Tonight's Dancing with the Stars finale started with a bittersweet montage, narrated by Tom Bergeron, only to segué inappropriately into the upbeat theme music. Yikes. Then the show opened with a number featuring all the performers who didn't make it (minus Corky) dancing, to eventually be joined by their partners one by one: The Hoff, Margaret, The Situation, Florence (and Corky), Rick, Kurt, and then Brandy. Brandy & Maks danced center stage while some of the lesser contestants (we're looking at you, The Situation) gamely tried to keep up and, at the end, the three finalists and their partners took the stage. Brooke Burke explained that Michael Bolton was performing in London and Audrina was "recuperating from an illness."
In the montage from last night, we saw Lacey tell Kyle backstage that their Foxtrot was the first time she thought he was sexy. Jennifer and Derek nearly had an accident during rehearsal for their freestyle, but they powered through and were excited by the scores. Bristol was seen getting well-wishes from her mom before the Jive, but feeling down after her Freestyle scores. Then she told the camera, "Winning this would mean a lot. It would be like a big middle finger to all the people who hate my mom and hate me." Klassy with a "k." Jennifer then told the audience that she'd ruptured a disc last night, but had decided to try to finish the competition after treatment at the hospital. She looked a little weepy, but kept it together.
Christina Aguillera took the floor with the hair we thought she'd ditched after "Dirty" and a routine that, like Mark's, borrowed heavily from Chicago and not exactly anything from traditional burlesque.
Kyle & Lacey
Given the opportunity to pick their favorite dance of the season, Kyle & Lacey picked their Tango to perform again. And, if you thought he was all attack last time, well, that was nothing. He was all animal, fiery, sharp, well-postured and (goodness knows we feel creepy saying it) sexy.
Len said he came out with such great attitude, "full on and full of energy." Bruno called him "a talented young man." Carrie Ann loved his poise, power and control.
Bristol & Mark
They also chose their Rock Week Tango, and Bristol decided she wanted to break hold despite the automatic one-point loss for doing so because, as Bristol said, they had nothing to lose. Except, you know, that point. It actually started off better than their original version because Bristol's posture was decided better and her footwork was sharper... but then her face didn't change expression from what we decided to term "bemused distaste" until they broke hold — and then there was no Kiss-tongue, which was the most fun part of breaking the hold. Her expression did change, but she lost the upper body posture and had some difficulty with the fast footwork near the end (in the same place as before, even) and the final hold was missing all the original oomph. What happened?
Bristol looked like someone with a case of senior-itis during the judging. Bruno said her performance was at the same level as last time. Carrie Ann thought it was bigger and broader than last time. Len liked her neatness and precision, but felt the performance wasn't there, saying that "[Kyle's] all the wow, and you're all the how. And there you have it." Umm.
Jennifer & Derek
They chose their Viennese Waltz from the show opener, as Jennifer thought it would be a great way to bookend their time together (and, you know, it IS another Dirty Dancing song). For a woman who ruptured a disc last night, she looked pretty amazing — and her husband and her both looked pretty weepy at the end. But the dance was beautiful, if more knowing and adult than the last time and, frankly, we kept holding our breaths, worried that Jennifer would throw out her back.
Carrie Ann said she loved the way they showcased the full range of her journey by choosing that dance. Len called her "the complete package." Bruno called it "a blissfully beautiful Waltz."
Kyle & Lacey received 9s from Carrie Ann and Bruno and an 8 from Bruno, for a total of 26. Bristol and Mark got 8s from Carrie Ann and Bruno and a 9 from Len for a total of 25. Jennifer and Derek got perfect 10s, for a total of 30.
Then Brooke Burke told them their final dance music: "Raise Your Glass" by P!nk. Kyle & Lacey got the first slot, Jennifer & Derek the second and Bristol & Mark the last slot.
