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It’s Here! It’s Here! This is the first of two nights that will narrow down the Dancing With the *Stars* Champion and the WINNER of the Mirror Ball Trophy from the three remaining finalists. This is the last time the viewers will be able to vote for their favorite. Ahhhh…voting. In my first recap I addressed a Pink Elephant in the room. For those who have been on an expedition to the moon or elsewhere out of touch over the past ten weeks, that elephant has become a giant parade balloon causing an atmospheric disturbance. The question for viewers and subsequently voters for tonight’s show is…will the balloon descend and crush those on the dance floor, or will it be popped? The production staff has been shooting arrows into the air, but we won’t know if they succeed in deflating the controversial hype, or if they are ducking for cover, until the final tally on Tuesday’s results show.

The BBC clouds part to a quick recap of the twelve week journey the remaining three dancers have taken with their pros – from first meeting to rehearsals for tonight’s dances. The Mirror Ball Trophy sits in place in front of the judging table and blowup photos of it are placed around the band and the stairs as backdrop.

Tom: And then there were three: Jennifer and Derek, Bristol and Mark, Kyle and Lacey. Our most talked about season comes down to this. Tonight and tomorrow our *Stars* will perform four demanding dances to determine our new champion.

Brooke: The first two rounds are tonight starting with a redemption dance assigned by the judges.

Tom: And then our dancers will compete in the most anticipated dance of the season – the Freestyle.

The music crescendos and the final three are introduced as they make their way down the stairs. As usual, Jennifer bounces, and this time, Derek does also.

And…..here we go with Round One.

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer (Schmurgles) Re-Choreograph the Foxtrot to “Feeling Good” Nina Simone

Kyle: It’s the finals now; the moment we’ve all been waiting for – oh, my goodness. (to Lacey): For this redemption dance I need you to be strict with me.

Lacey: Okay. Not only does his performance have to be awesome, but his technique has to be on point.

Len enters the studio as a coach. He takes Kyle in hand to practice the hold and frame and, at one point, kisses the top of his head.

Lacey: We have a bromance happening right now.

Kyle: Len coming into the studio was extremely valuable. He gave me pointers that could get me a perfect score.

Carrie Ann: I definitely saw the improvement in your foot work. I tend to love the Kyle that performs outward more and I felt for the first half of the number you were a little focused on the foot work, obviously hearing Len’s voice in your ear. It was great but I’m looking forward to your freestyle.

Len: The Foxtrot of all the dances is the most demanding – technically and musically. People spend a lifetime not mastering it and yet you came out so much better than that first one. Couple of places you step out of line and could have been better, but overall, you’ve gone from mixy-matchy to marvelous.

Bruno: Look at you – all slick, sharp and classy. I’ll tell you, your technique has improved enormously and yet what you have to deliver, you kill it!

Scores Dance 1: CA 9 Len 9 Bruno 9 for a total of 27

Tom addresses Voting: If you don’t vote, don’t complain, please. Don’t shoot your television. It’s that simple. If you get a busy signal, keep trying.

Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas (Ballin) Re-Choreograph the Jive to “Move” from Dreamgirls

Both of Bristol’s packages could be summed up by the song title, “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” In “How are you feeling?” small talk with Brooke, Bristol lets us know that it all rolls off her back. And yet…

Bristol: This week has been very intense with all the media attention and I’m more intimidated by the media stuff than I am with Jennifer and Kyle. It sucks that people think I still don’t deserve to be here. We continue to improve week to week and people don’t acknowledge that.

Coach Bruno charges into the room and vows to get the wild child out of her.

Bristol: When Bruno came in and talked about the jive, I was completely overwhelmed. He has such a big personality and I’m completely opposite.

Bruno: She either got the message or I scared her to death.

At the beginning of the dance, Bristol carries a suitcase across the floor and sets it next to the judging table. At the end of the dance, it pops open and reveals the gorilla heads from their first jive as a reminder of why they needed this redemption. Mark puts one on and goofs a bit before they get serious with the judging comments.

Carrie Ann: You never cease to amaze me. I thought like he pulled it out of you and I thought your Paso might have been your max as far as performance, but you come out this week and were more vibrant and brighter than ever. Your toes were not quite as pointed as they could have been, but wow – great job.

Len: Last time you were a gorilla and now a thrilla because you came out full on – high energy – vast improvement. Well done.

Bruno: Bristol, my darling. I told you – you don’t need a gorilla suit. I pulled something out of you, didn’t I? What you did, you revealed yourself, you came out here and had a good time and we all enjoyed it. That’s what it’s all about.

Scores Dance 1: CA 9 Len 9 Bruno 9 for a total of 27

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough (Jenougher) Re-Choreograph the Paso Doble to “Habanera” Georges Bizet

Jennifer: I think the Paso was a low point for me and I was disappointed the way it turned out, so I’m excited Carrie Ann is going to come in to work with us.

Coach Carrie Ann: I want to work on rounding your shapes, just that.

Carrie Ann: I felt Jennifer was much more open and there was a new element of seduction.

Carrie Ann: This is the meaning of redemption. This was redemption. (She pulls Jennifer to the table for a hug and kiss.) I saw everything we worked on. You’re in your power.

Len: Well, there was a lovely mix of expression and aggression thoughout this dance. I’m just gonna…I rarely do this…(Len stands and gives them an ovation.) It was fantastic. (Jennifer thanks him with a kiss.)

Bruno: (jumps out of his chair and waves his arms about so wildly that Len has to take cover in Carrie Ann’s embrace.) The Flamenco dancer and the golden matador igniting the flames of passion. From that I don’t want this to ever end.

