Dancing With the Stars Season 14 Finals Recap: Who Should Win the Mirrorball Trophy?

With the Mirror Ball trophy so tantalizingly, realistically within the grasp of any of our final three couples, this week’s dances — one redux chosen by the judges, along with the all-important Freestyle — showcased just how far William Levy, Katherine Jenkins and Donald Driver have come during Dancing With the Stars‘ 14th season.

Better still, with ABC allotting just an hour for the six dances, the focus stayed squarely on fancy footwork at hand, and not so much on weepy backstories and backstage drama. Predicting the outcome of one of the finest ever DWTS seasons would be folly, and any one of our finalists could hoist that trophy without the slightest shock, but I’m nevertheless going out on a limb with my personal picks:

Time To Dust Off of the Mantle? | The sheer drama of Katherine’s opening Paso Doble, contrasted against her shocking stumble last week, had me riveted from the opening note: the artistry, elegance and lushness of her performance put the “Prime Diva of Dancing With the Stars” — Carrie Ann’s description — firmly back in the hunt, and moved the judges to paddling perfection. 30! But Katherine’s freestyle may just turn out to be this season’s game changer. First, a stroke of genius: If you’re one of the world’s powerhouse singers, why not open your freestyle by showing off your incredible pipes? From her sexy “hit it boys” intro, Katherine’s exuberant, joyful 1920s-style “Welsh Wiggler” dance was an eye-popping “tour de force” (Bruno’s words), which when combined with the duo’s gracious, post-dance demeanor, make ‘em my pick to snatch the Mirrorball Trophy. Oh, and did I mention, a sextet of perfect 10s from the judges tonight? As Carrie Ann said of Katherine’s freestyle, “That was the dance of a champion.”

A Possible Runner-Up? | If the Mirrorball Trophy is the main goal in Donald Driver’s sights, a “10 from Len” has always been a close second. That said, was it just me, or did the pressure to achieve perfection show on Donald’s face in his opening Argentine Tango? As Len noted, “It was a tad careful,” and for once, I can’t argue. But hold on, partners. In the pre-dance clips, Donald predicted his competition would play it safe in the freestyle, and his wholly unexpected, country-themed closer — full of eye-popping lifts, spins and athleticism — generated roars from the crowd. Carrie Ann had to stand up to call it “by far my favorite dance tonight,” and Len reminded us all that “chances win dances.” Either way, if Donald winds up in second, that 10 for his freestyle from the demanding head judge has to be a nice consolation prize.

Shake, Rattle and Roll…into Third? | William brought out the big guns — in this case, his beloved pecs — for his show-opening cha cha cha, which so dazzled the judges (Len called it the best cha cha cha in 14 seasons of DWTS) the 10 paddles came right out and set the tone for the high-scoring night. But will William’s all-too-predictable freestyle — shake the booty, bare the abs, amp up the passion — do him in? As Len almost angrily summed up (can I be agreeing with him again?), “It was too predicable. All you do is shake your butt and get the women screaming… I’m fed up with it!” Carrie Ann immediately (and energetically) protested (“It’s a freestyle!”), but I was left to quietly wonder — noting the disappointment on William’s face — has the Levy spell broken? Then again, Len’s surprisingly high “9″ flew in the face of his harsh comments, keeping William firmly in the Mirror Ball hunt, especially as his booty-lovin fan base is sure to chime in with their support.

Quote of the Night | “Len, I don’t know what I need to do baby, but I promise on this next one, you will give me a 10.” — Donald to Len, after getting a “9″ on his opening Argentine Tango. (Note: This man delivers on his promises!)

Judges’ Leaderboard (Carrie Ann, Len, Bruno: Total)
Round One (Judges’ Pick):
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: 10, 10, 10: 30
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: 10, 10, 10: 30
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: 10, 9, 10: 29

Freestyle Dance:
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: 10, 10, 10: 30
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: 10, 10, 10: 30
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: 10, 9, 10: 29

Now it’s your turn. Were all those 10s justified, or teetering on overkill? Did Len over-score William’s freestyle, given his none-too-pleased post-dance comments? Despite her picture-perfect scores, is Katherine’s fan base strong enough to take her over the finish line? And what was up with Brooke’s unfortunate, inexplicable coif tonight? Leave your comments!–Mitch Rustad

Comments (61)

  • Donald Driver for the win. You heard it here first.

    Comment by Ash1157 – May 21, 2012 07:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Absolutely Donald & Peta!

