Which couple won Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars? We finally know the answer to that question... after 120 minutes of glitz and glamour.
In keeping with tradition, the finale began with a trip down memory lane courtesy of the Parade of Fallen Stars. (Remember Billy Dee Williams and Sean Avery?!)
For the first performance, we got a repeat of James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd's freestyle dance from Monday, because they won the Twitter vote to do an encore—"overwhelmingly," according to Tom Bergeron—despite the fact that they were eliminated. (Awkward.) It was even better this time around, probably because the pressure was off. Ah well.
Then we got the group dance from "Team Loca," which they weren't able to perform live in Week 7 because Amy went to the hospital. It was nice to see Danica and Val cutting a rug again. I wonder how she felt about dancing this number with the Top 3 finalists. And wow, such sass from Candace with that shimmy! She looked even more comfortable than Meryl. Everyone was pulling out all the stops for the finale.
That was followed by Iggy Azalea—who apparently doesn't realize that DWTS really, actually for real, is live—performing her single "Fancy" with Charli XCX. Note to Iggy: When performing on a live show, you generally can't stop mid-number to complain about your in-ear monitors. (Jeez, even the kids on American Idol know that much.) Her faux pas, and Val's panicked expression, were pretty much the highlight of that number.
Throughout the night, in addition to several self-congratulatory montages looking back on the season, we also saw (in no particular order): two performances from last year's champ, Amber Riley; Nene Leakes, flanked by some of the female pros; and Meryl and Charlie White—though the first part of their dance, sadly, was cut off.
Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke performed a jive, and James and Peta brought back their Michael Jackson number. Danica and Val recreated their Beauty and the Beast quickstep, and Charlie and Sharna revisited their Mary Poppins number. (Charlie didn't drop the cane, but this time the damn umbrella broke and flew off to the side. He can't win.) And Cody Simpson performed his atrocious new single "Surfboard." Sigh, are we there yet?
As we crossed the halfway mark, 11-year-old pixie Ariana Grande was awoken from her winter sleep and bursted forth from a flower to perform her single "Problem."
Side note: It's hilarious how hard DWTS tried to placate the Maks and Meryl 'shippers. It's too bad—anyone who developed a drinking game based on cute M&M moments or the playing of Pharrell's "Happy" won't be able to see who the winner is, because they're clearly dead by now.
Alright, let's get down to business!
Each of the couples performed one final routine, which they'd had one day to learn. The judges' scores on each pair's 24-hour fusion challenge counted for half of their final total.
Amy & Derek
The dance: Amy and Derek fused the tango and cha-cha, and while they've faced some backlash as of late about Derek relying too much on lifts and flashy choreography to overcompensate for Amy's injury, that argument wouldn't hold water for this final number. Amy's footwork was as impressive as it's ever been. She and Derek still don't hold a candle to Maks and Meryl in the chemistry and grace departments, though.
What the judges said: "You are a fantastic dancer," Len stressed to Amy, and Bruno told her she's "right up there with the best," both in her dancing and her determination. Carrie Ann said she could write a novel about how much she loves Amy. ("We don't have that much time," Tom hilariously deadpanned.)
Candace & Mark
The dance: Candace was back to being a little tense for their quickstep-samba fusion, definitely a result of having only learned the dance that morning. But she looked stunningly gorgeous in that red dress. This was an improvement over the duo's Monday routine, with more body contact, but both Candace and Mark reacted like a huge weight had been taken off their shoulders the second the song ends.
What the judges say: Bruno told Candace she's "adorable" and complimented her improvement throughout the competition. Carrie Ann enthusiastically leaned over the table, but her feedback was lost amid the audience's applause. Len praised Candace for her tenacity and said she's the "dark horse" of the competition, but had clearly won over the fans.
Meryl & Maks
The dance: M&M tackled the foxtrot and the cha-cha for their fusion. They both looked like they were having an absolutely fantastic time out there. (Maks looked like he could practically taste that Mirrorball, didn't he?!) The dance, while not as emotionally stirring as some of their earlier routines, was about as great as we've come to expect from these two. What more is there to say?
What the judges said: Carrie Ann said Meryl and Maks were the best part of Season 18 for her. Len dropped a bombshell, saying this could be his last season, and he couldn't think of a better dance to leave on. Bruno said the dance made the earth move for him.
So, heading into the elimination, the total scores were:
Meryl and Maks: 90
Amy and Derek: 89
Candace and Mark: 78
After Christina Perri sang her song "Human," *checks watch* we finally got to the results.
Third place: Candace and Mark
Runner-up: Amy and Derek
Winner: Meryl and Maks
This was Maks' first time winning the Mirrorball trophy, and he described winning with Meryl as "a dream come true. ... It was meant to happen with this one."
What did you think of the finale? Are you happy that Meryl and Maks won?
AIRED ON 5/24/2016
Season 22 : Episode 11