vanessa said yes, he popped a ring on her finger, they both cried and it was absolutely lovely.
Lesson learned? Fourth time really is the charm. Happy finale, Bachelor nation.