Kristi's two final viewer-voted performances get all 10s from the judges, leaving her far ahead of the guys for the season finale
Kristi Yamaguchi, Dancing With the Stars

‘Dancing’ recap: Last calls

In a way, it doesn’t even matter what the season 6 finalists did last night on Dancing With the Stars. All we need to know is that three couples performed a freestyle and no one pretended he or she was a doll. Doesn’t get much better than that! I give my reassurance level a Bruno-delivered ”Teeeeeeeehn!”

Last night, Kristi, Cristián, and Jason (literally) kicked things off with a group cha-cha, an excellent new development that I hope will be repeated in future seasons with different dances. I loved that each couple had to cha-cha to the same music, and that for the final segment, when Jason, Kristi, and Cristián performed the same steps side by side, no one was trying to jut out in front of the others. That sequence (at first I typed ”sequins”!) put it all in perspective: Jason was a bit slow, Kristi appeared to be on a smaller geographic scale than everyone else on the floor (I forget that she’s that tiny), and Cristián moved with pronounced rhythm and an expression as eager as DANCMSTR’s when contemplating the prospect of lounging at South Beach in a thong with Jason. Despite the (fake) rivalry among the finalists, they obviously really get along — otherwise, Yama-hoochie might’ve ended up on the floor with a ruptured everything after the Jason-Cristián figure-skating lift at the very end of the dance. Wow. I have it paused on my DVR while I write this; that’s how much I dug the teamwork. Jason’s height might not have ”gone together” with the cha-cha, but it definitely went well with the ability to lift a tiny human up six feet six inches. The ensuing group hug, a Kristi-Mark sandwich in which Jason and the ”Latin Stallion” played the roles of two ends of a croissant, featured those two guys curling their flaky, buttery edges over Kristi and Mark while hugging. So cute. I think it’s time to change the DVR-paused image to that.

Each finalist received a cha-cha score to combine with his or her all-important (though I’m still confounded as to why, in a ballroom competition) freestyle score. We have liftoff….

Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark: 60 out of a possible 60 points Some will say Kristi’s perfect scoring was a little over-the-top; I say it makes sense in comparison with the other two celebrities’ scores, and she probably could’ve received those scores for multiple performances before. ”Showing your personality” is one of the lamest DWTS clichés of all time, but that’s exactly what Kristi managed to do during the group cha-cha. As soon as she ”spontaneously” kissed Bruno, she just seemed way more personally invested in the dance than usual. Maybe it was the hair — instead of the late-’80s-on-the-ice coiffed ponytail we’re used to, Kristi’s hair was crimped. Which doesn’t really set it apart from the late ’80s, but trust me, the hair was way more fun than usual. Plus, Kristi’s cha-cha dress was possibly my favorite fringed number to date. I want Emmy-winning costume designer Randall Christensen to turn that thing into a pillow and send it to me so I can dream about the series on it for the dreaded DWTS-less summer months. (Hopefully he has a Google alert for his name and will find this awesome and totally doable request. 1675 Broadway, yo!) I believe I am at least owed that, ABC. Make it happen.

For the freestyle, Mark choreographed a cross between the mambo and hip-hop that inexplicably started off in pajamas. Huh? In matching black spangly pinstripe suits and Converse sneakers, Kristi and Mark threw in every move possible, some of which were, quite frankly, pretty ugly — but all of which were technically difficult, as the judges pointed out. Bruno even went so far as to call her ”Miss Synchronicity,” which I’m guessing he thought might have qualified as a play on the name ”Kristi.” It did not. I award a few extra irony points to Mark, who warned Kristi during their rehearsal footage that she shouldn’t make a goofy, fish-lipped facial expression while dancing. Because that would be totally out of line.

NEXT: Jason and Edyta strip

Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl: 52/60 During the cha-cha, the tasty Chilean sea bass of a man channeled Mark’s affinity for heinous monochromatic suits, complete with heeled slippers in the same exact color. Up this week: fuchsia! Everyone knows that real men, especially those who ”bang like the best” (said Bruno, of course), wear fuchsia. Unlike Mark, though, Cristián had the sense to forgo buttons on his shirt. Speaking of Mark, the original fish face, I loved when Cristián suggested he’d only choreographed 30 seconds of his cha-cha in order to crib ideas from the others. ”I know how you think, Ballas!” yelled Cristián, and it sounded like ”Bahl-iss.” (Yeah, that was pretty much the pinnacle of intramural drama this week.)

In their Brussels-sprouts-colored freestyle, the C&C Ballroom Factory actually did keep it a little ballroom-esque — they were the only couple to incorporate many of their moves from past weeks, possibly because they had no other choice. Cristián’s ruptured tendon gave us a scare during their rehearsal footage, maybe because it’s a ruptured tendon and he’s still yanking it around on a dance floor. The dual fist pumps and a few seconds of Cheryl rolling around on the floor while Cristián shuffled sideways wasn’t cutting it for the judges, who said they had to score Cristián according to the standards of the able-bodied. DANCMSTR in particular criticized C&C for a lackluster set of lifts. I only saw two (out of many) repeats — the bigger issue here is why the freestyle round was basically a glorified lift-off this season.

Jason Taylor and Edyta: 51/60 After the cha-cha showdown, DANCMSTR and Carrie Ann both admitted to feeling sorry for the NFL Man of the Year because Latin’s not exactly his thing (but foxtrot is). Carrie Ann even tossed Jason a compliment as misguided as the one she gave Cristián (”I see a winner in so many other ways”) by saying that despite his clipped movements, Jason ”carried it off with a lot of fun and excitement.” Whoa, I just realized she probably just wanted to say ”carried.” As in ”You got Carrie’d.” Anyway, Jason’s floppy hands and beige vest during the cha-cha only earned him a 24, the lowest score since the halcyon days of two weeks ago. (He got a 23 for week 8’s samba.)

Jason’s freestyle song, ”Miami” (get it?), was a little slow for my tastes, but then again, did we really want to see him attempt to do a vaguely hip-hop routine faster than he did? Probably not. I have to say, though, Jason sold the style fairly well. Edyta’s first freestyle turned out to be a pretty enjoyable (and pretty…pretty; ”it was like watching centerfolds”) dance that started out with four players — Jason, a giant beach ball, Edyta, and a sunhat — and gradually whittled down to traces of Jason and Edyta, plus performance legwarmers (!), which did not fly off at some point like the rest of their costumes. Jason’s off-white pants against his white shirt were completely distracting, so even though it was a predictable gimmick (and something he’d promised to do weeks ago), that Maks-esque tank top couldn’t be yanked from Jason’s needlessly spray-tanned torso soon enough.

And now, for the final H.G. of the W.!

All three judges ”acting” like they didn’t know Kristi was comin’ in for the kill!

(H.G. of the W. runner-up is Edyta’s blissfully oblivious facial expression after Tom told us (via an audio feed the contestants cannot hear) that several gallons of spray tan were used this season, ”mostly on Edyta.”)

What do you think? How’s that image of DANCMSTR in a thong doing in your brain? Can the sea bass’s Chilean fan base (sparkly) cast enough votes to keep him afloat? And is Kristi tonight’s obvious winner?

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