Between Charlie & Meryl, one Olympian kicked off, setting stage for 'Dancing with the Stars' finals

CLEVELAND - Many people expected the two Olympic ice dancers on the 18th season of "Dancing with the Stars" to make it to the finals, but it would not be so.

Between skating partners - and exceptional dancers - Meryl Davis and Charlie White, only one would continue, proving just how unpredictable this show can be.

(I apologize for my late entry in my DWTS recap series this week, but severe weather in Cleveland - where I write from - impacted our staffing and the broadcast of the show. For those who missed it, click here.)

The five remaining couples each performed two dances Monday night and, because it's American Icons night, they would dance to iconic songs. Also, notable choreographer Kenny Ortega serves as guest judge.

Would struggling Candace Cameron survive her chronically low scores? (Obviously, yes.) Which Olympic ice dancer got booted? Who will be the final four? Put on your black wig and get ready to moonwalk, cause here we go!

First up, Candace and Mark with a Viennese waltz. She proclaims, "I'm so dorky!" in her taped segment, no doubt earning adorability votes. Her personal icon is a Bible teacher, and Candace says she performs for an audience of one: God. They strike a sweet note and reach a nice level of elegance with clean, sweeping moves across the floor. She has grown a lot as a dancer. Judge Len Goodman says the pressure got to her a little bit with a couple mistakes, but she did great. Kenny is amazed by her determination and credits her for good work. Judge Bruno Tonioli thinks her performance level collapsed with a mistake, but judge Carrie Ann Inaba feels she recovered well. Score: 34.

Host Tom Bergeron solemnly says, "I don't wanna add too the pressures..." before that trickster declares Candace is safe - and competing in the finals.

More results! Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy and Derek are in jeopardy, as are Charlie and Sharna.

Charlie & Sharna perform a foxtrot. His icon is Scott Hamilton. It has an entertaining start with Charlie the showman, sporting a tux and cane. They hit the perfect 1950's Broadway tone to "New York, New York." He has a great solo finish, channeling his skating moves. Kenny calls it indescribably delightful. Bruno says he started as Fred Astaire and finished as Baryshnikov. Carrie Ann says he smacked her in the face with an improved dance. Len says, "Just right." Score: perfect 40, two weeks in a row.

Amy and Derek are up with a quickstep to "You Can't Hurry Love." In her taped segment, she continues to amaze the world by learning to dance in her running blades (Amy has prosthetic feet). She looks more glamorous, elegant, and carefree than ever. She's always landed the moves before, but now she looks like a professional dancer. It's astounding to watch flawless between-the-leg-kicks in hold with someone who's wearing blades. Crowd adores it. After picking his jaw up, Bruno says he could not believe what he saw. Carrie Ann says it was great to see her in full throttle. Len says watching her inspires him to go do something. Kenny wants her to come back next week. Apparently, Oprah will take her to dinner if she wins. (Time to forfeit?) Score: 39. The crowd boos Len for his 9.

More results! Ice dancer Meryl Davis and Maks are in jeopardy. Singer James Maslow and Peta are safe.

James and Peta cha cha to Michael Jackson's "Love Never Felt So Good." James does a great job channeling Michael. This dance is packed with content and these two move nonstop. They hit everything sharply. It's like a Michael video from the early 90's. Carrie Ann says they've seen Michael a thousand times, but James did spectacularly. Len loved the blend of Michael and cha cha. Kenny calls it electrifying. Bruno says it was effortlessly cool and on fire. Score: perfect 40.

Coming back from commercial break, we see the stagehands madly fixing Carrie Ann's hair. Why bother?

Meryl and Maks are up with a jive to "Hound Dog." Her icon is Olympic figure skater and former DWTS champion Kristi Yamaguchi. Maks throws a fit in practice, breaking his mic; these tantrums do not attract viewer votes, Maks. She jives like a hummingbird in the breeze with great kicks and flicks. It's neat to see her look fun and energetic; usually her dances don't require as much joy. But they nail a great sock hop vibe. Oh, and Maks is Elvis. Len calls it fantastic. Kenny says she sparked up the floor. Bruno says it was stylistically impeccable. After Maks kisses her, Carrie Ann says Meryl turned Maks into something warm and fuzzy. Then Maks runs up and kisses Bruno - who goes spread eagle on the desk. Then all the judges require a kiss, Kenny then Len, before Carrie Ann gets kissed a second time. Then he kisses cohost Erin Andrews, of course. What were we talking about again? Score: perfect 40.

