After weeks of competitive dancing, the three remaining couples of this season's "Dancing With the Stars."
After weeks of competitive dancing, the three remaining couples of this season's "Dancing With the Stars." (Adam Taylor / ABC)

It's the finals! Where did this season go? No opening number this week; the contestants come out with introductions right away. Riker's in his Captain Jack Sparrow get-up, so I guess we know which routine they're reprising.

Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess (Argentine Tango)


They got 30 points for this dance originally. Noah says he was thinking about the dance too much when they first did it. Then he jokes, "I was worried about you kicking me in the teeth, but now that you've already kicked a tooth out …"

It still looks awkward when Noah kicks with his left leg, but that can't be helped. They stumble a bit getting into one of the lifts and Noah seems to lose his footing hitting the final pose. So, a few imperfections.

Len Goodman says this is going to be a close final. Of the routine, he says it was unsteady here and there, and the last lift was a bit creaky. Julianne Hough says the biggest improvement was his attitude and commitment. She mentions the fluffed lift, too. Bruno Tonioli says the opening of the routine was some of the best dancing Noah's done. Carrie Ann Inaba says it was hard for her to watch because his nerves clearly got the best of him.

Erin Andrews is wearing another vintage prom dress. What's up with that?

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 8, Julianne: 8, Bruno: 8

So, it is an improvement over the last time they performed it.

Riker Lynch & Allison Holker (Paso Doble)

Tom Bergeron tells us that over the season, Riker & Allison were the highest scoring of the finalists. I get why they picked this routine in terms of its appeal, but there are other dances that would have fit the "improve your scores" challenge more.

They dance their hearts out from start to finish. Julianne starts to talk but gets interrupted by Len giving an impromptu standing ovation. Julianne likes his energy level combined with a newfound control. Bruno gushes about the character and Spanish lines. Carrie Ann says this was the number that proved to her Riker belonged in the finals. Len calls it "epic."

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 10, Julianne: 10,  Bruno: 10

Riker hams it up with his Johhny Depp/Jack Sparrow accent.

Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy (Foxtrot)

They're revisiting the dance they did in the premiere. They were the top score that night, but Rumer says she was dancing scared then. She wants to redo the dance with her newfound confidence.

They're smiling throughout the routine, likely because they're so happy with each other and the dancing, but it really doesn't fit the character of the song.


Bruno calls it "pure ballroom bliss." Carrie Ann describes the routine as "pure exquisite poetry in motion." Len's comments are mostly drowned out by the crowd, but he loves it. Julianne calls it "flawless."

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

Freestyle Round

Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess

Sharna says for the freestyle she wants to show Noah's "vulnerable" side. He gets choked up in the rehearsal footage talking about Sharna's choreography.

It's a contemporary routine, done to David Guetta's "Titanium" and it's really, really good choreography on Sharna's part. It's inventive with regards to Noah's body and perfectly captures the part of his story that has so appealed to viewers this season. Also, abs.

Len calls it amazing. Julianne is standing up and declares it a celebration. Bruno says it had a poetic quality and echoes Julianne's compliments about the choreography. Carrie Ann gushes about art and dance and the meaning of life. Noah is clearly trying not to sob while talking to Tom. Just before they cut to commercial Noah crosses the dance floor and hugs a woman I think is probably his mom. Awww.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 10, Julianne: 10, Bruno: 10

Riker Lynch & Allison Holker

Riker says he wants everybody to watch this freestyle and say, "They had an awesome time doing this." Allison's voice breaks as she says she's given Riker some of the hardest routines she's ever seen on this show and she doesn't know if she'd have made it this far without him.

I'm a little surprised that they've gone for an old-fashioned routine to "I Won't Dance" with Riker in top hat and tails. It starts to go into a remix version, but it's still a bit off-brand for Riker's fanbase I'd think. It's clever and inventive but it doesn't feel young.

Tom runs over and grabs them, dragging them over to the judges' table for time's sake. Tom is barely letting the judges talk for time's sake. Maybe if they hadn't lavished so much time on Noah and his post-dance interview we'd have more time for Riker. No competition as to who the producers' favorite is.

In the short time the judges get they're all super congratulatory and both Bruno and Len mention Fred Astaire.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 10, Julianne: 10, Bruno: 10

Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy

Tom tells us they'll be dancing to a cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic" with vocals by Rumer and violin by Val. Did we know already Val could play the fiddle? I had no idea he was multi-talented.

Rumer says she wanted something that was "completely their own" because Val's compared to his brother (Maksim Chmerkovskiy, former "DWTS" star and winner) and she to her parents.

It's a strong, powerful, sexy routine with a strong basis in Argentine Tango. It's also the only one of the freestyles not to have backup dancers. Smart move by Val, there, to keep all the focus on the two of them and their chemistry.

Bruno uses words like "luscious," "bewitching" and "intensity." Carrie Ann says she watches Rumer just as a dancer not as a judge. Len points out the lack of backup dancers and how there was no faffing around at the beginning. Julianne calls it raw, real, honest, and everything Rumer and Val represent together.

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


Riker & Allison: 40 + 40 = 80
Rumer & Val: 40 + 40 = 80
Noah & Sharna: 32 + 40 = 72


With any other couple, I'd say an eight-point deficit would be hard to overcome, but Noah is a juggernaut. And apparently there's a "fusion" dance Tuesday night to complete the judges' scores. Historically, though, the judges don't vary the scores much for contestants in that last dance.

I'd be happy seeing either Rumer or Riker take it, but I have a slight preference for Rumer.