Dancing With the Stars Season 18 Finals (Part 1): Did the Right Star Go Home?

DWTS cameron 325Though season 18 may be remembered as one of the most injury-plagued ever (let’s hope this ends with pro Mark Ballas’ scary, headline-generating shoulder injury over the weekend), the two-part Dancing With the Stars finale still pointed directly to Olympic ice dancing darling Meryl Davis as the hot favorite to be showered with glitter, confetti and Mirrorball glory tomorrow night.

Along with our four remaining celebs (Meryl, Candace Cameron Bure, James Maslow and Amy Purdy) tackling the judge’s pick and make-or-break freestyle dances, tonight’s live show was further enhanced by no guest judges (can I get a high-five, producers?!) and a truly shocking elimination.

Let’s high-kick right to the highlights:

DANCE OF THE NIGHT: With the perfect paddles flying yet again, James’ terrific tango and fabulous freestyle were each just a point shy of flawless (as was Amy’s high-flying freestyle), but for my money, here is the top dance of the night:

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: With the ballroom illuminated by a fiery red glow, Meryl’s oh-so-hot Argentine tango was sensual, sizzling and sheer perfection. Bruno Tonioli called it “sumptuously seductive” and was so overcome by the performance, he delivered his accolades (“ever more stunning, ever more beautiful, ever more surprising”) in respectful, almost hushed tones. Len Goodman once again predicted it would be the dance of the night, while Carrie Ann Inaba gushed over their chemistry and “this incredible magic that none of us can put into words.” Yeah, nothing but 10s here, kids.

CO-RUNNERS-UP:  Amy Purdy & Derek Hough: Despite another back-pain scare in rehearsals, Amy’s sensational salsa brought down the ballroom. “Flashy, exhilarating, flamboyant,” shouted Bruno, while Carrie Ann applauded Amy’s growth, with crisper movements and stronger musicality than ever before.  Len called it “fabulous” before all three gleefully whipped out their “10” paddles.

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: How can yet another dose of Meryl perfection only land a runner-up slot? Their majestic, skin-baring (Maks just skipped the shirt altogether) freestyle brought out the Carrie Ann romantic waterworks (“I think you guys should get married!”) before summarizing the dance as “divinity in motion.” Once again, Bruno was almost hushed in his praise (“as close as it gets to a flawless work of art”). Len concluded with “there’s good, there’s great, and there’s Meryl.” And of course, another round of 10’s.

FINAL TWO COUPLES LEFT “IN JEOPARDY”

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd

Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas

ELIMINATED

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd

“It’s alright, I’ve really had an amazing experience on the show,” said a gracious James, amidst scattered boos from disappointed (shocked?) fans in the ballroom. “I’ve made some amazing friends, and I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

And with that, it’s your turn. Did the right couple go home tonight?? Can anyone combat Meryl’s perfection and win the Mirrorball trophy? Sound off in the comments!