Dancing With the Stars Finale: Which Couple Deserves to Win the Mirrorball Trophy? [Updated]

Kardashian Conspiracy Theorists, unite! The Dancing With the Stars Season 13 performance finale gave us a glimpse of Cheryl Burke in a Len Goodman mask, holding up an “11” paddle for her partner, who just so happens to be the younger brother of Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe (AKA The One With the Baby, The One With the Sex Tape Who Is Now Inexplicably on the Cover of Everything, and The One Who Is Occasionally Pretty Funny).

And sure enough, there was a brief moment at the end of the telecast where I wondered if Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno had been kidnapped and hogtied backstage, only to be replaced by members of the vast Kardashian plot to overtake all of pop culture.

On second thought, though, matters might not be quite so grave. All the judges did, in the end, was put Rob Kardashian and Cheryl atop the leaderboard — they did dance pretty well, I’ll admit — with season-long favorites Ricki Lake/Derek Hough and J.R. Martinez/Karina “OMG HER BODY” Smirnoff tied for second.

In other news, I may have teared up when Len noted that the DWTS finale often comes down to who wants it most, then pointed out to J.R. that Karina is the only one of the DWTS pros in the finale without a mirrorball trophy. (Aww.) But enough of my ridiculous, shiraz-soaked sentimentality!

Let’s talk about why J.R. and Karina deserve to win, why the judges painted themselves into those 10s for Rob, and which of Derek’s go-to moves needs to be taken down to the river with the brick and the brown burlap sack.

Dance of the Night: J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff (Freestyle)
Is there any adjective that can accurately convey the wow factor of that lift where J.R. flipped a springboarding Karina over his head, Karina wound up “seated” in the crook of J.R.’s back, and then got flipped back over his head — legs first — into a standing dismount? What’s more, there was also some dazzling bump-and-grind action, those squatting-stalking crawls, and that additional lift with J.R. flipping Karina through her own legs (which reminded me of that myth about defeating hiccups by drinking water upside down). Sure, the ending devolved into some crazy “helicopter-bird wings” on a platform, but I just interpreted it as the duo celebrating the fact that they’d risked death – or at least partial paralysis – with their routine, and lived to receive their perfect 10s.

Secret Weapon of the Night: Karina Smirnoff’s Glistening Rhinestone of a Physique
Look, I’m a gay man, but after J.R. yanked off Karina’s pink tulle tutu and left her sexing up the stage in pair of sparkly hotpants and bedazzled bikini top (with matching pink hood), it was really hard to focus on anything other than how the heck she’s managed to sculpt her human form into chiseled, glistening stone. As Len noted, the routine revealed J.R.’s talent and Karina’s body. “TEN!”

Probably Perfect and Yet Undoubtedly Underwhelming Award: Ricki Lake and Derek Hough (Cha Cha Cha and Freestyle)
Admittedly, I’ve been #TeamJR for weeks now, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought Ricki has been performing neck-and-neck with my favorite all season. Which is why it surprised me that her finale dances lacked their usual impact. For her Cha Cha Cha rehearsal, she had to deal with Carrie Ann offering advice on pointing with purpose (also good intel for hunting dogs and eyewitnesses viewing police lineups), and while Ricki’s gams looked incredible in her little red dress, and her feet were swift and precise, the end result was like a lovely grocery-store birthday cake: Looks and tastes good, but lacking something when it comes to heart. (Side note: Anyone else notice Derek’s little black jacket went from half-zipped as he and Ricki came down the stairs at the start of the show to fully unzipped by the time the DWTS singers performed their patented “ba-ba-dah-dah-ba-ba-dah” jingle?)

Likewise, Ricki’s freestyle – which began with her bursting through an image of her heavier, pre-season self – had speed and lifts for days, but it somehow didn’t seem to capture any of her personality. Maybe it’s because Derek couldn’t resist throwing in that hideous “arched-lady head-bob” maneuver – you know, the one where he gets his female partner’s back parallel to the floor, thrusts her face toward his crotch, pumps his fist, and makes a disgusting/triumphant facial expression? No wonder the talk-show hostess “accidentally” elbowed her partner in the chin!

Most Egregious Use of the “10” Paddle: Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke (Freestyle)
Here’s the thing: After Ricki got 9s across the board for her decent but hardly memorable freestyle, and then Rob outhoofed her with a kicky little old-timey number to “Minnie the Moocher,” the judges didn’t have anywhere to go but the “10” paddle if they wanted to do what was fair and place him above her. The problem, of course, was that after J.R. outhoofed Rob with his freestyle, the judges didn’t have “11” paddles to continue the fair scoring trend. (Not that they’ve ever really concerned themselves with fair.) Which leaves us having to hope the voting audience made up the difference. I do have to give credit to Cheryl for concocting the evening’s most complete freestyle dance – it had a beginning, middle, and end, and a definite artistic flow – that allowed Rob to shake his semi-famous derriere (look for it to get a three-episode spinoff series on E!) without having to perform anything as death-defying as what Karina choreographed for J.R.

