Raven and Vanessa meet Nick's family before he makes his final choice

By Samantha Highfill
March 13, 2017 at 10:59 PM EDT
Terhi Tuovinen/ABC
S21 E12
  • TV Show
  • ABC

Welcome to my dramatic three-hour live season finale recap of The Bachelor! (Much like the first two hours of this show, this recap is actually neither live nor is it all that dramatic.) Here, we’ll find out whether Nick chooses the woman who loves him too much or the one who doesn’t love him enough. Also, we’ll get Santa’s thoughts on all of this because, if nothing else, he’s known for his matchmaking abilities.

Back in Finland, it’s time for Raven to meet Nick’s family, who are less than enthused about having to fly all the way to Finland to go through all this AGAIN. They barely even cheer when Nick walks through the door, but the minute dad hears Raven’s name, he’s IN. Remember their riveting conversation about her name?! Well, he does, and he’s looking forward to learning more.

Bella is the first family member to get a one-on-one chat with Raven, and all she wants to know is if Raven loves Nick. Raven says she does, and Bella’s made her choice: She’s #TeamRaven all the way, telling Raven, “I hope he picks you.” (Spoiler: That’s going to make for an awkward conversation later.)

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Raven then reassures Nick’s father that she’s in love with his son, but dad is more interested in how his son feels, a.k.a. the thing Raven wants to know more than anything but can’t. Rubbing her face in her vulnerability, dad asks, “How do you think Nick feels?” And when Raven tries to talk around the answer, he gets more direct: How does he feel towards you? Well, Raven thinks he’s falling in love. “Has he said that?” Dad interrupts. Damn, man. Step off. Of course he hasn’t said that; it’s against the rules. You know that, dad! You’ve done this three times!

At the end of it all, Raven says she’s hoping for a proposal, and suddenly, dad sees a maturity in her that he’s never seen before. (Probably because before you asked her questions like, “How’d you get your name?”) Now, he thinks Raven could be a great partner for Nick.

With dad in her back pocket, Raven chats with mom and reassures her that her “flame” with Nick has been “effortless.” And for mom, she sees Raven as someone who’s incapable of hurting another person — she doesn’t know the stiletto story — so she feels good about Raven.

Chatting with Nick, mom remembers the No. 1 rule of good parenting: Just when your child is feeling most vulnerable, be sure to remind them of their past failures, otherwise known as, “Kick your child when they’re down.” Mom, citing how confident Nick was about Kaitlyn — you know, before she dumped him for another man — asks how Nick can know if something will work? Well, he can’t, mom, but thanks for asking. And yet, he thinks it’s all worth it for the slight chance that he could walk out of here with a woman who is both smart AND intelligent.

The next day, it’s Vanessa’s turn to meet the family, and someone clearly gave dad a head’s up because he ditches his glasses for contacts to look his best. While Nick grabs Vanessa, his family shows their faith in him by reminding us all that the women can still say no, and given Nick’s track record, there’s a good chance he’s unlovable. Talk about a support system!

When Vanessa finally enters, dad is thrilled that he ditched the glasses as he tells Vanessa he wants to know “everything” about her. Calm down there, sparky. She tells them all about her love of her job, her family, her friends, and basically HER LIFE IN CANADA, in case Nick wasn’t listening. She then remembers that time she vomited on her first date with Nick, after which, she claims that the way he looked at her made her feel something she’d been searching for for years. (Apparently, she’s been looking for a lot of love with just a touch of disgust.)

When Vanessa gets choked up talking about it, Nick’s sister (?) has to yell at him, “This is where you chime in and finish it up because she’s having a moment.” So let’s hope Vanessa’s ready for a life with someone who’s not great with social cues.

Talking with Nick’s mom, Vanessa says she’s in love with Nick, but more than that, she’s hoping Nick’s mom can help her find answers. Vanessa asks the mother of the man she’s hoping to marry if it’s normal that she doesn’t feel 100 percent ready to be engaged. Making sure Nick’s mom feels super confident in their relationship, Vanessa tells her she’s not sure they’re ready for the next chapter. “What if there’s still so much for us to learn about each other?” Vanessa says about the man she’s only known for a few months. “I hope you get the answer,” Nick’s mom replies, meaning, I don’t have it, honey!

From Nick’s mom to his sister, Vanessa expresses her desire to never leave Canada. She’d be the first person in her family to leave! But unfortunately for Vanessa, Nick’s sister doesn’t have the answers either. Instead, she directs Vanessa to ask Nick those questions while she still has time. (At this point, let’s hope Nick’s sister comes as part of the relationship deal, because she’s already playing a crucial part in coaching these two.)

Sitting down with Nick, his dad reminds him of how, after Andi dumped him, Nick felt she made the wrong choice because she went with what she was comfortable with, and dad is worried Nick will do the same. (In this scenario, Vanessa is the Josh, his standard “type.”) “You haven’t had a lot of success,” dad helpfully reminds his son.

