Dancing With the Stars Season 19 Finale Recap (Part 1): Who Deserves to Win?

With no more also-rans and for-your-amusement-only celebs left to bog down the proceedings, crunch time finally came to Dancing With the Stars – and just in the nick of time, too!

Yep, it’s time to break down Part 1 of the Season 19 finale — complete with one final, heartbreaking elimination.

Truth be told, you could’ve made a case for any of the fearless final four — Alfonso Ribeiro, Sadie Robertson, Janel Parrish, and Bethany Mota – cleaning off a mantelpiece in preparation for the coveted Mirrorball Trophy, and dreaming of the oh-so-familiar, confetti-littered celebration.

But first things first: Monday night’s live show featured both Judges’ Pick and the epically crucial Freestyle Dances, and as it turns out, one of the most perfect (at least based on judge’s scores) nights in DWTS history!

It must be mentioned, of course, that Ttensions flew in many directions during tonight’s live show, as the DWTS broadcast was interrupted several times — most notably mere seconds before the elimination was announced — for breaking news reports on the hotly anticipated Michael Brown grand jury announcement from Ferguson, Mo. But many viewers — at least here in the New York City market — were dumfounded when ABC’s broadcast resumed not with news of the DWTS elimination, but of the latest episode of Castle.

Given that glitch, let’s high-kick right to the highlights (and with so many 10s flying about, this was a virtual coin toss):

DANCE OF THE NIGHT: Janel Parrish and pro Val Chmerkovskiy | In perhaps the most emotional and authentic freestyle of the night, Janel’s intoxicating performance lifted the ballroom (and the judges) into spasms of affection. “This was the visualization of a love poem,” gushed Bruno Tonioli, before calling it “hypnotically beautiful.” Carrie Ann Inana and Len Goodman were absolutely wowed by the dance’s awesome deadlift (“I was petrified,” admitted Val of the eye-popping lift), while Julianne Hough added, “What you two have is so real and so authentic … it just shows the trust that you guys have had from day one to now … it was absolutely breathtaking.” As expected, nothing but perfect paddles here.

RUNNER-UP DANCE OF THE NIGHT: Alfonso Ribeiro and pro Witney Carson: “You set the bar from day one with that dance,” said an ecstatic Carrie Ann after Alfonso’s spectacular jive (which got a solid 36 in week one), before adding, “I don’t know how it was so much better than the first time!” It was no surprise the judges went as appropriately nuts as the audience. “You dance like Frank Sinatra sings,” exclaimed a blown-away Len, who added, “you have just taken an enormous step into that finale!” But Julianne’s enthusiastic matter-of-fact shout out to their perfection (“There’s not one thing that you missed”) was then overshadowed by Bruno’s intergalactic reaction: “You have propelled that jive into interstellar space,” he cried, “hurray for you!” Yeah, nothing but 10s here, either .

WORST OF THE NIGHT: Bethany Mota and pro Derek Hough: You know it’s a red-hot night when a string of 9s is considered an utter flop, but though Bethany’s show-opening jive had a no-fault-of-their-own technical issue with the set, it stood out as a minor blip in an otherwise almost flawless night.

And now, for the results…

Janel Parrish and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
Bethany Mota and pro Derek Hough

Bethany Mota and pro Derek Hough

“I’ve discovered things about myself … that I never thought I could do,” said a gracious Bethany of her DWTS experience, before adding, “I never thought I would be this far in the competition.”

And with that, it’s your turn. Did the right couple really go home? And who deserves the Mirrorball prize? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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. Tran says:

    My money’s on Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to win the mirrorball trophy.

  2. chris says:

    hope you all vote for Janel!

  3. Lena says:

    I disagree with Val and Janel having the best freestyle. It looked like Val was attempting to copy his brother from last year to me, except Meryl is ten times better than Janel will ever be. It was an unoriginal copy.

    • cyclone says:

      I agree that Val is looking to Maks win last year as playbook and slow freestyles rarely succeed in getting the judges to feel. As opposed to Maks last year (whose freestyle I didn’t like) I thought Val and Janel nailed this slow freestyle but I still don’t like slow freestyles.