Paddle That Has Me Wondering if the Judges Will Throw J.R. Under the Bus During the Final Tuesday Dance and Complete Rob’s Ridiculous “Boy to Man”/“This Is All About Growth” Story Arc
Okay, JR and Karina’s cha cha cha never quite took flight – the chemistry was there, but even J.R. admitted he’d gotten ahead of the beat and it threw off the timing of the entire routine – but really, a 7 from Len? Even Bruno mouthed a “wow” when that brutally low paddle made an appearance. Is Grumpy Old Man trying to beat Carrie Ann for Season 13’s “Least Popular Judge” trophy? Discuss!

Reason Len Should Never Let Unemployed Comedy Writers Pre-Script His Critiques
“It had more rise and fall than Pam Anderson jogging,” Len declared at the end of Rob’s competent but slightly leaden waltz. (Where was the TV-WP label, warning me of Woeful Punchlines?) Speaking of that dance, by the way, did anyone feel like it was unusually brief? I didn’t break out my stopwatch and compare it to J.R. or Ricki’s cha cha chas, but it seemed like Rob and Cheryl had barely made a sweep of the ballroom before Carrie Ann started yapping about the Kardashian kid being the “male version of Cinderella.” (Which would make who, exactly, the Wicked Stepmother?)

Tom Bergeron’s Best Lines of the Night
“Red and short is your color!” –complimenting Ricki at the end of her cha cha cha

“I’m not quite comfortable turning my back to Kirstie Alley.”

And with that, here’s how the three remaining pairs scored with the three judges (Nitpicky, Crotchety, and Freaky):

Judges’ Leaderboard (Carrie Ann, Len, Bruno: Total for Dance #1 + Total for Dance #2 = Total for the Night)
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: 9, 9, 9: 27 + 10, 10, 10: 30 = 57
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: 8, 7, 9: 24 + 10, 10, 10: 30 = 54
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: 9, 9, 9: 27 + 9, 9, 9: 27 = 54

What did you think of the DWTS semifinals? Sound off in the comments, and take our poll below! And for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Loriiee says:

    JR and Karina deserve to win. The last dance was AWESOME!!!

    • Elena says:

      JR and Karina had a TRUE 30 freestyle! Rob’s was way over-scored. Go JR!!! All my votes went for you.

      • Cathie says:

        His first dance was horrible. Why does he deserve it more than Rob who scored higher. Just because his life story is heartbreaking doesn’t mean he’s a better dancer. I’m not a Kardashian fan either. Just an adult with my own mind.

        • Mary says:

          Rob scored higher, but he was way overscored on the dances. His first dance did not deserves 9’s, and no way was the free style a 10.

        • djm says:

          I agree. The first night of this season I knew that JR would be the winner based on his story alone. Yeah, he’s a good dancer, but his “freestyle” last night only proved (at least to me) that he isn’t a technically good dancer. Sure, Karina is smoking hot (she was in Playboy last year after all and she does have an amazing body), but that doesn’t mean that JR is a good dancer. For me the celeb that should win is Ricki – both of her dances were 1,000 times better than either of the guys.

          • mustang girl says:

            I don’t think it is on his story alone, he is a good dancer and has shown improvement. There have been others with “sad” stories in the past (the model who was in the sunami, Marlee M. is deaf, Heather Mills with one leg, etc.) who did not make it to the finals.

            I love JR’s attitude and the way he dances. He is very respectful of Karina and does not spend alot of time whinning.

    • Lynne Shanley says:

      I totally agree that JR is the best so far and should win.

  2. George says:

    I dont watch but, as long as the Kardashuan does not win i will be happy

  3. Emily says:

    Go JR and KARINA!!!!!! They had the BEST freestyle, no questions asked!!! it was amazing! they ACTUALLY DESERVED the 30 they got for that dance. And it was the last one, so it’s the one everyone will remember.
    First time i’ve voted all season, and ALL my votes went to JR!!!
    GO JR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Kim says:

    Count me in on the Kardashian conspiracy. If he wins, I will scream.

    J.R. and Karina FTW!

