Episode 11: Finale

Ah, my now traditionally tardy Finale recap. I swear, I go into each Finale thinking, "This time, I'll get the Finale recap out on time! This is the season! No procrastinating!" And yet, here we are. I could regale you with excuses about how Finales, in their 3-hour glory, are deathly painful to recap, about how without the impending deadline of the next episode I don't feel the same urgency to write as I do during the season, or how I had a very inconveniently-timed new opera workshop I needed to learn difficult music for, rehearse, and then perform, but I digress. This recap is late and I apologize. And at least I actually did it this time. :)

Also, in case you missed it! I did Reality Steve's podcast, which you can check out HERE. We discussed everything from Nick to my time on the show to how I met Andy to social media marketing to bias and blogging. It's a hefty 2 hours but he wisely provides a timeline breakdown so you can zero in on a topic! 

 

 

“If you end up with me because our relationship is slightly stronger than someone else’s… I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that.” —Vanessa, voicing what every finalist on this show should be thinking.

 

THE FINAL TWO MEET NICK'S FAMILY

The big finale kicks off with Chris Harrison touting a big "first" in Bachelor History, because the powers that be seem aware that a substantial percentage of the people watching this show are in a perpetual state of stopping any day now, and publicity stunts like having Rachel meet four of her guys in front of a live audience have somehow proven to be a fairly reliable way to keep people tuned in. 

BUT FIRST! How could we wrap up Nick's big season without incessant references to how fruitless and desperate his journey has been so far...

Because in case you've forgotten, NICK IS DESPERATE, YOU GUYS. He's basically undatable, I know when I go out with him zero attractive women recognize him or want to get to know him better, he'll probably end up alone, and without a woman in his life he's wretchedly unhappy...

But seriously, the only .GIF I have from the women meeting Nick's family is the following, because it was such a sweet moment when you could see Vanessa realize the truth in the words she'd just spoken...

... and then it's right back to dig after subtle dig of—nudge, nudge—"Fourth time's a charm!"...

... and how terrible Nick is at finding love, since this show is obviously the most accurate barometer for such things...

Note the sensitivity and concern with which Chris Harrison expresses all this. Because he only wants the best for Nick. Oh yes.

 

FINAL DATES

For their final 1-on-1, Nick takes Vanessa horseback riding through the snowy mountains of Lapland and it’s pretty gorgeous. And then, NO BIG DEAL, he takes her to meet Santa Claus…

Now, I thought Santa Claus lived in Canada but apparently I’m wrong? There’s a lot of debate on this but the Finns seem to be pretty adamant that he lives in Lapland, so who am I to dispute that?

In the evening, Vanessa has pretty serious reservations over the relationship as she’s not feeling 100% confident that she’ll be Nick’s final lady. I touched on this in my Flare recap but want to reiterate: Despite the fact that many took this mindset to sound entitled and arrogant, I saw it completely differently and her viewpoint spoke to me. Even though she ultimately felt confident enough to stick around and get engaged, the mere act of openly questioning the specialness of their relationship (since he’s purportedly still “torn” between two women at this point) is really refreshing. After all, what women shouldn’t want to feel the most special, the one her man (whom she, too, chooses) couldn’t live without? Meanwhile with Vanessa, who frankly has had as much reason to be confident as anyone, there's such an open dialogue of doubt. For a show where the ladies tend to (often blindly, IMO) just hope it’s them, and somehow trust it’s them, I was super into this relatable take from Vanessa.

Oh, and this tearful kiss was just precious...

Raven's date, on the other hand, consisted of zero doubts whatsoever. Oh, and HUSKY PUPPIES:

I objectively appreciate Raven's steadfast confidence but I don't like it for Nick. Nick is hyper-analytical, and while I think a little opposites-attract could be good, I can see him valuing that trait in his significant other pretty high on the priority checklist. A woman who, if not doubts things, at the very least questions things (especially in this environment). It also pained me how Raven, in a move which to me seems very producer-encouraged (considering producers of course knew at this point that a) Vanessa would be winning, and b) Vanessa was having doubts), "reassured" Nick that she was hesitation and doubt-free...

That, combined with Nick's response...

... brings me back to my age-old gripe of inequality in this show. Raven is just a sitting duck, and a willing sitting duck at that. I would have preferred a bit more apprehension on her part, not in her connection with Nick, but in knowing she'll be the one getting proposed to, especially since she ultimately wasn't the one proposed to. Whether you like or dislike Vanessa, you have to appreciate her dubiosity in her situation, if only for how vastly it levels the power playing field.

 

NEIL LANE VISITS

Nick is paid a visit by the venerable Neil Lane and this segment had a few funny flubs. First, in a rare 2-in-1 .GIF, Neil Lane notices that Nick is repeatedly drawn to the round ring, but the shot used is of Neil Lane pointing to a completely different ring. Also, don't miss the weird shot of a producer's head in the foreground...

Nick ultimately chooses a lovely round-cut sparkler...

