This is it! Dancing with the Stars' 24th season is almost kaput, meaning tonight was the last chance for David, Rashad and Normani to show the world why they are the best (mostly) non-professional dancers in the entire universe! Tomorrow night we'll learn the verdict on who is declared that winner of the Mirrorball trophy, but tonight we get our final pieces of evidence.
Each dancer performed two routines — a redemption dance and a freestyle dance — to get their last points before the finale. And tomorrow's episode features something called a 24-hour fusion challenge, which sounds like torture, if you ask me. But hey, you only get one chance at the Mirrorball, everything else in life is secondary.
Tonight also marked an anomaly for Dancing with the Stars: a one-hour episode! What did you do with all that extra time you had in your life? Watch the clip of the judges reacting to Simone Biles' elimination 15 times in a row? Practice your Bruno hip thrusts in front of a mirror? Or did you spend time with your family who you never see on Monday nights? Don't get too comfortable with all this extra leisure time, though, tomorrow's finale is a crippling two-and-a-half hours long. Better hit Costco before then.
Let's review the dances and make our final picks for who should win, shall we?
Redemption Dance Round
The dance: If you need to see how much David has improved over the course of the week, here's your evidence! He glided, he slided, he rided that Viennese horse across the dance floor for one of his more elegant dances. But the thing with David that I can't quite get over is that I will always see David and Lindsay dancing together as a father-daughter wedding dance, and I think I've mentioned that about 14 times in my recaps this season. What that means is that it lacks a bit of pizazz, even if it is adorable. And sorry, adorable doesn't win Mirrorball trophies.
What the judges said: "It's truly a Cinderella story," said Len... right before telling him how he's not very good at the Viennese Waltz. "You glow out there," said Bruno. But really, everyone focused their comments on something along the lines of "It's really crazy that you made it to the finals, but we all love you!" Which is a nice way of saying, "Ehh."
The score: 33/40, not the type of finals score you hope for.
The dance: One reason I think the quickstep gives Normani a bit of trouble is because it's such a busy dance that it's hard for Normani's magnetic stage presence to take over. But here, Val's choreography allowed some of that Normani to shine through and make it her own, and it was a big improvement over the last time she stepped quickly. Plus, did you see that outfit that Normani was wearing? Yowza! Normani is still my favorite to win — she's been the most consistent and has shown steady improvement over the season. Don't blow it, America!
What the judges said: "Look at me, look at me... SMOKIN'," screamed Bruno. "That was brrrrrrilliant!" Len said it was a little too "speedy" to which everyone replied, it's a quick step. Who knows what really goes inside Len's head.
The score: 38/40, with Carrie Ann and Bruno dishing out the 10s.
The dance: Hooooo boy, shots fired! This sultry and slinky number was one of Rashad's best dances — probably the best — and perfectly suited to Rashad's style of power and technique. It was athletic, it was sensual, and it was smooth. Every issue the judges had with Rashad before was demolished in this dance as he put everything together for the perfect dance. This is what the show is all about.
What the judges said: "Just the right amount of sexual tonality," said Bruno, and he complimented him on his footwork. "You have magic happening, the thing we can't put words to," said Carrie Ann. "I saw improvement in every level of that dance," said Len.
The score: 40/40, Rashad and Emma killed it.
Freestyle Dance Round
The dance: Disclaimer: The only thing I love more than dome-related catastrophes on television is baseball, so David and Lindsay's baseball-themed dance was a ton of fun to watch. Using a bunch of extra dancers, the two threw popcorn, danced on a dugout and featured coordinated swings with prop bats. At one point, the dancers made a makeshift ladder out of bats and Lindsay climbed up it and then forward flipped off the top rung (with the help of a few dancers)! That. Was. Dope. Lindsay's creativity with her choreography and willingness to toss her body from extreme heights is a blast. Good fun, lots of baseball, and David's skills as a showman. That's what you want from David, that's what you want from a freestyle, and that's what we got.
What the judges said: "The only thing missing was a beer and a hot dog, I loved it!" said Len. "Everyone has their personal best, and it looks differently, but tonight you gave us your personal best," said Carrie Ann.
The score: 40/40, a real showstopper!
The dance: Such a stark contrast from David's routine! It was mostly just Normani and Val dancing a sweet number with elegance. It was beautiful, if not an all that exciting or creative use of the freestyle format, and was another look at Normani's purity. But it was also a revealing examination of who Normani is, and the person we've come to know. So maybe it wasn't as fun as David's routine, but it was the exact opposite of the spectrum of what dance means to people, and that's just as important. Will America recognize that?
What the judges said: "It was like watching angels dancing," said Bruno.
The score: 40/40, perfection.
The dance: Things were hype for Rashad's dance, as the energetic number blew the roof off the joint. Spectacularly choreographed with some gritty street dancing, wonderful stage lighting, and some realness, Rashad choreographed much of this number himself which is the perfect way to put himself into the number. I saw a few stumbles, but it didn't matter as the force that is Rashad took over and made this a total blast.
What the judges said: "BLOWN AWAY," Bruno bellowed. "You are naughty because you have been holding out on us, that is how you TURN THIS MOTHER OUT," said Carrie Ann. "That was so good I could even put up with the music," said Len, echoing me.
The score: 40/40, rounding out the triple perfectos for the freestyle round. Rashad is in the lead heading into the finals.
Who do you think will win now?
Dancing with the Stars airs its finale Tuesday, May 23 at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.