In the season finale, Kristi Yamaguchi beats Jason Taylor with another all-10 dance, becoming the first winner whose name begins with K since season 1
Stars Taylor Yamaguchi

”DWTS” finale recap: A winner!

Cue the pyro! Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi is the first woman and proprietor of a first name that begins with K to win Dancing With the Stars since season 1. Season 7 will be sponsored in part by the letters F, R, I, N, G, and E, the number 10, and viewers like you.

Of course, unless you just tuned in and found last night’s two-hour fillerfest particularly riveting, Kristi’s victory was a bit anticlimactic once it was finally confirmed. We’ve been aware all season that she was the best dancer and should win. It was just a question of ”Can a woman ever win again?” She sure can. And then she’ll immediately attempt to foist her shiny new disco-ball trophy onto a weary-of-saying-”Liiiiiiiiiiive!” Tom Bergeron, who quite simply hasn’t the patience to deal with any more dead weight in one night.

But let’s back up! First, ”Latin Stallion” Cristián de la Fuente got the red-light treatment and finished third. This kind of made sense, as the tasty Chilean sea bass of a man (and that marks the last time I’ll ever type that) was Wayne Newton’s pick to win. At least the C&C Ballroom Factory had ample time to compliment each other, wipe the tears away during a sweet goodbye package, and dance their Ursula the Sea Witch-inspired pleather paso one last time. The routine must have been re-choreographed to take into account Cristián’s injury, but I was too busy watching his bum arm to notice the dance itself. That thing’s become like a screen saver to me — I can never look away because I think something weird or cool might happen, except it never does.

Cristián wasn’t out of the picture just yet, though, as some of the show’s ”judicious” editors (big vocab word, Tom!) put together what was the undisputed (at least according to the mostly dormant sections of my brain) highlight of the finale: a treacly tribute to the Cristián-Jason ”bromance” set to ”Just the Two of Us.” This was choice stuff: sound bites taken out of context, a few lingering gazes set in slow motion, and some absolutely welcome footage of the two choice filets putting together a table outside their trailers on the DWTS lot. While shirtless. And in front of rolling cameras. Of course.

As for Jason ”Just a Pleasure to Be Around” Taylor, the quickstep he and Edyta performed for the final judging definitely deserved the perfect 30 everyone who was watching already knew it would receive. ”Hey, Kristi, it does feel good,” said Jason backstage. He was sooooo excited to have totally nailed that handstand-into-horizontal flop at the end of that dance. (It really was a thing of beauty — he even shifted his hands on the floor to allow for more hang time and better balance.) I loved that Jason trotted up to air-kiss Carrie Ann, but the camera caught DANCMSTR’s delighted reaction instead. Speaking of whom, DANCMSTR’s comment that Jason was ”the people’s champion” almost had me convinced (for at least a few seconds) that we were in for a surprise ending.

NEXT: Kristi strikes back

Kristi, of course, also scored a 30 for the jive she and Mark reprised from week 6, despite getting her foot caught in her frock for a moment. The judges, who had already decided what to say, just incorporated the mistake into their critiques. My favorite was Bruno’s: Dealing with the wardrobe malfunction like a pro was ”a great achievement from the great achiever.” I liked how all three judges confirmed something that they hadn’t really gushed about before but was glaringly obvious to all viewers: that Kristi’s been possibly the most consistent contestant in the show’s history.

Try saying ”consistent contestant” five times fast, and you’ll be as befuddled as Tom was when Shannon Elizabeth inexplicably wrapped her wonky legs around his torso. Seriously, what the hell was that? I assumed Shannequin would have realized how poorly she came off in general this season and attempt to redeem herself by serving up some modesty with a side order of restraint on the finale. Instead, she treated Tom like the not-quite-sturdy trunk of a tree she got bored of climbing about two feet up. She even sounded like a 7-year-old, screeching into Tom’s mike, ”You know, I just wanted to say, I didn’t get to thank the judges,” before he cut her off with a well timed and completely necessary joke about Cirque du Soleil. Adam Carolla, take note: Shannequin is probably why the terrorists hate us. ”Gay, straight, and Guttenberg” are off the hook.

I loved seeing all of the returning contestants dance in the order they were eliminated, if only because by week 10, you do forget how wide the gap was between the dance and the dance-nots. I didn’t necessarily need to be reminded that Penn has venti feet, or that he’s capable of thrusting his crotch in time with a beat, but I did find his predetermined yet entirely realistic wipeout up the stairs as fascinating as the original. (I know, I should be shot.) Marissa’s paso doble stood out like a shiny, floor-burned knee because she decided to wear her shorter, fringed mambo dress instead of her paso outfit (presumably because she felt sexiest in it and wanted to flaunt that shiz — God, we get it already! wear the right costume or do a different dance!). And Mario’s performance stood out from the pack for the obvious reason: He was hands-down the best male dancer of the bunch. That mambo was as white-hot as his tight, tight pants.

Thirteen-and-unders Brandon and Brittany shuffled onto the floor as the winners of the kids’ competition, looking like, refreshingly, a pair of 13-year-olds. But things were a little too pure out there, so Tom wrangled a few Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders (Brandon’s fantasy!) to swarm the floor and shower him with an amusingly embarrassing amount of attention. ”Somebody just grew up a little bit today!” said Tom. I wonder if the cheerleaders who didn’t get to clutch the mini mirrorball trophy were jealous of the one who did. If I could have one wish, it’d be to find that out. Psych! You know my one wish would be for Wendy’s to sponsor the fall season of DWTS so I don’t have to feel guilty as I scarf down their food while I write.

Speaking of which, this is it, my little dangling strips of sequins that qualify as fringe. Thanks for TV Watching with me this season, and for bearing all the times I brought up Maks just for the chance to link to a video of him at my cubicle. I’ll see you in the fall. But Annie, in what way? Why, silly, in the only way…(you know it’s coming)…liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!

What did you think about the finale and the season? Are you happy with the winner? Tom Bergeron for president? And did anyone else think Kristi and Mark were about to engage in a chicken fight while hoisted in the air?

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