    • chistosa says:

      I thought it was a contemporary dance, not a freestyle. I always expect the freestyle to incorporate elements of different genres and not repeat a style that has been done. The lift was spectacular but the dance was a run of the mill contemporary.

    • Kim R says:

      Although a beautiful dance, it just made me think of Maks and Meryl’s dance last year which cannot be touched in my opinion. It felt unoriginal to me as well.

    • Jacks says:

      I agree! I also feel like they have been trying to garner votes by putting on a trumped-up romance (another Maks specialty).. Which is inauthentic and silly! None of the other couples have needed to play that game to get votes.

  4. Would have preferred Bethany over Sadie. Go Janel. Alfonso has been great and Witney’s been a great new pro but Janelskiy has been consistent.

    • CoolCoolCool says:

      Same, though I think it’s going to come down to Janel and Alfonso. Interesting that Bethany wasn’t in the bottom two all season yet tonight she gets beaten by both Janel and Sadie, the latter of which has been in the bottom two more than once. Hmmm

  5. Steve F. says:

    Whoa. Derek the golden boy didn’t make the top 3. When was the last time that happened?

    • Stacie says:

      From wikipedia it says Season 14 with Maria Menounos, he placed 4th there too. He is the man. He won 5 times, placed 2nd twice, and has never placed worse than 6th which he has only done once. That’s damn impressive. Bethanny deserved to go home based on the other contestants being so good, she didn’t do anything wrong. My vote goes to Janel over Alfonso, but if Alfonso wins that would be fine too. The 2 of them were spectacular tonight.

      • cyclone says:

        Derek needs to get a dud next season and be out by week 4, I am getting sick of him. But alas they will never give him anyone ala Bristol Palin because he’s a producer of the show and as mentioned it’s golden boy.

        • chistosa says:

          He gets a partner with no legs and people still complain that he gets the best partners. At the beginning of this season Bethany was not that good. She improved because of him. If you remember her first dance was a 32 and that is why it was the repeat dance last night.

        • Tammy says:

          Seriously, look at his choreography from season to season. He really changes and adjust his choreography based on the stars abilities. What he did with Maria was different than what he did with Amber and what he did with Bethany. He is good at making his “star” shine and bringing out their best. Some do the same type of choreography from season to season. Some try to push their star outside of their comfort zone whether it works or not. Derek just has a way of doing what he wants while customizing it to the star he gets… vs the star saying I will do this, I won’t do that! Sure he will never get a NeNe Leakes and I’m okay with that.

          • Jan says:

            Thank you, Tammy! Derek is always great when it comes to creating the right choreography for his contestant. I don’t understand people who complain about his attitude. IMO, Mark is much worse in that department.

  6. LC says:

    I know I’m in the minority but I’ve been cheering on Sadie all season. Love both of her dances tonight but the Mario dance was so amazing. I completely agree with the judges about this being one of the most memorable freestyles in DWTS history. It ranks right up there with Drew and Cheryl’s “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” dance. To me, that one has been the gold standard for freestyle. Go Sadie!!

  7. Arlene says:

    Bethany was fantastic tonight and should have stayed. So sick of hearing about Duck Dynasty and Sadie. Seemed like every week was a plug for that show. She dances like a damn duck and should have gone home

    • Nadjia says:

      Arlene I couldn’t agree more with you. Bethany is far better than Sadie who gets on my nerves with her family and Duck Dynasty stuff. Yes she dances like a duck and she improved but Bethany should of stayed instead of her. Her family must of voted a lot to get her there. It reminds me of Bristol Palin . Same scenario. I hope she will be gone tonight and I wish Alphonso will WIN .

  8. I don’t see how anyone can beat Alfonso with Will Smith’s mention on facebook and his astounding 74 million fans. Sad, because Val & Janel are all around better IMHO.

    • Iris says:

      I absolutely agree with you! Alfonso entertained, but Janel, Val were really the best this season. The judges scoring the final 3 with all 10’s, really full on let the decision be put in the fans hands, but I can tell by the judges comments and the fact that Janel, Val got the most 10’s for the season says something! I liked all of the top 4, but I thought Janel, Val killed it on the type of dance style of this competition!

