After 10 eventful weeks that seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, Dancing With the Stars has already reached its 24th finale — but you probably weren’t expecting this particular trio of contestants to be steps from the winner’s circle.
When the Season 24 roster was first announced, it seemed a no-brainer that Glee star Heather Morris and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles would make the finals, given the former’s professional dance experience and the latter’s insane physical prowess.
But after those frontrunners were ousted in two shocking eliminations, Dancing‘s finale now features Fifth Harmony singer Normani Kordei, former MLB catcher David Ross and pro NFLer Rashad Jennings. And while it would be easy to assume that Normani is destined to hoist that Mirrorball on Tuesday, after delivering a season-long run of incredible routines, Monday’s performance finale proved that this is still anyone’s game.
Before you give us your reaction to Monday’s six performances, let’s rank ’em:
6. David Ross and pro Lindsay Arnold (Viennese Waltz) — If you had turned on Monday’s episode in the middle of David and Lindsay’s Viennese waltz, no one would fault you for thinking it was still Week 4 of the competition. Don’t get me wrong: David has come a long way over the course of Season 24, and I admire his self-awareness in recognizing he isn’t the strongest dancer left in the competition. But the World Series champ needed to give it his all during this performance, and he fell short with a poor frame and choppy footwork. Judges’ Score: 33/40
5. Normani Kordei and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Quickstep) — Despite twisting her ankle in rehearsal just days prior, Normani still delivered a quickstep that was twice as fierce and self-assured as the one she performed in Week 1 — and in a fabulous catsuit, no less. Having said that, the dance’s pace did border on manic at times, and I found myself worrying that Normani and Val’s momentum would send them crashing to the floor (or into the crowd). Judges’ Score: 38/40
4. Rashad Jennings and pro Emma Slater (Viennese Waltz) — Rashad’s Dancing career can be divided into two very clear halves: before and after he learned what the heck to do with his hands. Ever since the football pro began focusing on finishing his movements, alllll the way to his fingertips, he has become an even more formidable competitor — and this Viennese waltz, which was as sexy as it was elegant, was a marvelous showcase for Rashad’s season-long improvement. Judges’ Score: 40/40
3. Normani Kordei and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Freestyle) — In the past, Val has choreographed plenty of freestyles that are simple yet memorable. (His season-ending dance with Rumer Willis, which only featured the two of them, remains one of my all-time favorites.) And yet, stacked against the ensemble numbers that David and Rashad delivered, it seems Val and Normani could have benefited from a massive, no-holds-barred group performance, complete with back-up dancers. Did they need that? Not at all; Normani has proven herself to be a stunning dancer all on her own, and the message of love at her freestyle’s center was beautiful. But on a night when they couldn’t afford to lose any points (or votes), Normani and Val failed to deliver the evening’s most memorable routine. Judges’ Score: 40/40
2. David Ross and pro Lindsay Arnold (Freestyle) — Truth be told, I don’t think David and Lindsay are destined to become Season 24 champs on Tuesday — but David’s appreciation for his fans, and willingness to please them, is truly a joy to watch. Although he may have fumbled a few steps at the start, David’s freestyle was incredibly fun, and that baseball bat breakdown in the middle is the stuff of endless YouTube rewatches. Judges’ Score: 40/40
1. Rashad Jennings and pro Emma Slater (Freestyle) — Juuuust when Normani and Val seemed shoe-ins for the Mirrorball, Rashad and Emma stepped in to say, “We’ll be taking that, thanks.” Though Rashad did fall out of step with his partner near the end of the performance — and that combination of lifts nearly sent me into cardiac arrest — his freestyle completely embodied both the passion and lightheartedness that he has brought to DWTS all season. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good drum solo. Judges’ Score: 40/40
With that, I hand it over to you. Who do you think will win Dancing‘s 24th season on Tuesday? Who should win? Cast your votes in our polls below, then hit the comments to back up your choices.