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'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Jana Kramer eliminated; final three set

Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko. The duo was eliminated from "Dancing With the Stars" on Monday night.
Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko. The duo was eliminated from "Dancing With the Stars" on Monday night. (Eric McCandless / ABC)

It's the first night of the season finale of "Dancing With the Stars," and each couple will perform two dances — a judges' choice of style and the freestyle.

Erin Andrews is wearing a dress with a very low bodice and sleeves/straps that hit at roughly the middle of her bicep. She and Tom Bergeron joke about how she can't raise her arms. Fashion!

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Calvin Johnson Jr. & Lindsay Arnold
Viennese waltz

Even if these two aren't exactly selling "passionate," they're at least selling romantic with this routine. It's not perfect, but there aren't any obvious mistakes or missteps.

Len Goodman is back and calls Calvin the most improved dancer in the finale. He says the routine was charming and praises the fluidity. Julianne Hough talks about Calvin's improved frame, posture and footwork. Bruno Tonioli says Calvin really took the lead tonight. Carrie Ann Inaba says it wasn't as "passionate" as the first time they did the Viennese waltz, but it was better technically. She does warn that she's going to deduct a point for Lindsay's foot coming off the ground during a spin, thus making it technically a lift.

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Up in the skybox, Erin surprises Calvin with his son Caleb, who as you might expect is a total cutie. He's totally inherited his dad's great smile.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko
Tango

I'd forgotten this, but the week they originally did the tango was the week Jana had the injury to her torso and was having trouble breathing.

During rehearsals, Gleb has the flu, which requires rest, fluids and more rest. So Jana rehearses with Alan. But Gleb is back Monday night, sans surgical mask, so either he's better and not contagious or he's pulling through and she doesn't care if she gets sick.

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As for the routine, they spend more of it than I like dancing up on a platform and only move down onto the floor about halfway through. There are also all kinds of flashing lights going on throughout the routine, and I find it unpleasantly distracting.

Julianne tells Jana that her journey has been about overcoming obstacles. Julianne echoes my complaint about them staying up on the platform too long. Bruno thinks they're "hotter than hell." He also thinks it was cleaner than the first tango they did. Carrie Ann agrees with Bruno about the improvement. She points out an accidental lift in this routine, too. Len comes out against penalizing for "accidental lifts," when a foot comes up during a spin as opposed to an intentional lift. I'm, unsurprisingly, with Len on this.

Backstage, Erin hands both of them bedazzled surgical masks. Hee.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9

Tom points out Norman Lear in the audience. The studio audience isn't as impressed with this as both Tom and I are. Norman Lear is a legend! "All in the Family"! "The Jeffersons"! "Good Times"! "Sanford & Son"! "Maude"! "One Day at a Time"! He's also a decorated World War II combat veteran and 94 years old. Yay for Norman Lear!

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy
Paso doble

The week they originally did this dance was the one when Val made Laurie cry! They've come a long way since then.

It is, of course, technically perfect because Laurie is the best dancer and really has been all season. I mean, I love the unexpected proficiency of James Hinchcliffe, but he hasn't, like Laurie, spent most of his life training his body how to move.

Bruno is pleased that she's toned down the angularity of her movements from earlier in the season. Carrie Ann echoes that "shaping." Len likes the focus between the partners. Julianne says they showed their growth throughout the season.

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

I'm surprised those weren't straight 10s — Julianne and Carrie Ann didn't really say anything to indicate why they weren't giving a perfect score.

James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess
Foxtrot

This was their Week 1 dance, and it was pretty great then. They should knock it out of the park tonight. Helio Castroneves shows up in the studio and forces Sharna to judge a dance-off because he's upset about Julianne calling James the best male dancer they've ever had on the show, even though Helio was Julianne's partner. Sharna judges James the winner, at which point Helio brandishes his Mirror Ball trophy from winning Season 5. He won't allow James to touch it. I would absolutely watch a James and Helio road trip show.

James and Sharna's routine has a bookstore motif, and I fear this is going to be too much faffing about at the beginning for Len. Sharna's full tweed skirt has a slit much higher than one would normally see in such a garment. It's a cute routine, but it feels more like foxtrot by way of Broadway than proper foxtrot.

Carrie Ann compliments how he glides through the dance and how his footwork is so smooth. She does point out a small stumble in the middle of the routine, though. Julianne calls him the "whole package" and then the "perfect package." Bruno says he didn't see the stumble…

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

Freestyle round
Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko

Huh. They're not dancing in the same order as they did the first round. I can only assume that must have something to do with the set or staging for one of the numbers.