... which, if it looks familiar, was apparently recycled from Jojo's season when she turned Robby down...

 Thanks to Carrie for the great spot!

Thanks to Carrie for the great spot!

I'm not quite sure why I find this as strange as I do. I mean, objectively it makes sense that they can't have an entirely new slew of rings each season since only one ends up on anyone's finger, but it's still so bizarre to me. Either it's a different ring and there are no "unique snowflake" rings, or Nick proposed with a ring that another guy from the same franchise proposed with (or at least, came thisclose to proposing with) about 6 months prior.

 

THE BREAK-UP

One of the cons of culminating a season in a climate like Finland's is that there are no dramatic, climax-worthy, sweeping aerial views, which—and I can't believe I'm saying this—I sort of missed. But at the very least, Finland is consistent in its excessive and unabashed use of reindeer pelts...

Like, those don't even make sense. Why would one need a PILE of reindeer pelts? Especially indoors? And you could argue it's decorative, but it looks haphazard and unnecessary. Unless they're cartoonishly covering some trap door in the floor, in which case, wouldn't you want it to look natural and not like a potential trap door? And here I am ranting about reindeer pelts again. 

Nick sends Raven home and, as I mentioned over at Flare, I truly felt it was a major missed opportunity for Nick to not use or even reference the fact that he'd been in her shoes twice. Suggesting that now he gets how hard it is, or that it's not entirely in his control, or at the very least he knows how much it hurts, would have been a nice touch, especially since we've been reminded of the 4th-time's-a-charm thing ad nauseam all season. But worst of all, Raven is—and by extension, we too are—fed the complete bullshit reasoning that it wasn't until "that morning" that Nick "figured out where his heart was"...

VOMIT, you guys. I'm not blaming Nick as I know he's contractually obliged to play by the (very tired, very intelligence-insulting) rules, but UGH. Here's hoping one day the lead references the structure of the show they're all on and just says (or alludes) that he/she just couldn't tell their runner-up that they're runner-up until the end. The participants and viewers alike should blame the game, not the players. 

There's yet another flub as we're shown Raven's Mercedes Benz with a blacked-out logo (I've mentioned before that they do this with all unsponsored products; we certainly didn't see the McDonald's golden arches blacked out on Amanda's 1-on-1 last season). The editors in charge of blacking logos out evidently lost interest, however...

 NOW we know the car brand.

NOW we know the car brand.

 

THE PROPOSAL

We were shown Nick delivering his speech first which immediately struck me as odd as the contestant almost always starts off the proposal speeches. And not to focus focus on weird editing in this sentimental moment, but I couldn't call myself a recapper if I didn't point out the disappearing and reappearing act of Vanessa's lipstick...

This makes me wonder if she did indeed start the speeches (with fresh lipstick), then if Nick delivered his speech, if there were some intermittent lipstick-marring makeouts, followed by some more words from Vanessa. That is the best case scenario in my books, as the thought of this moment having multiple takes is too depressing to bear.

I also laughed out loud at Nick's "Well?" face upon sliding the ring on Vanessa's finger...

All joking aside, I thought this was an incredibly sweet proposal and I swear on my life I've never seen Nick look at a woman the way he looks at Vanessa. In my humble opinion, their affirmations of love and confidence in one another were bolstered—not curtailed—by their previous analyzing and doubts, and it's beyond me how one could see it differently. It really felt like two intelligent, consenting adults getting engaged, and gosh darn it if they aren't a stunning couple. 

 

AFTER THE FINAL ROSE

In her AFR Hot Seat time Raven was as gracious and lovely as you could hope a runner-up to be. I loved that she charmingly revealed that she did struggle with the process and where she stood throughout it...

... as, in my opinion, it humanized her after a season of her being—while super likable and funny—emotionally fairly hard to read. Overall Raven was a class act from beginning to end. Part of me looks forward to watching her on Paradise while the other part of me wants her to resume being a badass business owner. I suppose she can do both.

Nick and Vanessa take the stage and immediately afterwards were skewered for looking like this:

But before anyone assumes those non-heart eye emoji faces reflect some sort of unhappiness, let's see those expressions IN CONTEXT shall we?

You can even see Vanessa roll her eyes when she hears Chris Harrison beginning to go there. Their expressions show a clear (and understandable) annoyance with Chris Harrison’s needlessly and pointedly negative questioning. Still not convinced? Here are a few more examples of Chris Harrison's "interviewing" from this segment alone:

  • "You’ve put so much into this. I know you’ve put a lot of pressure on yourself. I mean, I went through this with you. I know there was a ton of pressure, and so, do you still feel that? And do you worry?"
  • "I always look on social media and follow, you know, Bachelor Nation. And it’s so easy to look at this beautiful new couple and say, 'Oh they’ll never make it.' And that’s such an easy bet. Because it’s TOUGH."
  • (to Vanessa) “What’s your biggest fear in all this? Obviously he’s kind of been through it, not to this extent, but what’s your fear?”

