Credit: DWTS on Instagram Photo: Meryl and Maks Win DWTS Season 18

He finally did it!

In his 14th season on Dancing With the Stars, Maksim Chmerkovskiy finally got hoisted onto the shoulders of his peers as confetti fell on his head, the crowd cheered, and he was named the co-parent of DWTS Season 18’s plastic Mirror Ball trophy.

Yes, Maks and his outstanding Olympic ice dance partner Meryl Davis won the spring 2014 season. M&M were predicted as the season winners when the cast was announced, and they lived up to the hype. But they were still a surprise — especially since Charlie White was also there as an equal “ringer” with ice dancing experience, but Meryl just brought something extra.

Meryl also, unexpectedly, brought out just what Maks needed to be a better dancer, a better teacher, a better choreographer, and maybe a better person in general.

This is Maks’s win, in a lot of ways — and it was adorable to see his brother Val and BFF Tony Dovolani run over to be the first to congratulate him — but this is absolutely Meryl’s win as a shining star. Maybe anyone could’ve won with her, but M&M ended up being exactly the right match. How wonderful for them.

It felt inevitable that the Finale would come down to Meryl & Maks vs. Amy Purdy and Derek Hough, and that’s exactly how it played out. Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas took third, which was just fine by them. Tom Bergeron looked like he had tears in his eyes before revealing Maks had finally won. Is this it for Maks, though? It sounded like, at one point, Meryl said she was honored to be dancing Maks’s last Freestyle with him. Is he officially retiring? DWTS showrunner Conrad Green is leaving, and head judge Len Goodman said he might be leaving the show too. Is everything changing? Will Maks perhaps join the judges?

How do you feel about everything that happened on the Finale? Night of your dreams or are you disappointed?


Credit: Instagram Photo: Tony, Maks and Val on Season 18 Finals Night 1

LEADERBOARD

Here’s a quick rundown of where the couples stood after the second night of Week 10, starting with the scores from last night's Finals Night 1:

Meryl & Maks — 30 + 30 = 60 + 30 = 90

Amy & Derek — 30 + 29 = 59 + 30 = 89

Candace & Mark — 27 + 24 = 51 + 27 = 78

Read on for a full recap of the Finale action.

BIG CAST INTRO: Love seeing all the pros together on the dance floor. “It’s my party. I do what I want!”

MAKS’S LAST FREESTYLE: They showed backstage footage of Maks getting emotional, and Meryl saying she was honored to share his last Freestyle on the show. Is that confirmation that this is it for Maks?

JAMES & PETA GOT ENCORE: They were the winners of the Twitter vote for a Freestyle encore. Tom Bergeron said he loved that the eliminated couple overwhelmingly won the vote.

TEAM LOCO: Since Amy is no longer as injured, Team Loco performed the dance they didn’t get to do live. This dance happens to include all three Finalists, Erin Andrews noted. 

PROS TALK FINALS: Maks said he felt like everybody was waiting for Candace to go. She was never counted as being in the Finals and he loves that she is in it. Derek said Candace has had an incredible journey of confidence and finding herself. Mark said people might say this is Meryl’s to lose, and she’s lived up to that expectation. Derek said, from Day 1, Meryl has been an incredible dancer. That was expected from her, though. Derek said he was more surprised by what she was able to bring out in Maks. Maks said Amy has been amazing. She’s earned every single point. You don't get pity on this show. Derek gets credit, he knows the formula, he knows how to win. Amy is in amazing hands. Mark said Amy makes it look effortless. What she’s done, it’s never been done. Derek has won five times. Mark has won twice. Maks has never won. Maks has made it to the end before and tripped and fallen. The pressure is on him. Mark wants that winning feeling again. Derek said what he and Amy have achieved, regardless of the outcome, it will never be taken away.
 

