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Dancing With The Stars – Recap & Review – Ep 11

photo: access hollywood
photo: access hollywood

Dancing With The Stars
Episode 11

Original Airdate: May 18, 2009

Crystal – Sr. Reviewer

Well, here we are. It’s been a long couple of months here in season eight. We’ve had more injuries than any other season, but we’ve also had more passion, drive, determination, and raw talent than ever before. And now we’re down to three: Melissa Rycroft, Gilles Marini, and Shawn Johnson. They’re not dancing for their lives tonight; they’re dancing for the win. Let’s take a look at how they did.

But before they danced, we got to see some great footage of our judges coaching and adding some tips and professional advice for our competitors. Bruno paid a visit to Shawn to help her prepare for the “Paso Face Off.” He helped her learn to go over the top, as she put it. Meanwhile, Carrie Ann went to help Melissa break out of her ballet and cheerleading influenced dance style. And then Len went to see Gilles, and he even took his jacket off to help the actor raise his game. It was great to see the judges out from behind their table. It gives them a little more credibility when they’re sitting there dishing it out.

And then the Face Off. All three couples dancing on the floor performing the Paso Doble, making the goal to perform a solid group dance, but to really shine in their solo parts, because if they don’t, it’s even more damaging, because there are still two competing couples waiting in the wings to shine. The three couples here have been on top all season, and it’s no surprise they’re here in the finals, but it’s really heated now.

Shawn and Mark came out first, followed by Melissa and Tony, with Gilles and Cheryl bringing up the rear in order. I thought the dance was appropriate in terms of the message (it was a Pink rock song), but really inappropriate for a Latin dance. They was a kind of tenseness to the whole thing, and not enough of a Latin flair to it, which I would have preferred. Overall, though, they were all amazing. There wasn’t a whole lot to criticize.

The judges had praises for all of them. They noted all of the improvement in the three couples, and praised them all. Bruno said they worked together well and they were like three sides of a gem, each had their own wonderful beautiful piece, but they came together and worked amazingly well. Carrie Ann, as usual, was our critic. She said Shawn’s youth showed through and she wasn’t quite as committed to the emotional aspect of the dance, as someone like Gilles was.


Shawn and Mark garnered a 28 with two nines and a ten, the latter coming from Bruno.
Melissa and Tony earned a 29, gaining two tens and one nine, the nine coming from Len.
Gilles and Cheryl, as always, took home a perfect thirty.

But it isn’t over yet. Next up is the freestyle dance, which is always wonderful and unpredictable. Shawn was up first, decreeing that she doesn’t want to incorporate too much gymnastics into her routine. She even got a visit from season four winner and fellow Olympian Apollo Anton Ono.

Their costumes took a little too much from the Jabbawockeez of America’s Best Dance Crew, except their masks were bedazzled and sparkly, because this is Dancing with the Stars. Even their little swaying movement seemed to pull from the Jabbawockeez. I thought I was watching ABC, not MTV. They were probably counting on the fact that their main demographic and  key audience is completely different from the one of ABDC, but I still noticed it.

Now, on to the dance. Shawn and Mark brought all the best elements from previous dances that really impressed. Their whole dance was fun, energetic, and it looked like they just had a lot of fun with it. I know she said there wouldn’t be too much gymnastics, but there were some great flips and impressive jumps that earned a loud audience ovation. There were amazing tricks and it was really fabulous. The judges praised them, and said they really brought it the table. An amazed Len offered his highest praise: “I loved it.”
They earned a perfect thirty to go with their earlier 28, giving them a 58/60.

The Melissa and Tony came out to give it their all. The whole thing looked quite dangerous, and they were flying and leaping over each other. I’ve been a Melissa fan since day one, and I was impressed. The judges praised her versatility, but Len said he “didn’t get it” because she’s an elegant ballet type who gave in to her cheerleader background. I thought it was fun, and quite enjoyable, but I also would have liked to see something more ballroom-inspired. I guess they thought they had to give in to the whole “fast and fun” thing.
They garnered a total of 27 (straight nines) to give them a 56/60.

Our final freestyle of the night belonged to Gilles and Cheryl. They danced to a 1980s classic song, and invoked some Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, so they get bonus points from me because I love Jennifer Beals. Their dance was splendid, as always. There were some tricks and impressive moves. There was energy and it was really great. Carrie Ann and Bruno said that they wanted to see more actual dancing, and less trickery. As Carrie Ann said, Flashdance is about the woman, and Gilles “makes a great Alex,” but the judges wanted more from him, because they’ve seen him be better.
They scored a total 28, giving them a 58/60.

So we move into the finale with Gilles and Shawn tied at the top with a fifty-eight out of sixty, followed by Melissa, who is only two points behind with a sixty-six out of  sixty. With them all so close here at the end, it’s going to come down to the audience votes to determine who is going to win this season of Dancing With The Stars.

I’ll officially go on the record right now, and say that Gilles will win it, with Shawn a close second as an obvious fan favorite. Gilles has been on top the whole season, and the audience has loved him the whole time. He’s a handsome man with obvious talent.

That said, I’ve loved Melissa the whole season, and she’s the one who gets my votes. Who are you voting for? And even more importantly, who will be the winner this season?

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