 

Macy's Stars of Dance with a Derek-choreographed salute to classic Hollywood. This is quite a production. What are there, like 80 set changes?

Round two!

Candace and Mark are up with a jazz to "Nasty." Hello, sexy Candace! Is that really her under that black wig and fedora? She is such a kitty cat here in a sparkly unitard, looking like Catherine Zeta-Jones straight out of "Chicago." Candace again proves she is the master of tricks when Marks picks her up and spins her and she looks utterly graceful. Len calls it crisp, clean and unexpected. Kenny says it reminds him of the great ladies of Broadway. Bruno says he never saw that side of her. Carrie Ann calls it pristine. Score: 38, 72 overall.

Charlie and Sharna samba to "Mo Money Mo Problems." He's not a natural at hip hop, but looks into it. Their samba moves are clean and plentiful. They are not only in perpetual motion, but in perfect sync. As dances go, it's great. Kenny calls it clean and committed, but lacking funk. Bruno says it was great but needed more rhythm. Carrie Ann says she wants to live in Charlie's world, which apparently is full of "flying kitties." Len says Charlie deserves to be in the final. Score: 36, 76 overall.

Amy and Derek are up with a jazz. Derek's choreography is slick. Amy is some femme fatale in Derek's 1950's noir world, and it's one sharp, slinky move after another, all based around a table as a prop. Bruno calls it classic jazz at its best. Carrie Ann says Amy killed it, and it was unforgettable. Len salutes Derek and applauds Amy. Kenny says Derek redefines choreograhy for this generation. Score: 39, 78 overall.

James and Peta rumba to "Islands in the Stream." These two, with their country-themed rumba, just look youthful and gorgeous. I love this routine; it's like they stole it from an 80's feel-good movie. Oh, and they nail every move. Their emotions may have come through in this dance better than any routine I've seen on this show. Carrie Ann says his hips and lines were elegant. Len says it was very good. Ken calls it stylish and sexy. Bruno says their heat and determination are great. But they all want hand improvement. James says he grew up riding horses, and the dubious reaction look on Erin's face is priceless. Score: 36, 76 overall.

Meryl and Maks have the Viennese waltz. It's a good looking dance and technically proficient, but very little real emotion comes through. Some of her shapes are stellar. The crowd enjoys the big sweeping moves that eat up the floor. Len loves they didn't play it safe. Kenny says it showed power and grace. Bruno calls her Elizabeth Taylor in "Giant." After scratching the lice out of her hair, Carrie Ann says Meryl better not go home. Score: perfect 40, perfect 80 overall.

Final results! Amy and Derek are safe. So, it's between Olympic skating partners Meryl and Charlie... and it's Charlie going home.

Apparently, the producers did not get into Tom's ear to alert him there was not enough time for the Charlie/Sharna farewell video.

So let's talk. Charlie got a perfect 40 last week, and another perfect 40 this week - and he's still going home. Why? Cause viewers don't just vote based on technique, kids. They vote based on best story and who they identify with. Amy will win because she represents the human spirit. Candace will be in the final three because she represents the adorable and struggling underdog - and she's a God-loving mom.

I predicted James would get cut this week and that Charlie would be in the final three, but now we just swap that: James beat out Charlie, who had the likability factor. An all-women final three is hugely unlikely. Some women voters will put one guy in the finale, and it will be the charmer, James.

Which means it's likely the best and most perfect dancer in the history of DWTS will not even make the final three this season: Meryl is simply too good. Sorry, Maks.

[But if you use my recaps to gamble away your kids' college fund with Bitcoin, don't blame me - I'm not laying down Vegas odds here, folks.]

Who will be the final three? Will Candace bump out another higher-scoring star? Will another Olympian get cut next? Do you believe James grew up riding horses? Is your world full of flying kitties?

The competition continues Monday night at 8:00 Eastern on ABC, with the finale on Tuesday night.

More information can be found here.

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