Revisiting the heyday of department stores and five-and-dimes

'Dancing with the Stars' recap, One last elimination

For The Baltimore Sun

James Maslow enters wearing a tuxedo with no shirt, because he's no dummy and neither is Peta Murgatroyd. Mark Ballas enters with his right arm in a sling - wonder what that means for his dance with Candace Cameron Bure tonight? Candace (with a ridiculous topknot), still, after this many weeks of competition, looks terrified. 

Head judge Len Goodman is trying to tell host Tom Bergeron what's going to happen tonight, but the audience is so loud I have no idea what was said. Oh, good, looks like there's no guest judge tonight. There shouldn't be on finals.

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd: Tango

Ah, I think this is what Len was saying - the couples are dancing the dance style with their regular partner that they danced with their "switchup" partner back in Week 4.

This is a weirdly non-melodic song to be a tango. James and Peta go for a full on kiss right in the middle of the routine. Way to squash those rumors about whether or not you're dating, guys.

Len says it was tight and that James gave it his all. Bruno Tonioli calls him passionate and focused. When Bruno mentions the kiss, Peta covers her face in embarrassment. Carrie Ann Inaba compliments him on his butt being tucked under, but she's critical of his tense appearance.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 10; Bruno: 10

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Argentine Tango

Maks has got to be happy they're getting this on the night of finals since this is his favorite dance. They're practicing an interesting leap in rehearsal where Meryl runs at Maks then spins mid-air right before he catches her so that her legs wrap around his waist from the front while she's facing forward.

They get in a really terrific traveling footwork sequence, followed by some fun flips. The routine ends with an elegant lift/spin and then the drag-across-the-floor move. Bruno is comparing the evolution on their dancing to a concept album. Carrie Ann says they improved on perfection, with the added chemistry Meryl and Maks bring to the routine. 

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10

Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas: Quickstep 

THey're showing rehearsal footage and Candace is getting increasingly frustrated and Mark calls her "dramatic" so she leaves the room and cries. Then during the dress rehearsal, it appears that Mark further aggravated his already injured rotator cuff. He's taken by ambulance to the hospital, but when we get back to the ballroom, he's taken off the sling and Tom tells us an MRI cleared Mark to dance tonight. SO NOW WHO'S BEING DRAMATIC? Sling = red herring.

Carrie Ann says she was totally impressed, but Candace's shoulders were a little up. Len says this was the toughest dance and says that with the terrible week she's had, she did good. Bruno calls it a great improvement.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9

Good; at least no one gave her a 10. That dance was good, but not on par with Meryl & Maks.

Amy Purdy & Derek Hough: Salsa

During rehearsal, Amy's back is giving her trouble again, spasming so badly it's got her in tears.

It starts right off with a lift, which I didn't know was allowed in salsa. Is it OK, because it's the finals? I'm sure Carrie Ann will tell us. Another lift and it's a little rough into it, but she comes out of it perfectly.

Len calls it "bright, colorful, and fabulous." Bruno yells out, "Flashy, exhilarating, and flamboyant," then pauses and says, "I'm not talking about myself." Carrie Ann can't talk, she just laughs. Carrie Ann says every week Amy does things she doesn't think were possible.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10

Freestyle Round

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd

What inspired his "drive"? Oct. 3, 2006: James's brother Phillip was in a motorcycle accident. Oh, good, we see Phillip and he's alive, despite having been in a coma after the accident. This caused the family to realize that life is short. James says he realized he needed to make his career happen,so he graduated early and moved to Los Angeles, getting cast in Big Time Rush.

Oh, dear, he's in a hoodie and Peta's dressed like Lori Petty circa 1996. This is not going to be the routine that connects with older viewers, or younger ones, really. It's trying so much to be street, and edgy, and hard. I think a lot of James's female fans just wanted to see him come out and be swoony or sexy. Instead he finished the routine doing some baton twirling with a spear,which he proceeds to snap in half at the end. 

I just realized Peta is wearing the same hair and makeup as she did for their first routine. Let's give some respect to the hair and makeup team for coming up with a look that worked for both dances, which were very different with very different costuming.

