Welcome to the final performance night of Dancing with the Stars’ 16th season. Tonight, the final four will face off in three dances: Judge’s Choice, a Cha Cha Relay, and the Super-Size Freestyle, an extra-long dance with no rules, big choreography, extra glitter and glitz, and, of course, fresh spray tans for the contestants and pros (and probably the judges and hosts, too). After the dances, America votes.
Tomorrow, the show returns for the big finale, with performances by Korean pop sensation Psy and rapper Pitbull. One finalist will be cut at the start of the show, while the remaining couples face down the dreaded Insta-Dance. At the end of the night, someone gets to take home the much-desired Mirrorball Trophy, which DWTS judge Carrie-Ann Inaba swears is “very very cheap.”
Lest you worry that Dancing with the Stars is crass or heartless, host Tom Bergeron stopped the show to pay homage to the victims, families and first responders in tornado-ravaged Oklahoma City, and took a moment to acknowledge the fact that as a live show, they occasionally need to perform in the shadow of tragedies.
Here’s what happened on the finals of Dancing with the Stars:
Most Apt Dancing with the Stars Injury: The show opened with a disturbing image of Val Chmerkovskiy being injured in what appeared to be a gruesome spinning sequin to the face accident. The results were bloody, yet still strangely glamorous.
Fanciest Footwork: The Judge’s Choice dances are meant to give the dancers a chance to show how much they’ve improved on certain dances — and the judges themselves usually step into the rehearsal space to dole out pointers to help the process along. Len Goodman was tasked with teaching Super Bowl champion Jacoby Jones how to sharpen up his much maligned (and oft-mentioned) pigeon toes before his second attempt at the jive. A few minutes with Len, and the star’s footwork was ship-shape thanks to the man he dubbed his “light-skinned grandfather.”
Most Subtle Vote=Getting Ploy: During his dances with Katrina Smirnoff, Jacoby was decked out in the Baltimore Ravens’ team colors of purple and gold.
Best Excuse: When the judges dinged Jacoby for his flat feet, Jacoby asked them, “Can you wear cleats?” “No.” “Well, I can’t wear heels.” He earns a 27/30
Most Honest Answer: Host Brooke Burke Charvat asked Jacoby what it would take for him to beat Aly Raisman, Kellie Pickler, and Zendaya Coleman. “The grace of God,” replied the football star. Amen to that.
Strangest Compliment: Aly and her partner Mark Ballas were tasked with a samba, which, of course, they set to Shakira’s “Hips don’t Lie.” When they finished, Bruno rose from his seat and declared, “You’ve got the shoosh!” Carrie-Ann Inaba nodded eagerly in agreement. Must be a technical term. Their score: 28/30
Biggest Set Up: Kellie and her partner Derek Hough were given the quick step, which is a strange choice, because their first go-round with the dance they scored a 29/30, which doesn’t give them much room for improvement. Even nit-picky traditionalist Len called their original quick step “the dance of the season.” Will they get a perfect score this time? Probably.
Most NSFW Moment: During rehearsal, Len stopped by their practice room to give the dynamic duo some tips. His helpful hints? Telling Derek and Kellie that while in hold “your knobbly bit has to go next her knobbly and your knobbly bit has to go on the outside of his knobbly bit.” Their “knobbly bits” must have been in all the right spots, because they got a perfect 30/30.
Biggest Obstacles: Carrie-Ann Inaba came to Disney star Zendaya Coleman’s and Val’s rehearsal room to give them some pointers on the samba. The biggest hurdle seems to be whether Zendaya can dance in heels and whether they will lose votes because Val’s face is covered in sutures (and his chest covered with a shirt).
Best Painkiller: At the end of the fast-paced samba, the judges were effusive about the dance. Len dubbed it “eye-popping” and “jaw dropping” — and they earned a perfect 30/30. It may hurt when Val smiles, but he was grinning anyway.
Cha-Cha-Cha-iest: The cha-cha relay is back-to-back nonstop cha-chas by the finalists. Kellie and Derek kicked things off, but Jacoby stole the show by passing the baton like a true champ, leaping over Derek and Kellie’s head at the beginning, and sliding under Marc and Aly’s legs at the end.
Relay Ratings: “You are a cha-cha!” Carrie-Ann declared about Zendaya, while Bruno admired Jacoby’s ability to function while surrounded by “girls on fire.” The judges put Jacoby in 4th place with 2 point. Aly was in 3rd, with 3 points, Kellie came in 2nd with4 points and Zendaya was on top with 5 points. Which sounds like a a very likely ranking for tomorrow’s finals, too.
Harshest Hosting: Brooke was desperate to get one of the finalists to name who they thought was the best cha-cha dancer. When no one would spill, she called them all “boring.”
Biggest Party: Jacoby’s freestyle was an ode to New Orleans with a Baltimore flair, set to a fast-based beat with pint-sized tap dancers and a foot-stomping drum corps. The dance was a “full-on, flat-out attack,” according to Len. Bruno loved the “sense of celebration” but noted that Jacoby lost his timing a bit, which got Jacoby’s mom on her feet and yelling. Carrie-Ann agreed that he got a little bit lost in the shuffle. His score: 27/30.
This Is Not A Stripper Pole: For Aly’s freestyle, Mark choreographed a routine that involved much use of two poles that were, uh, not stripper poles, but involved both of them wrapping their legs around the poles, gyrating upside-down and flexing around the poles like futuristic alien not-strippers. There were also lasers, techno beats and copious amounts of greasepaint and glitter. The judges loved the routine, with Carrie-Ann calling it one of the best routines she has ever seen on the freestyle. They got a 30/30.
Biggest Wow Factor: While Kellie and Derek’s dance started out pantomiming the song’s lyrics “build a wall, so high, and climb up,” the initial hokey literalness was overshadowed by the gravity defying holds, acrobatic feats and heart-stopping moves. The dance was mesmerizing. At the end of the routine, Kellie’s husband was tearing up in the audience, Carrie Ann was crying too hard to critique the dance, and Len gave them a standing ovation. Their effort earned them a 30/30, with both Len and Bruno wishing they could hand out 11’s.
Kids Incorporated: Zendaya and Val’s routine was a veritable pu-pu platter of dance styles. There were cha-cha, contemporary and hip hop elements all set to Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and the Beat” — with a crew of tiny hip-hop dance stars in the making rushing the stage. It was an age-appropriate and fun routine that the judges loved as much as the audience. They earned 30/30, giving them a perfect 65 out of 65 points for the evening.
The Rankings: Zendaya and Val are at the top. Jacoby and Karina are at the bottom.
Best Reason To Come Back Tomorrow: Not only will we crown a winner, but we all get to watch Dancing with the Stars use American Idol‘s sloppy seconds as musical entertainment including Psy and Pitbull.