'Dancing with the Stars' Season 18 Recap: Week Ten Performances (Finals Part One)

By Michael Pascua,
Will a serious injury put Candace Cameron-Bure’s chances of winning in jeopardy?

We welcomed the finalists as we noticed Mark with an arm sling. There are no guest judges this week, only our DWTS family. There are two rounds tonight. In the first round, the dances that were performed during the Switch-Up challenge will be performed with the celebrity's original professional. The second is the always memorable freestyle. What will the couples create when they have no limitations?

Round One - Judge’s Pick - (Switch-Back)

James & Peta
Dance - Tango
Song - “Adore You” by Miley Cyrus
Peta and James were really excited to make it to the finals and James proposed that the couple should keep dancing after the show. She wanted an improved Tango after working with Cheryl. They joked about kissing during the routine. The couple began with lasers on the stage but once they got to the floor, I liked James’ frame and his upper body. His lower body improved from his bottom sticking out as well. To answer the question, they had a real kiss during the routine which added to the emotion of the dance. James was supportive during the whole routine, holding Peta perfectly, and it was a great opening to the finale.

Len thought it was clean and he gave it his all. Bruno thought James was focused and dominant. Carrie Ann noted there was intensity and his bottom looked better in frame; she warned him about being rigid. Score: 29 (9,10,10)

Meryl & Maks
Dance - Argentine Tango
Song - "Montserrat" by Bajofondo
Maks was ready to put intense tricks into his Argentine Tango because he knew that he wanted to win. He wanted to show that he gave everything in this season; he knows he’s failed before. Meryl just wanted to win for Maks. Meryl began the dance by a lightpost as she seduced Maks. Her leg work looked beautiful and the lifts were quite different. Meryl made the tricks look quite easy as she looked like she was on ice.

Bruno thought every move was beautiful. Carrie Ann knew there was perfection with Val, but the degree of chemistry with Maks brought it to a different level. Len thought it was the dance of the night. Score: 30 (10,10,10)

Candace & Mark
Dance - Quickstep
Song - “Umbrella” by The Baseballs (originally by Rihanna)
Mark was excited to make it to the finals and Candace was excited to even be there. She’s been training hard and while they thought they knew how to deal with each other during rehearsals, Candace showed mental cracks as Mark picked on her posture and movements. During one of the camera blockings, Mark hurt his shoulder and had to be sent to the hospital. Even though he dislocated his shoulder on Sunday, Mark was cleared by the doctor. As they danced, the couple started with umbrellas, which felt like a waste of a prop. Mark was clearly covering up any pain he had, but was not dancing at 100 percent. Candace’s dance felt slower than I would have preferred with a Quickstep but she kept up with the choreography cleanly. They still managed to accomplish their final tricks correctly, though Mark clearly didn’t have full arm movement.

Carrie Ann was impressed by Candace’s work; her shoulders still rose up. Len knew that Candace rose under the pressure. Bruno saw improvement. Score: 27 (9,9,9)

Amy & Derek
Dance - Salsa
Song - "Ran Kan Kan" by Tito Puente
Amy knew she was so close and wanted to win everything. Amy was sore during the practices but she wanted to work through the pain. Derek knew there were lots of obstacles that Amy had to overcome and this was just another step towards the finale. The salsa began with a lift right off the bat and it showed Amy’s athleticism. Amy was much faster in her Salsa this time around with Derek than with Mark. I appreciated the points where Derek let Amy do her thing with her legs. The fringe did a lot of the work, but it was still beautiful to watch Amy move. They ended with a strong lift.

Len thought the routine was fabulous. Bruno thought she was flamboyant. Carrie Ann was baffled how great Amy was; she’s grown and improved. Score: 30 (10,10,10)

Round Two - Freestyles

James & Peta
Inspiration - Hip-Hop Battle
Song - "Original Don" by Major Lazer (featuring The Partysquad)
We learned that the competitive nature from James originated from his passion for performance. In 2006, his brother was in a coma from an accident and James was supporting him the whole time; the accident taught him to live his life to the fullest. His fellow Big Time Rush members and Nickelodeon actors explained his drive and passion. James started off with a gang face-off and the two got into a bit of couples moves before having a dance battle. I liked the intensity that James had in his performance but the wall flip seemed unnecessary. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. His lifts showed strength which was accentuated with his martial arts-inspired stick spinning.

Len loved the attack and energy. Bruno compared him to a post-apocalyptic action hero. Carrie Ann called him a star because of his versatility. Score: 29 (10,9,10)

Meryl & Maks
Inspiration - Journey / Contemporary
Song - "Latch" by Disclosure (featuring Sam Smith)
Meryl grew up in Detroit and was on the ice at a very young age; they explained that she was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age. Her friends and family explained that she’s quiet, but dedicated. Her fellow skaters explained that being with Maks allowed her to explore herself. Maks started carrying Meryl and the two had this passion that was undeniable. It was a routine that pulled at heart-strings. Clearly the dance was technically there but the dance was beyond what I expected from both Meryl and Maks.

Carrie Ann joked that the two should get married; she felt the soul and honesty of the dance. Bruno thought that it was a flawless work of art. Len loved that there were no gimmicks and Meryl was in a category of her own. Score: 30 (10,10,10)

Candace & Mark
Inspiration - Disco
Song - "Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai
Candace grew up in California and was DJ on Full House at the age of 10, but puberty affected her confidence, especially being on television. She transitioned from Full House to marriage and motherhood. Candace explained that she had faith and it strengthened her. The couple began with a strong trick, but the transitions in and out of the tricks were awkward because of Mark. I don’t know if I should fault Candace because she didn’t want to hurt Mark or Mark for being too proud to let Artem step in for him. The side-by-side wasn’t the most intense of choreography, but Candace was giving everything she had and was intense in her movements.

Carrie Ann loved that she didn’t hold anything back, but she didn’t connect to the music. Len loved her tenacity. Bruno thought this disco diva went all out; she was a little off the beat. Score: 24 (8,8,8)

Amy & Derek
Inspiration - Contemporary / Rising Up
Song - "Dare You" by Hardwell
When Amy was growing up, she thought she had control, but then she had meningitis and lost her legs, and she was told she couldn’t walk again. She wondered about snowboarding with prosthetics. She had to learn how to move both with snowboarding and dance. She learned that she had to figure things out and make the impossible possible. The couple began with a very contemporary dance which helped display Amy’s abilities and allowed Derek to play with the lyrics of the song. Derek then hoisted Amy onto a rope as she spun around above the stage. It was a clear metaphor on being able to rise above all the hardships.

Len loved the emotion, lifts, and choreography. Bruno thought she was ethereal and beautiful when she danced. Carrie Ann knew that she was a dancer, she had movement that matched the music. Score: 29 (10,9,10)

After all four eliminations, we learned that the first two couples advancing to tomorrow were Meryl & Maks and Amy & Derek. They were followed by Candace & Mark. That meant that James & Peta were eliminated right before the finale. Tomorrow we’re going to find out how the 24-hour fusion challenge will affect the contestants.

Final Scores

Meryl - 60
Amy - 59
Candace - 51

James - 58 Eliminated

Image credit: ABC, Photographer: Adam Taylor

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