  9. John says:

    Alfonso and Whitney really deserve to win


    Well I am disgusted I missed the last part of the program tonight I DON’T CARE WHETHER THEY RIOT OR NOT IN FERGUSON the best program on the tv was interrupted and I missed it MAD MAD MAD!!!!

  11. Dee says:

    Alfonso and Janel are definitely Top Two. Either one is fair game for the mirror ball. Sadie is a sweet young lady and has done very well, but her routines did not have the level of difficulties as the others.

  12. Mirtha e u says:

    To DWTS judges please tell your pros to choose tango and Paso music when they dance Argentine tango .I was born and race in Argentina study tango and Paso dancing.and believe me I can cry when I watch the show and hear the music they chose so please…please look into it for next season .I love the show!!!😍 Mirtha

    • chistosa says:

      The pros don’t choose the music, the producers do. Sometimes I cynically think that they try to sabotage some couples with music that is impossible to dance a specific genre. I agree that if they actually danced samba to samba music and tango to tango music they would all look better.

  13. jen says:

    Nope, the wrong couple went home, just my opinion

  14. jan says:

    I hated to see Derek and partner leave. My heart sank. Don’t think I’ll be watching show anymore.

  15. Lisa says:

    This was a great finale for a very entertaining season.

    Mark and Sadie’s Mario Brothers dance was one of the cutest dances I’ve seen on DWTS

  16. Kicks says:

    I’d love to see Mark win that mirror ball trophy for his partner one day, but tomorrow is not that day. Tomorrow I want Alfonso to win. Dancing through the pain and dancing perfectly, he should win. Maybe next time for Mark. TBH, I was surprised that Bethany went but happy she did.

  17. Jimmie Miller says:

    And I’m sick of Alfonso. As the judges said last night, he came in as a great dancer and set the bar. If that was the way it was going to be the entire show why not just give him the win from the beginning and let everyone go home. I hope either of the two women win. They came in as not so great dancers and have come so far. Isn’t that the purpose of the show?

    • Funhun30 says:

      I agree! He has been on Broadway and has many years of dance experience. I much prefer seeing the girls pull ahead honestly. They have really improved and that’s what I like to see. I mean he came in and had an almost perfect score(even Carrie Ann said she wanted to give him a perfect score for their first dance the first night)first night. Who does that happen to? Dancers

      • Nick says:

        You know it’s been like 20+ least since Alfonso has been on Broadway, right? He’s on par with Lea Thompson in terms of dance experience. Janel, while not a “dancer”, is a musician and has been on Broadway too. So what?

  18. exs113030 says:

    I am completely fine with the final 3. Personally, I think Janel deserves to win. She has improved leaps and bounds since the beginning and for the later half has been incredibly consistent (not to mention she has the most perfect scores). That being said I would also be happy for Alfonso or Sadie if they won…this is the first time I’ve really felt it’s anyone’s game.

  19. Rachel says:

    Either Janel or Alfonso deserve to win. They’ve killed it all season, but have still shown improvement.

  20. John says:

    Can’t wait for Alfonso to win… He always make my nights mondays#…

  21. Kim R says:

    This was such a strong final 4. I might have sent Sadie home before Bethany but Janel and Alfonso are the top 2 for me. I thought the freestyles were so different and so fantastic. I have already said here that Val’s routine felt too much like an attempt to recreate Maks & Meryl’s from last season but it was well done just the same. I did not have the same emotional impact for me though. My vote for the win is for Alfonso but it has been a great season. And I must say I really enjoyed Julianne’s judging. I was not a fan when she was a guest judge last season but she has surprised me.

  22. sarah says:

    I am so appreciative of all who are able to post about their top choice without insulting the others. I would love to see Sadie win. Alfonso and Janel are great, so it’s a toss up. I just don’t see why all the hateful comments are necessary.

  23. Teytey says:

    I think Bethany and Derek shouldn’t have got eliminated. I think Sadie should have gone home because Bethany worked very hard and actually put her life into and Sadie’s performance was just boring

  24. Val gragam says:

    There is no stopping Alphonso he deserves to win

  25. sauginres says:

    None of the above.