But by the time dad actually sits down with Vanessa, he changes his mind completely. First, he cries when he talks about how love isn’t enough to make a relationship last, and then she cries when she admits that she never thought she was going to meet anyone like Nick. Then, their shared fears bring them together for the hug that changes everything.

With both women gone, the family chats with Nick, and it’s obvious mom has made her choice. Noting Nick’s obvious chemistry with Vanessa, mom’s clearly leaning toward the trilingual teacher. As she puts it, Raven admitted to being ready for marriage almost too quickly. Mom doesn’t think it should be that easy to say. Although, if her biggest fear is someone not accepting Nick’s proposal, you think she’d be more on the side of the overzealous woman-in-love.

The next day we’re back in Lapland for Vanessa’s final date, where she’s hoping she’ll able to relax and live in the moment. But sadly for her, they’re not doing yoga. Instead, they’re riding horses through the snowy hills, during which Nick coaches Vanessa on how to make her horse go faster by saying, “Give him a little squeeze with your thighs. You know how to do that.” [Pause.]

Once they arrive at their destination, we see that they’re visiting the biggest romantic in all the world: Santa Claus. Because it doesn’t feel at all creepy and inappropriate that two adults are telling Santa what they want for Christmas and basically treating him like he’s a genie by asking for love and happiness. But anyway, Vanessa is LOVING IT. She thinks believing in Santa is simply believing in something greater, which she then compares to her situation with Nick, which involves believing in a greater love. (So… who’s going to tell her Santa’s not real and therefore her comparison translates to saying that love isn’t real? I vote Santa do it. He seems good with people.)

After their visit with Santa, Nick and Vanessa sit by the fire to talk some more about how Vanessa is worried that her relationship with Nick, and therefore her proposal, isn’t going to feel “different.” She tells him she’s not comfortable with him choosing her because their relationship is slightly different than another. So for those keeping track: “Slightly different” is bad; “different” is good.

At this point, Vanessa wants a definitive statement that no other woman compares. And when Nick can’t tell her that, her gut tells her something’s not right.

That night, Vanessa is still hung up on the fact that Nick has feelings for another woman, and she wants all the answers that Nick can’t give her. When she asks if he’s ready to propose, he tells her what every woman wants to hear days before a potential engagement: “The week’s not over.” Where is Nick’s helpful sister when he needs her?!

Vanessa thinks Nick’s lack of clarity is going to make everything less romantic, but he assures her that it’s all about perspective, baby. Sure, you could think about the fact that he’s going to be kissing another woman tomorrow, OR you could look up the definition of engagement and see if you think that’s romantic. Nick reassures her that he’s only thought of her when they’re together, but Vanessa’s still not convinced that things will be “different” and “special.”

So while Vanessa spends their final night together crying, Nick gets ready for tomorrow’s date with Raven.

Unlike Vanessa, Raven is ready to enjoy her life, so much so in fact, that she narrates the beginning of their date: “Yay I get to see you! Ah, you caught me!” If you close your eyes it’s almost like you’re listening to an amazing love story unfold.

Today, they’re going back to their roots and going ice skating, where they continue their traditions of Raven straddling Nick in different climates and then Nick laying Raven down in places where you really shouldn’t lie down.

At this point, Raven has no hesitations, despite the fact that Nick has risked her life in a swamp and on an ice rink. But as of right now, she’s gotta go play with the husky puppies Nick just brought over. Why they gave him three when he could clearly only carry two, I will never know. As Raven puts it, “I hope my kids with Nick are as cute as these puppies — a little less hairy but still really cute.” Just a little less hairy?

That night, Raven checks in with Nick, and he’s very honest about the fact that he apparently can’t move his neck because he’s so stressed. (Is that a thing?) At this point, he hasn’t made his decision, and Raven, unlike Vanessa, seems okay with that. Instead of crying, she simply reassures him that she loves him and is ready to get engaged.

Nick tells her that he knows how happy she would make him. He tells her: “I’ve never had that reservation and it’s because of your sincerity and your words of how you said things that, more than anyone in my life, I’ve never felt it as much in the moment that I’ve ever felt it with you.” Her response? “That’s so sweet.” WAS IT? I truly have no idea.

Nick knows that Raven is someone who would always have his back and who would fight for him — with a stiletto, if necessary. And then he seals her fate when he tells her, “I am proud that you are here.” Yeah, she’s going home. Although I don’t understand why Raven thinks being from Hoxie, Arkansas, is the reason this “shouldn’t” happen to her? What do they teach those poor children growing up in Hoxie? Is that why they spend so much time on the grain bins hoping their troubles will disappear? Is that what Tommy was doing when he fell off that grain bin that forever changed the town? (I’ll never give this joke up.)

Leaving behind a confident Raven, Nick decides NOW is the time to start thinking about his relationships, just in time to have yet another visit from Neil Lane who either loves traveling, loves Nick, or really needs an assistant who can do this for him. With Neil’s help, Nick picks out a “classical” ring before it’s time for Nick to make his decision.

