This Thanksgiving, let’s all gather around the bedazzled dining room table and give thanks for Dancing With the Stars season 23. After all, it is the season that gave us Maks as Khal Drogo. We were moved to tears thanks to a Willy Wonka-themed Viennese Waltz. We bore witness to the strange bromance of Vanilla Ice and Rick Perry. There was an engagement and a ballroom shower and an Urkel sighting. Oh, and Megatron danced on a gosh darned treadmill. So many things to be thankful for!
A DWTS season finale is always all about celebrating the season that was with video packages and encore performances and more video packages… and then some video packages. There’s also lots of pro performances and musical acts. Plus, we’re skipping over Thanksgiving and heading straight for Christmas. If it means seeing little Laurie living her best life while wearing a Santa hat, I’m on board. Lest you think the finale is just one big party, don’t forget we still have one more round of competition before the winner of the coveted Mirrorball trophy is announced. Will it be Laurie, James, or Calvin who claims that glittery prize? I DON’T KNOW AND THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME.
Before we get to the final round of dancing — each couple is given two dance styles and asked to put together a routine incorporating both in just 24 hours — let’s talk finale highlights.
All three of our finalists get to perform an encore of their favorite dance from the season. James and Sharna choose their foxtrot from Cirque Week… which is surprising. Calvin and Lindsay bring back their sexy Argentine tango — you remember it, the one with that insane windmill lift. Laurie and Val — BLESS THEM — perform their trio with Maks one more time, because when is there ever enough Chmerkovskiy-on-Chmerkovskiy dancing? The answer is never.
Now, let’s talk about dreams for a moment, that’s what this show is all about in its very core anyway. Maureen McCormick gets to live out her dream by dancing with a whole gaggle of very handsome men, including Babyface and Ryan Lochte. Bruno’s dreams come true when Jana and Gleb dance their group shower Argentine tango one last time. My dreams come true before my eyes as Vanilla Ice performs “Ice Ice Baby” live on Dancing With the Stars. (So, Rick Perry isn’t there in my actual dream, but I can’t say his turn as Ice’s DJ was wholly unwelcome.) And then all of America’s dreams come true when the men of the ballroom dance to Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic.” They dance it while wearing blazers with no shirts, which I’m going to assume was a gift to me, the biggest known fan of that specific wardrobe combination. Thanks, guys!
The greatest dream of all is definitely Mandy Moore’s holiday number, which tells the magical story of a little girl and a whole slew of beautiful people dancing with her through a screen. Also, Fik-Shun from So You Think You Can Dance is there, so if you missed this number, you should stop what you’re doing and go watch it immediately.
NEXT: One last dance[pagebreak]
Although all of the reminiscing and celebrating is great, it’s time to get down to it. Our three outstanding couples — have I made it clear yet how much I loved this season? — take the floor for a final spin to earn some judges’ points that probably don’t mean much, but LET THE PEOPLE DANCE. One last time, shall we?
24-HOUR FUSION CHALLENGE
James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess
Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz
Why does this ever have to end? Queen Sharna is having the time of her life… and James isn’t so bad either. Their chemistry is undeniable, and that advantage, paired with two dance styles where James has really shined in the past, must take at least a little of the pressure off. They glide and turn and underarm pass their little hearts out. James and Sharna’s final dance is just as graceful and elegant as you’d expect. The judges talk about their emotional partnership, but there’s not much left to say. These two are great, and there’s a James and Sharna shaped hole in my heart already.
Judges’ Score: 40/40
Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold
Jive and Quickstep
Lawd, I’m going to miss these two as well. Calvin and Lindsay’s friendship has been a joy to watch on and off the dance floor. They’re all about having fun and that’s true of their final dance as well. Like James, Calvin gets two dance styles that suit him perfectly. The jive and quickstep let him show off Megatron The Entertainer one last time. The dance is full of content and charm. The judges eat it up, of course. There’s nothing to gripe about when it comes to Calvin. Most especially not his choice to wear a fully rhinestoned blazer for his last number. Carrie Ann tells him that his dancing makes the world a better place, which may sound extreme but is the actual truth.
Judges’ Score: 40/40
Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Foxtrot and Argentine Tango
No one makes me cry like Laurie and Val make me cry. Laurie’s bummed to be leaving her new bestie, but Val, ever the big brother, knows it’s time to let his little nugget fly. Laurie says she doesn’t like goodbyes, so Val just says, “I’ll see you later.” The tears are flowing now. Their dance is the perfect blend of power and grace — which actually sums up Laurie as a human pretty well. Their lifts are strong and their foxtrot is elegant. Carrie Ann even calls it Laurie’s best dance of the season. The judges don’t know who is going to win this thing, but they are 100 percent sure they’re going to miss watching Laurie and Val dance. Get in line.
Judges’ Score: 40/40
Now comes the part I’m pretty sure everyone involved has been dreading: announcing a winner. All three of these couples are deserving and it is really anyone’s game. When has this ever happened before? It seems unfair to place any of the pairs in the third place spot, but Calvin and Lindsay take the news with smiles. Oh, Megatron, I shall miss you most of all.
Now comes the moment three months in the making: the IndyCar driver versus the gymnast. And then suddenly, that Mirrorball trophy has a new home. Congratulations to the season 23 champions, Laurie and Val! A gold medal, a Mirrorball trophy, and an endless supply of strength, charm, and giggles? When I grow up, I want to be Laurie Hernandez.
And that’s a wrap on season 23. What a glorious, bedazzled ride it was. Season 24 has some big, sparkly shoes to fill.