Dancing With the Stars, Season 22, Week 10, Finals, Night 1

It’s effectively week two of the first two-week finale in DWTS history, what with last week’s scores carrying over to the final totals.  They actually might or might not make the difference: according to Tom, the combined score/vote totals of the three finalists differed by less than 3%, which wouldn’t seem like much most seasons, but this one’s another matter(and hey, it’s more than the margin at least one couple won their trophy by).  First round tonight are Redemption Dances, where each couple gets another crack at a style they didn’t do well enough the first time around.

Ginger Zee & Val Chmerkovskiy: Contemporary; “Adventure of a Lifetime” Coldplay  Done in week 3, and they stage a routine around set pieces from three of their other routines.  Then Ginger gets the kind of hip injury in rehearsal that gives one back spasms, making her seriously worry she might seize up in the middle of the routine.  She does look a mite stiff at the start when they’re on their bench(later we’ll learn that part was particularly hard on her back), but she’s loosened up by the time they reach the mirrors, and when they reach the fountain there’s a bit of magic kicking in.  All three judges wax lyrical about how much better she was this time around, and Len even breaks out the Ten, but the other two only give out Nines, so she adds 28 to last week’s 56 for 84.

Nyle DiMarco & Peta Murgatroyd: Quickstep; “S.O.B.” Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats  These two continue to push themselves: after struggling to pull off all the content in his last quickstep during week 6, Nyle now dances a routine with the content upped!  Peta comes up with an adorable country/western dance which his personality does well in, and his feet do much better than they did-but unfortunately there still was one point where he didn’t quite get the sync.  Len also breaks out the word “hectic” though with the modifier: “in places.”  Even so, Bruno praises him for “quickstepping through the wild, wild west,” and the judges ultimately break out the straight Nines for 27, added to last week’s 57 for a second 84.

Paige VanZant & Mark Ballas: Salsa; “Fireball” Pitbull feat. John Ryan  Slightly different motivation for this choice; they just want to do the dance Mark couldn’t do with her week 2 because he got injured while practicing a move in it, one he makes a point to include in this routine.  Paige comes out on fire, especially during the group dance that the routine begins with.  There is a bit of a debate if maybe her hips could’ve been doing more; Len definitely thinks she was lacking a bit in hip action, and it keeps his score down to a Nine.  But Carrie Ann and Bruno are satisfied enough with her hips to break out the Tens, so she wins the round with 29, adding to last week’d 59 to increase her lead over the other two with 88.

The second round, of course, is the freestyles:

Ginger Zee & Val Chmerkovskiy: Freestyle; “Orange-Colored Sky” Nat King Cole  They decide to do a Fred and Ginger tribute, which certainly plays to Ginger’s strengths; she later even reveals it’s a routine slightly easier on her back too.  She is an absolutely perfect Ginger with the hands and feet and newspaper and moving in heels to match, especially in the first two-thirds of the routine.  The end with the tech remix is a bit weird, but Ginger continues to be perfect.  The judges seem to think the whole thing was more than old-school enough to be praised for it, and they break out the straight Tens; they ended the night with 114.

Nyle DiMarco & Peta Murgatroyd: Freestyle; “The Sound of Silence” Disturbed For this routine Peta brings in an outside choreographer who devises a routine about Nyle being an inspiration to deaf people.  It’s the right move; the choreography is very creative, as well as dramatic and expressive, and when Nyle pours himself into it, it becomes powerful and impacting indeed.  One might make an argument the burning piano was over the top…but nah, this was good enough to get away with it.  Certainly the judges think so.  Bruno is in tears saying, “that was beyond dance, that was a work of art,” Carrie Ann says it’s the best dance she’s ever seen on the show, and all three simply rave so much that by the time they come up the raising of the Ten paddles are a mere formality, so Nyle & Peta too are up to 114.

Paige VanZant & Mark Ballas: Freestyle; “Over the Rainbow” BC Jean performing live.  Mark, too, has the idea of telling Paige’s inspiring story, and about her now planning to return to the first time the town her family fled when she was young because she was being bullied so much.  His fiancee popping out of a large music box to sing initially makes you worry about this routine, but he’s smart enough to otherwise dispense of props and just let her story of recovery and moving past her ordeal be told purely through movement.  If this isn’t as sophisticated as the choreography of the last routine was, it’s still absolutely suffused with her emotions and deeply uplifting.  Bruno is visibly crying again at the end, Carrie Ann with him.  They try to gush properly, can’t because time is ticking down and Tom is urging them to keep it much shorter than they seem able to, and finally express it all by raising a third set of straight Tens; Paige & Mark remain ahead with 118.

Tonight’s a short if intense affair; the hour ends here, with all the eliminations having been done already in the previous weeks.  Paige & Mark’s four point lead may well be what decides it tomorrow, but with final dances still to come, perhaps there’ll be another twist first…

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