Four couples, four hours, one Mirror Ball. It’s already time for the finale of Dancing with the Stars season 23 and the four remaining couples are all competing for that trophy. For Monday, they will all perform twice, including the Freestyles, before one pair is eliminated based on last week’s results. The last three pairs will get one day to train for the 24-hour fusion challenge leading up to Tuesday’s finale.

'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: The Final 4 Perform Their Freestyles

With Laurie and James as the clear frontrunners, will it be Calvin or Jana going home tonight? Or could we get shocking results instead? As for the pros, Val is gunning for his second Mirror Ball while Sharna, Lindsay, and Gleb are all looking for their first.

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We’re starting with the Redemption dances, where they perform styles they’ve done before to see how far they’ve come, and the show is saving the Freestyles for the end.

Calvin Johnson and Lindsay Arnold: Viennese Waltz

They first did this style in week 3 and they were at the top of the leaderboard with it. This is a great dance to show off his sensitive side. It’s very sweet and romantic with a lot of great content. I really appreciate that he’s an NFL player who actually does a lot of dancing and doesn’t rely on his pro to do all of the work. Len Goodman calls him the most improved dancer since he got a 6 back in week 1. The judges love his frame and fluidity, but he still has some footwork problems. Carrie Ann Inaba gets booed for calling a Lift because Lindsay’s foot barely came off the floor one time.

Judges’ Scores: 8+9+9+9=35

Because it’s the finale, Erin Andrews brings out Calvin’s two-year-old son for a surprise visit.

Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko: Tango

They did this style way back in week 2 when she was hurt and couldn’t do all the moves. Gleb is getting sick with the flu due to a lack of rest, so Alan helps out in rehearsals. The dance captures their best attributes: it’s fast, passionate, and exciting. Julianne Hough thinks they stayed on the platform too long and it didn’t have enough of a spark. She has nice lines and moves well, but she can’t quite match Laurie’s technical skills. Carrie plays Lift Police once again, but this time it was more obvious. Len stands up for the fact that Lifts shouldn’t be penalized if there’s no intent and it’s just an issue of gravity and physics. Seriously, go to bed Carrie.

Judges’ Scores: 8+9+9+9=35

Even with Carrie’s Lift deductions, these first two dances weren’t enough to win the Mirror Ball.

Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy: Paso Doble

This is their style from week 5 when they didn’t have a very good connection. It’s very intense and she dances wonderfully as always. It’s nice to see her manhandling Val the whole time. The judges love the power and precision, plus the shaping. There was a lot of determination. I thought some of the side-by-side work wasn’t exactly in sync, but it was great.

Judges’ Scores: 9+10+9+10=38

Good, Carrie-Ann and Julianne actually deducted a point for the obvious, INTENTIONAL Lift.

Next up, Train performs. Why are they performing now? Wouldn’t this make more sense after James finished out the first round?

James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess: Foxtrot

This is their week 1 dance, so the judges are going way back for this one. Helio Castroneves visits during rehearsals to challenge James to a Dance-Off to decide the best male dancer. Sharna declares James the winner, but Helio rubs his Mirror Ball in his face. The dance is classy, graceful, and whimsical with the kind of character work I love. Sharna is a sexy librarian and James is a nerd who falls in love with her. The judges love how he glides, but point out a stumble in the middle.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9+10=37

Ugh, just like his Wiz routine, he gets penalized for one minor flaw amidst a perfect dance.

Jana and Gleb: Freestyle

It’s all about her journey, with the two being connected by a piece of fabric the whole time. They’re going for the raw, Contemporary emotion. The fabric looks very cool. There’s a lot of intensity and some fantastic lifts. But for Contemporary Freestyles, Rumer and Val were much better. There was a stumble in the middle that kind of burst the balloon. It just wasn’t up to the high standards of Freestyles in recent years.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9+9=36

Wow, this is the first time since season 18 that a Freestyle DIDN’T get a perfect score.

Calvin and Lindsay: Freestyle

Surprising absolutely no one. They want to rely heavily on his insanely powerful lifts. They’re also focusing on his happiness and high energy. They’re doing some Jazz and Jive, with some treadmills too. Now, THIS is a Freestyle. It’s a huge production number with a lot of excitement, great moves, and huge smiles. And the section on the treadmills was absolutely beautiful and innovative. They gave me everything I wanted and more. The judges love how clever Lindsay was in giving us pure, unadulterated Calvin.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

That’s more like it.

Laurie and Val: Freestyle

They’re using a playground to capture her youth, with a slide, seesaw, and more. It succeeds at being joyful and exuberant. It’s certainly an energetic routine, but I wanted more dancing. It was mostly playing, jumping, lifts and gimmicks, but not a whole lot of the technical skill she’s showed. It’s almost too childish; like Laurie chugged a giant glass full of sugar before coming out.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

No surprise here.

James and Sharna: Freestyle

They’re telling the story of his car accident, with Sharna as his guardian angel. It’s the void in his story after he blacked out and before he woke up. Wow. They use his real words over the song about the accident and it’s beautiful. It’s like a dream ballet from The Nutcracker, but using his own personal real-life story. It’s powerful, raw, and stunning. The judges are in awe. And on top of it all, he has an open shirt and this dude has been rocking an amazing body that he’s kept hidden all season.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

James just made this a real horse race with Laurie.


Now it’s time to find out whose dancing was pointless tonight since they were already eliminated based on last week.

The first couple IN THE FINAL 3 is…Laurie and Val!
The second couple IN THE FINAL 3 is…Calvin and Lindsay!

Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko ARE ELIMINATED!

That was expected and appropriate since their scores were so low tonight. She lasted a lot longer than I expected, but she and Calvin were always destined for third and fourth.


78: Laurie Hernandez
77: James Hinchcliffe
75: Calvin Johnson

The two-hour Dancing with the Stars season 23 finale airs Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC.

(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.