It's Week 10, and finals night meant each of the remaining contenders — Candace Cameron Bure, Meryl Davis, James Maslow and Amy Purdy — had two rounds of dances, including everyone's favorite, the freestyle.
There were no guest judges. It was just Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Brunio Tonioli whipping out their scoring paddles and narrowing the final four down to the final three.
Here's how it all unfolded:
Meryl and Maks really want to win. "I want to look back and say I literally have nothing else, nothing left to give," said Maks, who has not won the trophy in 13 seasons. "I really want this for him," said Meryl. Their fiery Argentine tango was flawless and seemed to defy gravity at times as Maks twirled Meryl up and down and around his body. Bruno said it was "seductive" and "incredible." Carrie Ann mentioned the "magic" the two have. Len said it was the dance of the night. Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30
Their freestyle "was an homage to the journey we've been on," said Meryl. He was shirtless and had on harem pants. She wore a lacy nightgown. They were barefoot. It was contemporary. Steamy. Passionate. They almost kissed at the end, but stopped short. When it was done, Maks had a big smile. Carrie Ann was weeping. "First of all, I think you guys should get married." Then she said, "This is what true dance is about." It was the "most stunning example of divinity in motion." Bruno stood up and said it was "as close as it gets to a flawless work of art." Len said, "There's good, there's great and there's Meryl." Said Meryl, "I feel like we've had a special bond." Co-host Erin Andrews said, "We all wanted you to kiss! I'm not even kidding." Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30Total: 60 (Bruno tried to hold up a 1 paddle to go with his 10 paddle.)
Their freestyle was contemporary, and included Amy swinging on a giant rope above the crowd. It was the kind of wow moment that Derek always manages to create. Len said he didn't think the rope was "necessary," but loved it all anyway. Bruno said Amy was in "orbit. ... You redefine what is possible." Carrie Ann said Amy was "dancing with her soul. ... It was so profound." Scores: 10, 9 (there were boos), 10 = 29Total: 59
Their freestyle had a street vibe to it. James was shirtless, wearing a hoodie vest, and he swung a big sword/stick around. He also ran up a wall and flipped off of it. Len liked the "attack" and the "energy." Bruno said it was like Mad Max meets Hunger Games. and called James a "new action hero." Carrie Ann said he was a "star." Scores: 10, 9, 10 = 29 Total: 58
Candace and pro partner Mark Ballas struggled throughout the week with tensions running high. Candace cried. "You're being so dramatic right now," said Mark. She wasn't getting the steps. But the real problem happened during Sunday's rehearsals, when Mark went down. We saw him taken away to the hospital with a shoulder problem. But on Monday, he took off the sling and performed a cheery quickstep with Candace. He seemed to be hurting, but was stoic. Carrie Ann thought it was "well, well done." Len said: "You did good." Bruno said they did it "very, very well." Not exactly the highest of praise. Scores: 9, 9, 9 = 27
And then came a gasp-inducing elimination!
James, not Candace, was sent home. There were rumbles and groans from the audience. Candace kept mouthing, "Oh my gosh."
"I've really had an amazing experience on the show," said James, clearly bummed about it all. "I've made some amazing friends and I'm just grateful for the opportunity."