    • B says:

      Normally I don’t buy into conspiracy theories about these shows, but watching him top the leader board tonight did make me wonder what all Mama K has been up to over at ABC! He went much further than I expected him to, but in no way should he win.

    • Bubba says:

      Rob & Cheryl do not deserve to be at the finale; The Kartrashians must of paid Disney off by having their only son at the top of the leaderboard. Cheryl & her partner STANK!! The judges were obviously told by Disney who to pick & they did it!! It was so obvious who they wanted to win tonight. That show is rigged & the public gets sucked into thinking their calls will make a difference. They won’t! You’ll see who wins tomorrow night & it won’t be the best. Maks C. knows the real deal; that’s why he is boycotting the whole event??!! You’ll see tomorrow night Disney becoming a lot richer!!

    • Daniel says:

      I dunno how much these judges has been paid off to lick off Rob’s fat a**, especially Carrie ann. Its pretty evident that she got more than the other two… Get that b**** out of the panel!

    • Lana says:

      I don’t follow the Kardashians and did not know Rob at all, but as I saw how he kept improving I became a fan. I too thought J R was the best but the last 3 weeks had me in Rob’s corner and his free dance deserves to win along with his waltz so I had to vote for Rob as I vote for the one who danced the best.

  5. Andrew says:

    Hope and Maks deserve to win.

  6. Lacey says:

    Rod should win b/c This show is about growth and rob started off on the show as a boy and turned into a man and he did better and better every week that’s why he is on the top of the leaderboard.but i will not be surprise if Jr wins b/c he is a war hero and ricki she was off a bit but she still did good.I think its going to be 1st jr 2nd rob and 3rd ricki!

    • Lily says:

      Turned into a man?? Oh good lord, now this is a turning into a man competition??

      • Lacey says:

        I did not say it was a man competition i said he had growth week by week! smh -_-

        • Kate says:

          Problem is that even with all his growth he isn’t anywhere near as good as J.R. J.R. Goes out and rocks it while you can see the panic on Rob’s face from start to finish.

          • Kayla says:

            rob should win……. This show is about GROWTH and how you become a dancer J.r is good but in my opinion i think rob should win…And let lacey have her opinion too!

          • Sydney says:

            YES! Rob is NOWHERE closer to Ricki and J.R’s improvement after these many episodes. Stop the crap and vote honestly to the one who put real effort and did executed well. Rob can barely move his A** while K. mama sheds her crocodile tears after every of his dance.

        • Anna says:

          He’s growing alright; his booty’s getting bigger than Kim’s.

    • Debbie says:

      The problem with your theory (albeit true) is that the one who grows the most, doesn’t always win. That only happened in season 1 with Kelly Monaco.

      My problem with Rob is that, yes he’s grown as a performer, but when you get to the finals you need to wow people.

      I think he was over-scored on that freestyle and the waltz was just alright. Cheryl needed to redeem herself after Giles with the freestyle but JR and Karina’s freestyle is what it’s all about. Doing something that no one has ever done before.

      What JR and Karina did was something no one has ever done before. Why do you think that Shawn and Mark (jive with break dancing) as well as Kristi and Mark (mambo and hip-hop) won? Both of their freestyles had been something that was never done before.

      I actually liked Derek and Ricki’s freestyle but it definitely wasn’t one the best from a member of the Ballas/Hough trio.

  7. Mandee says:

    Am I the only one who though jr and karina’s dance was just him throwing her around (in a very talented way) and that’s it?! Where we’re the elements of dance?! His bit on the platform was not that great! The freestyle was all karina!

    I love Derek the most but don’t think ricki deserves to win. To me, ROB did the BESt freestyle which perfectly showcAsed his dancing abilities AND lift abilities.

    • Lacey says:

      I agree!

    • GodAwfulJudging says:

      Um, the freestyle has always been about lifts and throwing your partner around. Derek does it every season he’s in the finals. It’s the only chance the dancers have to breakout of the “ballroom” mode and do something fun, energetic and entertaining. Best freestyle usually wins the Mirror Ball. Best two freestyles belonged to Ricki and JR. Rob’s freestyle was too safe and didn’t take enough risks. Probably because he lacks the athleticism needed to complete those lifts.

      It’s why Rob was the third best dancer on the floor tonight.

    • Momosa says:

      Come on.. Its a total B.S. Rob is moving like a Robo. No one saw him dancing on the stage. He is just moving his big butt here and there.

