Eric McCandless / ABC

Dancing With the Stars Slides Into The Finals

After two more dances (including the freestyle!), another couple is eliminated before the Mirror Ball is awarded in the season finale.

The final four have to do two routines: a redemption dance, where they get to redo a dance style from earlier in the season, and the freestyle. I am so glad we have gotten away from the era when every freestyle was hip hop. In fact, this year none of the freestyles are hip hop, and I think the show is better for it. And then! There's one more elimination before the finale's final finals, where a winner will be crowned. Your rankings:

8. Jana Kramer & Gleb: Tango

Gleb got sick this week and tried to push through, but Alan had to come and do camera blocking with Jana. But he's back to dance tonight! I don't like how their routine begins -- on a platform, with lots of flashing lights -- because I can't really see their dancing. Once they come off the platform, things improve greatly. Jana's footwork is on point, but I don't like how she's tossing her head on each turn; it doesn't seem right tango-wise. Other than that nitpick, they did great. The judges have mixed reviews; some thought they were missing a spark, while others thought it was full of chemistry. Scores: 35/40.

7. Calvin Johnson Jr. & Lindsay: Viennese Waltz

Calvin originally did this in Week 3, and got good scores, but Lindsay feels like there were lots of areas to improve, and she points many of them out on the video. Calvin's frame while in hold is so much improved, and it's when he looks best. They spend a lot of time out of hold, and those are my least favorite parts of the dance. The judges are delighted with his improvement, although Carrie Ann points out that there was a tiny lift. How could there not be when Calvin is, like, a foot taller than Lindsay? That seems unfair. While waiting for his scores, Calvin gets a surprise visit from his adorable son, and I can't even with how cute this kid is. Scores: 35/40.

6. Laurie Hernandez & Val: Paso Doble

Laurie is grateful for Val's support last week, when she was dealing with the fresh loss of her grandmother. They are sure they will do better with their Paso Doble this week because they have learned how to work together. This is the FIRST routine of the season where Laurie felt the music and performed the routine with some feeling instead of being the perfect gymnastbot. Her technique is always perfect, but this was the first routine where I felt some emotion behind the moves. The judges have nothing but huge praise for her, and feel like she had a breakthrough. Scores: 38/40.

5. James Hinchcliffe & Sharna: Foxtrot

This was their first routine, and I don't understand why everyone doesn't choose their first routine. You would obviously improve the most from there, right? Anyway, previous winner Helio comes into their rehearsals, and I'm reminded how much I disliked Helio when he was on the show. Just something about that dude. Anyway, they dance to the Harry Connick version of "It Had To Be You" from the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack, which makes me want to listen to that album and also watch that movie. There is a lot of faffing about at the beginning, but the dancing is lovely. At least until the final pass, when I think James trips over Sharna's long skirt. They recover well, but it's a flub. The judges loved how he performed a character, and thought he was completely smooth and lovely, except for the tiny stumble. Scores: 37/40.

4. Jana Kramer & Gleb: Freestyle

During rehearsals, Gleb gets frustrated because that always happens during the rehearsals for finals. Also, Gleb's sweatiness may be due to his illness, but it's kind of grossing me out. Their freestyle involves them being joined by a long piece of material, and the way they use it and get around it is extremely impressive. I would have tripped over it in the first eight count. I am not happy that they are dancing to a Sia song because I tried to put a ban on contemporary routines to anything by Sia, just because it's so tired. I did enjoy this routine; the technical aspects of the material outweigh any of the small mistakes I saw. The judges thought it was stunning and impressive, even if there were a few errors. As they wait for their scores, Gleb apologizes for nearly falling and actually starts crying. Aw, Gleb. Scores: 36/40.

3. James Hinchcliffe & Sharna: Freestyle

James and Sharna will be representing his car crash through the majesty of dance. Ooooohhhkay. This is too corny for me. It's all white light and men all in black representing death and Sharna is the guardian angel. I'm sure this will play well with this show's demographic, but it's not for me. (I have no quibbles with the dancing, though. Just the concept.) The judges love everything about it. Scores: 40/40.

2. Laurie Hernandez & Val: Freestyle

Val is wisely choosing to make Laurie's freestyle like a child playing on a playground instead of trying to make her do something sexy or otherwise out of character. Val feels like their success hinges on him, and he's stressed out. Laurie's routine is predictably perfect and predictably full of leaps and flips and lifts. I do like how it feels like a number from Hairspray or something like it. There's just no surprise there, and thus no tension. This is my issue, I know. The judges find it uplifting. Scores: 40/40.

1. Calvin Johnson Jr. & Lindsay: Freestyle

I love the relationship between these two; it's very big brother/little sister where Calvin knows he has to kind of listen to Lindsay but he also finds her weird and annoying. Anyway, their routine is a delight, mostly because Lindsay has found a way for Calvin to dance in a way that obviously comes very naturally to him while also being choreographed. They do a bit involving moving sidewalks that makes me nervous someone is going to break an ankle or something, but they totally pull it off with style. And Calvin is just so charming when he dances in his own way instead of having to worry about frame. He is a natural dancer; I don't know why his sister said he had no rhythm earlier this season! The judges are beside themselves with joy. Scores: 40/40.


Wait, we're having an elimination tonight? I thought all four couples were through to the finals. Instead, Jana and Gleb are going home. They were my least favorite in both rounds tonight, so I don't have a huge problem with that. I'm just glad Calvin made it through. I was worried!

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