It's three — yes, three — female celebrities in the season 18 finale of “Dancing with the Stars,” and it's going to be a squeaker, I think. It's also going to be long. Really, really long. Though the final three couples will be dancing, the part of the show that actually has anything to do with naming a winner is under 40 minutes. The rest of the two hours (not including the 8:00 p.m. clip job to take us “down the road” toward the finale)? Some singing, some dancing, some swearing and some technical difficulties. But at the end of it all? One happy couple (possibly more; I mean, it's supposed to be fun) and a mirror ball trophy that probably retails for about five bucks. But still!
There were some high points on the show. James and Peta were chosen by fans to perform their freestyle, which was just as spectacular the second time around. If James had been able to do more hip hop dancing and even contemporary dancing during the season, I think he might have had a shot at the finale.
Less awesome, though entirely not her fault, was Iggy Azalea's performance of “Fancy.” Her earpiece stopped working, and she was forced to rip the whole get-up out of her ears and wing it. I know this is a live show, but I've got to think someone got fired for this screw up. It's not as if she could just jump back in without anyone noticing a big stretch of silence in the middle of a rap song. Still, she shook it off and kept going, so kudos to her.
Amber Riley, our reigning champion, performed “Colorblind,” which was fine, I guess. She also performed another song later in the show, but I was so distracted by the dancers in spats and high water pants along with the weird Walgreens product placement I was wondering whether Walgreens and Macy's are going to have a dance-off next season instead of listening.
What we did learn was that Erin Andrews is really funny during the dress rehearsals, and that Tom Bergeron is a potty mouth. I'd like to see more of this on the show, honestly. What makes Erin Andrews so much more fun than Brooke Burke are her snarky asides and her comfort level with the competitors and dancers. I say, let her riff, ABC!
Cody Simpson got to flog his song “Surfboard” again, which seems to suggest a woman wants his surfboard, which I'm guessing is not really a surfboard. But “Penis” is not a great name for a song, I guess.
We do get to see some familiar faces performing again — Charlie and Sharna hoofing it to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” James and Peta moonwalking through their Michael Jackson routine, and Danica and Val in their “Beauty and the Beast” costumes. NeNe stood on the stage and shook her ass to no discernible choreography for some reason, but I suspect she wasn't interested in learning anything new.
Ariana Grande performed and did not have technical difficulties, so luck her. Finally, with only forty minutes to go, we get the fusion dances. Tom points out that the judges' scores will have an impact on who wins, so let the crazy fusion dancing begin!
Amy & Derek
The Last Rehearsal: She cries. Then, they dance. They'll be doing an Argentine tango fused with a cha cha. She cries some more. She really did enjoy her time on this show, I think, and I can understand why. Derek never made her seem like a woman with a disability, and he always let her shine.
The Dance: So precise. Her flicks and kicks are better than plenty I've seen on this show. Really, I'm just amazed by this girl.
The Judges: Len wants her to know she's a fantastic dancer. Bruno thinks her determination has been a life lesson for America. Carrie Ann thinks she's uplifting. She also wants Derek to know this partnership has been fantastic. I actually expected the comments to be more gushing.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 10 Bruno – 10
Candace & Mark
The Last Rehearsal: Candace is so happy to be here. This is where God's placed her! I hope God also placed her in third place. It's not a bad place to be, really.
The Dance: It's a samba and quick step fusion. It's fine, I guess, but let's face it — Candace is up against two women who have some natural talent and are, well, Olympians. She's come far, and she's done well, but she's up against tough competition.
The Judges: Bruno thinks she's adorable and has worked very, very hard. Carrie Ann thinks she nailed it. Len thinks she's been a dark horse but she's kept going.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 9 Bruno – 9
Meryl & Maks
The Last Rehearsal: Meryl doesn't cry. Maks tells her he's proud of her. She tells him he's taught her so much about growing as a person. And then they hold hands and run off to a Las Vegas wedding chapel and get hitched. They don't, of course, but the Twitterverse wishes it so. The Dance: They do a fox trot/cha cha, and of course it's beautiful. I think if she wanted to, the show would give her a spot as a pro dancer, no problem.
The Judges: Carrie Ann thinks Meryl & Maks have been the best part of the season. Len says this may be his last season, and he couldn't ask for a better one. Bruno thinks the earth moved for him.
Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 10 Bruno – 10
Christina Perri sings “Human” while someone in the back gets chewed out for Iggy Azalea's sound snafu and another person makes sure that the judges' scores don't change the results. Given that Amy and Meryl both had perfect scores, I doubt it will.
The couple in third place is… yes, let's drag this out. Maks looks like he's going to rub off his eyebrows. Candace and Mark. She's okay with it, and she's just so happy to have done the show and to have worked with Mark. She's really gone a long, long way and I think she should be proud of herself. There's no way to win against ringers.
But then, it's time to announce the winning couple… and it's Meryl & Maks. You knew that would happen, right? Even though Amy had a compelling story and journey, and was an exceptional dancer, the chemistry between Maks and Meryl (and her ability to tame the savage beast) were just too tempting for fans. Plus, if this is Maks' swan song from the show, let him go out on a win. Yes, we see footage of Maks sobbing after his freestyle and Meryl telling him how honored she is to have danced his “last freestyle” with him. So… he's quitting? He's definitely signed off for seasons in the past, but this seems a little final. Still, for him to leave now that we've found his mushy middle seems so unfair!
Another person who seems to be headed to the door is Len, who announces that this “might” be his last season, and if so he's glad to end on such a high note. It's hard to imagine “DWTS” without Maks and/or Len. But Len's got a very good point — if you're going to go, this was one hell of a season end on.
What do you think of the final rankings? Do you think Len and/or Maks will leave? Will you keep watching without them?