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'Dancing With the Stars' recap: It's the finals, baby!


I could not be more happy for this week's finals in Dancing With the Stars, especially after approving nearly 500 comments on last week's results show post. Sleep? What's that?

But enough about me. Tonight, Kyle Massey, Jennifer Grey and, yes, Bristol Palin will compete in the finals in season 11, and tomorrow we'll see who takes home the mirrorball trophy.

Round one is the "redemption dance," in which the judges choose a style that the couple should have excelled at earlier in the season, but didn't. Round two is the highly anticipated freestyle.

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer are assigned the foxtrot for their redemption dance. First time around, they had that '70s disco foxtrot during TV theme week, which seemed more like a (un)luck of the draw. Head judge Len Goodman stops by to help Kyle with his technique. In the performance, they dance to "Feelin' Good," and it is hot. As usual, he pulls out all the stops performance-wise, but his technique seems uber-sharp tonight, too. Plus the whole thing is just very cool and sexy. (Props to Lacey for the choreography.)  Len says the foxtrot is the most demanding dance of all the styles, and he was overall so much better. "You've gone from messy Massey to marvelous." Bruno Tonioli says he's flick-sharp and much improved and he totally delivered. Carrie Ann Inaba says she saw an improvement in his technique, but performance-wise, she felt he was focused inward instead of outward for the first half. Scores: 9-9-9, for a 27/30.


Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas are assigned the jive for their redemption dance. Remember last time, there was a gorilla suit? Bruno comes by to help her free her inner wild child. She just kind of watches Bruno and Mark while they go crazy. She also interviews that she's so frustrated that people still don't believe she should be there, and she's tired of all the haters. Short version: She has something to prove tonight. In the performance, she brings more of a character than she has in most of the upbeat dances. It's not entirely believable, but it's better than she's been. They have a bobble here and there (Mark almost doesn't make it jumping over her head, and this move of swinging her around on the floor seems to lose some momentum, causing some improvisation), but overall, it's pretty good, and it's certainly an improvement over the gorilla suit mess. Bristol says he got something out of her, and she finally revealed herself and had a good time, which is what it's all about. Carrie Ann says she never ceases to amaze her. She says she was brighter and more vibrant than ever, though her toes weren't quite as pointed as they could have been. Len says she went from "gorilla to thrilla; vast improvement, well done." Scores: 9-9-9, for a 27/30.

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough have the paso doble (their disaster from Rock Week) for redemption. Carrie Ann stops by to give her tips on working on her shapes. (Is it weird that I suddenly am starting to think that she is looking more and more like her old self in the rehearsal footage?) It's high drama during the performance -- in a good way. They look amazing. Carrie Ann: "This is the meaning of redemption!" She saw everything they worked on. Len actually stands up for an ovation, which, he adds, he rarely does. Bruno: "It was an evening in sultry Seville. ... I don't want this night ever to end." (Speaking of high drama, I can't capture how he delivers this.) Scores: 10-10-10 (Bruno says, "I wish I had an 11!" That's what happens when you give everyone else 9s!), for a 30/30. 

Freestyle round

Kyle and Lacey have chosen the Tootsie Roll as their dance because Kyle loves it. But he's worried about the lifts. They have a TON of fun in the performance, and it's a blast to watch. My only feeling is that they lose a tiny bit of momentum toward the end -- seems like a longer dance than round one. But still. Fun. Len: "Kyle! Tootsie Roll! One of my favorites!" Ha! He says in freestyle you have to come out and do what you love to do, and they did, even though he doesn't love "boogaloo dances." Bruno calls his truly explosive entertainment, and he was in his element. Carrie Ann: "This old fly girl is proud of you!" She says he killed it. Scores: 10-9-10, for a 29/30 and a total 56/60.

Bristol and Mark choose "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago. Well, he does. She doesn't know the show and hasn't ever seen a Broadway show. For someone who's never seen a Broadway show, she handles it pretty well. They end up using this big pink scarf hidden in Mark's sleeve as a prop, and I think it's a little awkward, choreography-wise, but it makes the action of the end of the dance make sense. Bruno gives her credit for aiming so high, to this iconic number. He says she did well, but not quite the level this song requires. Carrie Ann can't believe she just saw Bristol Palin dancing in a cage. (That's what her mom just said, Tom deadpans.) She also gives her credit for that, but Fosse is so stylized; still she is proud of her for getting her sexy on. Len says it's difficult to get that standard out of your head, but he looked at this as a performance. He says this was not a disaster, in fact, he says, it was fantastic. Scores: 8-9-8, for a 25/30 and a total 52/60.

Jennifer and Derek pick "Do You Love Me" from "Dirty Dancing" for their freestyle song, and Jennifer is concerned about tricks and hurting herself. Derek works her into it slowly, interviewing that she's "on a need to know basis" about the tricks they are going to be doing. The performance evokes a lot of little pieces of "Dirty Dancing," with her starting carrying a watermelon, and doing some other little moves here and there from the film. Way cute and fun. She runs over to kiss her family and friends before the scoring. Carrie Ann: "I thought it was amazing, I thought it was perfect." Len: "You've been consistent, you've been persistent, you've been ... a juggernaut. ... Fantastic!" Bruno: "You're a great dancer with great versatility." He calls her two dances both equally brilliant. Scores: 10-10-10, for a 30/30 and total 60/60. 

Brooke asks her about why they didn't choose "Time of My Life" from "Dirty Dancing," and she says they thought about it, but that song was always about her and Patrick Swayze dancing together and she wanted to do something new with Derek. Fair enough.

What did you think about tonight's performances? Oh, lordy, Skating With the Stars is on. Somebody help me.

Photo (from last week) courtesy of ABC

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