'Dancing with the Stars' Season 18 Finale Recap: Who Wins the Mirror Ball?
'Dancing with the Stars' Season 18 Finale Recap: Who Wins the Mirror Ball?
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
The end is here. After 10 weeks of exciting action, season 18 of Dancing with the Stars comes to a close. Meryl Davis, Amy Purdy and Candace Cameron Bure are the last three women standing, and after one last dance and plenty of filler, the winner will be revealed.

Poll: Who Will Win?>>

It's safe to assume that Candace has no chance since she's so far behind on the leaderboard that she'd need to beat both Meryl and Amy by more than 5 percent of the viewer vote. So it's really between Meryl and Amy, which means it's also between their pro partners, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Derek Hough.

Recap: The Top 4 Perform Their Freestyles>>

Either way, it will be a historic ending. If Meryl and Maks win, it will be his first ever victory after 14 seasons of competition. Also, if they get a perfect 30 for their final dance, they will officially become the highest-scoring couple in the 18-season history of DWTS. If Amy and Derek win, it will be his sixth victory, including three seasons in a row.

LIVE...from Hollywood...this is the Dancing with the Stars season 18 finale!

Besides three fusion dances, we've also got season 17 winner Amber Riley, Christina Perri, Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX and this season's contestant Cody Simpson all performing. You can actually make up an amusing sentence using the five one-word titles of the songs they'll perform: "The Colorblind Human has a Problem riding the Fancy Surfboard."

All of the contestants of season 18 return for the opening group number, which includes Billy Dee Williams dancing with Storm Troopers.

Tom Bergeron claims Candace and Mark's 24 was the lowest score ever for a Freestyle. Obviously he's blocked Marie Osmond's 22 for her doll routine in season 5 from his mind. Lucky him.

Freestyle Encore: James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd

Huzzah, the eliminated couple won the Twitter war to repeat their Freestyle from last night. In other words, we get another chance to see this sexy hip-hop routine, ending with a martial arts exhibition. I'm so happy Twitter was nice and gave them this consolation prize.

Team Loca

Remember when Amy's back spasm forced one of the team dances to get sidelined on Latin Night, meaning they showed the dress rehearsal instead? Well, now they get to do it live, with the three finalists and Danica and Val. I like it more than the dress rehearsal version, but I still get annoyed when the loudest applause goes to Derek for lifting Amy. The cheers are always for something that Derek does, not something that Amy does.

The Final 3 pros talk about the Final 3 stars. Maks is surprised that Candace is in the finale and he somehow says that Amy earned every point she got without laughing. But his contempt is obvious when he mentions that Derek knows how to play the game and win. Maks is kind of like the nerd in high school who complains when he loses the class president election to the dumb, popular jock.

"Fancy" by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX

I don't really like this song, nor do I enjoy the random prom theme that accompanies the performance. Whatever, I guess they need filler for two hours.

Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke: Jive

After a brief snippet of Amber Riley singing, these two take the stage. It's fun and goofy, just like Drew. I was way off in thinking he could've been a real contender this season, but I blame the success of Bill Engvall last season for tricking me.

That's followed by a montage of new co-host Erin Andrews being saucy and full of attitude. I haven't though much about her, but I guess she's not as bad as...what's her name? See, I've already forgotten who she replaced.

NeNe Leakes and the Ladies

After a brief bit of Charlie and Meryl dancing together, NeNe takes the stage with the female pros. She brings sass and attitude.

Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy: Quickstep

They redo their Disney dance inspired by Beauty and the Beast, which makes me happy because it was Danica's best performance, according to my slideshow (not to mention the only non-Meryl or James dance in my Top 10). She's so magical and deserved much better than sixth place.

"Surfboard" by Cody Simpson

I'm not an expert on music lyrics, but I'm pretty sure he's not telling the ladies to actually ride his "surfboard," if you know what I mean. I do enjoy that instead of random dancers during the routine, he steps down to dance a little with his partner, Witney Carson.

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: Jazz

They also reprise their Disney dance, the amazing Mary Poppins routine that was their best as well. This time he doesn't drop the cane! But he does drop the umbrella! It's hilarious and actually makes me love him even more, because he has this wonderful expression on his face when it happens, but then goes right back into it.

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: Cha-Cha-Cha

We're doubling down tonight on James and Peta with their Michael Jackson routine. Now that the season is over, I really hope they start dating. They would make an insanely cute couple.