Len liked the energy and the attack. Bruno calls him a "post-apocalyptic action hero." He also points out that, with the two extra male dancers that were part of the routine, that James looked like he belonged with them. Carrie Ann says he's the most versatile of the stars and killed that routine.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 9; Bruno: 10

Betcha it was too weird for Len. I feel ya, Len.

Right before they go to commercial, they cut to the backstage scenes and we get to see Amy putting her leg into the prosthetic. Cool.

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz

Meryl was born and raised outside of Detroit and skated for the first time on a lake. Meryl was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age. One of Meryl's friends points out that since Meryl and Charlie grew up together, they're practically brother and sister. Her dance partnership with Maks has brought out an entirely different side of her.

They're going for something that's a contemporary routine that tells the story of their journey together. Maks is wearing dropped crotch pants, so I'm having a hard time taking him seriously as a sex object. Poopy diaper pants are not sexy. The routine is really good, with its expression of tenderness and strength and with several moves that require Meryl to utterly and completely trust her partner. It gets super sexy at the end with an almost kiss. Meryl look so seductive and vixenish. Maks, when we see his face, seems almost amused and, I swear to God, winks. 

Tom says that they're supposed to start with Bruno for judging, but they have to go to Carrie Ann first. Mainly because Carrie Ann is sobbing to beat the band. She says, "First of all, I think you should get married." She calls their routine a "stunning example of divinity in motion." Bruno yells, "It just keeps getting better." He adds, "What you two have created is as close as it gets to a flawless work of art. Thank you." Len says there were no gimmicks, no gags, They just came out and danced. He concludes, "There's good, there's great, and there's Meryl."

Co-host Erin Andrews says, "Look, I get it, your mom and your dad are here, but I think we all just wanted you to kiss."

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10

Len says, "It should be an 11." Bruno holds up his 10 paddle and his 1 paddle.

Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas

Candace calls herself a "real deal Valley Girl." She said that it was hard to be the chubby kid going through puberty on television. She went right from "Full House" into marriage and motherhood. She's happy that "Dancing with the Stars" got her to appreciate her body and adds, "So all those of you who think I'm chubby, take that." I would love to hear Amber Riley's reaction to this.

The freestyle makes a play on Cadance being DJ Tanner and then it's a whole disco routine with gold lamé and Jamiroquai. I love disco and gold lamé and Jamiroquai. One quibble - the backup dancers are all in gold, like Candace, and Mark is wearing a black shirt and pants with a gold vest. It means when all the dancers are on the stage, Candace blends in and Mark stands out. Remember what Julianne Hough said about him being a focus-puller? 

Carrie Ann doesn't feel like Candace didn't connect to the music. But she's proud of Candace for going for it. Len admires Candace's tenacity.  Bruno seems to say that Candace was a millisecond behind the beat.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8

They're finally getting real, judging Candace against the other three finalists. Candace's kids are shocked by the score. Kids, you're biased. And that's OK.

Amy Purdy & Derek Hough

Amy compares her experience learning to dance to learning how to first snowboard with prosthetic legs. Derek says in rehearsal, "I feel like this whole season has been about you defying the odds. Now I want you to defy gravity." What this translates to is Amy doing some work with aerial apparatus at the end of their routine. She looks gorgeous, soaring through the air, dress trailing behind her.

Len didn't think the rope was necessary, but he loved the lifts, the choreography, and the look of the dance. Carrie Ann says at first she was concerned with all the lifts that Derek was doing, thinking, "Amy can dance; let her dance." But then the music kicked in and the emotion took over.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 9; Bruno: 10

That's how Len is, y'all. And if Derek hasn't figured that out by now, he deserves less than a nine.

Oh, wait, there's an elimination tonight! It's last week's votes and last week's judges' scores. As anyone could've predicted, it's down to either James & Peta or Candace & Mark. It really should be James going forward. 

James & Peta look glum, Candace is smiling resignedly. So guess who's gone! It's James & Peta.


Meryl & Maks: 30 + 30 = 60

Amy & Derek: 30 + 29 = 59

Candace & Mark: 27 + 24 = 51

Fine, fine. Candace can make it to the final night but if she wins the whole shebang, I'm going to have a reaction that can't be printed in a newspaper.

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