It's the first night of Dancing with the Stars' Season 20 finale, with the three finalists - Noah Galloway/Sharna Burgess, Riker Lynch/Allison Holker and Rumer Willis/Val Chmerkovskiy - making one final play for votes before tomorrow night's two-hour results extravaganza. And, as Tom Bergeron points out, none of the remaining pros has ever won before!
Each of the pairs will perform two dances tonight - one freestyle and a repeated dance of their choosing. How did they all do?
Noah and Sharna
Dance 1: Argentine tango
The dance: The dance is good, but does nothing to convince me that Noah is anything more than the weakest link among the three finalists. He noticeably stumbles more than once and nearly drops Sharna during their lift. Not sure this was the best dance they could have picked for a do-over.
What the judges say: Len predicts it's going to be a tight final, and adds that the dance was a little "unsteady," but demonstrates how Noah has improved. Julianne points out that Noah's attitude and commitment have improved. Bruno believes that Noah's nerves came into play and "spoiled" the dance. Carrie Ann drops any sugar-coating and says the routine was hard for her to watch and she's worried about Noah.
Score: 32 (out of 40)
The dance: Sharna wants to show Noah's vulnerable side for their freestyle (a mashup of Sia's "Titanium" and Coldplay's "Fix You"). This dance soars above their tango, with Sharna's choreography bordering on brilliant, both in the message it conveys about Noah's resilience, and in the fact that it emphasizes his upper body strength rather than his weaker footwork.
What the judges say: All four give the pair a standing ovation, with Len noting that Noah has had the hardest and longest journey of any contestant, concluding with a dance he calls "amazing." Julianne says the dance embodied what a freestyle is supposed to be, and she and Bruno both gush over the choreography. Carrie Ann thanks Noah for being such an inspiration.
Riker and Allison
Dance 1: Paso doble
The dance: Captain Jack is back! Riker and Allison wisely decide to revisit their Pirates of the Caribbean-themed paso, arguably Riker's breakout moment this year. And they achieve the impossible - taking the routine, which was nearly perfect to begin with, up a notch to completely flawless. It's sharp, precise, and proves just how far Riker has come in this competition. No nerves on display here!
What the judges say: Julianne can barely be heard over the screams from the crowd, but tells Riker and Allison that they did a great job of harnessing their energy this time around. Bruno loves how well Riker brings Captain Jack Sparrow to life. Carrie Ann is giddy, telling Riker he owns his spot in the finals. And Len, in a rare display of exuberance, stands up and calls the dance "epic."
The dance: I'm sorry to say that the first part of Riker and Allison's freestyle leaves me yawning. And I'm not a fan of the constant changes in tempo throughout. From a technical standpoint, the dancing is great, but emotionally it's no match for the routine we just saw from Noah and Sharna, and I'm left feeling like I just watched a poor man's version of an 'N Sync video.
What the judges say: Julianne says this is "a true freestyle" if she's ever seen one. Bruno calls Riker a modern-day Fred Astaire, and Carrie Ann compliments his showmanship. Len also says that Fred Astaire would give the dance - which he calls a perfect blend of past and present - his blessing.
Rumer and Val
Dance 1: Foxtrot
The dance: Rumer felt like she lacked a little bit of confidence the first time around on the foxtrot, but this time she acts like she owns the ballroom. Even better than her error-free footwork? The expression of pure joy on her face as she and Val match each other step for step.
What the judges say: Bruno calls their routine "ballroom bliss" and says Rumer is a star on her own merit thanks to being on this show. Carrie Ann describes the routine as "pure, exquisite poetry in motion." Len says it's Rumer's season, and Julianne says it was flawless.
The dance: The cover version of Britney Spears' "Toxic" that Rumer and Val dance to features him on violin and her on vocals. At first I was thinking that could be a recipe for disaster, but it turns out Rumer has some vocal chops too. And, for what some might call their second Fifty Shades of Grey-themed routine of the season, Rumer and Val treat us to a seductive, sensual dance that relies heavily on tango elements and leaves a lasting impression of what a great connection these two have had from Day 1.
What the judges say: Bruno says it was "perfect" and "bewitching." Carrie Ann calls tonight's final "off the charts." Len compliments them for using just the two of them and not relying on a group of people. (Is that a not-so-subtle dig at Riker and Noah?). Julianne also loves it.
And there you have it, Dancing fans! What was your favorite dance of the night? Who do you think will take home the Mirrorball on Tuesday? And which freestyle routine would you like to see on the results show?
Part 2 of the Dancing with the Stars Season 20 finale airs Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC.
VIDEO: Dancing's Derek teaches us how to tango!