      Comment by Sandy Kerzner – May 21, 2012 07:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Sure to replace Drew’s “Ride a Cowboy” Freestyle- what a dance!!! Donald swiped away my vote for William…..

      Comment by Elizabeth Kozak Listello – May 22, 2012 03:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Cheryl & William!

    Comment by RBG (@RatherBeGulfing) – May 21, 2012 07:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Katherine to Win!!=-)

    Comment by Marie More (@sweeteepie4ever) – May 21, 2012 07:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What was Brooke’s mistake? I missed it….

    Comment by Kristi – May 21, 2012 07:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by Heather – May 21, 2012 07:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m not at all surprised to see 10s flying all over the place on the second to last night of the season, but at the same time, I thought everyone did great tonight, so you know, it all balances out.
    Donald’s country dance was amazing, I liked William’s to the “Objection (Tango)” song in particular (that was a scorcher), and agreed, Katherine doing her 1920s thing was very cute. Len’s opinion won’t matter to William’s big fanbase, they’ll vote in droves. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Katherine walk away with the trophy, and I’d be just fine with that. I like all three remaining people, though, so good luck to all of them tomorrow.

    Comment by Angela – May 21, 2012 07:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Donald Driver was great tonight!!! Hoping he wins it!!

    Comment by Meg – May 21, 2012 07:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • No matter who wins, I’ll be happy and on that note – GO WILLIAM & CHERYL! :D

    Comment by Elle – May 21, 2012 07:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Donald & Peta should win- they were underscored ( Len) all season…they were always so fun and entertaining!

    Comment by Sandy Kerzner – May 21, 2012 07:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree that Donald & Peta were underscored alot. I’m in for them to win it all.

      Comment by donna b. – May 22, 2012 02:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked William all season. But Donald deserves to win. So I am voting for him tonight.

    Comment by Betty – May 21, 2012 07:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s Donald all the way. That freestyle was a deal breaker.

    Comment by Robert – May 21, 2012 07:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Freestyles tend to decide this thing in the end…that said, I thought Katherine’s was the toughest choreo of the three but I think Donald excelled in the execution of his (although it felt like a rip off of Drew and Cheryl’s all time best freestyle dance). I was a little disappointed in William’s but his fans will vote in droves anyway…so this will surely be a close one. Probably the first time I can’t really figure out who’s gonna take it. Katherine’s been my fave of the 3 all season so I voted for her (loved her Paso best of the first round dances)but I worry her topping the leaderboard right now may lead to fewer votes in the end. Guess you really can’t go wrong with any of them winning though.

    Comment by Tess – May 21, 2012 07:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked DWTS contrary to American Idol. The best usually win.So Donad for the win.

    Comment by Betty – May 21, 2012 07:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Goooo Katherine and Mark!!!

    Comment by Robin – May 21, 2012 07:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really hope that the deserving dancer wins and that is Katherine and Mark. I don’t think any of them matched the freestyles of the past — Brooke and derek, drew and cheryl, marc and kristi but they were good.

    Comment by james – May 21, 2012 07:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I believe they all deserve to win, they are all great, But DONALD is in for the hall & best to win.

      Comment by donna b. – May 22, 2012 02:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s clear and obvious that Katheine 110% deserves it. She’s the best dancer! You have to be completely out of it to not see it! Even the judges called her out as the “champion”.

    Comment by Jessica – May 21, 2012 07:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • unfortunately you are dealing with a strong football fan base.

      Comment by sam – May 21, 2012 07:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • What does that mean ?? football base !! Donald is very deserving, he’s proven it all along. GO DONALD !!

        Comment by donna b. – May 22, 2012 02:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree about Katherine. My order would be Katherine, William then Donald. :)

      Comment by Kim R – May 22, 2012 06:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I too was disappointed in William and Cheryls’s freestyle. He can do so much more than that choreography.

    Comment by chistosa – May 21, 2012 07:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree with Len’s comments. More of the same shakin’ ‘n goovin n’ bare chest. It was too predicatble and too boring. There’s more to dance than a fit body.

      Comment by barbara – May 22, 2012 08:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Donald and Peta

    Comment by ronda – May 21, 2012 07:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I definately am hoping for a Cheryl/William win. I think he has the most rhythm of the three. I always think it’s much harder for a male to win than a female.

    Comment by Rosemary – May 21, 2012 07:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • are you kidding, there was a female celebrity drought from winning and it was only Mark who was able to break that streak with kristi — more males have won and more athletes have won.

