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[WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Tuesday’s Dancing With the Stars finale.]
“It’s just plastic, but it means so much.” In that one sparkle-teary sentence, Maks summed up both his FINALLY completed quest to win the coveted mirrorball trophy and loyal viewers’ commitment to “Dancing With the Stars” itself. This one’s for all of us: Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy have won season 18!
The newly transformed Teddy Bearkovskiy and his ice princess are now free to have, like, ten thousand ice-dancing bear babies named Boris and Oleg. No, no, protested Maks. He’d just been kidding about all the offspring. Jeez, let a bear and a princess have a sexual relationship first, okay? And that’s season 18 in a nutshell — truly a fringed fairytale for the ages.
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough gave Meryl and Maks one last run for their plastic during “The 24-Hour Fusion Challenge” (which, as Erin Andrews astutely pointed out, does sound like a deodorant), at least in terms of scoring. Their Argentine tango-cha cha fusion earned a perfect 30 to match M&M’s foxtrot-cha cha earth-shaker. There is no doubt that Amy’s unbreakable spirit along with Derek’s brilliant choreography will linger on Planet Mirrorballus forever — thankfully, not in a novel penned by Carrie Ann Inaba, but rather within the orb’s unique glittery atmosphere, right alongside the endless spray tan molecules and hairspray. But come on. We all knew Meryl and Maks were going to win. Well, everyone except the quivering Maks.
Q&A: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Showrunner Conrad Green’s Exit Interview
Meanwhile, Candace Cameron Bure, proud winner of the lowest score ever in a freestyle, finished third with partner Mark Ballas. She kept screaming, “I did it!” as we all sat there, whispering back, “Not that well!” Candace had been “too tired and mentally finished” after “all the drama” on Monday’s show, so she and Mark woke up early to numbly get through their samba-quickstep fusion. She couldn’t help it, okay? God had placed her in bed at 8:30 p.m. Such was the destiny of the Deej. Hey, you know what? Cheers to Candace for getting through this crazy process alive. Some people are just not cut out for the a-dread-aline rush of liiiiiiiive TV. This was clearly tough for her, and like a good Tanner kid, she kept on trying. Aww. It’s so cute that she thinks she’ll get to come back for All-Stars.
No one could believe that previously eliminated couple James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd had won Monday’s Twitter vote for the chance to perform their leathery swordplay freestyle as an encore during the finale. But the night’s MOST shocking glitter bomb was the one head judge Len Goodman dropped on us near the end of the two hours: This might be his last season. What?! Say it shan’t be so, my lord and DANCMSTR! Who would take Len’s place? Louis Van Intensité? Maks? Candace? The Cube? I am NOT liking this, and I issue Len’s potential switch-up a negative “Seh-vehhhn!”
There’s much more to dwell on, but in the interest of urgency, I present….
The Top 18 Moments of the Season 18 Finale:
18. Len awkwardly caressing Carrie Ann’s shin during the opening number. It’s his (possibly last) party; he’ll do what he wants.
17. Mark calling Candace a gem. You know why. Gems!
16. Diana Nyad, Drew Carey, and Billy Dee Williams dancing awkwardly with Mr. Cube Head, the LMFAO mascot who erroneously thinks he can just come in here and fit in. Sorry, Cube. No Sphere, No Service. (Except when Tom Bergeron needs to consult you instead of finding a mirror.)
15. The random single giant curler in Erin Andrews’ hair during the very funny and lovingly edited Erin Clip Show. Am I pressing my luck if I hope for a dress rehearsal live feed as part of season 19? I volunteer to sit there and host it, or at the very least, live-tweet it.
14. Cody Simpson intently singing his single “Surfboard” while leaving his partner Witney to blend into his sea of backup dancers… and the viewing audience to halfheartedly ponder how the heck two people can even fit on the same surfboard.
STORY: Kiss of Death for ‘Dancing With the Stars’ James Maslow, Women Battle for Finale
13. Nene Leakes’ amped-up — with the pro ladies — encore of the “Grown Woman” African Anteater Ritual routine she’d done with Derek. Appropriately, they are all half her size, otherwise she might not have stood out as the adult.
12. Charlie and Meryl’s “ice dance on wood” solo…at least the few seconds we saw, anyway. In a perfect world: Less Nene, more Lie-Me.
11. The editors making sure to get Tom’s gleeful announcement of “A Chmerkovskiy sandwich!” into a clip series as Val and Maks escorted Robin Roberts down the amazing technicolor staircase.
10. Reigning “DWTS” champion Amber Riley belting out a “Glee”-worthy solo at the center of a writhing wheel of Our Pros. Anyone else spot “So You Think You Can Dance” spiky-haired sun-sprite Malece Miller?
9. Drew Carey gamely kicking and flicking alongside Artem, Sasha, Henry, and Tony for a spruced-up encore jive with partner Cheryl Burke.
8. Our Golf Pro Tony — always there when you need a hearty back pat — comforting a crying Maks in the stairwell backstage.
7. The contact high I enjoyed from Charlie White and Sharna Burgess’ head-spinning “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” jazz number, in which this time Charlie caught the cane but broke the umbrella. No matter: The pair is practically perfect in every way even without any props.
6. Team Loco’s encore dance — once more, with cameras rolling! #DWTSShirtsOff
5. Tom prompting fantasies nationwide with his promise of ABC’s “special summer series, ‘The Blushin’ Russian’”.
4. Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy’s electrifying “Beauty and the Beast” encore — if Meryl/Maks had never existed (UTTER BLASPHEMY) and this had turned out to be the strongest visual memory of the season, I think I’d be okay with that! What a shimmery chunk of quintessential-“DWTS” cheese.
3. Val as the ultimate Accent Pro throughout the night — dancing with Amber, leaping over Emma, gazing back into the crowd mid-routine with a knowing wink. Makin’ magic. As he does. How lucky M&M’s baby bears would be to have a sparkle-sorcerer as an uncle.
2. Amy’s adorable wave goodbye just before shutting off the lights in the first-string rehearsal studio…. and the ‘D-W-T-S’ vanity bulb clusters/beacons of hope remained on! Ahhhh!
1. Maks, on the season as a whole: “For it to be this way — you can’t write it. It was everything that I *never* thought it would be.” AGGGGGGHHHHH.
Congrats to M&M, and please let us know when you set a date for the wedding.
Thank you, DANCMSTRs one and all, for finding and reading me here. Have a lovely summer, and try not to drown in your rhinestone-studded backyard baby pools brimming with celebratory Russian vodka and tears of joy….
Don’t miss my Q&A with departing “DWTS” boss Conrad Green on THR.com.
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