Jana and Gleb are doing a contemporary-type routine and will dance while being connected to each other with a long piece of fabric. It's one of those artsy-fartsy things that could look really good but that makes me roll my eyes anyway.

I will give them credit for pulling off some moves that relied on the fabric to execute, making it more than just a visual gimmick. There's a really awkward lift in the middle where Gleb is carrying Jana over his head and across the floor, and it really looks like he's about to stumble and drop her — not as part of the choreography. And then there's the part after Jana unwinds herself from the fabric and runs across the floor, and it looks more like an awkward run than a dance move that represents running free.

Len calls it a fascinating concept and points out there was some sort of mistake when they were flying across the floor. I don't know which part he was referring to. Julianne mentions the stumble, too, and that's when they show a replay of Gleb's stumble I mentioned earlier. Bruno praises Jana's fearlessness as a performer. Carrie Ann calls her the underdog.

Erin asks what Gleb said to Jana after the routine and he admits he said, "I'm sorry" to Jana. He looks really upset and heartbroken over his stumble.

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

Calvin Johnson Jr. & Lindsay Arnold

They're going for an upbeat routine that combines elements of jive, Lindy hop and jazz, as well as a lot of lifts and tricks. They're even going to have two treadmills as part of the stage. Lindsay tells Calvin she trusts him to do lifts that she doesn't often trust other people to do with her, including professional partners.

It's a cute, fun routine. I'm not sure the treadmills were more than just a gimmick and honestly think they could've done more without them. But it's the kind of happy freestyle number that the studio audience — and they're hoping the home audience — loves.

Julianne absolutely loves it. Bruno praises Lindsay for bringing all of Calvin's good qualities into focus. Len calls it brilliant.

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Erin introduces a clip from Calvin's mom, who confirms what we suspected given the school picture from last week: Calvin can play the trombone. And lo and behold, they've now handed Calvin a trombone on live TV. No pressure! He gets it to make a sound, which is more than I could do.

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

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy

They're going for a "celebrate childhood and your inner child" theme, and it appears to involve a lot of playground equipment. At least that's what I can glean from rehearsal.

It starts with Laurie and Val on a merry-go-round, then a metal slide and then a seesaw. Most of these things have been taken off playgrounds since I was a kid, right?

Laurie's dancing barefoot, which makes her that much shorter than Val when they're in hold and really looks weird since he IS wearing shoes. She gets a very minor tumbling pass in the middle, and I swear they give her the slow-mo camera for her leap. I wish they'd had a better song. The lyrics were good but the tempo felt like it was building to a crescendo that never came.

Carrie Ann is so happy she can't talk for a bit. Len calls it fantastic. Len says he was there with them in the playground, 12 years old again. Which is about the time that playground equipment was still considered safe.

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

James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess

Apparently, they're going to tell the story of James' crash "through dance." Sharna is going to be his guardian angel. Blurgh. I really wish they'd gone for an upbeat routine because James has such a quick wit and so much energy.

It starts with a voiceover from James as he's standing in the middle of the stage, dressed in all white and getting the benefit of a wind machine. By the way, if you didn't know that some guardian angels wear halter bikini tops, now you do. The music for this is a blend of bits and pieces from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the OneRepublic song "Secrets," an arrangement from a group called The Piano Guys. The routine ends with another voiceover from James — about how they didn't think he'd live, much less walk again, and yet here he is.

Carrie Ann calls it artistic, intelligent, passionate, creative and well-danced. She says it had "everything and more." Len says it showcased James as a dancer and as a person. Julianne calls it one of the best freestyles she's ever seen. Bruno dubs it "visual poetry."

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

Results

It's gotta be either Jana & Gleb or Calvin & Lindsay going home tonight? Leading up to a battle tomorrow night between Laurie & Val and James & Sharna for winner, right?

The first couple called safe is Laurie & Val. The next couple announced safe is Calvin & Lindsay. And it's Jana & Gleb who are eliminated.

Scoreboard
Laurie & Val: 38 + 40 = 78
James & Jenna: 37 + 40 = 77
Calvin & Lindsay: 35 + 40 = 75

Predictions 

I'm delighted with this final three and am fully hoping Hinch pulls off a win, but won't be too upset if Laurie takes it.

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