Credit: Instagram Photo: Derek and Amy's Last Rehearsal

IGGY AZALEA GETS FANCY: Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX perform “Fancy” with a prom-themed routine. Awkward. She had issues with the music track, saying "I'm so sorry but there's something wrong with my ear." She spoke it into the mic like it was part of the song. OK then. But at least she kept going. Val was front and center with it. Artem too.

AMBER RILEY: Last year’s champion sings “Colorblind” as Tony Dovolani and Karina Smirnoff dance. Gorgeous. 

TWITTER CHECK: Right now, around 9:30 p.m. ET, “Meryl & Maks” and “James & Peta” are both trending on Twitter.

DREW & CHERYL: They dance their Jive, with accompaniment from four of the male pros — Henry, Tony, Artem and Sasha.

ERIN INTRO: This was a surprise for Erin, since they didn’t do this in rehearsals. They show Erin’s highlights from her season in the Skybox. She is pretty awesome. No understanding of why she has haters. She’s witty and not exactly dull! Love the dress rehearsal stuff; she should do more of that "R-rated" sassy stuff live.

MERYL & CHARLIE DANCE! They return from commercial with a beautiful dance from the two Olympians.

NENE & THE PROS: NeNe Leakes gets her own showcase with six female pros. She has her Switch Up Jazz outfit on for “Grown Woman."

DANICA & VAL: Redo their adorable “Be Our Guest” Quickstep from Disney Night. Every night should be Disney Night.

 

Credit: DWTS on Instagram Photo: DWTS Season 18 Cast Returns For Finale

CODY SIMPSON: Sings “Surfboard,” although he mostly dances it at the start, with hip hop moves. Then he sings and plays a little guitar. Still dances, though. At the end, he and Witney Carson dance again. Hopefully Wit will be back in Season 19.

CAST TALKS: The celebs talk about how this has been as an experience. Charlie said he was ready for anything, he didn’t know what to expect. Drew was in it for the spray tan and the glitter. NeNe screamed whenever she did right or wrong. James said Sean Avery was full of surprises. Danica said dress rehearsals are even more entertaining than the live show. It’s the R-rated version of the show. Play that one! Billy Dee Williams does his Bruno Tonioli impression.

CHARLIE & SHARNA: The Mary Poppins routine! Let’s see if he can hold onto the cane this time. He did it! And killed the umbrella. Evan Lysacek, Anna Trebunskaya in the audience. 

JAMES & PETA: Redo their Michael Jackson Cha-Cha to “Love Never Felt So Good.” These two are so great.

GUEST JUDGE HIGHLIGHTS: From the last three weeks, including Ricky Martin, Abby Lee Miller, and Kenny Ortega.

ARIANA GRANDE: She’s got one less “Problem” without you, so get over it! At least she adds shout-outs to Dancing With the Stars, so it’s not just a recorded track. Love NeNe and Tony dancing in the Skybox and the judges rocking out too.
 

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC Photo: Dancing With the Stars Season 18 Premiere: Amy Purdy and Derek Hough's Cha-Cha-Cha

TWITTER CHECK: A little after 10 p.m., “Meryl and Charlie” and “Cody Simpson” are trending.

COUPLES: Candace will miss Mark’s fart noises. She’s like his son. She reminds him of his grandmother. Amy’s legs are weapons, she could take Derek out with them. Meryl can’t talk about her relationship with Maks. Why not? Maks said he wants to ravage her and have ice skating big Russian mean babies. We’re going to call them Oleg and Boris. They will both be called “Bear.” He’s so full of crap. Unless he does ask Meryl to marry him. Sassy interview with Erin after that one.

WALGREENS DANCE: Amber Riley returns for a Walgreens’ “Dance Happy Be Healthy” performance of “Do Your Thing.” Very cute with the pros. Val always has the best showcases in these things. Where is Tristan MacManus?


24-HOUR FUSION CHALLENGE

1. Amy Purdy and Derek Hough — Argentine Tango and Cha-Cha — They get nostalgic and emotional in their last rehearsals, with their dance photos blown up into poster size on the walls. Their AT lifts are so tight. See, she doesn’t need a table or a stool. They still don’t travel much across the floor, but she does a lot in their space and her legs are amazing. Sharp. Tight.

