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'Dancing With the Stars' Season 13 Finals: J.R. Martinez Stuns and Rob Kardashian Leads

by Crystal Bell, posted Nov 21st 2011 10:30PM
dancing with the stars season 13 finals It's time to play the music ... It's time to light the lights ... It's time for freestyle dances on the 'Dancing' finals tonight.

Yes, that's the theme from 'The Muppets,' slightly altered for this joyous occasion. That's how happy tonight's freestyle dances made me. Seriously. We all know by now that the "Judges' Choice" routines are super boring -- and not all that important in the end -- but the crazy-fantastic free-for-all freestyles? Now that's what we've been waiting for all season, and it was night of surprises on 'Dancing With the Stars.' I don't think anyone could have guessed that Rob Kardashian would be on top of the leaderboard tonight or that Ricki Lake and Derek Hough would underwhelm in the finals.

But the most surprising/fantastic/heart-pounding moment of the night belonged to J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff. The hip-shaking pair stunned the crowd, the judges and themselves with their daring routine -- and it was clearly the best routine of the night, if not one of the best routines the show has ever seen.

Honestly, I can't remember the last time I held my breath during an entire routine, partly because I was scared that the veteran would mess up and partly because I thought Karina was going to get seriously injured during this one. Where J.R. lacked in his off-footed cha cha, he made up for in his memorable freestyle.

Let's start with the lifts. Carrie Ann called them the best lifts that she's seen in the competition, and I have to agree. J.R. flung Karina over his shoulders, under his legs and even successfully completed a daring lift that involved catching Karina by the neck.

Not only were the lifts exciting, but the dancing was fiercely fun and modern. After years of being shut out from the Mirror Ball, Karina came ready to win it this week. You could see how much she wanted it -- and J.R. was up for the challenge. It was everything that we look forward to in the freestyles and more. It just proved that without a little risk, there's no reward. Right, Ricki?

Hope Defends Maks on 'Dancing With the Stars'

But the true dark horse of the hour was Mr. Kardashian. Rob and his pretty pink princess Cheryl gave us a pretty boring waltz. His posture wasn't perfect, but when you think about how far he's come since the first week, it's still pretty incredible. And then, came his freestyle, and I'm being honest when I say that I was shocked. The Rob that we met in week one could have never picked Cheryl up and spun her around like that. Never.

Did I think the routine earned a perfect score? Absolutely not. But when you take into account how far he's come, then the judges' scores start to make sense. You can compare Rob and Ricki and say that Ricki's the better dancer. Of course she's the better dancer! But then look at how Rob and Ricki performed. In my opinion Ricki and Derek played it safe this week, and as a result, underwhelmed. But Cheryl pushed Rob's limits, and he did lifts that no one expected his to do.

Now, I haven't always been on Rob's side, but I like to give credit where credit is due, and Rob definitely deserves some credit. He gave his all on that dance floor, and yes, I cringed a little at the end when I thought he was going to drop Cheryl, but he didn't. In fact, he nailed it.

And that's where the strength of 'Dancing With the Stars' lies, not in its frontrunners, but in its underdogs -- the ones we thought would never make it to the finals and did. Last season it was Kirstie Alley, and before her, Kelly Osbourne shocked everyone in Season 9 with her emotional climb to the finals. Even J.R. was a bit of an underdog tonight after a poor cha cha. It's why we all tune in, isn't it? To see the underdog succeed?

Of course, when the underdog succeeds, the top dog falls from the top, and in yet another shocking twist, that's what happened tonight.

Derek got shirtless and flung Ricki around the dance floor like a rag doll, and that was about it. To be honest, I expected more from Derek, who usually pulls out all of the stops when it comes to freestyle. Compared to their past performances, this felt a bit flat. There wasn't as much excitement as I hoped there would be.

Could this be the dance that breaks Derek's perfect record? I think so. But it's not Ricki's fault. J.R. and Karina just took bigger risks, and they had the confidence to pull them off.

