The show has been hyping this big final night, with the party taking place both at in the ballroom and outside the neighboring Grove Hotel. At least the opening lives up to that.
The show starts with an appearance from Santa, because the Grove is decked out for Christmas already like nobody’s business. (I suppose there’d be no point in commenting that it’s still not quite Thanksgiving yet?) The large opening number brings back the eliminated cast members (except Tamar Braxton, whose health doesn’t allow her to be here tonight.) Erin is also there, while Tom holds down the fort in the ballroom. The three finalists, of course, are in the ballroom as well, and they will do final 24-hour fusion dances later tonight.
But first, there must be recaps, and other filler numbers. Let’s shoot through them bullet point style.
With the official Dancing with the Stars YouTube channel out of commission, it is nearly impossible to get videos of most of tonight’s filler. Thanks YouTube Red.
- Chaka Khan singing “I’m Every Woman” at the Grove, with the female pros doing the dancing, as it should be for this song-although partner Keo Motsepe does pay a visit.
- Kim Zolciak-Biermann & Tony Dovolani are in the ballroom to perform the I Dream of Jeannie routine she was unable to do the week they were forced to withdraw. We politely try to forget we saw Tony do this with a fellow pro already.
- The ballroom also sees a preview of the upcoming “Dance All Night” tour, which certainly makes the tour look very good.
- In an attempt to embarrass Tom, they put together a montage of him saying various words that makes him speak the lyrics to Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance.” His bobblehead is also involved. It’s actually pretty hilarious.
- We endure Paula Deen’s return; she & Louis van Amstel do their Gilligan’s Island routine.
- They put together a montage telling the story of a great bromance between Carlos PenaVega & Alek , combining their day on the cruise ship & other footage from their team-up with other clips they freely admit are taken completely out of context. But even when Tom admits that, Alek appears and tells him it was all real.
- Carlos isn’t there to comment on that; he’s at the Grove, redoing the Magic Mike routine with the male pros, all of them wearing nothing above the waist but Santa hats, and they eventually lose those too. Erin gets herself into their company after the performance, of course.
- Back in the ballroom, Nick & Sharna do their Downtown Abbey waltz as a bumper, before Viktor Espinoza & Karina Smirnoff redo their week two jive.
- At the Grove, Andy Grammer performs “Good to Be Alive,” with male dancers; Allison is presumably too pregnant to perform.
- Alek & Lindsay are next to do a bumper, doing their week 2 Jazz.
- Outtakes montage, featuring Nick rapping, and much Gary Busey.
- Gary & Anna Trebunskaya then do their week 1 cha cha cha, where he doesn’t really do much.
- We are not without musical guest performances; Elle King performs “X’s & O’s” in the ballroom, with pro accompaniment.
- Hayes Grier & Emma Slater’s return performance turns out to be a bumper at the Grove of their contemporary from week 5, but that’s so Santa Claus can then announce he’s being added to the Dance All Night Tour.
- Alexa PenaVega & Mark Ballas’ encore is their Breaking Bad number. Seriously, lots of TV themes tonight.
- Twas the Night Before the Finale, narrated by Gary Busey as Santa, with Viktor as his elf and Paula as a cookie-making Mrs. Claus(well, can’t argue with the logic on that one). Of course they’ve done all they can with Gary.
- Bindi & Derek’s bumper is their Viennese Waltz from week 9, and they get Alexandra Jean performing her song live, and Mark playing the guitar beside her!
- After a brief holiday montage, at the Grove there’s a Christmas medley which as well as lots of dancing pros has Chaka & Andy teaming up to perform “Chaka, It’s Cold Outside”(Andy does his best to make this humourous, but still, you wish there’d been another duet for them to do).
And finally, a holiday message from Len Goodman: he’s loved the season, he has words for the finalists, and, oh yes, HE’S COMING BACK NEXT SEASON!!!! Seriously, this is the biggest thing happening tonight. Sure, the show survived the season without him, partly because the dancing managed to become ridiculously good at the end, but having Len back for the next one is still the best news ever.
But first we’ve got to have a proper finish to this one, and at last it’s time for the fusion dances the finalists have spent the past day preparing:
Nick Carter & Sharna Burgess: Salsa/Tango; “Turn Up the Music” Chris Brown. They’re glad to have the tango; they want a chance to do it better. And they do do it better. They do everything wonderfully, in fact, charging relentlessly through this dance until you’re grinning. Carrie Ann praises him for ending on “the highest up possible,” the other judges similarly rave, and they get a last set of straight Tens and end the final with a perfect 90.
Alek Skarlatos & Lindsay Arnold: Rumba/Tango; “A Sky Full of Stars” Coldplay. He has a good comment in the fluff when he describes the whole experience as “a great distraction from all the real events.” Presumably she spent the 24 hours drilling him on his hips, and they show improvement from last night, and the emotion that was already there still is no problem. Unfortunately, his feet go slightly wrong. The judges talk mostly about how far he’s come, then break out the straight Nines; they finish with a total of 84.
Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough: Cha Cha Cha/Argentine Tango; “All the Way” Timeflies. Really, it’s not fair to the other couples who have been on this season. Bindi & Derek get to preface their dance with an emotional fluff, and then when they come out and do it, they’re simply more sharp, more energetic, more on point, more joyful, and more plain perfect than any of the others could’ve been. “Another triumph for Bindi the Great!” roars Bruno, before the Ten paddles come up for a perfect 90, and Julianne even tries to take her One paddle up too for an Eleven, though she fumbles it.
But we’re not done at the Grove yet; right after those scores come up, Bindi, Derek, & Tom hurry out of the ballroom and to a buggy to be driven over during the commercial break. Everyone is reunited there, where Nick Carter is doing extra duty tonight, singing his new single, “I Will Wait,” interspersed with clips of the finalists.
Then it’s time to announce who’s in third place. Suspense may end here, because when they’re six points behind, if Alek and Lindsay got enough to get ahead of one of these couples, they likely got enough to get ahead of the other too…but no, they’re in third. It is actually a little sad; it would’ve been nice if this good hero could’ve gone all the way. He says sorry to Lindsay, who hastily insists he has nothing to be sorry for.
Then another commercial break now has everyone running back to their transport to return to the ballroom; the trophy will be presented there. To one of two couples both of whom have perfect scores. One of whom, Bindi & Derek, undisputedly deserve it. The other of whom, Nick & Sharna, have the guy who was more famous and had the devoted fans, and were this week one, he’d definitely be getting more votes. But is that true now? Or has Derek, despite all his recent shock eliminations that have kept him from getting title #6 for so long, finally managed to get it possibly with some luck, and also with a good emotional story, but also simply with deserving it this much?
HE HAS! Bindi & Derek are the winners! She won’t stop shrieking; Nick is more coherent as he shouts to Erin that Bindi deserved it–he has to shout, because the ballroom has gotten loud. A season end like this deserves no less.