‘DWTS’ Finals: Jennifer Vs. Bristol – The Good, The Bad & Kyle

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough look strongest going into the finale. (ABC)

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough look strongest going into the finale. (ABC)

Thus far ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has dealt with hate letters laced with white powder, a frightening evacuation, an FBI investigation, voting conspiracies, and of course Bristol Palin detractors threatening never to watch the show again – and that was just before a single paso had been dobled on night one of this week’s two-night finale.

In tonight’s behind-the-scenes video, Bristol Palin said that she’s well aware of all the people out there “just waiting for me to fail.” She added that the week has been “really intense” and she’s “more intimidated by the media stuff than [her competitors].”

But don’t worry. Like her mom, she’s handling the heat and thus not ready to get out of the kitchen. “I just had to let it [all the criticism] roll off my back,” she said. “We’re continuing to improve week by week and people don’t acknowledge that.”

They don’t? Then what’s she still doing on the show?

But enough. This is a Bristol Bashing-Free zone.

Tonight’s show, the second-to-last night of season eleven of DWTS, was pure fun and excitement. The task at hand for the three remaining couples – Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough, Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas and Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer – was to perform two dances -one “redemption” dance picked by the judges, and one “freestyle” selected by the couples.

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Here’s how the final three face-off went down:

The Redemption Dance Round Goes to Jennifer & Derek

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough: Paso Doble
The front-runners took another shot at the dance that made Carrie Ann call her “out of control” and declare, “I don’t know what is happening!” Take two, to me, was much more intense, dramatic, and tight. What was happening this time around was pure redemption. “This is redemption!” screamed Carrie Ann. Len said, “It was fantastic.” Bruno went on about flames of passion and bliss and ended with something about not wanting this night to ever end. Over the top, sure, but I couldn’t agree more. Before giving a 10, Bruno said, “I wish I had an 11.”
Score: 30

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer: Fox Trot
At the top of the show, Kyle said, “I want this trophy bad” and boy did his performance tonight prove that. Re-doing the Fox Trot that Len called “terrible” and Bruno called “a joke” the first time around, Kyle and Lacey nailed it this time. The bummer, though, was that it’s such a serious dance that Kyle’s best attributes – his humor, his joy, his silly smile, and his high-energy – weren’t able to be out in full force and that might hurt him. “You’ve come out so much better than that first one,” said Len. “Overall, you’ve gone from Messy Massey to Marvelous Massey.” Bruno loved it too, and Carrie Ann saw improvement in his “footwork” but thinks his freestyle is where he’s going to shine the brightest tonight.
Score: 27

Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas: Jive
Okay, it was better. Yes, she’s improved…a little. Thank God they didn’t bring back the monkey suit. I gotta give her that. But does it mean she’s a good dancer now? Hell no. Does it mean that just by improving you belong in the finale? Uh-uh. But here she is…still. And the crowd, which once again included mom Sarah, went bananas. (Meanwhile, some in the media room booed a bit.) “We all enjoyed it,” said Bruno. “You never cease to amaze me…Wow, great job,” said Carrie Ann. Len dug it big time too. “Marked improvement. Well done,” he said. After the three 9s were revealed, backstage peeps yelled, “What?” “No!” and “What is wrong with the judges?”
Score: 27

The Freestyle Dance Round Goes to Jennifer & Derek

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough:
Yes! Finally, we get to see Baby from ‘Dirty Dancing!’ to the tune of “Do You Love Me?” That’s right, finally a nod to the movie that made her famous. And boy did Derek bring out all the tricks she Could handle, from flips to twirls to jumping on the judges’ table to, get this, the prop of all props – a watermelon (it was a nod to was a scene in ‘Dirty Dancing’ where she says “I carried a watermelon.”) The crowd love it. The judges loved it. The press backstage practically wept. “I thought it was perfect!” said Carrie Ann. Len called her irresistible and fantastic. Bruno called both of her performance tonight “equally brilliant.”
Score: 30

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer
Dancing hip-hop moves and looking like b-boys and b-girls in denim, yellow and caps, Kyle did what the fans expected him to do: He shook his jelly. He made us laugh. He made us want to get up and shake our tootsie rolls. Hell, he even did cartwheels and the worm. The entertainment factor was high here tonight. Loud applause from the press room for that one. “Kyle, tootsie roll, one of my favorites,” said Len laughing. “I’m not a great lover of the boogaloo dance, but great entertainment,” he added. Bruno called it “explosive entertainment” and “loved every minute of it.” Carrie Ann said he “killed it” and dubbed him “The Fresh Prince of Dancing with the Stars.”
Score: 29

Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas:
Bristol admitted to never having heard of the Broadway show ‘Chicago.’ Wow, I refuse to believe people from Alaska are that out of touch. Wish I could say I was wowed by her Tango-inspired dance, but I can’t. Bruno gave her credit for taking on such an iconic number and said she did “very, very well, but not quite at the level that this song requires.” Carrie Ann liked the fact that she was dancing in a cage. Points for the cage from Miss Inaba. Len thought it was fantastic.
Score: 25

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough: 30 + 30 = 60
Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer: 27 + 29 = 56
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas: 27 + 25 = 52

Tuesday’s season 11 finale will send one couple home early on, leaving the final two couples to dance two dances – their favorite ballroom dance and a new Instant Dance to a Cha Cha Cha. Christina Aguilera will also perform a song from her new movie ‘Burlesque’ and her hit ‘Beautiful,’ and all season 11 contestants will come back to hit the dance floor.

But will Brandy take the judges up on their offer to perform a freestyle?
And, since history has shown that the couple who wins the freestyle round on this night usually wins the trophy, do you think Jennifer and Derek will take it home tomorrow? Until tomorrow…

Who’s taking home that shiny mirror-ball trophy Tuesday night? Hit those comments.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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