Perhaps it was Nick Vialls serial Bachelor franchise appearances that made Season 21 feel like it would never end. Maybe it was Nicks Groundhog Day sartorial decisionshow many oversize turtlenecks and scarves can one man own? Or the way the bachelors final ladytestants looked nearly identical to each other and the two women who rejected him in prior seasons? Or Nicks 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, Nicks season finale did finally arrive. And everyonefrom his family to eternal optimist jeweler Neil Laneis 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, Nicks 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 didnt 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: Hes moving to L.A. to dance with stars. He hangs out with Elijah Wood. Hes hocking his own line of mens beauty products.
All thats left is to get him hitched. So lets get this over with.
Were still in Lapland, Finland, where it is still freezinga destination lacking opportunities to leap from yachts, but undoubtedly chosen as some sort of contractual stipulation to maximize Nicks 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 theyre trotted out in front of ABCs cameras. Nicks mom sips white wine and God bless her, still has tears to shed over Nicks inability to find a mate. We all have a little bit of emptiness in our hearts after Nicks 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 datewhich made her somehow realize that he was the kind of man she had been looking for.
Nicks dad drops some kind of wisdom: Its easy to love someone when its all fairy tale and that sort of thing, and then cries and cries. Now everyone loves Vanessa, but still remain a little worried that shell 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 ridingher 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 Vanessas Santa high fades fast. She wants to feel special, not just better than Raven. Theres something thats not sitting right. Her gut is telling her that something is off. Shes confused and crying on a mountain. Shes questioning whether she wants to be engaged at all.
While Vanessa considers that in a cabin somewhere, we turn to Ravenwho is basically the opposite of Vanessa. She jumps into Nicks arms feeling super HAH and they AH-CE Skate to a Sixpence None the Richer soundtrack.
Raven and Nick make out on the frozen pondan outdoorsy thing the two are fond of. Then they sit by the FAHRand 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! Shes 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 wouldnt let the woman hes 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 Narnias White Witch. She tells him she loves himhow 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. Hes torn up inside letting her go. Hes been so selfish. Hes sorry.
And Raven classes up the joint with an honest declaration of affectionIll never regret standing here telling you how I feelbefore dropping the mic.
Nick: Im 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 its Vanessas turn, Nick doesnt even make her speak first. Ill 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 theres no way hes going to notice me. Instead, youve 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.