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'Dancing With the Stars' recap, Season 19 finale, Part 1

For the Baltimore Sun
"Dancing With the Stars" recap: Who's one step closer to being crowned champ?

Finale time! I'm back just in time. I'm predicting either a Sadie or Alfonso win and hoping for Alfonso.

When they show a picture of all four finalists next to each other, I start singing at my couch buddy: "One of these things is not like the other one." (As in, three young brunette women and Alfonso.)

Bethany Mota & Derek Hough


Bruno Tonioli has chosen for Bethany and Derek to redo their jive from week 1. When he comes to visit them in the rehearsal studio, he mentions the difficulty Bethany had with the transitions.

She looks like she might have forgotten a couple of steps, but overall it's fine. And her shoes are super-cute - pink and white t-strap spectators. Derek confirms to Tom that there was an issue with the set at the beginning (furniture not getting moved out of the way fast enough). But then Derek, pro that he is, gives praise to the normally good and hard working production crew.

Len Goodman loves it. Julianne Hough says she's focusing more on Bethany now than Derek because Bethany is that good. Bruno praises Bethany's willingness and ability to take instruction. He does point out the timing issue that caused some roughness in the middle.

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

Not terrible given the big goof in the middle.

Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas


Sadie got so excited by her scores last week she threw up backstage. Nice. That's a new bonding experience for her and Mark. Sadie's excited because a One Direction guy comes to visit their rehearsal.

This is the routine with mark in camo and a big fake beard -- and Sadie dressed like a peacock. It's weird to watch Mark shake his butt samba style in camo.

Julianne loved it the first time and she likes it even better this time. Bruno says the Quack Pack is celebrating. Bruno thought they were slightly behind on their timing. Len thought there was a little issue with timing as well.

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

Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkovskiy


Janel is still filming "Pretty Little Liars" and missed three days of rehearsal. They get visited by judge Julianne who wants them to really sell the attitude of the dance more. During dress rehearsal, Janel suffered a rib injury, so she's dancing tonight with tape visible on her side.

There's one part where she goes down into a semi-split with him holding her under the armpits and she visibly winces. Poor thing.

Bruno says it was a wonderful, wonderful dance. Carrie Ann says she lost her footing a little bit in the turns. Len says he didn't see an issue with the turns. What he saw was great rhythmic dancing mixed with a clarity and sharpness.

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

Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson


Carrie Ann is their judge for a rehearsal visit and she gives Alfonso a brief massage. I bet he's glad that wasn't Bruno.

That routine was great Week 1 and I don't think it was any less great just now. Carrie Ann is standing up and clapping and is super excited about how good it was. Len says Alfonso dances like Frank Sinatra sings.

He stands up and adds that Alfonso has just taken an enormous step into the finale. Julianne keeps standing up during her comments too. Bruno is up out of his seat, but that's not anything unusual. As they get ready to go upstairs Tom says, "Well, that smells like a perfect score."

Erin makes a big deal over the Facebook message Will Smith put up in support of Alfonso.

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

Alfonso thanks his doctors by name. Hee.

After all the gushing Erin did about Will Smith, Tom looks at the camera and tells Will that if he's ever going to have a stalker, he could do worse than Erin Andrews. Hrm. Erin had a very public and upsetting run-in with a stalker (bad enough to get the guy prison time), so I'm not sure that joke was in the best taste. A rare misstep from Tommy B.

Before the freestyle round, we get a quick performance of moppets from the new "Annie", including star Quvenzhané Wallis, doing "It's the Hard Knock Life." At the end, Tom joins the girls as they all jump on the bed. Too much fun.

Freestyle Round

Bethany Mota & Derek Hough

They're going for a dramatic vibe with a song about revolution, representing her life journey. Even though her styling is supposed to be dramatic, there's actually something about her styling that makes her look like a little girl. Maybe it's the hair pulled back like a girl at her first dance recital.

There's a crazy move in the middle where Bethany is lifted off the floor by her ankles and then caught at the torso by other dancers who then thrust her up above everybody. It's crazy. There are also several lifts/poses that show that Bethany's been working on both her core strength and her balance.

Len says he got what he was expecting: Drama and lifts. He calls it a "five star" freestyle. Julianne loved it. Bruno is ecstatic.

ABC News interrupts to bring live coverage of the Michael Brown killing grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo. We're told they will air the entirety of "Dancing With the Stars" after the news coverage finishes.

Back to superficial dancing show and we find out that Carrie Ann feels that there was no under-dancing on the part of the backup dancers - that Bethany was holding her own with the pros.

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

Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas

They're embodying Princess Peach and Mario from the classic Mario Brothers video game franchise. Mark makes sure we know that he's doing something "unorthodox," something "that's never been done before." Yes, yes, Mark, we get it. You're the best.

This routine is actually freaking adorable. And a great choice for Sadie and her personality.

Julianne is standing up and hollering "GAME OVER." She says it was the cutest thing she's ever seen. Bruno calls it refreshing and original. Carrie Ann says it was the most memorable freestyle routine in ages. Len says he'll never forget this routine.

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

Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkovskiy

They decide to keep it simple for their freestyle, just being Janel and Val. So she's in some random strips of fabric and he's shirtless and they're dancing to a super slow version of "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)." Oh, just get a room, you two. We all know you're doing it. Or at least want us to think you're doing it.

Bruno says it was a visualization of a love poem. Then he talks about souls being touched and thanks them. Carrie Ann says their dance went inside and changed all of us. I FEEL VIOLATED. Len likes that it was just the two of them and combined artistry and athleticism.

Upstairs with Erin, Janel says she loves Val and Val gets almost to choked up too talk.

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

Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson


They're planning on incorporating a little bit of all their dances and a tap solo from Alfonso.

Witney points out that she's the last remaining female pro and how much experience Derek, Mark and Val have. As much as I loved the other freestyles, I do like a freestyle that's still very grounded in ballroom styles. And then there's the Carlton and then there's the tap solo and then Witney comes back in and syncs up with his tap moves.

Carrie Ann basically says it was everything and then some. Len loved it. Julianne echoes Len's comments about how close the finalists are this season. Bruno says it was an undeniable showstopper. He says there was a little Gene Kelly here, a little Bob Fosse there, and then raves about the "isolations" Alfonso did with his hips. Alfonso says those HURT. I bet they did, with an injured groin.

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


Alfonso & Witney: 40 + 40 = 80

Sadie & Mark: 38 + 40 = 78

Janel & Val: 37 +40 = 77

Bethany & Derek: 36 + 40 = 76

Well, now they're going to send someone packing. Seems a shame after four perfect freestyles. Couldn't they have saved this for the beginning of the show tomorrow night?

Of course Alfonso & Witney and Sadie & Mark are through. So which brunette I didn't know at the beginning of the season is going home?  It's Bethany. Good run for her, honestly, especially coming in as a non-performer.

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