The finale of Dancing with the Stars season 22 is a week away, but two of the five remaining couples won’t get a chance to perform Freestyles to win the Mirror Ball. That’s right, it’s ANOTHER double elimination as 40 percent of the remaining pairs will be cut, leaving us with the Final 3.

'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: Semifinals, Trio Dances and 2 More Go Home

That’s a lot of pressure as the couples all perform twice, including the Trio Challenge where they’re joined by another pro or troupe member. Will the couples at the bottom of the leaderboard continue to be eliminated or will Ginger, Nyle or Paige get a shocking exit?

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Tonight’s voting counts towards determining the finale, so I guess there’s no elimination next Monday. The votes and scores from tonight will be combined with the scores and votes from next Monday’s finale to decide who wins. And we’re starting with the Trio Challenge.

Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas with Alan Bersten: Samba

The show fans the flames of potential romance rumors between Paige and Alan. The men play two peacocks fighting over Paige. It’s weird and quirky, but also sexy and cool. She does a great job of controlling both men and it’s an incredibly fun Samba. The judges love that it was a strong, confident start to the night and she was the star.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

Erin Andrews calls out Paige and Alan’s flirtation by referencing the size of his peacock feathers. This is so awkward and Alan doesn’t answer.

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess with Hayley Erbert: Argentine Tango

The routine is mostly just a lot of walking and he has no precision at all. It’s very, very sloppy and he gets overwhelmed by the two strong women. The judges are much kinder to him than they should be, mostly because of how far he’s come since he had no previous dance experience.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9=27

That deserved 8s. But it doesn’t matter because I can’t imagine any scenario where he doesn’t get eliminated tonight.

Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold with Witney Carson: Paso Doble

He’s depressed about the bad scores last week, but having Lindsay’s BFF around cheers him up because it’s so fun. He does a good job with the attitude and energy, but his footwork isn’t stellar and the two women are so dynamic that they obscure him a lot. They’re both on top of him the whole time. Carrie Ann Inaba loves it so much that she gets up to hug him and Len Goodman gives him a standing ovation. Len also says it’s about tonight, not last week, except for the fact that tonight’s results ARE based on last week. This feels like a premature farewell as if everyone involved knows that he’s going home.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

There will be a lot of perfect scores tonight.

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd with Jenna Johnson: Jive

Jenna actually took three years of ASL in high school, which is a huge benefit. And she’s super into Nyel. The concept is that he’s cheating on both women in a malt shoppe. Even when he’s a sleazy player who gets milkshakes thrown in his face, he’s kind of charming. It’s a fun and cute routine, though not flawless. Peta slipped and it was definitely hectic in places. The judges point out the problems, but explain that it was very difficult choreography.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9=27

The judges don’t seem happy having to give him 9s.

Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy with Artem Chigvintsev: Paso Doble

Artem is the nice one. He’s honey and Val is mustard, but together they’re honey mustard and Ginger is the chicken nugget. Wow, she actually holds her own with two strong, masculine men and she brings the fiery passion I want. I’ve been critical of her all season and have never really liked her that much, but she was great tonight. Bruno Tonioli points out that she lost some shaping. Huh., I disagree when the judges give her perfect scores, now I disagree when they’re critical of something I actually loved.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9=27

There’s clearly a division between the top and bottom.

Paige and Mark: Argentine Tango

Now it’s time for the individual routines. We also get emotional backstories about the stars. Her mom was a dance teacher and when she became a cheerleader as a freshman, older girls who didn’t make the team bullied her. It was a dark time for her, but her dad saved her by moving them from Oregon to Reno. Her dad loved UFC and watching it with him is what got her into it.

The dance is very steamy and sensual, full of passion to the point where they’re removing each others’ clothes by the end. She is hot and this is such a big change from their first dance. She definitely has range. Len thought it was too hot and spicy. Everyone else strongly disagrees. Bruno promises (or threatens) to judge in speedos next week if she’s not in the finale. Carrie Ann vomits a little in her mouth.

Judges’ Scores: 10+9+10=29

Boo, Len!

Antonio and Sharna: Contemporary

He grew up in a rough town full of drugs and guns. His parents got divorced when he was young and it made Antonio bitter towards his dad because he didn’t have a male role model. He was a small guy for football, but he was determined to make it work. He’s been a scrappy underdog his whole life. And now he’s going to be there for his kids so he won’t be like his dad.

There are two kinds of Contemporary routines. Some are emotional, usually about death, and others are uplifting about being a champion and a winner. This is a great example of the latter, full of powerful lifts and great movements. It’s always difficult to judge a Contemporary routine against actual ballroom styles, but this is very good. The judges love him and the routine. Len says it had the best lifts of the whole series.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+10=28

He finally got his first 10.

Wanya and Lindsay: Charleston

Wanya’s mom realized her could sing when he was a baby and his family always encouraged him, even though he was in one of the harshest projects in Philadelphia. He wanted to be a star to help his family. Boyz II Men united in high school and the rest is history. He’s all about family.

If this is his last dance, it’s a great way to go out. His enthusiasm and energy is infectious and this routine shows off his fun swagger, just like his first dance. It’s also shocking how much skinnier he is from that first week. It’s quite noticeable. The judges love his twinkle toes and talent.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

Double perfect for tonight! He’s so happy he twerks. It’s a shame he was at the bottom last week and tonight’s scores don’t factor into tonight’s results at all.

Nyle and Peta: Argentine Tango

Nyle wanted to be a math teacher for deaf kids, which makes him even hotter. But then Tyra stole him from the world of academia. Tyra and ANTM loved that he didn’t use being deaf as a sob story, it was just a part of his story.

He goes full Helen Keller for part of the routine by adding a blindfold, because being deaf isn’t enough of a challenge. It’s hard for me to separate the personal from the dancing because he truly is astonishing and inspirational. The fact that he’s even remotely good is amazing. The fact that he’s actually great is beyond anything I can imagine. The judges were mesmerized.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

He finally gets his first perfect score of the season!

Ginger and Val: Quickstep

Her parents got divorced when she was 7. It caused her to be anorexic from 10-14. Wow, I did not see that coming. She fell in love with the weather because she was fascinated by watching storms at a lake. Now she’s a happy, calm, exceptional meteorologist.

It’s another solid performance from her tonight, very fun and quick. It’s nothing too astounding and it’s not gonna make my Best Dances of the Season list, but it’s really beautiful. Carrie Ann noticed a little issue where she got caught in her dress.

Judges’ Scores: 9+10+10=29

Tonight had all 9s and 10s.


Now it’s time to send TWO couples home and THREE into the Finale.

The first couple in the FINAL 3 is…Ginger and Val!


The second couple in the FINAL 3 is…Nyle and Peta!


The third couple in the FINAL 3 is…Paige and Mark!


Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold and Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess ARE ELIMINATED!

Once again, the leaderboard is correct as last week’s two bottom couples are eliminated. But for tonight, that means the first and last couples are gone. They don’t even have enough time to say goodbye to the eliminated couples.

Wanya started strong, but he had two relatively bad weeks in a row and that was enough to hurt him (but really it was this sudden double elimination). The good news is that if this current leaderboard holds, Paige is the favorite to win.

FUN FACT: This will be Val’s fifth time in the finale. The only other pros to reach five finales are Derek, Mark, Cheryl, and Maks. And this is going to be Mark’s ninth finale, putting him just one behind Derek for the most.


59: Paige VanZant
57: Nyle DiMarco
56: Ginger Zee

(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.