    • Kim R says:

      I agree with your comment on Jr & Karina’s freestyle. I don’t have favorites at this point & I really think they all deserve to be there so with that said…I was disappointed in Jr & Karina tonight. I really don’t think they deserved a perfect score for their free style. I was basically a mess of steps with some crazy lifts. I did like the direction Cheryl & Derek went in their choice of showing different dance skills throughout their routines. I don’t care what Rob’s last name is, I think he has really come such a long way with hard work and no natural dancing ability at first. I really like them all but am kind of hoping for Rob. They all seem like great people as do their professional partners. :)

  8. Tess says:

    JR and Karina deserve to win. Even with the ankle injury he is still a better dancer than Rob and Ricki was not impressive tonight. His first dance felt like the tempo of the music was off (intentionally perhaps…?) which messed with his dance. Didn’t deserve the 7 from Len though. Makes me wonder if it was set up by TPTB to have Rob solidly in first and both JR and Ricki tied for second to give Rob at least some chance. I actually expected them to throw JR under a bus completely like they did to Kirstie Alley last season and put him in third but I guess Ricki didn’t hold up her end of things to make that happen. I hope JR can pull enough votes to upset the Kardashian machine and win as he should. I fear the “judges’ vote only” dances tomorrow will be unfairly scored as well to help a Rob win occur though…

  9. Debbie says:

    Could not get through on my landline! Maybe in future finalist can have two phone lines to vote! Finally, I tried my cell phone and was able to get through to vote for J.R. and Karina!! they were absolutely awesome, not just tonight, but every night they performed!!! Go J.R. and Karina!!!

    • evie says:

      The exact same thing happened to me!! For a straight hour I was unable to vote for J.R. & Karina, then tried my cell & got in. Something is rotten with the voting process.

    • Mary says:

      I couldn’t get thru on my land line either, but I did on my cell.
      I thought maybe I dialed the wrong number but after the third time I tried the cell and it worked.

  10. GingerSnap says:

    This has been JR’s to win since the first episode. Only inspirational dancer I’ve seen. Rob is just a wannabe who became the judges favorite, not mine. Ricki has been consistent all season, and any other season I would be rooting for her.

  11. Sunny says:

    For once, I wish there could be a tie in this competition! Both Kardashian and Martinez showed just how much they have grown over these weeks. I was spellbound watching both free style dances, I could not make a choice of one over the other as to who did the best. In my book, they are BOTH winners!

  12. GodAwfulJudging says:

    So I just watched Rob’s freestyle and I’m wondering what the judges were looking at. He still looks stiff as a board and clumsy
    at times.
    The only dances worthy of three 10’s were delivered by JR and Ricki!

  13. Phoebi says:

    As long as it’s not Crazy Ricki

  14. Kate H says:

    I was kinda rooting for JR this season (when I wasn’t swooning over Tristan). But then… something happened. Rob got good. Trust me – I did not at all want to like a Kardashian. I’ve never watched their show and laugh just as hard as anyone when Joel McHale makes fun of them on the soup (I still refer to Kim as the one who is famous for having a big butt and a sex tape).
    JR greatly disappointed me these past 2 weeks. Last week him getting all mad about the last move and throwing a little hissy fit and then tonight… he really sucked. He was WAY off during the first dance. And he messed up bad during the beginning of the second and that weird move where she grabbed onto his leg was weird and he lost energy at the end.
    But, sadly, I know JR will win. Oh well.

  15. CA says:

    For all the hilarious Kardashian Conspiracy Theorists out there — please explain to me what ABC and DWTS gain by devising this scheme you are all so concerned about???!! You do realize this is just a show for entertainment, right?

  16. RETHA says:

    I really believe j r and Katrina should win,not only do they dance great togather, but let us give back to J R what he gave for us, good luck J R.

  17. Gail B. says:

    Just as viewer’s admiration of Derek, sympathy for J.R should not determine the outcome, neither should hatred of the Kardashians. They are all good, but the outcome should be about the dancing.

    • Mary says:

      I agree. However, Rob has come far but he is still stiff on the floor and was way overscored. Rikki is okay, but something is off on her dances, I can’t explain it but it just didn’t flow right. JR got my vote, yes his first dance was off, and he admitted it but his free style was fantastic. He has improved all season. My vote was for the best dancer, not because of his circumstances.

  18. Mandee says:

    Yes Derek does BUT he also incorporates many elements of various ballroom dances into the routine. Go back to Nicole’s freestyle. They had dance moves from multiple styles done throughout the season WITH their lifts dance. I had been planning on voting for JR but that dance was like a smoke screen to me. Just running around, some lukewarm hip hop dancing and the lifts. I didn’t feel like anything nearly as good as what we’ve seen from him all season.

