Jacoby Jones begins the finales tonight coming down the staircase in purple and gold, with partner Karina Smirnoff in a purple dress -- a nice nod to Jacoby’s hometown of New Orleans.
Their first round is the "judges' pick" dance, and it's the jive. Jacoby says in an interview that he was in the middle of the pack through a lot of the competition, but now, with a tie for the lead last week, he's put on his burst of speed for the last 100 meters.
Judge Len Goodman shows up in the rehearsal studio to work with Jacoby on his footwork. Considering Len scored him lower than the other judges when they did the jive before, this is a good matchup of judge and dancer. Len even takes a stab at learning a Jacoby touchdown dance. He almoooost pulls it off -- I mean, for a 69-year-old Englishman.
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Bless Jacoby’s heart, but he still doesn’t quite get his feet turned all the way out. He's trying, though. He also looks tired, somehow, not as energetic as usual. I wonder whether rehearsing for three dances tonight tuckered him out. I swear their jive had more bounce when they did it in Week 5. (Although, then, they were dancing to Little Richard instead of what Wikipedia tells me is a now-defunct emo band.)
Len says there was improvement and the footwork was a bit better. He does point out that sometimes Jacoby got a little lost, but overall it was good. Bruno says there was an "unlimited supply of energy and power" -- huh. Bruno Tonioli goes off on an unexpected "Lord of the Rings" tangent before pointing out that Jacoby did miss the beat a few times and was flat-footed sometimes. Carrie Ann Inaba says he brought the swagger, but, yes, there were some issues. Then I don’t quite understand the exchange between Carrie Ann and Jacoby before Tom sends them to the skybox.
When Brooke Burke-Charvet asks Jacoby what it's going to take for him, "the last man standing,' to beat the female finalists, he answers frankly, "The grace of God." This is why we love him.
Scores: Carrie Ann 9, Len 9, Bruno 9.
Cha Cha Relay
Apparently, all the couples will be doing the cha cha to the same song, back-to-back. Each dance will be about 40 seconds. The judges will rank the couples: 1stplace = 5 points, 2nd place = 4 points, 3rdplace = 3 points, and 4thplace = 2 points.
Jacoby, second to dance, makes his entrance by jumping from the top of the steps over Derek and Kellie at the bottom of the steps getting ready to come up. Jacoby "Jumper" Jones, I now dub him. He and Karina are in purple and black – if you saw my "Reasons Why Jacoby Should Win" list, you’ll know I like his tendency to work Ravens colors into their costumes. I bet the Ravens front office likes it, too.
Jacoby is so smoooooth during this and has such a great connection with Karina through eye contact alone. They look like they might have stumbled a bit when Jacoby was swinging Karina through his legs as he also stepped over her. They recover and end the routine with Jacoby sliding through the legs of the next couple, Aly and Mark. He then gets in some wiggles while he's on his back on the dancefloor. Dancing it all the way through, he is.
Aly and Mark and then Zendaya and Val finish off the "relay."
Len says that he thinks these four are the couples who deserve to be in the finals, but doesn't give any indication which way he'll score. Bruno praises Jacoby for hanging tough with the female pros. Carrie Ann calls Jacoby a wild ride.
The judges put Jacoby & Karina in 4th, Aly and Mark in 3rd, Kellie and Derek in 2nd, and Zendaya and Val in 1st. I would’ve put Jacoby ahead of Aly, but otherwise I’m OK with that ranking.
As they show Karina and Jacoby backstage before their performance, Jacoby has pulled on giant red underpants and a cape over his tuxedo pants. He's making a goofy face and doing subtle pelvic thrusts, and it's got me giggling A LOT.
The producer of the show comes into their rehearsal studio and tells them they can get creative with staging, extra dancers, etc. Karina explains they’re bringing New Orleans and Mardi Gras to the routine, with a ton of street dancers showing up to join them. It looks like they've got an extra choreographer in helping them out, but they don't introduce her. I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I bet it'll be fun.
It starts with six steppers in two lines followed by two drummers and then Karina and Jacoby doing the "Seven Nation Army" chant. The extra dancers then form two lines on the side of the dancefloor and then work their way upstage and are backing them up on the stairs from then on. There's a rare slip-up from the camera crew as we see two of the crew pass right in front of Jacoby and Karina.
A couple of tap-dancing kids come out and dance in between Jacoby and Karina and it's the four of them in a straight line in sync. At the end, Jacoby lifts the young girl dancer on to his shoulders to end the routine. She, by the way, was terrific. She looked somehow fierce and cute all at the same time when she was dancing.
That was great -- it was tough and street but fun and something we haven't seen the likes of in the ballroom before.
Len said it had great energy and says it was a good job. Bruno said he loved the feel of it, but did see Jacoby lose the beat a couple of times. This apparently makes Jacoby's mom mad enough to yell. Carrie Ann says it was the right feel for him, but that the dance outshone him. I don't get that at all.
Scores: Carrie Ann 9, Len 9, Bruno 9.
So, Jacoby and Karina end the evening with a score of 56, putting them last on the leader board by quite a margin. Jacoby may be my favorite personality-wise, but Kellie and Zendaya are technically better dancers. Aly, not so much, and she doesn't have half the charisma. I hope Jacoby at least finishes ahead of her. But to pull them through, fans are going to need to vote extra hard tonight.