This week's "Dancing With the Stars" finale was spectacular, as each All Star put her best foot forward. While this is still anyone's game, I think Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani deserve to win.
Melissa & Tony Achieve Perfection & Redemption
Melissa and Tony kicked off their performances with a samba that Bruno Tonioli called "deliciously irresistible." The judges also praised her improved confidence this season. Melissa and Tony earned a perfect 30.
They continued their winning streak with a contemporary freestyle that included an picturesque balletic lift, showcasing her graceful lines and extensions. Given that contemporary was outside the area of Tony's specialty, they were taking a huge risk with this performance. However, they knew that they couldn't afford to play it safe. They were seeking redemption after their lackluster hip-hop freestyle from season 8.
The judges awarded them another perfect score. (Len Goodman wished that he had an 11).
Kelly & Val Have the Time of Their Lives
Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy began the night with a reprise of their week 3 paso doble. The judges praised their sizzling performance, and Bruno called her a "fire angel." The judges awarded Kelly and Val ad 29.5. (Carrie Ann Inaba had taken off half a point for a small bobble).
In the sky box, Kelly dodged questions about her showmance with Val. However, we saw plenty of chemistry during their super-sized freestyle. Their "Dirty Dancing" routine featured Kelly doing aerial moves, Val serenading her on violin, and members of the "DWTS" troupe. The judges praised the routine, and Bruno commented that Patrick Swayze was smiling down on them.
Kelly and Val earned a 29.5 for their freestyle, for a total of 59/60 for the night.
Shawn & Derek Bend the Rules
Shawn and Derek decided to reprise their crowd-pleasing, but rule-breaking quickstep. As expected, the judges praised them for pushing boundaries and taking risks, but had to penalize them for lifts and for breaking hold. Shawn and Derek earned a score of 27.
Their freestyle was an Olympic gold medal extravaganza, accompanied by the Fab Five (no, not "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.")--Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and McKayla Maroney. The judges awarded them a perfect score, giving Shawn and Derek a 57/60 for the night.
Who Should Win?
Any of the three finalists could win "Dancing With the Stars." In addition to her devoted soap opera fan base, Kelly has the "underdog" voters (including fans of Kirstie Alley). Fans also love her showmance with Val.
And Kelly has proven herself as the most improved dancer of the competition (especially when compared to her first few weeks on season 1). She has shown audiences that everyday people can accomplish great things.
Meanwhile, Shawn is the front-runner, having an Olympic work ethic, and a devoted fan base. I would very surprised if she didn't win, especially after that freestyle.
However, Shawn and Derek seem to have developed a sense of entitlement this season, the idea that they are somehow above the rules. We get that they are "performing for the audience, not the judges," but it all seems a bit self-indulgent and gimmicky.
Melissa and Tony deserve to win this Mirrorball Trophy. They are the ones who have consistently delivered the goods and taken risks (within the rules). And Tony's choreography has exceeded all expectations this season.
Was Shawn's freestyle a gold medal-winning performance? Did she and Derek make the right decision to reprise their rule-breaking quickstep? Did Kelly prove herself as a strong contender this season? Did Melissa and Tony make the right choice to go contemporary for the freestyle?
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