The final four teams took on two rounds of dance. In the first round, one judge helped each couple choose the creative elements of each dance. Carrie Ann Inaba worked alongside Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold, as well as Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough. Julianne Hough was with Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess, and Bruno Tonioli joined Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson.
In the second round, the couples took on a freestyle dance featuring special effects, additional dancers and unexpected surprises. There were special performances from Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande. At the end of the night, the couple with the lowest combined viewer and judge votes from the previous two weeks was eliminated.
Carlos PenaVega & Witney Carson performed a Foxtrot to “The Hills” by The Weeknd after some mentoring from Bruno Tonioli. The fog machine was cranking as this team did their sexy routine. The judges were thoroughly impressed with the dance they first performed in Week 2. Their performance in Week 11 was impressive enough to give Carlos his first perfect 30 of the season.
Carlos and Witney did their freestyle dance to “WTF (Where They From)” by Missy Elliott featuring Pharrell Williams. They checked with the producers to see if they could ask past cast members to join in the routine. So Paula Deen, Hayes Grier and Carlos’s wife, Alexa PenaVega joined in for what Carrie Ann was the freshest, flyest freestyle! Three 10s from the night gave Carlos a perfect night!
Alek Skarlatos & Lindsay Arnold did a Rumba “The Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore” by James Morrison. With Alek sporting a “Team Takedown” t-shirt during rehearsals, Carrie Ann Inaba helped him develop the creative elements of a routine he first did with Emma. Bruno wanted a little more hip action, as did Carrie Ann and Julianne. Still the chemistry and connection between Alek and Lindsay led to a much more dynamic dance.
Alek & Lindsay did their freestyle routine to “Marchin On” by OneRepublic. The dance floor became home to an obstacle course for the team’s truly ambitious routine. Bruno felt Alek was a true action hero thanks to some great choreography from Lindsay. Carrie felt it was a victory from beginning to end. Julianne got chills from the physically and emotionally powerful dance. Three 10s from the judges!
Nick Carter & Sharna Burgess danced the Jive to “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars after some creative input from Julianne Hough, who realizes that the Nick from the beginning of the competition was the “old Nick.” The “new Nick” is greatly improved as he proved in his fine, fast-paced routine. Carrie Ann called it Nick’s best performance and Julianne said he performed the crap out of the dance. Bruno said he nailed it, too. Perfect 10s all around!
Nick and Sharna did their Freestyle to live version of “Larger Than Life” by, of course, The Backstreet Boys. Julianne felt like the Freestyle truly was larger than life. Bruno felt like a fan who wanted to join in on the dance. Carrie Ann admitted that she pushed Nick really hard, but it was worth it after such a fantastic dance. Three more 10s for this team.
Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough did a Quickstep to “Dr. Bones” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies after receiving some tips from Carrie Ann Inaba. It was a rough rehearsal week, as Derek was sick with a hacking cough that made it hard for him to breathe. You would never have known it by his performance with Bindi, who Julianne described as the Energizer Bunny. Bruno added that to say it was dazzling would be an understatement.
Bindi and Derek’s Freestyle was performed to “Footprints in the Sand” by Leona Lewis. The highly-emotional routine had just about everyone who was watching it get a little lump in their throat. There wasn’t a dry eye in the ballroom after a dance that Bruno said touched everyone’s soul. Derek had the idea to show a photo of Bindi with her dad at the dance’s end. Anyone who was crying by that point surely had to be doing so after that. Needless to say, three 10s were awarded by the judges.
After a fantastic night of freestyle fun and more, it was time to say goodbye to one of the final four teams. On a night he achieved perfection for the first time all season (doing so twice!), Carlos PenaVega had to head home from the ballroom. Three teams remain, but only one can bring home the coveted Mirrorball Trophy. We’ll find out who it is in the 2-hour season finale!