Dancing With the Stars Season 17 Finals (Night 1): Did The Right Couple Go Home?

DWTS-Season-17-Corbin-Karina-FreestyleThough Season 17 of Dancing With The Stars may ultimately be remembered for its long list of stunning upsets (welcome to the finals, Bill Engvall!), the two-part finale still seemed destined (dare I say it?) to come down to a super-sized Mirrorball dance-off between the competition’s strongest remaining celebs: Amber Riley and Corbin Bleu.

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Along with a judges’ pick, samba relay and the always crucial, all-or-nothing (and special effects-laden) freestyle dances, Monday night’s show also showcased the exuberant return of Season 16 Mirrorball champ Kellie Pickler – this time exercising her impressive vocals (performing her new country hit “Little Bit Gypsy”) rather than her dancing shoes. All that, and the return of legendary ’90s “No Scrubs” hip-hop group TLC. (Wait, wasn’t Sunday night’s tepid AMAs performance more than enough?)

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Let’s high-kick right to the highlights:

DANCE OF THE NIGHT: Corbin’s sizzling samba (“That wasn’t a samba, it was a whamba!” enthused Len) was tops in the relay (earning him 5 bonus points), while Jack Osbourne’s freestyle was a true showstopper, with his trio of perfect 10s reducing him to tears. On top of that, Bill finally ripped off his shirt and went shirtless (take that, Corbin!). But here’s the top dance of the finale:

Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff: Holy Michael Jackson! Corbin’s “Smooth Criminal”-inspired freestyle had everything – a helicopter-style, upside-down entrance and eye-popping visuals (Corbin totally rocked the gravity boots), all packaged with what Bruno called “pure Las Vegas magic.” What else can you say when a speechless Len actually stands up, smiles, and — without further comment – leads the crowd in a standing ovation? This electrifying performance thoroughly energized the ballroom and scored the second perfect 30 of the night. Where’s the ‘11’ paddle?

RUNNER-UP: Amber Riley & Derek Hough: After a first round of anti-climactic and nerve-riddled judges’ pick dances, Amber’s flawless, thrilling return to the Charleston really hit the jackpot, earning a trio of 10s from the delighted – and clearly relieved — judges. “I am so proud of you… you completely outdid yourself,” gushed Carrie Ann Inaba (who left the judges’ table to give Amber a big hug), while birthday boy Bruno Tonioli gushed over her vastly improved footwork. “It was as sharp as a razor blade tonight. Brilliant!” That said, because Amber’s dazzling freestyle was equally perfect – even with 6 (!) pro dancers, she utterly dominated the dance floor – let’s call it a perfect draw.

But now for the moment of truth, tonight’s results:

Bill Engvall & Emma Slater
Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke

Bill Engvall & Emma Slater

“Well, it just goes to prove to me that there is a God, ’cause I don’t think I could make one more dance,” joked Engvall, who thanked Emma and called her a “second daughter” to him before summing up his DWTS journey in style: “This has been a lifetime experience, I will never forget this.”

Now it’s your turn. Did the right couple go home tonight? Who will win Season 17? Who should win? Take our polls below, then off in the comments!