It’s the final round of Dancing With the Stars, and the stakes couldn’t be higher (well, other than in the final round of every other season of Dancing With the Stars, of course). Tonight the finalists — veteran Noah Galloway, Hollywood scion Rumer Willis and struggling pop star/Hough family relation Riker Lynch — will compete in two rounds of dance. First comes a repeat performance of a dance from earlier in the season. The real test will come with the freestyle, where emotions rule and stories are told, plus lots of fog, spotlights and shadows, so if you’re playing a drinking game where you have to take a shot for dramatic lighting, you should be well toasted by the end of the show.
Here’s what happened in the finals:
Round One: Repeat Performances
Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess: As they head into the finals, Noah has stars in his eyes and thinks he really has a shot at winning this thing. He and Sharna returned to their solid, if not especially stunning Argentine tango. The lack of drama was mostly due to the strangely poppy song choice of Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be,” which lacked some much-needed gravity. The judges spent a lot of time talking about how tight the final round of competition always is and how Noah should be proud of himself for making it so far and reminding him that he had one more dance in the final to go. That was basically a nice way of saying his lifts were shaky, his footwork was wobbly, and better luck next time, without actually saying any of that to a veteran. Luckily for Noah, the producers cut to his newly minted fiancée frequently to remind viewers to vote not just for Noah, but for love. 32/40
Riker Lynch and Allison Holker: Captain Jack Sparrow is back for another Pirates of the Caribbean–themed paso doble. For their repeat performance, Riker bearded up and put on his big-boy pantaloons for another go-round of the frenetic number he debuted during Disney week. By the end of the piratical paso, the audience were on their feet and cheering — and not just because the producers made them. Even Len Goodman gave them a standing ovation, calling it “epic” and a “swashbuckling” performance. 40/40
Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy: Rumer headed back to church for another attempt at her foxtrot to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” Once again it was full of dramatic lines, sharp angles and everything that the judges love. Bruno Tonioli shouted out Rumer’s impressive lineage, while calling her “dancing royalty.” Len said he knew way back in the beginning of the season that this was her year, and he still believes it. Cut to a shot of Bruce Willis in the audience crying his eyes out, while Erin Andrews shakes her head and intones, “Die hard, baby, die hard.” 40/40
Round Two: Freestyle
Noah and Sharna: Noah cracks a little under pressure, and admits that he wishes he had the dance skills of Riker and Rumer, but his body holds him back. He thinks he brings something else to the table though, and thinks Sharna really tapped into his story in the dance. He proves that correct in a heartbreaking freestyle routine set to a mashup between David Guetta’s and Sia’s “Titanium” and Coldplay’s “Fix You” for the extra punch in the gut. Len, who has never been Noah’s biggest booster, admits “that was amazing.” Erin had to shoo Red Foo from the set before the judges could weigh in on the routine. Julianne Hough thought the dance was beautiful and “a celebration,” Carrie Ann Inaba called it art, and Bruno thought the choreographer was perfect. 40/40
Riker and Allison: For their freestyle, Allison choreographed a Jazz Age number set to a swinging funky version of Frank Sinatra’s “I Won’t Dance.” Riker looked dapper in white tails, and while he lost his timing a bit doing a flip, the judges didn’t care. Time was running out on the live show, so the judges rushed through their critiques, but Bruno summed it up when he called Riker “Fred Astaire reborn.” 40/40
Rumer and Val: There were only six minutes left in the show when Rumer and Val took to the ballroom floor, but while Tom and Erin may have been sweating, Rumer and Val looked completely cool. Their freestyle was based on their shared trauma of being compared to people: for Val, it’s always following after his brother Maks, while Rumer grew up in her parents’ shadows. They chose to set their freestyle to a slinky, slowed-down cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic,” probably because their therapists told them to. In a judging blur, with only a minute left in the show, Carrie Ann called her “a dancer’s dancer.” 40/40
Best Reason to Come Back Tomorrow: Someone is taking off their Spanx and taking home a Mirror Ball Trophy.
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