'Dancing With the Stars' finale recap: The real deal
After 10 weeks, 13 episodes, and a two-hour finale highlighting them all, DWTS season 20 is officially in the books, dance fans. And as usual, it was a season filled with the usual: countless incredible dances and a handful of painful ones; stars that made us roll our eyes and stars that made us cry; rewarding victories and astonishing exits; medical miracles; and plenty of gratuitous Chmerkovskiy chest.
Before we get to the final fusion dances and the last, agonizing three minutes, let’s take a look at that jam-packed first hour.
- Opening with a big dance number surrounded by shrieking fans outside the studio (set designed by Snow Miser), we immediately learn a few things: Derek is healed; Miss Patti got a new wig; Mark got a haircut (or thankfully gelled it back); the judges are getting bombed; and we definitely didn’t see enough of Redfoo this season.
- For the voter’s choice for repeat Freestyle, America chose Riker and Allison’s throwback dance, which they perform again while I search YouTube for Noah and Sharna’s powerful rendition of his emotional journey that apparently isn’t as impressive as the Charleston.
- Redfoo performs “Juicy Wiggle” while Emma Slater dances on his zebra striped piano, and while I realize I may be late to the game, I think I just found my new summer jam. BRB, I need to go order some glasses.
- There’s a highlight reel from the first three weeks of competition, where we’re reminded of these things: Riker is Bruno’s Billy Idol; Noah has made Carrie Ann cry since week one; what Mark Ballas lacks in hair taste he makes up for in artistry; Rumer’s crotch and Val’s lip didn’t get off to a very good start; Miss Patti is The Queen; Farmer Chris learned to count on his DWTS journey; and Bruno still feels bad for insulting Charlotte’s intelligence (or lack thereof).
- Charlotte and Keo reprise their “California Girls” dance which makes us sad that we didn’t vote for Redfoo more. (Now that Derek is healed I bet I know who’s in that crab costume.)
- Alfonso Ribeiro and Sadie Robertson do a fun dance together for about five seconds, and then Tom Bergeron announces he’s passing over his America’s Funniest Home Video mic to Alfonso next season, while half of the viewers ask, “That show is still on?”
- Robert and Kym prove they’ve still got chemistry—and Robert proves that he’s still not sure how to dance and count at the same time (but looks so happy to be there!)— with a cute Shark Tank themed dance.
- A Sesame Street set is brought out and I get excited thinking Oscar the Grouch is about to pop out of the trashcan or Big Bird is coming through the blue door, but it’s just Jason Derulo singing “Want to Want Me.”
- Amy Purdy and Noah Galloway (with partners Derek and Sharna) get to dance together for a bit, which is unbelievably powerful and impressive when you remember they’re only dancing with one real leg between the two of them.
- Andy Grammer again provides the cool background beat to Nastia, Derek, and Sasha’s fun, fast, and furious subway dance with his catchy tune, “Honey, I’m Good” (which is now in competition with “Juicy Wiggle” for top spot on my playlist).
- In a serious moment, Tom asks Rumer if she feels she held back, or if she “put it all out on the dance floor.” She, of course, replies that she left it all out on the floor, but judging by the costume she’s wearing during this interview, it’s clear she left most of her clothes back at home.
- Willow and Mark recreate their “Alice in Wonderland” Foxtrot (with Mark keeping his contacts in place this time), and it’s just as magical and over well produced as it was during Disney week.
- Sia sings “Elastic Heart” with a duo performance from Derek and Julianne, and two young dancers pretending to be Derek and Julianne when they were kids. The two couples are mirroring each other in side-by-side rooms decorated to reflect their ages, and the dance is bizarrely cool but weirdly angry as they basically try to kill each other the entire dance. They end up destroying their rooms, and I end up deciding to stop trying to figure it out.
- Breaking news! Rumer Willis is apparently Patti LaBelle’s daughter!
NEXT: Finally … a winner is revealed
After that busy first hour (and there are things I didn’t even mention), let’s get to the last dance: the 24 hour fusion challenge … or what I think it should be called, “pointless.”
Noah and Sharna — Cha-Cha/Argentine Tango
Dressed in all white, with smoke and flags giving the stage an ethereal vibe, the two finished their season with a simple, basic performance with a few impressive lifts.
The crowd goes nuts, and Noah’s fiancée Jamie claps and smiles sweetly, but you just know that after watching the video package where Sharna and Noah are fawning all over each other, she’s ready for this little “platonic” love affair to be over.
Len gives well earned props to Sharna and tells Noah that he’s given so much to America he wonders why America shouldn’t give him the Mirror Ball. (I want to bring up that whole “dancing” part of DWTS, but keep my mouth shut.) Julianne thanks him for being a warrior and a champion (but really), and Bruno calls him a “beacon of inspiration,” which is indisputable.
Riker and Allison — Salsa/Quickstep
Strange dances to fuse, but these two are both pros, and perform a fast, sharp, and fun number that leaves the judges in awe. Bruno calls Riker a “multitalented powerhouse of a performer,” and Len sums him up by saying he’s “the boy who brings joy.” Sounds like someone just got himself a new Twitter bio.
Rumer and Val — Foxtrot/Pasodoble
Their fusion looks a lot like all their other dances (right down to the costumes), but I DON’T CARE! It’s sharp, impressive, and spot on. Her sisters—and the judges—lose their minds. Bruno says that Rumer has become an irresistible, shining star, and Len goes so far as to admit she’s his favorite, and that if she doesn’t win it will be a travesty (no offense, Galloway). Julianne confesses that they’ve pushed her because they know how talented she is, gushes that she can’t wait to see what she has in store for the future, and calls herself a “fangirl.”
And then it’s the moment of truth. Oh, wait. It’s not. Patti LaBelle, looking stunning and ageless, performs “Two Steps Away” while the three remaining couples are forced to stand out on the dance floor for the two or 200 minutes until the song is over.
First to say goodbye? Noah and Sharna, which let’s admit, was expected.
And then, after all the tears, introspection (so much introspection), personal epiphany (so much personal epiphany), and denied chemistry (so not buying it), #teamvalenrue—that’s Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy for the hashtag and cutesy-name challenged—are the well-deserving recipients of this season’s golden Mirror Ball! (BTW, I called this win way back when the first official photos were released and Rumer was already showing the eye-of-the-tiger in addition to some serious lunge skills, just in case anyone needs me in Vegas later.)
Riker and Allison, obviously, take second place, and as Rumer and Val are awkwardly lifted onto the shoulders of their comrades, and the Moore/Willis clan goes nuts, season 20 comes to a satisfying close.
Okay, dance fans, did it all end up the way you wanted it to? Is Rumer the real deal, or do you think “the boy who brings joy” or America’s “beacon of inspiration” should have walked away with the gold ball instead?