We're here for the freestyles

By Maggie Fremont
November 20, 2017 at 11:19 PM EST
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Finals week is always exciting. There are dramatic packages about an intense desire to win a glittery disco ball on a pedestal. There are fun musical performances (tonight it’s Pitbull with Fifth Harmony and Alexander Jean)! Maks even got a haircut! And, yes, Julianne Hough has returned to guest judge and make us all weep with a performance choreographed by Marinda Davis about Davis’ multiple autoimmune disease diagnoses. I teared up just writing that sentence, so who knows what the future holds.

But let’s not kid ourselves, Dancing fam. There may be many exciting things to look forward to, including a redemption round of dances to get through first, but we are here for the freestyles. We want to be wowed, is that so much to ask?

REDEMPTION ROUND

Drew Scott and Emma Slater
Paso Doble, “Get Ready” by Rayelle
Drew and Emma get a friendly visit from Bruno the Builder, wearing an outfit that I’m 100 percent sure is not up to code. Bruno is the best. He wants Drew and Emma to improve on their paso from week 6. Their action movie paso was hectic, awkward, and out of control at, well, most moments. So Drew can only go up. Drew is a changed man! This paso is full of confidence and control. There’s a stumble through some turns, but overall Bruno’s remodeling is a success. Drew moves with an ease we haven’t seen before. Is it too little too late? Only time will tell! TONIGHT IS SO EXCITING.
Judges’ Score: 36/40

Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson
Foxtrot, “I Won’t Dance” by Frank Sinatra
Carrie Ann has Frankie’s fate in her hands this week, so what does she do? Why, she forces the notoriously shy dancer to get up on a table and dance alone while she and Witney give him pointers. When he comes out on the floor and opens his week one foxtrot redo, his solo is full of confidence and a little cheekiness to boot. Bruno says “you can never go wrong if you channel Fred and Ginger,” and that’s exactly what Frankie and Witney do in this old Hollywood glamour routine. He still needs to work on his frame, but who the heck cares? This is the last week and Frankie and Witney are adorable and nothing else matters. A young fan shrieks with excitement in the ballroom. She is all of us.
Judges’ Score: 38/40

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold
Charleston, “Bad Man” by Pitbull feat. Robin Thicke, Joe Perry, and Travis Barker
Len Goodman was not enthused by Lindsay and Jordan’s week three Charleston in which pop art met superheroes. He may have been the only one. Regardless, Len wants to see a whole slew of traditional Charleston steps in this redemption round routine. Jordan and Lindsay oblige — there is so much freaking Charleston content you can’t mistake it for anything else. But they also manage to put their own Jordan and Lindsay stamp on the whole thing. It’s youthful, joyous, full of, as the kids say, “swagger,” and all the judges are wowed by its precision and the realization that Jordan and Lindsay might actually be one person dancing in two bodies.
Judges’ Score: 40/40

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas
Quickstep, “Barflies at the Beach” by Royal Crown Revue
Julianne Hough is no regular guest judge. She puts in overtime. While Lindsey and Mark are traveling for their respective tours, Juls video chats with the pair to give them some tips on how to improve on their week two quickstep (the one with the butterflies, remember?). Nothing went terribly wrong with this number the first time around, but they did break hold throughout and Lindsey has definitely grown in technical prowess. Julianne tweaks her posture and Lindsey is a new woman out there. It’s a full-on traditional quickstep. Lindsey and Mark get into hold and pretty much take out a mortgage. They live there now. It’s fast, but controlled. A standout of the season.
Judges’ Score: 40/40

FREESTYLE ROUND

Drew Scott and Emma Slater
Freestyle, “The Ding-Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line” by The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
I’ve never felt so strongly about something as I do this: Drew Scott needs to win Dancing With the Stars ONLY so that we can see Emma make her Mirrorballs kiss. Okay, so maybe he doesn’t need to win, but isn’t Emma so fun? Speaking of fun: THIS FREESTYLE. It’s a big, swinging group routine that takes place in a Ukranian Tea Room because…that’s the only way Val and Maks would agree to participate? I don’t know, but who cares? Drew is having the time of his life, and he does not kill Emma in any of the huge tricks they do. That’s a pretty great day. The judges feel the same, except for Carrie Ann, who is a buzzkill and takes off a point for Drew being out of sync with the group. I don’t hate it. We still have three freestyles to get through, and 10s shouldn’t be handed out lightly.
Judges’ Score: 39/40

Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson
Freestyle, “Run Boy Run” by Woodkid
What will I do without my weekly check-in on Frankie Muniz’s emotional journey? I already have a Muniz-shaped hole in my heart. The guy is extra emotional tonight. Witney is having trouble deciding on a freestyle. Her gut is telling her to go with a moody, intense piece she’s dreamed up (reminiscent of their standout contemporary), but the producers suggest something light and fun for Frankie. Frankie trusts Witney completely. He starts crying while talking about how much of an impact she’s had on his life. YOU GUYS. They go with the intense routine. We know it’s intense because it begins with Sasha ringing a giant bell and there are lanterns. Will we remember this tango-paso-freestyle for years to come? Maybe not, but it means so much to Frankie and Witney. Oh lord, now I’m the one crying!
Judges’ Score: 38/40

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold
Freestyle, “Puttin’ on the Ritz 2017 (Jazzy Radio Mix)” by Taco feat. tomX
Lindsay is feeling the pressure to give her partner — who pretty much started this competition an excellent dancer — a showstopper of a routine. She’s choreographing around the clock and she has the scary, overflowing notepad to prove it. There are tricks! There are flips! There are props on props on props. And there. Are. Lighting cues. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have ended with that one, BUT those lighting cues do give the routine, complete with a healthy dose of jazz and swing, a big budget feel. Jordan’s a great dancer, we know this. The judges all see improvement on top of excellence. Julianne, who starred as Sandy with Jordan in Grease: Live!, doesn’t say, “You are Doody no more!” but it’s a huge missed opportunity and we all know it.
Judges’ Score: 40/40

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas
Freestyle, “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor feat. Styles of Beyond/ “Palladio” by Escala
You don’t get Mark Ballas in the finals and not give his freestyle routine the primo finale spot. The guy is a genius and his routines do not come to play. This freestyle is no different. Of all four we’ve seen this evening, Mark has really put the spirit of his partner into a dance. He and Lindsey start out as conductors who get lost in the music. Lindsey dances in hold while playing the violin. If that doesn’t get you a perfect score, what will? Maybe the couple’s insane musicality. Or the fact that every move is done with precision and intention. And who doesn’t love any freestyle that incorporates all the dance styles the celebrity has tackled throughout the season? Mark’s facial expressions get a 12 out of 10 and this routine, obviously, gets a perfect score.
Judges’ Score: 40/40

The elimination goes as expected. Drew and Emma and Frankie and Witney make up the bottom two, and ahead of the big finale, we say goodbye to Mr. Hot Property himself. Drew and Emma take their final bow. Who will make the Mirrorballs kiss now, America?

Episode Recaps

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 28
Genre
Premiere
  • 03/21/11
creator
  • Richard Hopkins
Performers
Network
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