The three 'All-Stars' finalists are revealed amidst a kaleidoscopic explosion of glitter and private parts

By Annie Barrett
Updated November 21, 2012 at 05:50 AM EST

WOW! It’s the first-ever all-female finale on Dancing With the Stars! Congrats to Shawn Johnson, Melissa Rycroft, and Kelly Monaco for getting the terrifying chance to BLOW IT ALL during next week’s always-make-or-break freestyles — now super sized for the All-Stars season.

This means Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff and Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke are headed home, where the sun still shines but their skin shall not shimmer under the magical intergalactic spotlights. I’m surprised about Emmitt, to be honest. Assuming this fight is mostly a popularity contest as has been evident all season, I thought Kelly and Emmitt’s respective soap and football fan bases would keep them in, while the more-deserving Melissa and Apolo might get the sparkly boot. Sure, Apolo might technically have the ballroom edge over Kelly. But overall, I’m really psyched about the finalists, and Apolo seemed pretty zen about his fate anyway. He and Karina killed it on their “Man in the Mirror” rumba encore and you could tell he was treating it as his swan song. He had to have known.

He’s really become the ultimate DWTS ambassador, huh? I feel like Apolo should go around to schools and speak about how Dancing With the Stars can change your life. (He could mention his paltry Olympic experience if he has to, but why bother?) The kids would be all “Why does this show look like it was produced in the ’70s?” and “Who’s Melissa Rycroft?” — and Apolo would have all the answers. They’re too young to understand the Mirrorballus Magic, you see. Give them 30-60 years and they’ll be all set.

I’m really happy for Melissa and Tony, who would have been freaking devastated if they’d been eliminated halfway through the show. Of course, Emmitt was as easy-breezy-beautiful as ever in the face of “rejection” with one minute left in the telecast. He did deserve to go home if this is about dancing, but Tom was right that the season just lost a whole chunk o’ charisma. I loved Emmitt’s gorgeous wife mouthing “Thank you” after that compliment from Tom. I think I rewound it five times. What is wrong with me?!

With three women lashing out at each other via deadly flicks and kicks, the lift situation is going to be out of control for the super sized freestyles — and really, what could be better? It always seems a tad unfair when one or two of the finalists is a little mighty mite. This time we’ve got three — an Olympic gymnast, a former professional cheerleader, and a tiny ball of cozy autumnal knits and messy buns that Val likes to use for bicep curls whenever he travels. It really is a perfectly matched finale.

I’d say Shawn and Derek are in the best shape heading into next week. Shawn and Melissa will both earn perfect 30s on their “favorite dances,” while the judges will score Kelly down a ways, I’m predicting. Derek excels at crazy/clever freestyles (wonder if he’ll veto Shawn’s suggestion of a balance beam?), while Melissa and Tony admitted it’s their Achilles heel and they know they have to redeem themselves from season 8’s boring freestyle. Kelly and Val are the wild card. They could easily earn two 30s with a polished “favorite” and a freestyle that doesn’t rely too heavily on Val’s exposed flesh. Think back to that treacherous “Gangnam Style” group dance and the country group dance — I remember Val and Kelly’s lightning-fast sections as moments that stood out. I think she’s very capable of handling pretty much anything, so the freestyle’s really up to Val.

NEXT: The Top 7 (“seh-vehhhhhn!”) moments of the results show

Annie’s Top 7 (“Seh-vehhhhn!“) Results Show Moments for Tuesday, November 20, 2012

7. Thanks to Derek, “I’m writing a song with my body” has officially become my Excuse of the Month for any given situation, personal or professional.

6. In what alternate universe (beyond the Glitter Galaxy) does Kelly Monaco expect us to believe she has never had a spray tan?

5. Tom having a seat in the middle of a hip-hop dance crew following Parris Goebel’s “This Girl Is On Fire” exhibition.

4. Len threatening to require urgent care as he seized during Shawn and Derek’s Argentine tango: “I love it! I love it!” Even his approval seems furious!

3. Derek’s contemporary dance/shower scene with liiiiiiiiiiive slow-motion! Holy cow! I loooooove his co-choreographer for this piece, Allison Holker, in anything, but add fellow So You Think You Can Dance alums Melanie Moore and Kathryn McCormick, plus a talented little fox named Jessica Lee Keller? I was in heaven. Just type “Allison Holker” in YouTube and go nuts for a few hours. Don’t snack. Or whatever, go ahead and snack. It’s Thanksgiving! And you already feel fat.

2. Paula Abdul is as petite as ever! That “Dream Medley” RULED.

1. Looks like Val and Kelly have already started brainstorming their freestyle.

Looks great so far! Real versatile.

HIDDEN GEM CITY (also the name of my wireless network):

“Did anyone notice that it looked like Apolo was speedskating when he slipped?” —Sarah, endorsed by Cindy, Wiltasaurus

“Once when the camera was focused on the floor from above, the circular orange light looked just like a pumpkin pie! How nice to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving….” —Tay

Mirrorballus Rex encourages you to appraise’s Hidden Gems of the ‘All-Stars’ Semifinals!

Did the right couples go home, DANCMSTRs? Discuss.

And let’s all remember to give thanks for Tristan MacManus this week.


Fringe Fairy

Follow @EWAnnieBarrett

Annie Barrett’s ‘DWTS’ Facebook page

Read more:

Week 8 performance recap: In the Flesh of an Eye

Tristan MacManus tours the ‘DWTS’ rehearsal space — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Election Night 2012: Your Hidden Gems!

Video reply time! Ask Annie anything about ‘DWTS’ — or whatever — below.