    • marienoel says:

      You forget that Nicole went to a performing arts school and majored in dance. Also that has Pussycat Dolls lead singer she had a lot of dance experience BEFORE she worked with Derek. He keeps being given partners with dance experience so he can do difficult dances with them. Give him someone with no dancing in their background at all and then I will be impressed.

  19. Lorie says:

    A perfect score for Rob!? Puh-leeze! J.R. and Karina FTW!

  20. lorrie says:

    rob has been nothing but a true trooper thru this all… had we not known he was a “kardashian” you would be voting for him for number 1. he started out knowing very little and just listened to his pro partner so yes why dont they deserve it…. name has nothing to do with it…. it’s talent, remember… let the underdog win… go rob and cheryl

    • Mary says:

      Yes he has improved, but I’m sorry if he wasn’t a Kardashian he probably would of been voted off way before now. If you watch his dance, he is stiff on the floor – doesn’t not flow. He has improved but if you vote on the dancing, NOT THE UNDERDOG, he will take third.

    • chistosa says:

      Sorry, if I did not know Rob is a Kardashian, I would still not have voted for him. He has no flexibility and his transitions are not good. I do acknowledge his progress which has been impressive but in no way is he near the level of the other two.

  21. pattywilla says:

    I thought none of the freestyles were up to prior years. I was disappointed. Anyway, JR for the win.

  22. Mary P Sabatini says:

    Rikki Lake or JR were the best of the 3 couples. One thought, how much more of the Kardashians do we have to endure? All are talentless nothings. It doesn’t say much for the American public that has followed their lives and enriched that bunch for “nothing.”

    Kardashian followers should do something useful and productive with their lives.

  23. Spencer says:

    Could the judges really be so blatant that they are being paid off by the KArdashian’s to make Rob win?!?! Rob is NOT a good dancer, (he always looks sooo confused), and yet the judges and producers are trying their hardest to make him win! Honestly, it disgusts me.

    Now, J.R. needs to win. Not just because ‘his story is heartbreaking’ as other rude people have said, but also because he is a actually good dancer. Throughout the entire season, he has had wonderful dances. And sure, Ricki may have been a little better some weeks, but unlike Ricki, J.R. is a good-sport, and no matter what happens he will cheer on his other contenders! That alone needs to get him the trophy.

    • Kate says:

      I did think it was super awkward last night when everyone was congratulating JR and Karina, Rob clearly stood back and didnt participate. While other contestants seem to get into the comradery of the show, he never has.

      • Jaz says:

        Actually that is not true. I love how you pick one shot of him talking with Cheryl and not moving towards JR to mean he lacks in camaraderie. Go back at look at some of the relay and team dances, especially after competition — at one point Rob reaches out and shoulder hugs JR and says something to him and JR said something to the effect of great job, too. And up in the skybox Rob is often seem talking with and goofing off with the rest of them. Just because Ron isn’t overflowing with touchy feeling (neither is Ricki), don’t assume that he is somehow not liked by his fellow contestants or that he doesn’t like them.

        • Jen says:

          I know exactly what she’s talking about. At the end the other five are in a big group hug and Rob just sort of backed away. That’s not to say he can’t be social, but I don’t think he embraces it the way others do. He was also the one that started all the drama at the beginning of the season by telling a radio show one of the married contestants was sleeping with their pro. It wasn’t even true, so clearly a great way to make friends.

  24. Jack says:

    Get over yourselfs and stop acting like maks and hope! Gesh people stop taking DWTS so seriously! No one is paying off the judges….get real…

  25. CallBlocked says:

    I could not get throught to JR’s number. It rang busy until midnight pacific time. Hope it was really busy with people calling in for him. I only was able to vote online.

  26. Wanda says:

    LOVE IT!! I AGREE!!!

  27. Ruth says:

    Ron and Cheryl were marked too high both this week and last week. He got rewarded for improving. He’s in the finals, Just because he improved that doesn’t mean he should win. Cheryl made the waltz number. She was wonderful and definitely carried him. I thought he was kind of stiff. In the fee dance there was a little segment when they showed Cheryl from the back when she was lifting each leg side to side and frankly it looked very ugly to me. It ruined the number. I think JR and Ricki are both very good and either one could win. I hope Ron doesn’t win.

  28. Zara says:

    JR should win. Or Ricki. Rob is being praised ONLY because of the Kardashian money, fame, etc. He is NOT that good…for real.

  29. shunda says:

    I feel that ricki and Dreke should have won hands up Jr and rob messed up so much it didn’t make no since if they went by the scores then Dreke and ricki were in the lead and I know they had a lot of fans so the show was not a bout who dance the best but who to feel sorry for the most

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