The final three couples dance for their lives...or, at least, the Mirrorball trophy.
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

Normani. David. Rashad. Three Mirrorball hopefuls enter, and yet, there can only be one winner. Thankfully, during tonight’s finals there will be no elimination. We can just sit back and be entertained. With both the Redemption Dance—in which our couples will dance a style from earlier in the season that they’d like to improve upon—and the highly-anticipated Freestyle on the docket, it’s safe to say some fun will be had. And since I’m borderline emotionally unstable, probably some crying, too. Regardless of who is the best dancer, all three of these couples warm my cold, dead heart! They all seem to enjoy each other and all three of the pros—Val, Lindsay, and Emma—seem very invested in helping their partners be the best they can be. Isn’t that precious?


David Ross and Lindsay Arnold
Viennese Waltz, “Let’s Hurt Tonight” by OneRepublic
David and Lindsay dance the Viennese waltz for their redemption round routine. They first danced this style during ‘Most Memorable Year’ week, and David was a little out of his element and very, very stiff. This time around…okay, he’s still a little out of his element, but there’s improvement! Len chides him for still having his bum sticking out and Carrie Ann notices some wonky footwork, but no one really cares. David is having the time of his life and I’m having the time of my life watching him. He’s basically Miss Congeniality at this point, and he’s just happy to be here. Let the man dance, Grumpy Len. LET HIM LIVE.
Judge’s Score: 33/40

Normani Kordei and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Quickstep, “Check It Out” by Oh the Larceny
You guys, anyone who puts on a sheer catsuit covered in sparkles and fringe Wants. That. Mirrorball. Maybe David Ross is asking for a quick wardrobe change after seeing Normani strut her stuff. Or maybe not. Most of the judges’ critiques are regarding said catsuit. Juls and Len think the outfit allows mistakes that shine through—and both call them out for a lack of body contact. Carrie Ann and Bruno disagree and basically just tell Normani and Val how hot they are. And all of this after suffering a very crunchy-sounding ankle injury. Please, let us never see that in slo-mo again. It’s definitely an improvement from their week 1 quickstep, but Normani and Val can do better. Regardless, Normani is a queen—with or without the catsuit.
Judges’ Score: 38/40

Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater
Viennese Waltz, “Dark Times” by The Weeknd feat. Ed Sheeran
When Rashad and Emma performed their Viennese waltz back in week 2, many of us took notice of the couple for the first time. It was steamy and romantic and Rashad was emerging as a true leading man. Little did we know we’d get to revisit that routine, only improved exponentially. Did you think it couldn’t get any steamier? YOU WERE WRONG. As Julianne is quick to point out, Rashad isn’t done growing in this competition. He (and Emma!) wants to win and isn’t afraid to put in the extra work to do so. Sure, like any normal human, Rashad wants that sparkly globe for himself, but he also really wants to win it for Emma. Are you tearing up? No, totally, neither am I.
Judges’ Score: 40/40
(Recap continues on page 2.)


David Ross and Lindsay Arnold
Freestyle, “It Takes Two”/”Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (Medley) by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock/Ronnie Neuman
Has there ever been a contestant more suited for the freestyle round? David thrives on entertaining the crowd. No exaggeration, I could watch him sell peanuts for at least a full minute and a half. He’s hilarious! Good on him though, he avoids that terrible advice, and he and Lindsay perform a crowd-pleasing, baseball-themed (as if there was any question) freestyle. People, Lindsay wraps herself around a baseball bat and has David spin her around the ballroom. If your mouth isn’t agape, please go back and read that sentence again. Lindsay. Baseball bat. SPINNING. As expected, the whole thing is a lot of fun and you can already tell the judges are playing fast and loose with their scoring tonight. Sometimes even judges just want to have fun.
Judges’ Score: 40/40

Normani Kordei and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Freestyle, “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Andra Day
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Normani and Val’s freestyle. Personally, I prefer the high-octane freestyle routines, but Val’s a deep guy and Normani’s journey on this show has been emotional, so there’s no denying their gorgeous routine fits the bill. They’re wearing white, like angels! There are tiny humans dancing! Even Val breaks down into tears after! It’s all very moving. Normani admits that she’s leaving a different person than she walked in to this competition, and it’s all so endearing. The judges are all captivated by Normani as well. It may not become an iconic freestyle, but it serves it’s purpose for this season.
Judges’ Score: 40/40

Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater
Freestyle, “Let’s Go”/”Uptown Funk” (Medley) from Drumline/Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
In the redemption round, Rashad and Emma showed us their sultry side. In the freestyle, it’s simply time to party. Rashad wants to throw the greatest Super Bowl halftime show in history. Honestly, the Super Bowl could use at least 10 percent more ballroom dancing, so if there is a petition out there along these lines, please let me know in the comments—I’m signing it. As Carrie Ann so eloquently states, Emma and Rashad “turn this motha out.” It’s high energy, full of tricks (and some dicey looking lifts, no?), with a little drumline flavor thrown in for good measure. Rashad is living his best life. Emma so badly wants to bring this home for her guy. Say it with me, you guys: THESE TWO.
Judges’ Score: 40/40

Yes, this season has been unpredictable and well, weird, but you have to admit that it’s nice when there isn’t a clear front-runner. It’s a tight race! When all those votes are counted and the DWTS Official Fringe is tucked safely away until next season, who will be left standing atop Mirrorball Mountain? Predictions, please!

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