'Dancing With the Stars' recap: And the winner is...

The show opens with a seriously cheesy Christmas number. This year, more than ever before it really feels like we're just bypassing Thanksgiving and going straight for Christmas, yeah?

I mean, I guess it's easier to do a Christmas number than a Thanksgiving number, but still. Oh, and this is all happening outside at the Grove, a mall in Los Angeles.


During the opening number, we get quick glimpses of all the already eliminated contestants. I really never needed to see that jockey do hip rotations ever ever again.

Erin's in another long column of sequins and I totally approve. She throws into Tom in the ballroom where the three finalist couples are.

Chaka Khan is back, not to dance, but to perform "I'm Every Woman." I wonder how many people watching this only know this as a Whitney Houston song? Mostly it's female dancers onstage with her but Keo Motsepe does get to come out and shake a tailfeather for a bit.


There's a quick recap of the first three weeks of competition. Remember that bizarro "Breaking Bad" routine from Mark with Alexa?

Kim Zolciak Biermann is back to do with Tony Dovolani the routine she didn't get to perform on TV night because of her withdrawal due to illness. I guess if the costume department already had that "I Dream of Jeannie" costume ready, they might as well let her get some use out of it.

And now here's a number for the pros to promote the upcoming tour. All the dudes have their shirts unbuttoned and all the gals are wearing very little clothing. And the thing that never fails to irk me — the women are dancing barefoot while the men are wearing shoes.



Erin says they wanted to do a montage of Tom's embarrassing moments but he doesn't do as many goofy things as Erin. So, instead, we're getting a weird kind of supercut (like what Jimmy Fallon used to do to make "Brian Williams: Gangsta Rapper"), where clips of Tom saying individual words have been spliced together to form the lyrics to "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats.

Eh. It's not as much fun as when they show the outtakes from dress rehearsals. The best part of it, though, is the use of the Tom Bergeron bobblehead. Which I want desperately, if Santa Claus is listening.

Paula Deen and Louis van Amstel reprise their "Gilligan's Island" number. I'm always happy to see Louis in an ascot.

It just occurred to me that we're about 30 minutes in at this point and I don't think we've seen the judges yet. I hope they're backstage getting howlingly drunk.

There's an awkward video of Alek and Carlos and their "bromance." Blurgh. Maybe Alek can convince Carlos to get rid of the man bun.

Carlos is back to do the "Magic Mike" routine again. Wait, I though this wasn't Pleasing to Jesus? And now they're doing it on a stage decked out for Christmas? Carlos, are you giving Jesus a lap dance for his birthday? After the routine, Erin says that routine was her gift to all of us. Remind me to send her a thank-you note.

Nick and Sharna are on the floor to reprise their "Downton Abbey" routine. Interesting. I didn't know the finalists would be doing encore dances, too. Cool.

Victor Espinoza! That's the jockey's name. Oh, lord, he's doing the pelvis thing again. With a sombrero.

Andy Grammer is back, not to dance, but to sing. Right off the bat, they have to cut the sound for A Word You Can't Say on Television. Oh, dear. I don't know if it's nerves or the sound system or what, but Andy's not sounding great tonight.

For their encore dance, Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold are doing their "Hometown" week routine to "Don't Stop Believin'."

Oh, yay! Here's the outtakes segment. Let's see. Carlos farted in Witney's face during a lift. Paula has fun talking about shag dancing. (Which is a thing in the Carolinas and coastal Georgia. My parents take lessons. They had great fun at a wedding once telling a table full of Irish people all about their "shagging lessons").

Erin admits to getting Botox for the first time, right in her forehead. Nick tries to rap and it's awful. I'm not putting anything Gary Busey says because it feels exploitative.

And speaking of Gary Busey, he's back to perform with Anna Trebunskaya. His time away from the show has not improved his dancing. Let's leave it at that. Oh, he goes over to greet the judges, so we get our first view of them. Alas, they do not have drinks in their hands.

Next, a recap of weeks 4-7, which included Most Memorable Year, Switch-Up, Memorable Routines, and Halloween. There is not ANY footage of the men in hot pants from Paula and Louis's "Vogue" routine. I would like to register a formal complaint.

Elle King is on to perform "Exes and Ohs." I really, really like this song. Fun fact I just learned last week — she's Rob Schneider's daughter. Yes, this talented young woman sprang from the loins of "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo."

During the song they cut over to the judges dancing in unison behind their table. Maybe the drinks are just hidden under the table.

Hayes Grier and Emma Slater are on the outdoor stage at the Grove reprising their contemporary routine to "Stitches." They're in white, the stage is white, it's all very Winter Wonderland. And then Erin's standing with Santa.

Santa starts to talk but his mic isn't up near his face so Erin makes him repeat himself. Santa tells us Hayes is going to be on the "DWTS" tour.