JUDGES: Len Goodman said we’ve heard many times how much of an inspiration she is. But she is a fantastic dancer and that was a fabulous fusion. Bruno Tonioli said her dancing is right up there with the best. Her unbreakable spirit has been a lesson for all of America. She’s unforgettable. Carrie Ann Inaba said there’s so much to say, she could write a novel. What makes Amy so special is she’s uplifting. They’ve talked about Maks and Meryl’s partnership, but Derek’s partnership with Amy has been special too.

SCORES: 10, 10, 10 = 30. Tom gives a shout-out to their departing showrunner Conrad Green. 

Credit: Instagram Photo: Mark Ballas and Candace Cameron Bure on Finals

2. Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas — Samba and Quickstep — Mark is going to miss Candace’s personality. Candace couldn’t imagine doing DWTS with anyone but Mark. She left rehearsal studio and said “till the All Stars.” Will they do another All Stars, do you think? This is a tough combination of dances, going from hold to hip shaking.

JUDGES: Bruno said what a ride it has been. We had ups, downs, we had spills, thrills, but she’s always been adorable and charming. She has improved. Well done. Carrie Ann asked how that one felt. She said it felt great to have it be done. Her nerves are as high as ever. Len said Candace has been the dark horse and she kept faith and kept going. Not top of the leaderboard but top with fans.

SCORES: 9, 9, 9 = 27. Total of 78. Candace screams “I did it!” one more time in the Skybox. She wanted to end on a high note. Mark talked her through it. 

3. Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Foxtrot and Cha-Cha — As a teacher, Maks said, he’s very proud. As a friend, he’s even more proud. Meryl is grateful to have gone through this with Maks. He’s taught her about growing as a person. Maks said Meryl has done way more than was expected. Love the costume transition.

JUDGES: Carrie Ann had to shout over the cheers. Brandy in the audience. Emmitt Smith too. Season 18 has been phenomenal. The best part of the season for her was Meryl and Maks. You are marvelous. Meryl marvelous. Len said it’s been like a novel filled with twists and turns. They’ve come to the last page and still don’t know how the story will end. This may be Len’s last season, and if it is, he couldn’t ask for a better dance to end on. Hmm… The end of Len? Bruno sid the earth is moving for him and for them. Watching M&M is like watching the passion and excitement of your first love.

SCORES: 10, 10, 10 = 30. Total of 90 out of 90. Perfect Finals run. Erin thanked Meryl on behalf of all of Maks’s partners (including her).  

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC Photo: Dancing With the Stars Season 18 Finale Night 1: Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy's Freestyle


CHRISTINA PERRI:
Performs “Human,” which was featured in Amy’s dance for her dad earlier this season. It’s a little awkward, though, since the final three couples just stand on stage through the performance, in front of the audience, as a video package showcases some of their best routines.

THIRD PLACE: Having combined the judges’ scores from last night and tonight and viewer votes from last night, the third place couple is … Candace and Mark. Phew. Good for them for making it this far. Now we have the inevitable Amy vs. Meryl showdown. Candace feels like she already won. She’s thrilled to be in third place in this competition. Mark said he’s made an amazing friend in Candace. It was a joy and an honor to be with her and he knows they’ll stay in touch.

WHO WILL WIN? Amy & Derek vs. Meryl & Maks, as predicted pretty early in the season, just like Kellie vs. Zendaya and Amber vs. Corbin in the past two seasons. Tom seems to have tears in his eyes before saying the winners! The winners and new champions of Dancing With the Stars are … MERYL & MAKS! Tony and Val run over to congratulate them. Maks finally won. Maks danced up and down. “It’s just plastic but it means so much … and to do it with Meryl is a dream come true. There’s a reason why it didn’t happen before, it’s because it was meant to happen with this one.”

Are you feeling a thousand feels right now? Did the right couple win?