      Comment by sam – May 21, 2012 08:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Based solely on tonight, I think Donald deserves to win. His freestyle was the best and it looked like he had so much fun doing it. I’ve liked Katherine for most of the season, but she came in with a lot of dance ability, so she doesn’t have that underdog root factor for me. I like looking at William, but I don’t think he has the amount of drive that the other two do.

    Comment by ADC – May 21, 2012 07:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I want William to win but my second option is Donald. I just don’t like Katherine I think she’s a person.

    Comment by :/ – May 21, 2012 07:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Fake person. No one is that sweet but yet I could be wrong I just don’t like her or mark

      Comment by :/ – May 21, 2012 08:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Haven’t you heard?British ladies are genteel XD.Mary Poppins and Kate Middleton support my outlandish claim.

        Comment by Shaun – May 21, 2012 08:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ive only watched a few times this season but watched tonight. The first thing that struck my mind is that none of these guys are STARS – at least not in the US. We have an opera singer from Wales…(UM..does she not know that the predecessor to DWTS is the UK show Strictly Come Dancing with Bruno & Len as judges? If she were a big star in the UK, shouldn’t she be on that show?); William Levy is best known as a model in a JLO video? He’s a Cuban born actor/model who apparently stars in Telenovelas so he should be on Bailando con las Estrellas en Espanol, don’t you think? But like Giles Marini before him, he has a nice boy, we’ve seen his penis on the internet, and he can take off his shirt and shake his tush and will get some guest starring roles in some sitcom or cable series…and then a Green Bay Packer that probably no one outside of ESPN or Wisconsin has ever heard of..Sothats what we’re left with as glowing dancing stars. The judges seem to overscore -those last 3 freelancers weren’t all equivalent…I agree with Len that WIlliam did what he always does – nothing too creative or challenging – but then still gives him a 9…so as usual, DWTS becomes a popularity contest…Will middle aged women eating ice-cream vote for the hunky guy, the sexy dancer, or the woman they’re probably jealous of and have never heard of. Im surprised William didn’t dance the whole show shirtless and whats going on with the doo-rag…the Cubanos I know in LIttle Havana don’t wear them….So who will win? Who cares? Well the winner gets some extra cash as incentive and Im sure the pro dancer does too. Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas have their own fans after being on the show for so long so they may have an extra advantage but with only 1 point in between all 3 couples (really are they that close or when you give WIlliam a 10 – you basically have to give a 10 to Donald and Katherine even though they probably deserved a 12-15 on that point scale.) Donalds freestyle really killed but honestly I don’t care who wins. Go jessica although Phil 2 will continue the white guy with guitar and the southern trend on Idol; maybe Nigel and Fox need to do what DWTS does and limit votes for each phone number or email address and maybe that would get a different winner. If Jimmy gives Jessica great songs and producers and managers correctly she could be the next big thing…(Pia WHO?)

    Comment by Steve – May 21, 2012 08:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Katherine is on this show to be famous here.She also performed on this one.

      Comment by Shaun – May 21, 2012 08:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You ought to do your homework on Katherine Jenkins you think she is a virtually unknown in UK have a look at her record sales then I hope you will feel sheepish Cymru Am Byth!

      Comment by Gaynor Jones – May 22, 2012 08:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My favorite free style was Donald’s. If I had to pick a winner based on the free style it has to be Donald. I’m glad he finally got his well deserved 10′s. But William still my favorite

    Comment by M2 – May 21, 2012 08:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • William deserves to win, he can’t help cheryl’s lousy choreography. She used to do a good job, but she doesn’t seem to have it anymore. Katrina or Kim would have been better partners for William.

    Comment by mary m whipkey (@marymwhipkey) – May 21, 2012 08:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Donald all the way

    Comment by tkah hill – May 21, 2012 09:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • DONALD!!!.. Because HE DANCED, HE DANCED, ALL SEASON HE DANCED!!! No model vogue’g, no sing’g sidetracking, & NO GIVING UP – Better, Best, » » BETTER THAN THE BEST!!!! … ;-)…

    Comment by VJI – May 21, 2012 09:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This has been the BEST season ever! The future ones are really gonna have to step it up; or The Ballroom Boss is probably gonna drop them like a hot potato!!! “Just keep Yo eye7s on Da Feet”

    Comment by VJI – May 21, 2012 09:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Guess I’m the only one who thought some of Katherine’s moves in the freestyle weren’t that crisp. She is killer on the graceful and understand trying something new but I did not see that dance as a 10. Wish the judges had been a bit more discerning.

