Credit: WENN.com Photo: Jennifer & Derek Week 9
The penultimate show of Season 11 led of with a little minor key music — to indicate tension, as though we didn't know there was any — and a bunch of silly pronouncements by the remaining stars about what they've gone through and how much they all want to win. "Duh!" we shouted, "Get on with the show!"

Then the remaining stars made their way down the Staircase of Horror: Kyle, resplendent in a gold sequined jacket, making his finger guns; Bristol dressed for a jive (sans gorilla suit this time); and Jennifer in a long black gown (but with a shirtless and very excited Derek in tow). Tom Bergeron intoned "And then there were three," making us recall the Agatha Christie murder mystery And Then There Were None — bad move, Tom, since the judge killed them all! — after which Brooke Burke explained that each was asked to do "a redemption dance" to make up for a dance the judges thought they should have danced better.

Kyle and Lacey

Lacey told Kyle, laughingly, that their redemption dance was the Foxtrot, since the judges hated their '70s themed one from earlier in the season. She planned a more traditional one for the finals, naturally. She said Kyle was all business this week, and thereafter Len came by to help them prepare. He was a stickler, naturally, but when Kyle got something right, Len kissed the top of his head. Lacey dubbed it "a bromance."

They started their (still sexy) Foxtrot to a very jazzed up version of Nina Simone's "Felling Good," and they looked spectacular. Kyle might have not gotten all his heels and toes in perfect order, but his posture was good, his intensity was intact, his arms were appropriately restrained and they executed some moves at the end he definitely didn't have in him at the start of the season. We'd watch it again — but there's been hardly a dance of theirs we wouldn't have.

Len said it was so much better, saying he'd gone "from Messy Massey To Marvelous." Bruno  agreed that his technique was much improved and he'd worked on everything he'd been told, but his performance hadn't suffered. Carrie Ann agreed that the footwork was much improved, but thought that Kyle was a little too intense for the first half of the dance.

The judges awarded them all 9s, for a total of 27.

Bristol & Mark

Bristol pronounced herself more intimidated by the media than her competitors. Bristol told the cameras, "It sucks that people still don't think I deserve to be here. There's lots of haters out there that are just waiting for me to fail." She added that she got the same Paso Doble scores as Brandy and "we continue to improve week by week" and criticized people for failing to acknowledge her improvement. Then it was time for Bruno to come help out, telling her he came to help her improve her performance, but she said his big personality was a little too much for her. He also tried to help with her technique when that didn't work.

Starting with Len's ever-hated props — a suitcase with an apparent gorilla suit in it, which she dumped out next to the judges' table — Bristol in sequined sneakers (instead of the standard heels) took the stage for the second-chance jive to "Move" from the movie Dreamgirls. It was, thankfully, much better than the earlier performance, but her bounce failed to match Mark's and her footwork was definitely not as clean. We're also not quite sure why Mark felt the need to incorporate not just one, but two sets of shimmies, and a fake between-the-legs grab, but that's quibbles with the choreography. It was the first time Bristol gave both a really good performance and didn't mess up her footwork.

Bruno said that she finally came to the floor and just had fun, which made for a great performance. Carrie Ann agreed that her performance was way better, but noted that her toes were not as pointed as they should have been. Len said her footwork was better, her energy level was higher and her performance far superior.

The judges awarded them all 9s, for a total of 27.

Jennifer & Derek

Jennifer, naturally, had to redeem her Paso Doble — and she was excited to do it again. Carrie Ann said she had to dance bigger and with rounder shapes, and to work on moving through all the moves more. She found Carrie Ann's critiques really helpful.

It was definitely much tighter, and had more of the vibe of her Argentinian Tango than the intended verve of her original Paso Doble, but it was tight, focused, full of great figures and the choreography was complex and seriously sexy. The audience loved it, too.

Carrie Ann called it "the meaning of redemption," and said she saw everything they worked on. Len called it "a lovely mix of expression and aggression," and then gave her a standing ovation. Bruno called it "an evening in sultry Seville" and continued to emote and speak in a story-form without actually talking about her dancing, per se.

The judges awarded them all 10s (though Bruno said he wished he'd had an 11) for a total of 30.

Kyle & Lacey

Kyle picked "The Tootsie Roll" for his Freestyle dance, and Lacey decided to choreograph to his personality. The thing that freaked him out the most was, of course, the lifts: he was worried that he might hurt Lacey, but she treated it very matter-of-factly.

Kyle, standing on the judge's table, started out solo, shaking his moneymaker up close and personal for the judges. The dance was a pretty stellar set of moves choreographed by Lacey, incorporating some traditional ballroom into "Tootsie Roll"-appropriate moves (including a worm!) that definitely worked Kyle's personality into the dance and was a pretty fun time warp for those of us who are old enough to remember when high-waisted acid-washed cut-offs and a spangled bra top (which we remember wearing in dance recitals ourselves) were cool. The energy level was, also, through the roof.

Len joked that the song was a favorite, but said the dance was great fun and thoroughly entertaining. Bruno called it "explosive." Carrie Ann, a former Fly Girl, thought he killed it.

Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them 10s and Len gave them a 9, for a total of 29. Their overall score for the night was a 56.

Bristol & Mark

Mark decided that they should do the "Cell Block Tango" from the show Chicago, which Bristol had never seen nor heard of. He incorporated hats and snaps into the choreography, which seemed like not the best idea.

We were happy to be proven wrong: Mark made it Tango-like, which had been one of their best dances this season, and the song is so percussive that it played directly to Bristol's potential weakness (staying on-beat when she's unfamiliar with the song). The choreography was a tad cheesy, but Bristol certainly plays anger better than vulnerability and looked pretty uninhibited compared to many of her performances this season. There were a couple moments of not-so-artful footwork on Bristol's part as they unwound from a long scarf, and she certainly didn't have the sexual danger of a dancer in either the show or the movie — but if she'd been dancing like this all season, no one would have questioned her inclusion in the finals.

Bruno gave her credit for aiming so high by dancing to such an iconic number, and thought she did very well but not to the level of the song. Carrie Ann also gave her credit for her courage, but agreed that it was hard to live up to Fosse. Len said he was able to put Fosse out of his mind, unlike his co-judges, calling it "fantastic."

Carrie Ann and Bruno gave it 8s and Len gave it a 9, for a total of 25. Their overall score was a 52. The judges got booed well through Brooke's call for votes, and we actually agreed. If her dances last week were all 9s, this one deserved to be.

Jennifer & Derek

Jennifer was concerned about all the Freestyle tricks she figured she would be asked to do, so Derek eased her into them slowly, explaining his choreography was on a need-to-know basis. And, from what the producers' showed, it looked a lot more like Baby learning to dance with Johnny with all the pratfalls than the professional dancer we normally see on the floor.

And when the music started (The Countours, "Do You Love Me?" which was in the movie), it seems like that might have been planned, as Jennifer was holding a watermelon, much as Baby did near the beginning of Dirty Dancing, and wearing a girlish dress. Well played, Derek. And while we didn't spy Baby and Johnny's iconic lift, there were more than a few nods to the choreography of the film, even after Derek ripped off the girlish dress in favor of something sexy and all the hip-shaking began. The two of them clearly had a ball dancing it, it was a clear fan-favorite and if there were some moments where it could have been cleaner, we missed them in between all the fun and nostalgia.

Carrie Ann called it "amazing and perfect." Len called her "a juggernaut" and loved it. Bruno said she was "a great dancer with great versatility" who had performed two dances at opposite ends of the spectrum perfectly.

The judges awarded them all 10s, for a total score of 30. That gave them an overall score of 60.