It's finale night! Will it be Chelsea and Mark? Hines and Kym? Kirstie and Maksim? How can you even stand the wait? How are you still reading this?!?
"A journey by definition is the active traveling of one place to another," says Bergeron gravely at the top of the episode. So begins the first in what will be several montages tonight. Via the flashbacks to earlier in the season, we're to believe that people overcame obstacles and wardrobe malfunctions and being dropped to get to the Dancing with the Stars Top 3. And then, at the end of the montage some words pop up on screen: "Journey: becoming a champion." But I thought he just said that journey was the active traveling of one place to another. Let's not redefine the definition of journey, Bergeron. Before you know it, we'll be witnessing protests from people across the country with only their defiance to keep them occupied.
The opening group dance leaves streamers all over the ground after coming to a party-favor explosive finish. They're just begging for a last-minute spill. Go out with a bang, as they say! Or so it would seem ... a very long montage of last night's performances, including Hines in that ridiculous marching band/gladiator outfit, gives them plenty of time to clean up. Sadly!
We go to commercial and come back for the Black Eyed Peas. Ugh, can we go back? They perform "Don't Stop the Party" amongst people who look like they're dressed up as Daft Punk for Halloween. Badly. The whole thing is like a worst-case Lite Brite scenario. Will.i.am's plastic Gumby 'do looks inspired by PJ Sparkles. There is truly unenthusiastic hopping that happens. I'm glad we're all on the same page of boredom. It's funny that one of apl.de.ap's lines goes, "Music is my medicine." Feels more like an ailment than anything.
The judges examine over the remaining dancers in a montage. Len calls Chelsea "Little Miss Dynamite." Does that make Kirstie Little Miss Whoops? The consensus is there is no clear leader. Well, there will be in less than two hours. That kind of makes the entire production seem less momentous. The three couples are brought out to stand on platforms to the tune of Kronos Quartet's Requiem for a Dream theme. I know this is serious, but it isn't overdose/electroshock therapy/hook for drugs-serious, right? Right?!?
We then see a spoofy "flashback" to the first eliminee Mike Catherwood's audition. He wears a very short tank-top leotard and fluorescent pink legwarmers. It's far sexier than it sounds. Camped-up women's clothing can't obscure that this is a one slab of unlikely beefcake. He then dances live to a tepid rendition of EMF's "Unbelievable," complete with a half-assed British accent. Why isn't Len actively protesting? The dance ends with Mike being stripped out of his clothes to once again reveal that leotard. It still looks fantastic on him.
Oy, another flashback to the first episode. I'm not transcribing this. If the show is going to go to such lazy lengths to fill space, I'm going to transcend. Go read the recap if you need reminding. Oh, now we're flashing back to Petra Nemcova's story-dance about starting over after natural disasters. It's a shame that this is even more pertinent than it was when she first danced it, thanks to recent events and ones that may be happening as I type. Ugh, what a world. Anyway, Petra does her thing, dream-sequence mist on the floor and all. Josh Groban sings "You Raise Me Up" live this time. Apparently it is a surprise, as Dmitry points out Josh mid-dance and Petra visibly gasps. A surprise in the form of Josh Groban is a surprise indeed. (Although how did she not know that it was he who was singing? His voice is only one of the most distinct in the world. Whatever, I guess she has other stuff on her mind than the music she's dancing to.)
We move to Kendra Wilkinson, whom Brooke refers to as "one of the season's most glamorous stars." That she's correct says more about the overall lack of glamour than it does about Kendra. Real talk! She dances to "Livin' La Vida Loca." Notice that her vida is "loca" not "glamorosa." Through montage, we revisit classical week, America week and guilty pleasures week. They are much as we experienced the first time, just briefer.
Then that boxing announcer that I called "fake" when he did this earlier this season bellows out an announcement that Chris Jericho and Sugar Ray Leno will be going head-to-head ... one after the other. Sugar Ray reprises his "My Prerogative" dance. Chris does his "Let It Rock." He does the flinging-Cheryl-across-the-floor thing again well. The dance concludes with a faux standoff between Sugar Ray and Chris. Masculinity in motion! It's at least more butch than West Side Story. Which is to say: very, obviously. Chris does an impression of Bruno that brings down the house. Great. Very accomplished, that Jericho.
We see Wendy Williams "interviewing" herself about her time on Dancing through the magic of split-screen technology. This is exactly what a remake of The Parent Trap should look like. It's a very incisive statement on narcissism in '11. Brooke then live interviews Wendy, who's wearing a bedazzled, studded pink strapless dress that seems calculated to scandalize the anti-cleavage set. It's a very incisive statement on Samantha Fox-fashion in '11.