"Problem" by Ariana Grande

As a fan of Cat Valentine from Victorious, it's impossible for me to take Ariana seriously as a pop star. I'm also weirded out by her pale, platinum blond male back-up dancers.

Mark makes fart noises and thinks Candace is like his grandma. Derek wants Amy's legs in their divorce. And Maks wants to have big, Russian, figure skating babies with Meryl named Boris and Oleg, both of whom are nicknamed "Bear." Maks is the best.

"Do Your Thing" by Amber Riley

DWTS season 17 winner Amber sings while surrounded by about a million pro dancers. She does a little bit of dancing, the same little bit that helped her win thanks to Derek's choreography. Then, after an hour and 15 minutes of filler, it's finally time for the 24-hour fusion challenge.

24-Hour Fusion Challenge

For their final dance to earn points from the judges, the Final 3 couples each had 24 hours to learn a new routine that combines two different styles.

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: Argentine Cha-ngo

They combine an Argentine Tango with a Cha-Cha-Cha. Their last rehearsal is super emotional. She does some dancing, which is good, but most of it is her standing there and the biggest applause comes from Derek's big lift. The judges use this as one last chance to talk about how inspirational she is and they try and trick us into thinking that she's a great dancer and she's "right up there with the best." Carrie Anne Inaba makes an unintentional pun by saying that Amy is "uplifting," which is funny because all she does is get lifted up.

Judges' Scores: 10+10+10=30

As always, she gets over-awarded for being merely decent.

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: Quick-Samba

They combine a Quickstep with a Samba. It's not half bad. Somehow having less time seems to make Candace a little better, maybe because she doesn't have time to overthink everything. It's still far from great and definitely not finale-worthy, but good for her.

Judges' Scores: 9+9+9=27

At least they didn't get any 10s. This just hits the nail even deeper into their third place coffin.

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Fox-Cha

They combine a Foxtrot with a Cha-Cha-Cha. It's one final glimpse of their flawless perfection. I know she's an Olympic ice dancer, and so it makes sense that she's great. But she's even better than I thought she'd ever be.

Len Goodman drops a major bombshell that this may be his last season, and if so, he's happy this was the last dance he got to see. Wow!

Judges' Scores: 10+10+10=30

And with that, over the course of 15 dances this season, their average from the three permanent judges is 28.4 out of 30. That's the highest ever in 18 seasons, narrowly beating the 28.33 from Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas in season 6. So Meryl is, objectively, the best dancing star ever.

THE FINAL LEADERBOARD

90: Meryl Davis
89: Amy Purdy
78: Candace Cameron Bure

"Human" by Christina Perri

There are only 13 minutes left, so naturally lets have another musical performance. Yikes, I love this song, but her live voice is kind of screechy and annoying. As she plays we get a montage of the season.

THE RESULTS

After more than 1 hour and 50 minutes, it's finally time for results.

The couple in THIRD PLACE is...Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas!

No duh. When you're 11 points behind second place, it's kind of obvious.  And after winning two of his first four seasons, Mark has now gone 10 seasons without a victory.

After one last commercial break, it's time for the real battle for the Mirror Ball Trophy.

MERYL DAVIS AND MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY ARE THE WINNERS OF DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 18!


Hooray! Maks freaks out far more than Meryl. Everyone is acting like this is his win, not hers, and you know what...it is. After 14 seasons, Maks definitely deserves his first win (especially since the alternative was Derek's sixth). He took a woman who was already the obvious frontrunner and made her even better. They brought out the best in each other and were a truly unique and remarkable couple. And after being the highest-scoring pair ever, it's only right that they win.

I wanted this to happen, but I honestly didn't believe it would. I was certain Amy and Derek would pull it out. This is the third season of DWTS I've recapped, and both previous times my favorite, the best dancer, lost to someone else (Mya to Donny Osmond and Corbin Bleu to Amber Riley). This, however, makes it all worth it.

Now the longest-running current pro partner without a win is Val Chmerkovskiy, but since he's only done six seasons, that's not such a huge hurdle.

Congratulations to Meryl Davis, who can put the Mirror Ball Trophy next to her Olympic gold medal. And double congratulations to Maksim Chmerkovskiy, for FINALLY winning this show.


(Image courtesy of ABC)

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