Amber, Corbin, and Jack dance one last time and Snooki compliments Brooke's boobs in the liiiiiiive season 17 finale
Amber Riley
Credit: ABC

Well, it’s all over! Amber Riley and her big ol’ knee pad have won Dancing With the Stars season 17 along with their professional partner, now five-time winner Derek Hough.


Cheers to the winners!

The good news is, Amber has a hardened knob of glitter now. The bad news is, Len Goodman called her his “little sausage.” Len can’t help it, guys. He’s British! He just loves sausages, okay? We’re all lucky he didn’t call her a banger instead, though technically that would have made more sense, as she is bangin’.

I’ll let you all debate whether Amber’s the “right” winner in the comments. To me it never matters who wins, and Amber’s well-deserved victory is no surprise. She performed the hell out of her last two weeks’ worth of numbers, and Derek is super popular. So of course they won.

Instead, who wants to re-live the liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive finale with me? I’m pretty exhausted! It’s gonna get weird.

We open on some more red carpet hullabaloo just like in the season premiere, and it strikes me again how Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” is seriously the perfect motto for Dancing With the Stars. Everyone gets involved, and this time Tony turns the tables on three irrepressible dancin’ fools.

Sorry, judges. The truth hurts: Tony’s right.

Meanwhile, major hot tongue action indoors from Tristan and Sharna:

If I finally get my act together and send out a holiday card this year, you’re looking at it. “Love, Annie.” No explanation. None needed.

Actually, I could do three different cards — it’d be like when Entertainment Weekly puts out bonus collectors’ covers of the print issue. Just like that. Here are the others, from the always-welcome “Adventures in DWTS Subtitles” segment I very much miss from the results shows this season:

Just another Happy Holiday from Planet Mirrorballus!

(Derek’s “Perfect, baby” subtitle to Amber after a dance did not qualify. Not edgy enough.)

NEXT: Stranger danger Ooh. Tom gives his heartiest and slyest “Liiiiiiiiiiiiive!” of the season before a commercial break, and it’s so long it gets taken down in volume at the end. (Still, better than a brutal cutoff.) It might have even spanned an octave! We should have Bill Nye’s body double investigate the science of that.

Whoa. Enrique Iglesias looks really… young? Is that an entirely new face? Wait, is he even the same person? He’s doing dubstep-y stuff now? WHO IS THIS GUY?

Team Freestyle reprise! As promised, Ylvis (two grown Norwegian men in fox suits) is on hand to further investigate what “The Fox” says, this time in an uncontrolled ballroom setting. Their findings…. are nil. I’m pretty sure everyone in the world who isn’t Carrie Ann, Bruno, or under 15 years old is sick of this song by now.

Len misses the “act like a fox with your hands, too” memo. He’s thinking about sausages.

Oh good God, it’s all of Our Female Pros, violently writhing everywhere in electric blue fringe. The fringe is royal blue; it just feels electric. This dance is the definition of “hot mess” (non-mom version) and I enjoy all the creative transitions between the smaller groups of them, like Cheryl’s hand leading us to the opposite end of the stage, or Witney’s finger beckoning us to the final sparkly-boob-glue pileup in front of the judges’ table. I try to pause my TV on the sexiest moment, and I think I get it, but it unfortunately looks like this:

Our Pros: Better in liiiiiiiiiiiiiive action than still images.

“This has been a PSA from the Spray Tan and Tassels Association,” quips Tom.

Bill Nye the Mirrorball Bow Tie undergoes an intense scientific experiment that will make him, as Tom’s voiceover promises, a “better, stronger, dancer” Bill. And it works! Thanks to some clever camera angles and cuts to (Henry, I think?) tumbling for his life, the Weird Science Guy has seemingly transformed from gawky nerd to lithe gymnast. Science is incredible.

NEXT: Open that shirt, boy! Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy are next up for a dazzling, extra-beefy reboot of their Week 6 cha cha. The expert on being “So Excited” is like a totally different person out there now that she’s not getting judges’ scores. Or maybe she’s just thrilled to have moved on a few weeks further from her Showgirls shadows, endured so many years ago. Whatever the case, the girl is on fire and if she’d loosened up like this sooner, she could have won this thing.

Later on, Leah Remini adopts the opposite strategy and looks more nervous than ever for her little tango snippet with Tony. At least she sneaks in a tremendous stink-eye to the judges as she saunters by the table. Still, I give their performance a….

Brant & Peta and Christina & Mark team up for a good vs. evil paso doble (I think? I’m terrible.) quartet set to Lady Gaga’s “Applause” They all look fantastic but Mark and Christina get somewhat washed out in the darkness. Peta’s wearing these weird, Leah Remini-esque (wait, is think going to be a footwear adjective for me for the rest of my life?) white satin ankle boots. Meanwhile, Brant is wearing the closest thing to a “tuxedo tank top” I’ve ever had the horrified pleasure of seeing. There were tails on that thing. It was all so deliciously absurd. Good job, guys! Way to take on a new dance for the finale.

