It’s here, the finals of Dancing with the Stars season 19. And ABC is pulling out all the stops, dedicating five hours over two nights to DWTS. Tonight the four remaining couples will all dance twice, once with the judges’ choice for their styles and once with the hotly anticipated Freestyles.

'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: Freestyles and the Final 4

The Final 4 is as close as ever, with injury-stricken Alfonso Ribeiro battling a trio of young girls, Bethany, Sadie, and Janel. One couple will be eliminated tonight and the other three will get one last chance to perform on Tuesday (with the 24-hour fusion challenge) before the Mirror Ball is handed out. At this point, things are so close that I could easily see any of these four winning and any of these four being eliminated tonight (though I’m predicting Sadie and Mark), so there’s a lot to look forward to.

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Based on the intro video, Alfonso is the only one who really, REALLY wants to win. Sadie and Bethany are just happy to be there.

First up, the Final 4 will repeat a dance from the season as chosen by the judges. They’re looking for improvement.

Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: Jive from Week 1

They’re going back to their first dance to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” They scored all 8s the first time around. I don’t see that much difference from the first week to the finals. There were parts that seemed better and cleaner, but they definitely messed up a bit. Derek points out that it was because the set didn’t move away properly. Julianne Hough says she didn’t even see her brother because Bethany is so good. The judges thought Bethany was better, but note the moments where they went wrong. Derek repeatedly blames the set and sucks up to Carrie Ann Inaba.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9+9=36

I highly doubt we’ll see any 8s tonight.

Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: Samba from Week 4

They’re repeating the Duck Dynasty routine with Mark in a beard, which earned them a 37 the first time around. Len Goodman chose it because he didn’t get to see it the first time around because there isn’t much room for improvement in the scores. Also, Liam Payne from One Direction visited her during rehearsals. This was weird but very fun and entertaining the first round, and it still is. But they did so well the first time around that I don’t see any difference whatsoever. Bruno Tonioli says she was slightly behind on the timing a few times and gets booed more loudly than I’ve ever heard on this show. Len Goodman agrees with Bruno.

Judges’ Scores: 10+9+10+9=38

She has 25 family members in the audience, which explains the boos. The decision to redo this routine seems largely based on stoking the flames of her fanbase because she only improved by one point. Heck, her original performance of this was one of her three highest-scored dances.

Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy: Samba from Week 6

This was one of their lowest-scoring dances, getting 33 points. It’s the one where guest judge Pitbull gave them a 7 for not having chemistry and passion. But she did have a rib injury earlier today and Pretty Little Liars to film this week. There’s definitely passion and it’s sexy and steamy, a big difference from Sadie and Mark’s Samba. And I don’t really see any traces of an injury from Janel. The judges point out some off-balance moments in the turns, but they still loved it. The judges are being wonderfully nitpicky, but Len didn’t see any of those problems. They’re making these couples fight for those 10s.

Judges’ Scores: 9+10+9+9=37

The leaderboard is going to be even closer this week than last week.

Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: Jive from Week 1

Like with Sadie and Mark, there isn’t a lot of room for growth since they got all 9s in week 1. But it’s interesting to see how one of the best first-week dances ever stands up at the end of the season. Carrie Ann massages Alfonso during rehearsals to help get over the injuries. The performance is just as great as the first time. He is just a superb dancer and entertainer. The judges rave about how it was a whole lot better this time around. Len says that Alfonso dances like Frank Sinatra sings. Julianne kind of admits that she wanted to give him a 10 for this routine back in week 1, but that’s not done.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

Will Smith tweeted support for Alfonso and Erin Andrews desperately begs him to show up tomorrow night. Tom Bergeron calls Erin a stalker, and that’s why everyone loves Tom.

Before the Freestyles, we have to sit through a performance of “It’s the Hard Knock Life” from the new Annie movie. It gets all modern and hip-hop at one point.

Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: Freestyle

The routine is insane. It’s dramatic and intense, reminding me of The Matrix for some reason. Derek brings in a bunch of other dancers and there are crazy lighting bits that virtually blind me. Like everything Derek does, it’s an amazing routine, but I wouldn’t say it highlights Bethany.

And while they are talking, ABC gets interrupted for breaking news about the Ferguson decision. Apparently, we’ll get back to the show and see DWTS in its entirety, but now there’s this. The grand jury did NOT indict the cop who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. If you want to discuss this, go somewhere else. I’m only qualified to discuss how hot Derek is without his shirt on.

Back to DWTS, the judges praise Bethany for being the center of a performance surrounded by pros.

Judges’ Scores:10+10+10+10=40

I expect a lot of that for the Freestyles.

Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: Freestyle

They’re going full-on Super Mario Bros., with Mark as the mustachioed plumber and Sadie as Princess Peach. It’s all about Mark and I’m not even sure if Sadie knows what a Mario is. It’s such a cool concept and it’s so much fun, but I honestly don’t think Sadie likes this at all. She’s not that great, loses sync with the others and overall, she doesn’t appear into this whole thing at all. The judges love the nostalgia, but all of their concepts are about the creativity and choreography and no one seems to say a single word about Sadie.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

Sorry, but no. This is even more ridiculous than when Bethany got a perfect score for Derek’s “Singin’ in the Rain” routine. Those scores are all about the choreography and the pro and have nothing to do with the star.

Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy: Freestyle

They’re going in the opposite direction of the other couples, making an intimate, emotional Freestyle about their journey and connection. Wow. They dance to a stripped-down version of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, and it is amazing. It’s just a beautiful, romantic routine that is simply stunning. From the moment Janel falls off the stage into Val’s arms, it took my breath away and I don’t think I breathed for the rest of the routine. This was on a completely different level from the other Freestyles.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

The Freestyles don’t really matter if everyone gets 40s. It’s just about which one has the most impact with viewers.

Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: Freestyle

They’re focusing entirely on content, even adding a tap-dancing solo for Alfonso. It’s another wow. Alfonso does more actual dancing than Bethany, Sadie, and Janel all did in their Freestyles, combined. It’s nonstop action, he does the stripper dance from Fresh Prince, and he taps. This was a perfect routine to let every single person know that Alfonso is clearly the best “dancer” this season and he deserves to win. That could be a smart choice.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

So everyone gets a perfect score for the Freestyles. I’m sure Derek will win the Twitter war to repeat the Freestyle tomorrow night, but I’d rather see any of the other three, especially Janel and Val.


Now comes the hard part, with one couple being eliminated. After those Freestyles, it’s hard to imagine anyone being eliminated tonight, but it’s based on last week’s scores and votes.

Are you kidding me??? Just as we’re about to get to the results, they break in AGAIN with President Obama’s comments on the Ferguson decision. Unfortunately, ABC cut off the rest of the episode and didn’t show it, but here are the results.

The first couple in the Final 3 is…Alfonso and Witney!
The second couple in the Final 3 is…Sadie and Mark!
The third couple in the Final 3 is…Janel and Val!

Bethany Mota and Derek Hough ARE ELIMINATED!

Wow! Derek ISN’T in the Final 3. In 14 seasons, this is only the sixth time he hasn’t made the Top 3. I guess I overestimated the picture frame routine and underestimated the Duck Dynasty fans.

With only three points separating first and last, this is going to be a close one. After tonight, I will be very happy if Alfonso wins. I’ll be equally happy if Janel and Val win. And I’ll riot if Sadie wins.


80: Alfonso Ribeiro
78: Sadie Robertson
77: Janel Parrish

(Image courtesy of ABC)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.