Welcome, gem hunters, to the season 19 FINALS of Dancing With the Stars: O Brother, Thou Art In Perfect Hold. Can the bitch on the right follow in the giant footsteps of the bitch on the left? Stay tuned to find out!
Last week, ultimate DWTS mascot Tommy Chong and his partner Peta Murgatroyd went up in smoke for the very last time (until tomorrow night's star-studded hot box of a finale, presumably) -- leaving four couples to battle for the coveted mirrorball trophy: Bethany Mota and Derek Hough, Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy, Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson, and Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas. (Every time I type "Ballas" in this word processor, it wants to change it to "Balls"!)
Tonight we've got two rounds: Judges' Pick and The Freestyle. If you can't watch liiiive on TV, try the DWTS All-Access live streams to see the dances and hear from the couples throughout the show.
Discuss it here! I'll try to float back in with comments overnight.
Note: For tomorrow night's SEASON 19 FINALE (Tuesday, 9-11 P.M. ET) I expect to do a "live blog"-style recap so I can chat with you guys and finish on time.
Well! That sure was a stirring (emotionally, sexually, nostalgically, and in terms of cocktails) night of finals. I thought it would never end! NO, REALLY. SHOW. PLEASE END. NO NEWS CONFERENCE. WHYYYYYY.....
Thank God for my ability to view both the west and east coast airings, otherwise I'd never have known for sure that Bethany Mota and Derek Hough have been eliminated just shy of a studded-leather shot at the coveted mirrorball trophy. First ABC broke in with a Ferguson update in the middle of the show (pause on Carrie Ann's outstretched mouth... no indictment... return to the very same moment on her mouth 10 minutes later). Then later on, right at the moment of truth, sparkalien-wise, President Obama decided to let the nation know just how little he cares about Dancing With the Stars.
Hey, it was bound to happen at some point. I'm just glad there are Twitter and Instagram to keep me up to date with the real news.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhh-ber!
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: 80/80 Alfonso has wanted this for 10 years, okay? Having a shattered shell for a body is NOT going to interfere with his quest for the CMBT. The trophy is BY DEFINITION hundreds of shattered, reflective shells. Just like Alfonso. It's destiny!
But first, the jive. Carrie Ann questioned whether this difficult Week 1 routine was the right dance for Fons to repeat, considering his injuries. But then she remembered she was evil, so she just went with it. Here was the most invigorating part of their jam sesh:
"Yoga," right? I've never been.
Of course Fons jived "like Frank Sinatra sings" -- Len's been waiting to use that one since...well, probably since the last time he used it, which could've been a few weeks ago across the pond or a few season ago right here in the Rectagon. I can't remember! It's all a kaleidoscopic blur at this point. But Alfonso and Witney's incredible freestyle will certainly never blend into the sparkly haze of our DWTS memories. He tapped in a solo! She sort of tapped along with him! I thought it was clever for Witney go to with an "I'm wobbling all over the place" character in this dance. I truly wondered whether she was wobbling! You just have to wobble with intention, though, and that's what matters. (Just ask Val.)
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: 77/80 Like any epic quest -- Super Mario Bros., Dancing With the Stars -- there is only one direction to victory. No, no, really, I don't care about Sadie's celebrity well-wisher for the samba (would Liam from One Direction be considered a "motivator", in Bethany Mota-speak?). The direction to victory I'm talking about is... duh, "Mario" Ballas' sparkly overalls!!! God bless that flaming sack of ridiculata for doing what he does best: bringing a whole lotta nonsense to the dance floor and somehow twisting it into a super-endearing adventure. He's been doing that all season with this Duck Dynasty teenager (three words that would've horrified and confused me before this season) and it's been 100 percent pure love for this couple over on my end. Love and feathers.
That Nintendo freestyle was the best! Favorite parts: The "1UP" effect when a flying Sadie bopped the bottom of a mystery box and consequent key/melody change, Princess Peach's absurdly large blue gem earrings and, obviously, Mark's stache.
Which was worse: Erin Andrews having to awkwardly promote the One Direction guy's album, or Mark copping his British accent around the dude? Why pick one? Let's all embrace the double cringe together. These are the FINALS, after all! #sparklebarf
Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 77/80 Speaking of sad little delights, I've never heard a less enthusiastic 10 from Len Goodman than the one he reluctantly awarded Janel and Val following their Judges' Choice samba. "It's a 10." No exclamation point. No wink. Zero glee. Just the bottom of the barrel, Len-10-wise. But -- as Val would say -- "This is an opportunity for passion overload." Yeah, do it, guys! Wow us all in the freestyle, sudden crippling rib injury be damned! Produce the hearty "vertical clapping" technique from Janel's adorable dad that I've come to know and anticipate with wild abandon...
And they did! Pretty much. Hey, if you're into wispy, emotionally driven, "stripped-down" (LOL) freestyles -- and let's be honest, I am pretty much into everything under Lord Mirrorballus' sun -- then Janel and Val's second round was a winner.
WHO WANTS IT MOST? MAKE YOUR CASES, Y'ALL.
Mark: "This has been my favorite season yet." Huge aww factor here. Well done, sir.
Val: "The show means everything to me. My brother's win last season meant everything to my family. ...But in the chase for that, I realized that's not the only thing." [SparkleTears ooze out of Michael Waltrip's eye sockets in a stunning close-up.] "You know, I'm a very ugly crier and talker. I can either talk or cry..."
Cry. Cry. Cry.
And then there's Alfonso, who's wanted this -- genuinely and DESPERATELY -- for 10 years, and even preserved one of dance's great canonical masterpieces, "The Carlton," in mint condition in order to do so. He deserves it, Fresh Prince in the audience or not. (Seriously hoping Will Smith skips this like he's probably planning to do already.)
Can we just give the trophy to Fons and Val? That might solve everything.
Just for reader Colleen, who requested a batch of old-school hidden gems:
Here's Tom's most valiant kick-and-lean from this evening. Still fun, right?
Val tickling Mark! ("Tune in, Tokyo..." also comes to mind.)
Who's your pick for the CMBT, gem hunters? I'll be LIVE-recapping tonight's finale from 9-11 p.m. ET. I trust you'll be here. After all... YOU'RE MY MOTIVATORS. See you soon.