    Comment by Patti – May 21, 2012 10:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agree with you. Thought the freestyle was chaotic and off on some of the steps.

      Comment by GeeMa – May 22, 2012 05:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I totally agree with you. Her legs, during the lifts, were not straight. It took her a few seconds to get them in the position they needed to be in. I think Donald has been underscored the entire season. His trio dance was spectacular, and all he got were 3 9′s, which was the exact score Katherine got for flubbing her dance last week. SOOOOO not fair!

      Comment by Eileen – May 22, 2012 10:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think Catherine will get third. She was not as crisp as usual during the freestyle and women don’t generally win. In 13 seasons, the only female winners were Kelly Monaco, Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson, Nicole Shertzinger, and Jennifer Grey. It’s going to be close between William and Donald. While I think Willaim should have received a thirty for his freestyle, Donald’s freestyle was the standout. I wonder if Catherine got a perfect 60 in order to get her into second place since she doesn’t have as big a fan base as William or even Donald. Willaim could forget the entire routine of a dance and still get a large number of votes. I think Donald edged out William with the freestyle. It should also be noted that Donald pretty much predicted what the other dancers would do. PS I think Donald blew Drew’s cowboy freestyle out of the park

    Comment by Shayna – May 21, 2012 11:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Katherine deserves to win!

      Comment by sarah – May 22, 2012 08:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I fully agree with Len, William’s freestyle was nothing special. Just a lot of lifting up Cheryl, not much of real content. Donald’s, that was a freestyle. Going for something really different from ballroom or latin. And it worked great.
    Though for me, the best was Katherine. Such amazing energy, really fun to watch. Incredibly fast and so full of content, there were like a bajillion steps in there. And yet, always precise and on the beat.

    But I guess it’ll come down to popularity, and not just sheer numbers, but also craziness. So while I want Katherine “Naughty Bits” Jenkins to win, no one drives fans as crazy as William does.

    Comment by Gusar – May 22, 2012 02:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I totally agree. Katherine’s freestyle was amazing, as was Donald’s. William’s was too much of the same … bare chest and shaking butt.

      Comment by barbara – May 22, 2012 08:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Katherine Jenkins should not win, simply because she is a horrible human being.

    Comment by Alice – May 22, 2012 05:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Donald and Peta should win in my opinion. Their freestyle dance was spectacular. Donald all the way!

    Comment by Lindsay C. – May 22, 2012 06:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • William Levy for the win

    Comment by fernando rodriguez (@Fernanaberry) – May 22, 2012 06:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Katherine to win and William to get 3rd place!

    Comment by sarah – May 22, 2012 08:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I want Katherine to win!
    So what is left for Peeta to wear or NOT wear as is the case. Will she come out in a thong and pasties next season?

    Comment by cassidy – May 22, 2012 08:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Donald & Peta FTW! Such a fun freestyle!

    Comment by Lorie – May 22, 2012 08:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m rooting for Katherine and Mark!! My predictions for tonight:

    1. Katherine and Mark
    2. Donald and Peta
    3. William and Cheryl

    Comment by robinepowell – May 22, 2012 09:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It doesn’t matter, one of the guys will win! Why! because DTWS is fixed and is a popularity contest not a reality competition show!

    Comment by j – May 22, 2012 11:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I believe Bruno should be more careful with his comments, children & young adults are watching. This show is getting boring with Len & Bruno always disagreeing & bickering back & forth. I only watch hear & there because of this BUT DONALD IS MY MAN !!

    Comment by donna b. – May 22, 2012 03:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There have been some really ignorant comments here, but fewer than most. William can really dance but Cheryl seems to get these really gorgeous guys who can dance and then for the free dances she showcases herself and gives them easy steps and has them lift her. Its strange as the guys could do the complicated steps but she does them instead. I love Katherine but I do agree that her legs weren’t as straight as they needed to be, on some of the lifts, but it didn’t take away from the dance. Donald did do the best on the freestyle and I do believe he was robbed of points on the trio dance as he did the best on that dance. He did that dance with both girls through the whole dance without one mistake and it deserved a 30+ so I do believe he deserves the mirror ball this year.

    Comment by Lana – May 22, 2012 04:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I agree that Katherine was not crisp in her lifts and seemed “heavy” looking as Mark tried to lift her. She has been over rated by the judges all season and Donald has been UNDER rated. I voted for Donald….loved his dancing and his comittment and his attitude!! No fighting with his partner…refreshing!!

    Comment by shr – May 22, 2012 07:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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