Weeks 8-10 were Inspiration, Just Plain Dancing, and Semifinals. Alexa PenaVega is back to reprise that "Breaking Bad" routine with Mark Ballas I mentioned earlier. Poor Alexa. I'm sure she's a woman who spends a fair amount of time in a gym and she's on national TV again and in a hazmat suit.

Now there's a segment called "'Twas the Night Before Finals" with Gary Busey as Santa, Paula Deen as Mrs. Claus and Victor Espinoza as an elf. This is the stuff of my nightmares. After the segment, Tom says, 'Gary Busey as Santa. That's enough to make you want to plug up your chimney, isn't it?"

Yes, Tom, yes it is.

Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough do the "start out blindfolded" Viennese waltz for their encore. The song is "Roses & Violets" and Alexander Jean is there singing it live for them while they dance. Alexander Jean, in case you're wondering, is Mark Ballas and his girlfriend, Brittany Jean Carlson, aka BC Jean.

There's a bit of dancing from Val Chmerkovskiy and Emma Slater and then Chaka Khan and Andy Grammer duet on "Baby, It's Cold Outside." First person to try to explain to me that song is "actually about date rape" gets a snowball right in the kisser.

LEN GOODMAN IS HERE. Oh, wait, no he's not. We just get a video message from him. Boooo. I suppose this also means no Dance Center. But WAIT. Len announces he's coming back next season. Christmas just came early for me!

24-Hour Fusion Challenge

Nick and Sharna have a salsa and tango fusion. Sharna reminds us that their Week 10 tango wasn't their best dance. Sharna's still got her performance hair in the rehearsal footage and it's weird out of context like that. They have a lift — I guess that's allowed because of the salsa part of the dance.


About halfway through, Nick rips off his jacket and tie and Sharna's dress suddenly has even less material. There's a little bit of hesitation on Nick's part as they go into the final lift, but the routine ends with a killer gravity defying lift/pose from Sharna.


Julianne says they left it all on the dancer floor, "literally." Bruno's shouting so he likes it. Carrie Ann is sad this is the last time we're watching Nick dance. She's also wearing a dress with a neckline so wide that I fear we may need stuff to be pixelated before the night is over.
While Erin is interviewing Sharna, Nick is using the ripped off part of Sharna's dress to fashion a head scarf for himself.

I kind of love him, guys.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10

Do we really think the judges are going to give anybody less than a 30 tonight? Maybe Alek. Maybe.

Alek and Lindsay have rumba and tango. I like Lindsay's description of the choreography, "Cuddle, cuddle, cuddle. OK, let's freakin' dance."

I don't think either of these styles normally allow lifts, so is that rule still in effect for them tonight? I think so, because there's one move where Lindsay looks like she's making a determined effort to keep her toes dragging the ground. Man, female dance pros and NFL wide receivers should share tips on how to drag your toes.

Bruno claims Alek's hips are starting to come alive. He also points out that there were a few missed steps. But he then compliments Alek's improvement over the season. Julianne thinks Alek's rumba tonight was better than the one they did last night.

Up in the skybox, Victor jumps up on Alek from behind, or tries to at least. Erin gives Victor A Look and then says, "This is Alek. Not a horse. This is our friend." Then she says to the camera, "We need security up here."

She then announces that Alek is joining the "DWTS" tour. Sure, why not? What else has he got going on for the next few weeks? Sounds a heck of a lot more interesting than college.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9

Called it.

Bindi and Derek have cha-cha/Argentine tango fusion. The Argentine tango is a great draw for a female celebrity if she can pull it off. Derek is shirtless in the rehearsal footage and that seems awkward given Bindi's age.

Ah, since it's part Argentine tango they do get to do lifts. If Alek and Lindsay had been more in contention for the trophy, they'd have every right to be ticked that they were the only couple not allowed lifts.

Carrie Ann exclaims that there was no more perfect way to end the season. Julianne says it was everything a fusion should be. Up close, Bindi's hair is weird. Her bangs are like a double peaked tsunami.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10

With Nick and Bindi tied in scores, this means the trophy is going to the fan favorite.

Tom grabs Bindi and Derek and they hop on a golf cart to ride over to the Grove. Once on the Grove stage with Erin and the other two finalist couples, Nick sings his new single.

Is this his consolation prize? Like, everybody knows it's going to Bindi, so here, plug your new song, Nick? Although, honestly, he's singing better on this than Andy did his single earlier. And that's after having danced twice tonight.

I'm officially a Nick Carter fan now. His new album is out tomorrow. Isn't that a handy coincidence?

Third place goes to ... (they actually drag this out like we don't know) ... Alek and Lindsay.

Now everybody's back in the ballroom for the awarding of the Mirrorball Trophy. Those golf carts must have some pickup.

To the shock of nobody but Bindi (and probably Taylor Swift, because she's always shocked at awards shows) she's the champion this season.

Nick is a class act and when talking to Erin, says unreservedly and happily, "Bindi deserved it!"

So that's another season in the books and Tom tells us Season 22 is back on March 21, with Len Goodman back at the judges table.

That's right before my birthday! Happy birthday to me!