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Dancing with the Stars recap: Shackled In My Embrace

The top three couples are revealed as Meryl and Maks dominate part one of the finale

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Dancing With the Stars

TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Tom Bergeron, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, Erin Andrews, Julianne Hough
Current Status:
In Season

Fringe? Check. A kiss? Check. An even hotter almost-kiss? Check. Acrobatics? Check. Martial arts? Surprisingly, check. As far as I’m concerned, this episode had it all. And by all, I mean the Maks-Meryl moment that has me freaking out more than any scripted moment in the last week of television. I might or might not be writing this recap while listening to “Latch” on repeat (hence the title). So if there are typos, I apologize, except not really, because something feels wrong about apologizing for dancing. Shall we?

Twas time to kick off the two-night finale event, for which Erin was rocking a great yellow dress and giving me a very How to Lose a Guy in 10 days vibe. And just in case there’s any confusion, that’s a good thing. Although it’s not as good as Bruno’s shoulder shimmy or James’ guy liner. If I could take away one thing from everyone on the show, it would be a how-to-shimmy course with Bruno and an eye liner-application course with James’ makeup artist. And then just general amazingness lessons from Meryl, obviously. Everyone else is TBD (suggestions appreciated).

Tonight, each couple would dance twice: First up, they’d recreate the dance style from the Switch-Up with their original partner before hitting the floor with Tom’s favorite freestyle dances.

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: 29/30 After James and Peta finished talking about how much they’d miss each other when the show was over — it felt very “no you hang up” — they worked on their tango. James’ one contribution? They should definitely totally like really kiss. (And pretend they never have before.) Peta not-so-reluctantly agreed.

When the routine began, I had two notes: “What is this stance?” And “why is his crotch green?” In terms of the actual dancing, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoyed James’ bare-chested look. It felt like a very robotic tango to me, but also, I have an important announcement to make: I feel I’m growing up as a recapper, because I had an actual note about the technical side of things. In my notes, I wrote “flat feet.” Now do I know if his feet are supposed to be flat in a tango? Of course not. One woman can only do so much. But are you all proud of me or what?

Also, that kiss? What was with the pause beforehand and then all the open-mouth action. Slow down, you two. This isn’t HBO.

Len thought the routine was tighter than a trumpeter’s cheeks, while Bruno thought James was dominant and dangerous, and well, he likes his kissing. Carrie Ann complimented his intensity, but she too thought he was too uptight and rigid in his movements. And everyone please pause to appreciate Carrie Ann yelling “You like it tight!” at Bruno. Dear Lord, is there anything better than live TV?!

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 30/30 During the Switch-Up, Meryl performed one hell of a tango with Maks’ brother Val, and now, it was their turn. In rehearsal, Maks was pulling out his inner-Beyonce with his “Any questions?” sass, but inside, he was really feeling the pressure to win this thing after having failed so many times before.

The tango itself was what you’ve come to expect from these two: Sexy, sweaty greatness. Although, was I alone in liking her tango with Val a little more? Not in terms of chemistry — obviously — but I love the sharp kicks of the tango, and I wanted more here. OK, now I’m just annoying myself acting like I know what the heck I’m talking about. Sorry guys. I promise to be superficial again in no time.

Bruno thought the dance was seductive and extraordinary, while Carrie Ann thought Meryl’s dance with Val had been perfection, but this dance with Maks only added chemistry to that, which made it over-the-top. Len, once again, thought it was the dance of the night.

NEXT: Butt-drums!