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I am so torn between Alfonso and Janal. I love them both and would be fine with either one of them winning.

  27. Nick says:

    Hopefully Alfonso. That was looking pretty good last night, when he got two perfect scores. Loved that he included “Jump On It”. It only would’ve been better if Will Smith had joined him. I’d be okay with Sadie winning, too, but it just doesn’t seem realistic at this point. i’m forever a Quack Pack member, though!

  28. RUCookie says:

    It is all about the Tap Dance King… my jaw hit the floor with the Alfonso/Whitney jive, it was insanelyflawles. And that feestyle was what freestyles are all about – it was fun, techincally perfect and covered so many different styles.

    While I love Val, I was so disappointed that he went with a slow, moving and emotional contemporary piece. Yes, the lifts were amazing (check out that neck wrap-around again) – but this is the same stuff we have seen trotted out for the win since Tony and Melissa did it on the All Stars round. If freestyle is meant to be unique… this is not anymore.

    What was unique was the Mark/Sadie hommage to Nintendo. I loved it. And I loved how he styled the dance to make use of her perpetually flexed feet.

    Alfonso will win. Whitney is an fantastic choreographer! And together, they are adorable. Loved everything they threw at us this year.

  29. Jander Vinicius says:

    Alfonso ribeiro vai ganhar!!!

  30. d says:

    Val and Janel should win. They have been the most versatile all season, from jive to paso to modern. Alfonso is great but he is a one trick pony. No finesse. No emotional bond

  31. Sherry Dean says:

    We all know that Alfonzo is going to win. If you read the articles even before the season started he was slated to win. I have no problem with him winning. I too am so tired of Derek and his attitude. Janell and Val make me sick. Get the sex out of it and just dance for crying out loud. I would love to see Sadie and Mark win but too many people are judging her on her family and not her dancing. Oh well either way I’m glad the season is over and doubt I will bother with the next one.

  32. Amber says:

    I’m torn. I can’t get it out of my head that Alfonso had lessons for so many years. I mean it’s not like last year when the ice skater who danced at the Olympics won. Alfonso doesn’t have that much experience I don’t think. I guess I’d say Alfonso deserves it, although I think every single one is worthy. While I am impressed with Janal’s dancing, I never really felt anything when I watched them dance. I thought Sadie would finish third until they did their freestyle. I think a whole lot of people like the novelty of the theme Mark chose.

    If you look at the ratings for Pretty Little Liars and Duck Dynasty, more people watch Duck Dynasty. So she has probably got more people voting for her than Janal, who also has a great following. Alfonso may get votes based on nostalgia. I looked at the recent cable ratings and Fresh Prince is frequently on the list! Same thing happened with Full House after Candace Cameron Bure appeared on the show last year.

    If you made me choose, not considering anything other than what I’ve seen, I’d give it to Alfonso. And Witney is so adorable I’d be extremely happy for her as well.

  33. Euni says:

    I think Bethany and Derek were mistakenly eliminated. Sadie and Mark should’ve gone home. We’re talking the difference between real dancing and comic dancing. That’s all Mark has made Sadie do in order to accommodate her young age. Sesame Street. The real dancers are Alfonso, Janel, and Bethany.

  34. Jeanette Morrow says:

    I didn’t like the Val thing copying Maks to obvious My Vote was for Alfonso and Whitney.

  35. pat says:

    I can’t believe that duck dynasty girl is still in the running, oh wait, she’s the country music world’s answer to country.

  36. chico says:

    Sadie should have gone instead of Janel

  37. Sandra Rocha says:

    I think, this show should be call who’s more famous. The good dancers always leave the competition. And the worst win

  38. Anthony Wingerter says:

    Val should stop kissing and maybe his partner will eventually win the trophy

  39. Tanya W says:

    this has been the best season sense the season with Donny Osmond! So close and I wanted the last 3 couples to win. Way to go Dancing with the Stars…you proved that even though this has been a long running show it never gets tiresome.