Dancing With the Stars, Season 18, Week 10, Finals Week, Night One

It’s finals week, which means the two-night format is back.  But tonight’s episode is only an hour and a half long, and that apparently means no time for a proper opening number, just the couples walking around from a crowd of people with  less than glowy rods.  This immediately draws attention because Mark has his arm in a sling.  But details later, Tom says, first we go into a “judge’s pick” round where the judges have decided everyone should do the styles they did switch-up week with their normal partner:

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd: Tango to “Adore You” by Miley Cyrus.  Peta talks about wanting to show the judge’s improvement , while James just suggests they should kiss.  In the end, with the aid of some laser-style lighting, they do both, and the kiss(clearly with tongue) is a highlight of an intense, perfectly done tango.  Len and Bruno have nothing but raves, but Carrie-Ann suggests maybe he was a little tight, and only gives them a 9, combining with 10s from the other two for a 29 total.

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Argentine Tango to “Monserrat” by Bajofondo.  The fluff mostly focuses on how badly Maks wants to win this and how badly Meryl wants to win it for him.  She has quite a challenge improving on the perfection she was with Val, but she manages to do it: her tangoing is even more effortless than it already was, plus there’s a powerful sexual charge way beyond what there was last time.  After hearing the judges rave Tom says he smells a 30, and he proves to be exactly right.

Candance Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas: Quickstep to the Baseballs’ version of “Umbrella.” It was a stressful week for Candace & Mark even before the Sunday rehearsal ends with him writhing on the ballroom floor with pain, and she has to continue rehearsing with Artem, not knowing who’ll she’ll dance with.  In fact, it’s apparently only during the last commercial break before they’re on the doctor finally clears Mark to dance.  He takes the sling off, they break out the umbrellas(har har), and it’s nicely quick and light, far better than her last quickstep was.  Though Carrie-Ann still has qualms about her shoulders being too high, and all three judges only give her 9s, for 27.

Amy Purdy & Derek Hough: Salsa to “Ran Kan Kan” by Tito Puente.  They too have injury problems, in this case throughout the week when her back acts up again; at points she can’t even move.  But she doesn’t show any sign of any kind of trouble tonight, even as she bends and is lifted and steps about every which way and at high speed as well.  More raves from the judges, and more straight 10s.

Once again, viewers are invited to vote for the encore freestyle to be performed tomorrow on Twitter, and throughout the freestyle round the fluff pieces are mainly biographical:

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd: Freestyle to “Original Don” by Major Lazer featuring the Partysquad.  The fluff talks about his brother surviving a car accident that left him in a coma for months.  This hiphop ensemble freestyle plays perfectly to his strength, including a urban dystopic sci-fi feel, and including his doing a little bit of martial arts, which apparently he can draw from his background, and an incredible somersault against a wall.  Bruno declares they have a new post-apocalyptic hero, and all the judges speak good, but Len seems to restrain himself from saying more, and instead just gives them a 9, meaning James & Peta take another 29 to total 58.

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Freestyle to “Latch” by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith.  The fluff focuses on her hard work, including her staying up to 2 AM as a child to finish her homework because of her issues with dyslexia.  The freestyle is supposed to be her and Maks’ story and he calls it a “more powerful thing than anything you’ll do.”  Indeed it is, this is a no-frills freestyle with her in a nightgown, him shirtless, and all their dancing heavily charged both emotionally and sexually; it’s everything you could possible want, at least until the very end, when they clearly should kiss and then don’t.  The judges thankfully forgive this though, with Bruno talking about how much is was a piece of art, Carrie-Ann calling it “divinity in motion,” and Len concluding: “There’s good, there’s great, and there’s Meryl.”  As they break out the straight 10s again, Len expresses a wish for an 11 paddle, while Bruno pulls out his 1 paddle as well to make it 11, though of course their official total remains merely a perfect 60.

Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas: Freestyle to “Canned Heat” by Jamitroquai.  We get her basic history, including her body image issues from her teens and how the show’s helped her put those away for good.  It’s hard for them to follow Meryl & Maks with their freestyle with gimmicks of large loudspeakers and accompanying male dancers with gold suits and gold facepaint.  Candace does some good disco-style dancing, but she just can’t measure up, and it gets worse when both Carrie-Ann and Bruno accusing her of “not connecting” to the music, though Bruno makes it sound more like a very damaging timing issue.  They only give her 8s, leaving her with only 51.  The camera lingers on her daughter’s reaction, clearly wanting to generate a viral photo.

Amy Purdy & Derek Hough: Freestyle to “Dare You” by Hardwell.  After once again hearing her story, this time with a little more emphasis on her passion for snowboarding and her determination to keep doing it even after losing her legs, Derek notes that with her having defied the odds throughout the season, now he wants her to defy gravity.  So after most of the freestyle is raw emotion and perfect movement with no gimmicks unless you count some fog and lights background, a rope comes down and she performs a remarkable aerial, and it feels like the perfect touch.  Except to Len, who thought the dance didn’t need it, and possibly as a result only gives them a 9, to everyone’s displeasure, though with 10s from the other two they end the night with 59.

Since Meryl & Maks and Derek & Amy continue to be the top two, they’ll called safe first, leaving James & Peta and Candace & Mark standing to see which of them is out before the final fusion dances tomorrow.  And really, it should be Candace & Mark.  James & Peta, even if they weren’t always final material throughout the season, are really dancing up to that level now, and Candace & Mark are not.

So naturally it’s James & Peta who are out, to much dismay.  And then, though the farewell montage includes Peta’s comment about possibly dating after the show’s over, we don’t even get a chance for them to say whether they will or not.

So even more now this is a two-horse race going into tomorrow.  Don’t kill me for saying this, but I must say, I really thought Derek & Amy’s freestyle was better, though both freestyles were incredible.  But Meryl & Maks everything else was probably better, and they got the only perfect score given in the second round, so this one still remains to be seen.

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