Tom: (to Bruno) I know you mean it as a compliment, but you end up frightening the children.

Scores Dance 1: CA 10 Len 10 Bruno 10 for a total of 30

Bruno: I wish I had an 11 (paddle).

Time to move on to the second round; but first, previous season finalists remind us about the importance of the Freestyle both in judges scoring and as the last dance seen by the voters.

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer (Schmurgles) Freestyle to “Tootsee Roll” 69 Boyz

Kyle chose this music because it is his favorite and he is most comfortable with it.

Kyle: I heard this dance is make or break it for the competition.

Lacey: Whoever wins the Freestyle usually ends up winning the show, so if you can kill it, then it’s awesome.

Lacey: My strategy is to bring out Kyle’s personality because that is the ace in the hole.

Kyle: Coming into this competition, I knew what my physical limits were, but to win this, you have to push past that.

Their primary dance style is Hip Hop and it took its cues from the moves named by the music. I don’t know if the worm was mentioned, but it played a part. Like a warm-up announcer, Kyle runs around the floor a couple of times, clapping his hands in the air and trying to bring in the audience. He succeeds as the applause for the dance is long and deep.

Carrie Ann: (to Len) This was old school Hip Hop. (to Kyle) I dub you the Fresh Prince of Dancing With the *Stars*. You killed it.

Len: Kyle – tootsie roll is one of my favorites. In Freestyle you’ve got to come out and do what you want to do, what you feel good doing, what gives you confidence to do and that’s what you did. Now you know I’m not a great lover of the bugaloo dancing, but this was great fun, great entertainment and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bruno: (tries to get down, gangsta style) Truly explosive entertainment, amazing charisma. In your element and I loved it.

Scores Dance 2: CA 10 Len 9 Bruno 10 for a total of 29
Score Dance 1: 27
Combined Scores: 56

Tom: Be on the look out for the Goodman Ghetto Dancing Video this Christmas.

Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas (Ballin) Freestyle to “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago

Bristol: I’ve never seen Chicago or been to a Broadway show so I don’t know how I’m going to get into character for this.

Mark: I think Bristol was nervous just because it was from a Broadway show. She feels she doesn’t have the personality to pull it off. (to Bristol) Why are you so defeated?

Bristol: Cause I feel defeated. I have no idea of this dance.

Bristol: There’s lots of haters out there just waiting for me to fail, but that’s just going to give me more motivation to prove them wrong.

Their dance has some choreographer Bob Fosse elements starting with using a cage as a jail cell. Mark also uses Fosse bowler hats and chairs as well as a long pink scarf for a tug of war. In the end, Bristol manages to bind the scarf around Mark and pushes him into the cage, locking it.

Carrie Ann: Did I just see Bristol Palin dancing in a cage? I can’t believe that the woman who started out so frightened and low energy danced in a cage. Okay, I give you a lot of credit for that, but it’s a stylized type of dancing and it’s hard to live up to, but I’m very proud of you.

Len: When you go out to copy a dance that’s been seen so very many times, it’s very difficult to get that standard out of your head. But, I looked at it as a performance. That was no disaster. Fantastic.

Bruno: I have to give you credit for aiming so high because this is really an iconic number. You did it very well, but not at the level that this song requires. But – a good attempt.

Scores Dance 2: CA 8 Len 9 Bruno 8 for a total of 25
Score Dance 1: 27
Combined Score: 52

Tom: Bruno just asked if we were using the cage after the show.

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough (Jenougher) Freestyle to “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)” The Contours

Jennifer: I know the Freestyle is supposed to be about lifts and stuff, but I’ve been really nervous about it because of my neck.

Derek: I want to be as sane as possible with Jenn, but I also want to push her to do things she never thought she could do. Jennifer is pushing the limits in this Freestyle. She’s getting banged up, beaten up, but she’s not giving up.

Jennifer: I’m a badass, what can I say.

Their dance uses music from her movie, Dirty Dancing, and starts off with homage to it. She plays her part of Baby at the point in the movie when she discovers the resort staff off hours dancing suggestively. Wearing a similar frumpy costume and carrying a watermelon as she did in the movie, she waits a few beats on the upper stage before Derek joins her and strips off her frump to reveal the sleek. She tosses the watermelon offstage (I hope it didn’t break open) and joins Derek for an updated version with some old moves of dancing dirty. One of the old moves is performed on top of the judges table, much to their seeming delight.

After the dance Jennifer runs over to kiss her family and friends. (Note: her dad Joel Grey was in the audience and isn’t there another tie in with Fosse to Cabaret? I seem to remember him dancing with a bowler hat…anyway…)

Carrie Ann: I’m just going to keep it simple. I thought it was amazing. I thought it was perfect.

Len: You’ve been consistent, you’ve been persistent, you’re an irresistible force; a juggernaut going down the freeway after that Mirror Ball Trophy. Fantastic!

Bruno: You’re a great dancer of great versatility. Two dances at opposite ends of the spectrum and both equally brilliant.

Scores Dance 2: CA 10 Len 10 Bruno 10 for a total of 30
Score Dance 1: 30
Combined Score: 60

Judges Leader Board at the end of the Finale Part 1:

60 Jennifer/Derek
56 Kyle/Lacey
52 Bristol/Mark

The Finale Part 2 on Tuesday includes two more dances for the couples, Christina Aguilera and a coronation of the Season 11 champion. I hope you heeded Tom’s advice and voted. This was your last chance to make yourselves heard as Tuesday’s dances will be judges’ scores only.

Whee! Counting the hours!