Now Valerie and Tristan, with a boost from musical guest Colbie Caillat, are reminding us what a wonderful world it really is with just the sweetest winter-wonderland waltz you could ever imagine. At least I think it’s a waltz — I’m having trouble making out shapes on the TV because pools of glittery tears have welled up in my eyes after the couple’s final Life-Affirming Gem of a rehearsal package.

I definitely start to lose it right when Tristan says “You look super,” probably because I knew more tears were coming and I just wanted to settle into a deeply emotional groove. (#SPARKLEBARF.) But then Valerie had to candidly remind us that she was supposed to have died in March, and somehow it’s Thanksgiving. “We should all just be living, every day!” she squeaks before editorializing for Dancing With the Stars viewers one and all: “I just love you, Tristan MacManus. You’re as good as it gets.” And he’s choking up himself, as usual, but manages to spit out a good-natured “You’re alright.” Ahhhhhhh!

“Yeah,” drawls the tear-monger of the century. “It’s nice to come back and dance again.” (!!!!!)

Throughout all of this, I can’t shake the suspicion that the bottoms of Tristan’s sneakers are two extra, totally benign characters in the scene.

NEXT: Snap out of it, Fringe Fairy! The “hot mess mom” is up nextNeither Snooki nor Brooke can hear a damn thing out on the red carpet force field of screaming youth, which gives Snooki a prime opportunity to gush to Brooke, “I love you, I miss your boobs, I miss your body” — and she takes it! Hey-o!

“We miss you too,” says Brooke, speaking for the three of ’em. (Runner-up Snooki line of the night was when she fondly recalled her foxtrot: “I’m not an elegant person, but to look like a virgin again was awesome.”)

A note from my mom last night let me know that when Gleb popped up in Snooki’s explosive jazz number, my dad went, “Is that Zev?” ZEV!

It was not Zev. Good try, Dad! Your sparkle heart was in the right place.

I think the guy singer from Lady Antebellum and I have the exact same plum-colored jeans. It’s such an honor. And it’s another Tristan Thanksgiving miracle as he, Val, and Gleb/Zev (it’s growing on me) join Tyne, Witney, and Lindsay to give the band a “dance assist.” (As if any random musical act is just beggin’ for a little salsa to spice up their song. The idea of a dance assist will never cease to delight me.) Val goes with a slightly deeper V on his black button-down than the other men. I appreciate it.

Time for the fusion round, finally! Corbin and Karina apparently misstep in their cha cha/foxtrot — I didn’t notice at all; I thought it was great, but I’m a dummy. Karina’s rocking the “belted, fringed mirrorball” look and is ready to sink her manicure into THE COVETED globe, and she just looks so crestfallen, I want Tom to slip her the trophy for a few seconds and maybe shoot, like, two confetti guns above her head. Corbin doesn’t look sad at all; he’s just concentrating on repeating how much he’s all about his partner tonight instead of himself. I’m still shocked they didn’t pull out all 10s here. It’s a 9-9-9 kinda night for Corbin.

NEXT: Amber dances last for the last time Jack and Cheryl meet the same upside-down-devil fate in their paso/salsa fusion — Jack had never done salsa before, and Carrie Ann calls that part of his dance flat-footed. What?! I thought it was amazing given the time constraints. Len gives Jack the second-runner-up speech: “Of all our celebrities, you have given me the most pleasure to watch. No dance background. You climbed a mountain. You were terrific, well done.”

Amber and Derek may have just invented a whole new style of dance called the qui-samba, says Carrie Ann after their dizzying samba/quickstep fusion. I don’t think Amber has ever looked so pain-free or joyful — she was probably fantasizing about all the ice packs and bed rest she’d get to enjoy once she hobbles away from Planet Mirrorballus forever, moments later. Their fierce final pose cinched their win for me. We didn’t even need to hear scores, but duh: 10-10-10. This time Amber lifts Derek up. He did it!

Colbie Caillat returns for a post-commercial break bumper, but it’s a SABOTAGE as the Sparkalien overlords in the control room try to shackle her inside the judges’ leaderboard!

(Just for a split second.)

Jack, Corbin, and Amber turn on the audience’s waterworks again with emotional outpourings of how much they love Their Pros, then Jack’s the first to go out of the final three. He’s made Cheryl cry three times now, so he’s practically won. He won the “best partner ever” mirrorball, at least. The real trophy.

And Amber wins the big one! She gets her message out to Tom before the Mark Ballas lift brigade can grab hold of her: “I wanna let women of all sizes out there know you can do whatever you put your mind to. Doesn’t matter what size, what color you are — you can do whatever, whatever, whatever you put you mind to.”*

*Except advance in the American Idol auditions if you can’t hack it. But who cares?

Pleased with the season 17 outcome? Which mini-dance did you like the best tonight? Discuss!

And a very Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Thank you as always for coming back to read my crazy perspective on this even crazier show (its utter lunacy has to be the only reason I get away with it). Enjoy tons of turkey or tofurkey or organic kale chips shaped like turkeys or whatever the heck it is you like to gobble up mercilessly. Just BEWARE THE SPARKLEBARF, okay? You gotta save that goodness up for season 18!


Fringe Fairy

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