Dancing with the Stars, Season 27, Week 9: Final
Milo & Witney and Evanna & Keo get perfect scores, but Bobby & Sharna win anyway.
We may have started this season with two-night weeks, but for the second season in a row, we’re having a one-night final. So all the fancy final stuff has to happen tonight. Like an elaborate opening, where they have a literal ticker-tape parade down a red carpet to the studio!
There’ll be a few extra filler numbers during the show as well, and even recaps. But of course, the main thing tonight remains the dancing. In the first round, each couple will do a “super-sized” reprise their “most memorable” dance, preceded by a reflective fluff, and the second of course is the freestyle.
Alexis Ren & Alan Bersten: Argentine Tango; “Swan Lake Suite” Rey Chew
I suppose this really was the most memorable one; the showmance didn’t really perk up the routines themselves as much. Also, they want to be able to pull it off without having the trouble with the tutu they had last time. That, this time, goes off without a hitch. They also bring in a live orchestra to play the music. The routine feels a bit more dramatic overall, but it still feels more scary than anything else when the music starts going screwy. She’s certainly improved, with Bruno calling her a “beautiful black swan.” But all three judges have technical quibbles remaining, so she gets straight Nines for 27.
Bobby Bones & Sharna Burgess: Cha Cha Cha; “U Can’t Touch This” MC Hammer
In terms of memorability, this would be the routine to redo. But it does bring the complication that it was a trio, and Lindsey Stirling isn’t there to do it with them tonight. Bobby makes do with high-fiving the audience, and getting encircled by female background dancers, while he engages in his usual antics. Besides a small amount of technical improvement, he’s now maybe a little more used to performing in front of an audience, so he really is better in this. Bruno even goes so far as to call him “irresistible.” After kissing Len last time he got straight Eights, he kisses Bruno when he gets them again for 24.
Then Sharna gets a chance to show how good she can be with a partner who truly can dance, when she and Artem do some heated romantic dancing to Dan & Shay’s new single:
The finalists aren’t the only ones doing super-sized reprises. Joe Amabile & Jenna Johnson also get to redo their trio, with the equally sexy Val Chmerkovskiy doing Jordan Kimbell’s part, and some other Bachelors showing up. There’s more shirtlessness and more wackiness this time, though sadly less showering:
Evanna Lynch & Keo Motsepe: Tango; “Disturbia” Rihanna
This of course is the one where she put on cat ears and declared she was dancing for herself, and also, she now says, started dancing with emotion. Her dancing is bigger and bolder several weeks later, especially when she leads her background dancers on the floor. She got two Tens last time around for this one, but Len, who gave her a Nine last time, specifically praises the improvement in her posture and frame. That gets his score up to a Ten too, so Evanna enjoys the first perfect score of the night, and then a video message of approval from the great Hermione herself, Emma Watson!
Milo Manheim & Witney Carson: Charleston; “Living in New York City” Robin Thicke performing live
Tom makes sure to give Thicke his props for doing this when he lost his home in the California fires only days ago. He brings a couple of horn players too. This was Milo’s breakout dance, and it was another one that was already really good. But aided by his improved ability and the live accompaniment boost, Milo is even more bouncy and energetic than he was last time, and maybe a touch more refined. Len makes the audience stir by saying “I didn’t like your Charleston as much…last time,” and this, too, proves to be a dance to get a perfect score this time around.
In between the two rounds, we get we get showcasing of the two couples who were shocked out when they shouldn’t have been. First Juan Pablo di Pace & Cheryl Burke, who do their instant classic Argentine Tango. They’ve got live accompaniment this time, but there’s really not much that can make this number better than it already was:
Tinashe & Brandon Armstrong, the first of the three to go, get to perform with the guys outside. She gets to sing as well:
Alexis Ren & Alan Bersten: Freestyle; “Head Above Water” Avril Lavigne performing live
His first freestyle isn’t an easy challenge for Alan, especially when it’s one where they’re apparently required to cut away to the artist. He choreographs an “empowering” dance that involves Alexis on top of a mountain, and she really does project herself as being on top of the world when she’s up there, and she also comes down to dance with Alan and showcase their connection to each other, showing off her technical ability too. Carrie Ann calls it the best dancing she’s seen out of her yet, while Len praises her for keeping up with the song, and they break out the straight Tens, and she totals 57.
Bobby Bones & Sharna Burgess: Freestyle; “The Greatest Show” The Greatest Showman
One might have expected this music choice for such a celebrity, and the big crowd number makes sense. But the rest of this routine…well, it has Bobby stopping to make comments and demands, him being lifted, a Busby Berkeley moment, Tom coming in and flossing his teeth, and him basically doing only what he’s good at, which isn’t what’s usual at all. But it’s a strategic move that pays off. The judges declare him “the people’s champions,” Len says he’s now “my champion” too, and all three of Bobby, Sharna, and Tom hit the floor when they give him straight Tens, leaving him with 54.
Milo Manheim & Witney Carson: Freestyle; “Ain’t No Sunshine (Lido remix)” Bill Withers
Milo is another guy suited to a freestyle a little bit out of the ordinary. One a little weird in its music choice and mood, but he just totally makes it work. And he does all the dance moves, including the jumps and backflips that he actually uses to express the music. Like Alexis, he also has a segment where he breaks from the crowd and just dances with Witney, and that too works. In the fluff Witney fretted about using the umbrellas, but that goes off perfectly. A gaping Carrie Ann emphasizes the freestyle’s content, Bruno calls him a star, and straight Tens is mandatory at this point, and with them a perfect score.
Evanna Lynch & Keo Motsepe: Freestyle; “It’s Oh So Quiet” Bjork
Keo, like Alan, is choreographing a freestyle for the first time, and he gets nervous. What he comes up with is the most traditional one we’ve had tonight, a standard Broadway-esque showstopper which shades of the original music video. Evanna absolutely loves this song, lip syncing along to it, and rarely was a song so perfectly expressed; it’s like she’s living in it. She now has a lot of flair, and she makes the dance moves themselves and music changes look absolutely effortless. Len calls it the “cherry on the cake” to a great night, and they break out one last set of Tens; she gets 60 too.
As is the usual practice, we get a final live performance, which honestly contains too many shots of the singer and the contestants, and not enough clips shown on screen of their actual dancing. And now, like last season we’re not getting what order they finished in, only who won. With this set of contestants, this should be a moment of true suspense. Except…with how popular Bobby’s been, and the fact that the judges pretty much gave in that last round, and only a six point difference, it suddenly feels all too likely he & Sharna are going to win…
And they do. And it’s nice that Sharna’s gotten her first trophy, and really touching that Bobby’s looking teary-eyed, but…look, it’s all well and good for a contestant like Bobby to make a deeper run than his dancing quality would dictate. But there were three celebrities out there tonight who turned themselves into true dancers and created true beauty out there, and there were three more who almost certainly would’ve done so had they not all been eliminated before their times. At some point, the actual quality of the dancing needs to have its say. A contestant like Bobby Bones makes you wonder what the point of it is.
And while this is the first time we’ve actually had this kind of situation result in this kind of win, all the seasons lately have been suffering from dubious results, too many shock eliminations, and as others have pointed out, the fact that the it was the contestants of color who all went out too early also is a big problem. But I don’t know what the solution to all this is.