If you'd have asked me just a few weeks ago who I thought would make it to the end of this season of The Bachelor and walk away engaged to Nick Viall, I'd have said Vanessa Grimaldi without a second's hesitation. Their relationship was picture-perfect for the majority of the season and progressed well. But the two hit their first major bump in Bimini, with some tension in the episodes since, leaving many viewers with one big question: Does Vanessa win The Bachelor? I'm less convinced as of late.
Right before hometowns, Vanessa confessed her love to Nick and was visibly displeased with his reaction. Actually, I would go as far as to say that there was some serious tension after Nick didn't respond in kind. To his credit, he did offer up a (semi-lame) explanation that he didn't want to say the L-word to anyone because he wanted it to be "real" and "like the first time" or whatever. But clearly, Vanessa wasn't thrilled with that response.
Interestingly, after Raven confessed her love to Nick during their fantasy suite date a few weeks after Vanessa's confession, Raven didn't seem at all bothered by Nick's lack of "I love you" back. She didn't push him about it, but Nick also didn't feel the need to give her the same explanation he gave Vanessa. Interesting.
That "I love you" fail, paired with Vanessa's reaction during hometowns to finding out that Nick hadn't just asked her father, but all the contestants' fathers for their proposal blessing, definitely seems to put their relationship on rocky ground. Regardless, there have been a whole host of social media clues that Vanessa eventually wins the season. I still think she probably will, but there have been a whole host of complications getting them to that point, which is probably part of the appeal for Nick, who clearly loves a challenge.
Based solely on what we've seen on the show so far, I think, at this point, it's about equally likely that it could be Raven or Vanessa. Vanessa emerged early on as a frontrunner, with Nick calling her a "keeper" the minute she got out of the limo. Raven, on the other hand, didn't emerge as one to watch until several weeks into the competition, arguably during her Week 4 first one-on-one date with Nick in his Wisconsin hometown. There's no doubt that Vanessa and Nick's relationship has been building for quite a while longer and deepened earlier than his with Raven's.
On the flip side, Vanessa and Nick are in something of a rough patch, between the Bimini love confession and her hometown date. During their outing in Vanessa's Montreal town, Nick was put on the spot by her family questioning the logistics of their relationship, like whether Nick would move to Canada. Based on the preview for Vanessa and Nick's fantasy suite date in the upcoming episode, it's clear that the question of where Nick and Vanessa will live if they get engaged is still something she's thinking about.
Again, it can actually be seen as a good sign that Vanessa and Nick are having all these real, hard conversations before the final rose ceremony, whereas Raven and Nick haven't had any deep moments like these. It makes it seem like Nick feels more strongly for Vanessa, but it's just a matter of figuring out whether their relationship can actually work first.
In the end, this will most likely come down to whether Nick wants a simpler, less complicated relationship (Raven) or a deeper, more challenging one (Vanessa). Having gotten to know Nick throughout his four Bach Nation go-arounds, I'm still inclined to think the latter will win out in the end.