“Dancing with the Stars” delivered the season’s biggest shocker during Monday night’s finals.
In a surprise twist, Big Time Rush’s James Maslow and his pro partner Peta Murgatroyd were eliminated and will not compete in the final round of Season 18 on Tuesday.
Instead, it will be Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Amy Purdy with Derek Hough, and Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas performing their ballroom moves in hopes of taking home a mirrorball.
“It’s all right. I’ve really had an amazing experience on the show,” James told show co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews after his elimination. “I’ve enjoyed it more than I ever thought possible. I’ve made some amazing friends and I’m just grateful for the opportunity. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Tom commented that even those on stage were shocked by James being cut before the final round.
James and Peta scored 58 points for the night, seven points more than Candace and Mark, who took 51 out of 60 after two rounds of competition.
“I’m so blessed to have him as a partner this season,” Peta said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more from him. He was absolutely amazing.”
Before the elimination was announced, here’s how the competition went down:
The first round saw the pairs perform the same dance they did during the switch up earlier in the season, but this time they did that number with their original partners.
James and Peta took to the ballroom first, trotting out a sexy tango that included an on-the-lips kiss to create drama during the routine, which was a hit with Judge Bruno Tonioli.
“Dominant, dangerous, passionate, focused,” Bruno said of the dance, which earned James and Peta a near-perfect 29 out of 30.
In rehearsals, Maks said he wanted to be able to, “look back and say, ‘I literally had nothing else,’” with regards to how he tackled the season as Meryl’s pro partner. And when he and the Olympian took the stage, they gave it their all, as the two thrilled with an Argentine tango (which Meryl previously performed with Maks’ brother, Valentin Chmerkovskiy).
“That was sumptuously seductive, but there’s a point I would like to make,” Bruno told the pair. “What I think is extraordinary [is] in the last few weeks, your dances seem to be developing and linking into a story line that is almost like watching the dance version of a concept album. It is a story that continues, evolves, [and is] ever more stunning, ever more beautiful, ever more surprising. It really is incredible.”
And a dance with that kind of praise could only get one score – a perfect 30 out of 30.
Mark, who was injured on Sunday, managed to dance with Candace after being cleared by a doctor during a commercial break. Taking the stage, Mark and the former “Full House” star delivered a quickstep that got them a standing ovation (and clearly delighted Candace’s children, who were cheering mom on from the audience).
“You’ve been through a heck of a week and I tell you, when you think about the difficulty of the quickstep, all the pressure you’ve been under, you did good,” Judge Len Goodman told the actress as she and her partner earned 27 points.
Like Mark, Amy too had some struggles. She had back spasms during rehearsals with Derek, but pushed through, creating a delightful samba with her pro that left the judges raving.
“It was ridiculous. Every week I’m baffled by you because you blow my mind. You do things that I didn’t think are possible — every week. But tonight, not only have you done everything that I couldn’t believe was possible, but you’re better and you’ve grown and you’ve improved, just like everybody on this journey,” Carrie Ann Inaba said, as Amy and Derek tied for first with Meryl and Maks in Round 1, earning their own perfect score.
It was freestyle fun for Round 2, and once again, James and Peta took the stage first, combining hip-hop and martial arts into an impressive routine with moves never before seen on the show.
“You came out and really gave it everything,” Len said, as James and Peta earned another near-perfect score – 29 out of 30 for a Monday night total of 58 out of 60.
Moments later, though, the bar was raised when Meryl and Maks performed an elegant and beautiful contemporary routine that left Carrie Ann in happy tears.
“First of all, I think you guys should get married,” Carrie Ann said, after she composed herself. “I love gimmicks and show stopping [things] — it’s fun, but you just got real. This is what true dance is about. Dance is about the soulful expression of your true self; it has honesty, it has integrity, it has substance. What you did there was the most stunning example of divinity in motion. Congratulations.”
Meryl and Maks’ routine earned them another perfect score, netting them the full 60 points possible for the night.
In gold spandex, Candace took to the stage with Mark for their freestyle, which was joyful, athletic, and included upside down spins. But Carrie Ann had one complaint.
“I don’t feel like you connected to the music,” Carrie Ann said, as the audience booed. “Everything around you was groovin’ it and hittin’ it, and just I felt like you didn’t quite hit it, but I still love you for going for it.”
Bruno also suggested Candace wasn’t quite on the beat, and as a result, Candace and Mark’s freestyle score was 24 out of 30. Their two-round total was 51 out of 60.
“Dancing” saved its most gravity-defying freestyle for last as Amy and Derek delivered a contemporary-inspired routine that saw them dance on their toes, their knees, and at the end, Amy was lifted up on a rope into the air. Above the dance floor, Amy spun around not unlike what music superstar Pink does at her concerts.
“You just redefined what is possible,” Bruno said. “It’s incredible, darling. It really is.”
Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them 10s, but Len, who didn’t think the rope was necessary, gave Amy and Derek’s freestyle a 9, for a Round 2 score of 29 out of 30. Their final score of the evening was 59 out of 60.
James and Peta were eliminated, leaving Meryl and Maks (60/60), Amy and Derek (59/60) and Candace and Mark (51/60) to compete for the mirrorball on Tuesday’s “Dancing.”
— Jolie Lash