The it was time to raise our glasses, because it was filler time! That filler included The Hoff running shirtless in from the beach to sing the Baywatch theme song that segued into a dance with Kym that was way less creepy than the first version, even if there were two more bathing suit clad women with them. We're not sure how that worked.
Then it was time for the pros to talk about each other! Everyone said Derek is a great choreographer; Lacey was unafraid; and Mark is a workhorse. They basically all wanted to win for the bragging rights.
More filler: Rick and Kurt competed! They did the obligatory funny trash talking, then took the stage in spangled vaguely sporty outfits to the tune of "Eye Of The Tiger." It was cheesy, the audience loved it, and it was all in good fun. They even got a standing ovation from the judges.
Then, more filler! Margaret & Louis and Florence & Corky did Margaret's disastrous Samba to "Copa Cabana." She reprised some of her initial footwork issues, but looked much more confident in her performance — and, they didn't make her cover her tattoos this time, but they painted them in glitter. Florence was clad in the sort of turban that drove the women in "Soapdish" nuts and had a little trouble keeping up with the rhythm but — hey, it was Florence doing the Samba. We didn't care.
And if you were waiting for the dumbest, most awesomely stupid moment of Season 11, you didn't have to wait long. The Situation & Karina brought the time machine back... in reverse, to take The Situation from sextillionaire and governor of New Jersey back to the stage to allow three women to dance around him to Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy." It was so perfect, we could only stand in awe.
Brandy & Maks then reprised their Friends theme Quickstep. Aw. It was sweet, adorable, high energy and let us repeat: she was robbed. Clearly.
Christina Aguillera and her "Dirty"-era hair then took the stage to over-perform "Beautiful" with a sexified ASL-translator (who was joined by several others) that transitioned into a modern dance.
Finally, it was time for the (sigh) Cha-Cha-challenge. And for the stars to descend the Staircase of Horror despite what we said last week.
First up: Kyle & Lacey. He had great arms, great rhythm, great performance and had it together from the moment he took the stage. Jennifer & Derek took the stage next, looking fun, intricate and tight, as usual. And then, it was time for Bristol & Mark. She started off with the same basic problem as she had in the instant dance: an inability to keep the rhythm when she didn't know the music. But she finally managed to let go and, by the end, she was definitely looking better than Kyle — but we weren't sure it made up for totally missing the rhythm for the first 4 bars.
Len said he'd never seen Bristol that good, Kyle was great and Jennifer was amazing. Bruno called Jennifer's Cha-Cha "perfection," said Kyle was on fire and said Bristol had "saved the best for last." Carrie Ann said Kyle & Lacey inspired joy; Bristol & Mark inspired hope; and Jennifer & Derek showed perseverance.
Kyle & Lacey received 9s from Carrie Ann and Len and a 10 from Bruno for total of 28. That gave them a nightly total of 54 and a finals round total of 110. Jennifer & Derek also received 9s from Carrie Ann & Len and a 10 from Bruno for a 28. That gave them a nightly total of 58 and a finals round total of 118. Bristol & Mark received all 9s, for a total of 27. That gave them a nightly total of 52 and an finals round total of 104.
Then it was time to tell someone goodbye: Tom Bergeron explained that they'd had more votes than every before — to the point that it crashed their website last night. The third place couple was Bristol & Mark. She said goodbye with tons of class, and then it was sad montage time: it made her tear up — and Brooke Burke, too. Really, Brooke Burke?
Anyway, then it was time for the Mirror Ball awards ceremony: Jennifer & Derek were the winners. Tom reminded Jennifer that she almost didn't compete tonight, and she teared up thinking that she might not have. Kyle thanked his fans, and then congratulated Jennifer (a class act!) and she ran over and hugged him, too. Then Derek helped her hoist the trophy and that, was Season 11: Corky hoisted Jennifer on his shoulders and Mark hoisted Derek, and the band played Sly and the Family Stone's "Dance To The Music," and that was the end of Season 11. Both democracy and meritocracy triumphed. You go, America!