I don’t know about you but I don’t recall Chris Harrison dwelling on the negative and subliminally casting so much doubt on, say, Ben and Lauren’s relationship during their AFR. Just sayin'.

In case you haven't already, you can catch the rest of my thoughts on AFR and the happy couple over on the Reality Steve podcast (go to 1:12:10) and in my Flare recap

On the whole I think these two are a fantastic pair and I couldn’t be happier for them! Congratulations, you two!

 

BEST DRESSED

As always I'll begin with requests! A number of you asked about Raven's sweater dress from the evening portion of her final date...

Raven's sweater dress is by Woolrich and sells HERE. (There's also a different color available HERE.) In my search I found a similar option with that turtleneck I wanted (HERE), as well as a similarly-patterned draped vest that I love (HERE).

There were (predictably) a lot of dressy looks this episode, which always excites me. The first of my two Honorable Mentions goes to Raven with her breakup gown...

I like this dress. I like the icy shade and how it showed her curves without showing too much of anything. But the thing I'm gaga over is that dramatic, almost gothic-seeming cloak. I would wear that in a heartbeat and spent way too much time trying to track it down (to no avail, sadly). I really would have liked to see her hair swept back and up with this high a neckline and the overall formal-ness, though! Her hair is glossy and gorgeous but it's basically the same style as when she was playing with puppies in a parka. Just call me the Hair Police. Raven's Randi Rahm gown is still available (HERE) but would set you back a seriously pretty penny. The best look-for-WAY-less I could find sells HERE. Her velvet coat is also by Randi Rahm but since I couldn't find it anywhere, the best alternative I did find sells HERE but it's pricey. The best looks-for-less (all of which are fabulously vintage) I could dig up are HERE and HERE.

My other Honorable Mention goes to Vanessa with her AFR two-piece...

I love how fierce this set is and the only reason it isn't higher on my list is that I almost wanted more drama for AFR. Like, this would be at home in a cold-climate Rose Ceremony but AFR being in LA and being all about the couple's big reveal, I would've preferred something brighter. But yeah, my pause is only over the occasion, not the dress. She looked gorgeous and her body looked RIDICULOUS in this. (I don't even understand how a waist can be that tiny.) Vanessa's Cushie Et Ochs dress is actually a two-piece. The bodysuit sells HERE (also comes in white HERE) and the skirt sells HERE (white HERE). If this $1400 ensemble isn't quite in your budget, I have some look-for-less options, but brace yourself as there are many. The most similar dress I could find is in solid black, but it's really badass, HERE. (If you're OK with solid black but like the bodysuit idea, there's a similar one HERE.) If you're hell bent on metallic, the most similar dress I could find is HERE, in a bronze color HERE, and there's a fantastic maternity option HERE. In my search I found my favorite piece of the bunch, a dress in a similar material to Vanessa's and with the cold shoulder, but with draped plunge neckline, HERE.

Second Runner-Up for Best Dressed is Raven in her AFR dress...

I thought this was an elegant choice (I especially love the understated and underrated color) but for me the shining stars were her accessories. I wanted—and STILL want—her ring and necklace SO BADLY and found myself staring at them while she spoke. Raven's Stylestalker dress sells HERE. I couldn't find her exact double strand necklace but I did track down two wallet-friendly lookalikes, HERE and HERE. Her cool ring is by Carbon & Hyde and sells HERE, but unfortunately, since it's real gold and diamonds, it's not so wallet-friendly. The most similar look-for-less two-finger "floating" rings I could find are HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Runner-up for Best Dressed is Vanessa in her proposal dress...

Drama, check. Flattering, check. Traditional yet unique, check. But, #HairPolice says: Just imagine her hair in a romantic, tousled updo... it would have been a perfect 10. Alas! She was still a bonafide knockout in this look. Vanessa's Badgley Mischka gown sells HERE, but if you're a size 8 it's your lucky day as that's the last size available at a whopping 52% off, HERE. It's available to rent HERE, and I found one look-for-less option, HERE.

With her gown, she too had fabulous accessories...

No complaints here. I wanted drama and she gave it to me! Vanessa's feather shrug is vintage but I found two near-identical ones, HERE and HERE. Her earrings are by fine jewelry line The Woods (getting a taste of The Bachelorette treatment!) and are thus impossible to find, but the most similar pair I could find are HERE. They're reasonably priced for real diamonds but still on the pricey side, so I found a look-for-less option, HERE.

Best Dressed is Rachel in her fabulous cape-like jumpsuit...

I love how this marries edgy badassery with sex appeal. Not anyone could pull this look off yet she did so effortlessly. Rachel's Jovani jumpsuit comes in three colors and sells HERE, but if $500 sounds steep, my two favorite wallet-friendlier alternatives are HERE and HERE.

 

I always look forward to and read your comments, so whether you agree or disagree with my thoughts, be sure to chime in! 

Thanks for following along all season, fellow pandas!