With Raven in white and Vanessa in black as if they’re the good and bad witches, Nick puts on a blue suit and heads to the final rose ceremony. There, Raven gets the kiss of death when she’s the first one out of the car.

After she once again tells Nick that she loves him, he starts in on how much he cares about her, respects her, and how much love he has FOR her. And that’s when she realizes. As Nick starts to cry, he tells her, “I just don’t know if I’m in love. My heart’s somewhere else.”

Then, in Raven’s silence, he decides to tell her that after he made his decision last night, he couldn’t stop thinking about how much he loved being next to her yesterday because that’s helpful. In the end, he apologizes and Raven simply says that she’ll never regret telling him how she feels.

With that, Nick tells her he’ll miss her, to which she responds, “I know.” You gotta love a woman with confidence. But in all seriousness, she handles this like a champ and still seems to be comforting him in that moment. Unlike Nick, who’s only thinking about himself when he walks her outside INTO THE SNOW without a jacket. After one final hug, she gets into the depression mobile and wonders if finding love is even possible.

Meanwhile, Nick gets ready as Vanessa arrives. After Harrison tells Vanessa she “should be” nervous, he sends her in, where she finds Nick. There, he reminisces about the first moment he saw her and the moment he started falling in love with her, which apparently happened at the second rose ceremony. (No wonder he kissed her after she vomited! He already loved her! Actually, that still doesn’t make it okay.)

Nick tells Vanessa that, for a while, he tried to fight loving her — he must really hate Canada — but now, he’s done fighting. He’s in love and he doesn’t care who knows! This show might be about his past, but when he looks at Vanessa, all he sees is his future.

Now, her turn. Vanessa also remembers feeling something “special” and “different” — her two favorite words — about Nick the first night. She didn’t think he’d ever notice her — has she looked in the mirror? — but instead, “you’ve noticed every part of me.”( This is what we call TMI, Vanessa.)

Vanessa wasn’t sure this kind of love existed, so she thanks Nick for taking another chance on love. She knows things aren’t going to be easy and that she can be a little crazy, but she promises to remind him every day of just how happy he makes her. She then tells him, “Knowing how much you love to talk, I promise I’m ready to do a lot of listening.”

With that, Nick gets down on one knee and proposes to the top of Vanessa’s head as she sobs into her hands. It was muffled, but she did say yes, and now, they’re engaged! Even better: There’s a sleigh waiting outside to take them to their forever. Or rather, to take them somewhere else. As Vanessa puts it, “Let’s go do it. Literally.” Just please, wait until you’re out of the sleigh.

Last but not least, we have “After the Final Rose,” otherwise known as the moment when Chris Harrison gets all his screen time for the entire season. First to join him is Nick, who claims he’s happy, but that could be short lived, because Raven’s here. Just kidding! Despite her stiletto-filled background, Raven is a lovely ex.

Sitting next to Nick, Raven explains that her “stoic” response to getting dumped was simply her way of processing the information. As for Nick, she wants him to be happy and quite frankly is just glad to see he didn’t get rejected again. (SAME, Raven. Same.)

Then, doing what he does best, Harrison invites Raven to Bachelor in Paradise, and she accepts. Now all he needs to do is invite Luke and we’ll have the greatest Southern pairing since barbecue and beer!

Next up, Vanessa joins Harrison to tell him that her relationship with Nick has not been easy, and yes, they have had difficult days. (Translation: Compromising isn’t as easy as they once thought.) At this point, she’s just looking forward to getting some normalcy back in their lives… but that’s not starting today! Because now, she and Nick have to enjoy their first public appearance where Harrison asks some more about those fights.

Joining Vanessa, Nick admits that they still have a long way to go, mostly because they’re still getting to know each other at this point. That’s not to say that they won’t get married; it’s just saying they won’t get married anytime soon. Right now, they’re not at the point of picking a date, but they have picked a country! According to Vanessa, it actually wasn’t a big fight. She’s ready to move to the U.S., as soon as they figure out how to make that happen. (It’s not as easy as it used to be.)

So while they figure that out, Harrison brings out his final guest of the evening: the next Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay. Yes, she’s happy for Nick, and yes, she’s ready to move on. Speaking of which, Harrison has a “historic” announcement to make: The Bachelorette starts right now! On cue, a few men wheel out a backdrop of the Bachelor mansion, and just behind it are a few of the men who will join Rachel on her “journey to find love.”

And if you thought night one was awkward, imagine it in front of a live audience… and then make it 10x more awkward! Rachel meets her first four guys — one of them has tickets to Vegas and an engagement ring, one of them tells her she smells good, the third guy promises, “I’m ready to go black and I’m never gonna go back,” and the fourth one brings some amazing dance moves (and some surprising sincerity).

With that, we leave Rachel feeling excited for her season and me feeling exhausted. I’ll see you in May, Bachelor Nation. Let’s hope that second guy gets less awkward before then.

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