The Go-Go's perform "We Got the Beat." They're on tour this summer. How many reunions before being on tour together stops being something that we get excited about? I don't know, but I have a feeling the Go-Go's will tell us some day soon! There's something really matter-of-fact about their performance, though — they're just a bunch of girls in a band doing their thing with no palpable veteran-act desperation or anything. Seems like a feat to me. So their delivery is not troubling, but the fact that Belinda Carlisle seems unable to open her eyes might be...?
Oh boy, here comes he who believes that children are our future the most, Romeo. Ha! I seriously typed that before "The Greatest Love of All" came on. How perfect. My laughter at this song choice reminds me how I used to be. Oh god, a children's choir is singing at the end. Many of its constituents look diabolical in an Orphan kind of way. I believe that adult little people masquerading as children to ruin families through parental seduction are our actual future. I really do. After the dance Mario reiterates the fact that he really does believe that kids are the future. When will pop culture realize that this goes without saying? That thinking otherwise would be absolutely foolhardy? Really, I'd like to hear a song arguing that the elderly are the future just for the sake of a counterpoint.
(I missed a montage that I think involved injuries while contemplating "The Greatest Love of All." I think my time was well spent.)
Next up, Ralph and Karina reprise their "Pencil Full of Lead" dance. It's full of ironically wiggly limbs. No lead in those! Tom introduces another flashback montage by saying, "This season..." He's been saying that all night. I'm starting to recoil in Pavlovian response. It leads into a few minutes worth of judges' sound bites edited for maximum rhythmic capability. It's all set to a crazy beat that sounds like it was played on toy percussive instruments. I guess it's better than watching people get hurt again. Tom says it's his new ringtone. He must just let his phone ring and ring and ring.
Tom talks to the semi-finalists. Kirstie's doing a dance she did 10 weeks ago. That'll make for easy contrast. Tom asks Hines about taking over the "twinkle toes" title from Emmett Smith. Hines says he and Emmett are going to have a "twinkle toes" battle in the parking lot. Things are only getting more macho as the night progresses. If someone doesn't end up settling an argument by playing jacks by the end of this episode, I'm going to feel let down.
Chelsea and Mark are the first up for their final dance. They choose their Viennese waltz to reprise. We see footage from their last rehearsal. Chelsea cried a lot. Let's see if it prepared her adequately for tonight! Their waltz certainly seems magical, with lights flashing on pointed cue and giant sweeping motions that telegraph, "Presto!" Len says that Chelsea is a fantastic dancer, no matter tonight's outcome. It's as though he knows something already! Bruno says, "Bellissima bravissima!" Carrie Ann starts her criticism by saying that not everyone may have known who Chelsea was before this show. I'm sure Chelsea hears nothing else after such a comment. Way to puncture the fragile celebrity ego and let your words get in the way of all else, Carrie Ann!
Kirstie and Maksim are up next. Kirstie says she chose to redo her cha-cha for sentimental reasons, since it was their first dance/date. Their cha-cha looks good, as does Maksim's chest under his suit jacket (he's not wearing a shirt, of course). Bruno says Kirstie saved the best for last and that it was "100 percent fruit cocktail of effervescent flamboyant fun." Takes one to know one? Carrie Ann says she saw authentic, transformation and maybe magic. Len calls it her best dance.
Finally: Hines and Kym. They settled on redoing the samba, which Hines particularly likes because it was dedicated to his mom. During rehearsal, Hines stripped down to his Under Armour. Revealing! Their performance seems a little low energy, clumsy and over-emphasized on Hines' part. But who needs my opinion when we have judges telling us what to think! Carrie Ann says Hines is the MVP (we see a stray shot of Sarah Palin clapping in the audience while Carrie Ann gets herself together, for all you Where's Sarah? players out there). Len and Bruno are similarly full of praise.
"Season 3 favorite" Sara Evans performs "A Little Bit Stronger" as a split-screen montage of the Top 3's season-long highlights plays behind her. Just for this episode, this show should be renamed Montaging with the Dancers.
After the song, it's time to announce the third place couple. It's Chelsea and Mark. Not a surprise, but perhaps not fair, either. Tom says they don't have any time to talk and doesn't even so much put the microphone in Chelsea's face as she says thank you to everyone. She's supposed to do her post-losing dance with Mark, but they just seem to stay locked in a hug in center stage. She's not dancing but her emotions certainly are.
After a commercial break, the champions are revealed: Hines and Kym! Hines truly has earned being referred to as the best football player ever to dance on this show! Kirstie says something we can't hear when she realizes she lost. It looks like "motherf---er." Let's pretend it's exactly that because: awesome. Hines seems pretty unmoved. I think he's taking emotional communication lessons from Brooke. Brooke asks Kirstie for final words. Because she's dying, you see. Kirstie says it's been an adventure and thanks Maks. Maksim thanks her for an amazing season. Hines wields his mirror ball trophy over his head as gold confetti rains down on him. Tonight belongs to all the twinkle toes of the world.