Dancing with the Stars, Season 23, Week 11, Finals, Night 2


Dancing with the Stars ends the season in a whirl of multiple locations, artificial snow, and perfect fusion dances.

At some point, the finale setups Dancing with the Stars does at the Grove are going to lose the ability to top themselves. But this is not that season. In order to stretch themselves out, they have to make the opening number include the surrounding buildings and go on through setup after glittery setup, but they have topped themselves once again.

Everyone begins the results show at the Grove, though they’ve got a sleigh to run them back and forth from the ballroom during commercial breaks. The top three couples, of course, will perform a final round of dancing, but first, there must be filler. As well as the normal recaps:

  • Highlights of last night, which includes an amusing moment of Val tickling Laurie’s feet, but less of Calvin’s son than one would expect.
  • The finalists are also doing reprises, of their favorites dances. James & Sharna start out with their quickstep from Cirque du Soleil Week.
  • Andy Grammer performs a new single, “Fresh Eyes.” while former partner Allison Holker and Keo Motsepe totally steal the spotlight from him. They’re on the floor for a surprising amount of the number, and really steam the floor up.
  • Calvin & Lindsay’s favorite dance reprise is their Argentine Tango to “Hotel California.” The audience is happy to cheer even at the famous musical introduction.
  • Mauren McCormick is first shown getting swooney over a couple of the guys, before she & Artem Chingvintsev do a version of her Week 1 Viennese Waltz where swoon objects Babyface and Ryan Lochte come out to participate in the routine’s finish!
  • A segment they call “Behind the Glitter” takes us through the dress rehearsal, with lots of hilarious outtakes
  • It seems they couldn’t get Amber Rose back, so Maks Chmerkovskiy performs their “Woman Up” samba with a bunch of the female pros instead.
  • Laurie & Val do their trio with Maks from last week, because of course they do. Then they change the ending so it’s the brothers sambaing together, because of course they do that too.
  • Vanilla Ice raps “Ice Ice Baby” while he and Witney Carson reprise their Cha Cha Cha to it at the Grove. They also incorporate Rick Perry & Emma Slater into it. Thankfully the former does very little actual dancing.
  • A fluff piece highlights the cast’s visit to Children’s Hospital LA, which apparently is something they do regularly.
  • Babyface joins American Idol alumnus Felicia Barton for a Christmas medley at the Grove, following her performing of “Grown Up Christmas List” with one of “Winter Wonderland,” with a *lot* of snow suddenly in the air and falling all around the pros accompanying them.
  • Obligatory male pros number with their chests bare and their generally being hot. Erin doesn’t intermingle in this one, if only because she did that in a Grove bumper earlier in the night. Calvin and James join in the fun instead!
  • Jana & Gleb get to reprise a favorite routine too. They go with their Argentine Tango. As if we didn’t already have steam coming out of our ears from that last number…
  • Terra and Marilu join up for a number to “Rocking Around the Christmas” tree where they, Sasha, and other pros actually get a tree set up on the stage at the Grove to rock around. It’s fun, though you do feel sad Derek’s apparently not here tonight.
  • Macys sponsors what they call one of the biggest numbers on Dancing with the Stars ever. It’s a charming story of a little girl who ventures into her TV screen, and their work with getting her into a winter wonderland truly is impressive. The gratuitous use of the red Macy’s star is distracting, though.
  • Preview performance for the We Came to Dance .tour It’s great to watch when the dancers aren’t being obscured by the weird pale blue streaks of light.
  • Comments on the finalists from the judges and each other. Are we finally getting to the performances?

Yes, we are! It’s time for the fusion dances, the combination of rhythms the last three couples spent the last 24 hours preparing:

James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess

Foxtrot/Viennese Waltz; “Over and Over Again” – Nathan Sykes feat. Ariana Grande

Normally the final fluffs are pretty similar, with the seeing of pictures of themselves on the walls and getting sentimental about the end. But James & Sharna up the ante even there, when he presents her with the jacket he wore during his first race post crash. From there we go from the dance. The perfect merging of rhythms, the romance in the air, the naturalness with which they do it. It all feels so effortless. Len wishes he could dance like James. Julianne just wants to dance with him. A set of straight 10s take them up to 117.

Calvin Johnson, Jr. & Lindsay Arnold

Jive/Quickstep; “Tutti Frutti” – Little Richard

This is certainly an ideal combination of rhythms for Calvin. Lindsay knows it, and she even choreographs him alone on the floor for the beginning, to delight us with his dancing without distraction. Though of course he continues to do that even when the two of them start tripping around the floor together. The combination of rhythms, tailored further to his strengths, is good enough Julianne calls it “the perfect fusion dance.” The judges talk a lot about his dancing in general, with Carrie Ann saying, “You may the world a better place when you dance.” Another set of straight 10s, and they finish with 115.

Laurie Henandez & Val Chmerkovskiy

Foxtrot/Argentine Tango; “We are the Ones” – Myon & Jenn Blosil

“Time for her to fly,” said Val, when they discuss having to say goodbye. Laurie certainly does so here. She nails the dance with her usual technical precision, and her usual intensity. But also the intensity’s a little more tempered; there’s no feeling of it being over the top, but simply what it should be. The final piece of the puzzle for perfection, maybe. Carrie Ann even calls it the best of all her dances, then says if she ever had a daughter she’d like her to be like Laurie! The other judges similarly rave, and break out one last set of straight 10s, so they keep their lead at 118.

Len and Julianne also talk about just wanting to know who won already, so everyone hustles back to the Grove. There Jana too shows up, as she accompanies the montage of the finalists with her new single, “Circles.” Then it’s time to announce third place. That really should be Calvin & Lindsay…and it is. Tom and Erin give them both some praise.

So now we’re down to the final two. The ones everyone have spent this season talking about. In most seasons, either James & Sharna or Laurie & Val would be an easy winner. But in this one there are two of them, and only one can win. There’s that point between them, but votes can always make a point up. No one had any idea which pair of names is going to come out of Tom’s mouth…

It’s Laurie & Val! She thanks everyone, something James does moments later when Erin interviews him. Val tells the younger viewers: “You don’t have to wait until you grow up to change the world.” Once Tom lures them away from where everybody’s hugging them, Laurie lifts the trophy, Val lifts her, and there’s so much confetti in the air you can hardly see Tom and Erin as they say goodbye.

Next: Dancing with the Stars, Season 23, Week 11, Finals, Night One

The show’s back in March. Perhaps we’ll get Simone Biles then, though even she will have quite a task topping the show her teammate’s put on here. Maybe we’ll even get lucky and avoid the bad dancers we have to spend the first handful of weeks cringing through. But even if we don’t, it should turn out well in the end. It usually does. Until then, we can all keep stepping on.