The first half of a Dancing with the Stars two-night finale is always infuriating because you get all the finale fanfare without any of the actual results. Who wins? Nobody we just see one more couple go home and then get a tune in tomorrow for the REAL finale!
We did get some pretty cool dances though, and the redemption round is always fun. We get to see routines we kind of recognize, and the dancers get a second chance to turn a dud into a darling. The freestyle round sometimes gets bizarre, but that's half the fun, right?
The dance: The Paso Doble was not friendly to Drew the first time around, getting absolutely terrible notes from the judges. This time he took their notes about keeping his posture in check and trying to get the technique down. Now that we've reached the finale though, Drew has finally lost that "deer in the headlights" look he's always got during routines. Maybe he's finally realized that the show is almost over, so he can just stop stressing about it and have fun? The silky black shirt didn't hurt matters either.
What the judges said: Bruno called attention to a "foot fault" on one of the turns (I'm pretty sure that happens in tennis, not dancing, Bruno), but Carrie Anna clarified — Drew stepped on Emma's toes at one point. Drewwwww, that's the cardinal sin of dancing, ask any eighth-grade girl! Julianne Hough brought it home though, bringing attention to Drew's progress and confidence and giving him the title of Most Improved Contestant.
Not too shabby Drew. You're still in this thing!
The dance: Frankie's newfound confidence got put to the test when Carrie challenged him to do a solo during his revamped Foxtrot, and he actually pulled it off with a healthy dose of swagger. Frankie always works best when he gets to play a character while dancing, and this was the perfect routine for that. He let the inner razzle-dazzle take over.
What the judges said: "You had form you had shape you had confidence!" Carrie Ann cheered for him in the judges round. Len still wasn't a huge fan of his frame, but Julianne came through yet again with the praise. If only we could have heard what she was trying to say over the super bizarre audience member who screamed — SCREAMED like Justin Bieber himself had walked out on stage and ripped his shirt off — when Julianne called him boyish. Um... security?
Now that's a score to scream over.
The dance: The last time these two danced the Charleston, they got a lot of crap from Len about the lack of actual Charleston in the steps. Lindsay got a little wild with the choreography the first time around, so she pulled it back in and gave Len a more palatable routine this week. What I wouldn't give to be one of those audience members who got to be part of the background of this dance though — talk about front row seats. Lindsay and Jordan made it FUN once again, and this time you could really see how fast Jordan's feet were moving because they were in bright neon pink shoes!
What the judges said: Len was 100% pleased with the changes Lindsay made, and Julianne was literally speechless. "When I watch you guys, I become a fan," Julianne said, adding that it's doubly hard to make that happen when she knew she was supposed to be judging. The best note was definitely that they just felt like two dancers at a club who grabbed each other and started dancing, rather than making it a stiff, choreographed routine.
Another perfect score. Do they have more perfect scores than not perfect scores at this point??
The dance: I, personally, would be so pissed off if I got Julianne Hough as my personal coach and then had to video conference her instead because I was touring. Just saying. Maybe they made it up to Lindsey with that gorgeous dress she got to wear for this Quickstep? These routines have been getting longer and longer, mostly because with less people there's more time for the dances, so the routines get more challenging. Frankly though, this seemed excessive.
What the judges said: "Am I right or am I right? That was a long Quickstep," Julianne noted, proving me right about this dance being a freaking marathon. The length of this dance only made the judges more impressed that she stayed in hold that whole time and didn't miss a step.
Lindsey and Jordan are going to duke this perfect score grudge match out until the bitter end, aren't they?
Drew Scott & Emma Slater - Freestyle - "The Ding-Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line" by Cherry Poppin' Daddies
The dance: Drew and Emma made a concentrated effort to incorporate dance styles that he's struggled with in previous routines (instead of just highlighting the stuff he's good at), which is definitely to be applauded — in theory. In practice... it went okay. Drew still had trouble with the synchronicity factor, but they both totally killed it with all those lifts. And stopping the dance halfway through to pretend to take a break? Classic.
What the judges said: Drew is now a "hot property" in Len's eyes, and the judges were all very impressed by the tricks, flips and kicks Drew and Emma managed to nail. Carrie Ann did notice the synchronicity problems, proving I should totally be a judge on this show next season.
That's the closest Drew's gotten to a perfect score all season!
Frankie Muniz & Witney Carson - Freestyle - "Run Boy Run" by Woodkid
The dance: Darn those producers for making Witney second guess her "power" over "playful" decision for this routine. Frankie never gets good notes when he goes for the goofy stuff. When he's a sexy pirate or a creepy stalker though? He gets rave reviews! Sure, the dance was a little on the strange side, but it worked in a wonderfully weird way. Just listen to the crowd! It's not every day the entire crowd starts cheering your name at the end of your routine. It kind of brought Frankie and Witney to tears too, which is what we're all watching for, right?
What the judges said: The judges loved that Frankie trusted Witney to know best and come out powerful instead of playing it safe. Carrie Ann noticed he lost steam in the middle of the dance (again, they're marathons), but she admired his dedication to trying to keep going through something that taxing. The spirit of the dance was definitely the panel's favorite part.
I feel like this score personifies Frankie's journey this year. So close to perfect that it practically counts.
Jordan Fisher & Lindsay Arnold - Freestyle -"Puttin' on the Ritz 2017 (Jazzy Radio Mix)" by Taco feat. tomX
The dance: I'm not sure I totally sympathize with "the pressure of fans expecting to see Jordan in the finale" and the toll it took every week getting there, but I totally sympathize with Jordan continually dropping props and screwing up in rehearsal hours before the performance because of nerves. That's totally fair. He nailed it in the final show though, and he didn't drop anything — more importantly, no one dropped him. At this point, writing how much Jordan rocked it is just repetitive, so I'll skip right to the judges portion.
What the judges said: Bruno called it a "sensational, show-stopping number" and Julianne said it was "everything but the kitchen sink." Julianne also made a good note that dancing with Jordan is probably fun for the pros because they get to go full out instead of tempering their performance to not outshine a subpar celeb. Carrie Ann is even sadly counting down to only two more numbers they get to watch from him. Sounds like they're a heartbeat away from engraving his name on the mirror ball already.
I should just start filling out Jordan and Lindsay's scores in advance. Perfect from top to bottom.
Lindsey Stirling & Mark Ballas - Freestyle - "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor feat. Styles of Beyond/"Palladio" by Escala (Medley)
The dance: Holy crap. Okay the premise of this dance was that they were supposed to be playing each other like instruments (get it, because she's a violinist?), and it totally worked. And then out of nowhere Lindsey pulls out a violin and starts playing?? I have to think that she probably wasn't actually playing the violin because that would be nuts, but the effect was the same. Awesome. Not to mention, she's back at it with the crazy lifts, so it looks like her bruised rib is healed. Just in time for the finals!
What the judges said: Lindsey is the last woman standing, and Carrie Ann had to give her a shoutout to that. "That was you on crack dancing your super symphony!!" she raved. Len called it "the war on the floor" and basically confirmed that Jordan and Lindsey are duking this out for the title.
I have no words. Totally deserved.
Elimination: This elimination was heartbreaking because it's never fun to be so close but no cigar. Jordan Fisher and and Lindsey Stirling were obviously first picked for the finals, but it was always going to come down to Frankie and Drew anyways. Sadly, Drew Scott and Emma Slater were not fated to win that mirrorball, and they went home.
The second half of the Dancing with the Stars finale airs Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 9/8c on ABC.