However, I will say that Ricki looks phenomenal. I don't know how much weight she's lost, but she looks like an entirely new woman -- sexier, more confident and totally ready to return to her talk show queen glory with 'The Ricki Lake Show' next fall. Her cha cha was technically beautiful, but it lacked excitement, despite the mesmerizing tassels on her dress.

So surprisingly, Rob and Cheryl are leading the pack, while J.R. and Ricki are tied for last, but there are still three more dances to be done before we crown a new champion. In the end, the public's votes count for 50 percent of the contestant's over all score, with the judges' total scores counting toward the remaining 50 percent.

Clearly, Rob has the support of the Kardashian's fiercely loyal fans, and after tonight, it looks like he also has the judges' support. But do I think he'll win? No. Even though the Kardashians have millions of fans, there are also millions of people who would do anything to see a Kardashian lose.

Since week one, Ricki and J.R. have fought for the top spot, but with Ricki starting to lose momentum, I think J.R. and Karina have the best shot at walking away with the Mirror Ball.

But it's still anyone's race to win -- or lose. So tell me, who do you think will be the new 'DWTS' champion?

The live, two-hour 'Dancing With the Stars' finale airs Tuesday at 8PM ET on ABC.

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I am watching the finale of 'DWTS' and everytime they advertised or announce 'News At 11', they announce that the winner of the finale will be on. Each time they do, they continue to show only Karina and JR and not the other couples! The first announcement appeared at 9:43 and it showed Karina and JR. I personally would love it if they do win but are the news team giving it away too soon? I am surprised that Ricki and Derek weren't chosen and Rob was! Are familial shenanigans at work, once again? Once again, the perfect 30 winner for the nite goes home first. Rob is the most improved dancer, its true, but the best? Uh-uh! Nope! The judging system needs great improvement--referring to Rob's waltz as 'elegant'? I have become totally suspicious regarding the results of this weeks judging. I suppose going from dancing with the agility of a piece of wood to a hunk of clay is improvement, but not enough to win!

November 22 2011 at 10:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I will be happy with whichever one wins - they've all been fun to watch. I hope Maks gets fired - I'm very tired of his disrespectful attitude and he took it way too far this season.

November 22 2011 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think there should be 1st place, 2nd place and 3rd place - DWTS it's only 1st place and the other two are out in left field. All competitions, even the Olympics have three designations.

This show isn't for real any way - costumes for the most part aren't the best, the music most often doesn't have a thing to do with what is danced and those with two-left feet seem to last longer than those who can dance.

Still don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to be on this show.

November 22 2011 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sandy Paz

I just wanted J.R.'s fans to know what a genuinely wonderful man he is. I met him at a Salute to Veterans event last year. His warmth, his way of making this grandma feel very special, and the character shining in his eyes, especially after all he has suffered--he is truly a complete man.

November 22 2011 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've tried to vote 11 times and cannot get thru. Does this mean the producers don't care if we vote because they already know who is going to win?

November 22 2011 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to carrera60's comment

I think you "hit the nail on the head."

The viewers should only be allowed two votes at the most - I'm not convinced that the votes even matter.

You are right "the producers don't care if we bote because they already know who is going to win."

November 22 2011 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hope cheryl wins she is my favorite and has been, derek will win? because he is the fair haired boy and ricki has had dance training and experience "hairspray" and "the in crowd" be nice if jr wins no matter they all do pretty good too bad some good dancers got voted off with nancy grace and chaz staying who knows what would have happened?

November 22 2011 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Was it Edita ( excuse spelling)?

November 22 2011 at 10:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope J.R. wins this. He's really a good genuine dancer.

November 22 2011 at 10:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Where is the dancer who dressed that the judges always said she barely had anything on? She got married and was a great dancer. I just can't remember her name. She was good and beautiful. Let us know why she isn't on the dancing with the stars anymore. Miss her.

November 22 2011 at 9:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to babsusjod3182000's comment

You might mean Edyta. I loved watching her too. She was married to Alec Maso- season one champ. She was on every season until last year. Doing other things now I guess.

November 22 2011 at 10:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If Rob Kardashian wins, you know its fixed. There is no way he should b on top. He has come a long way but he,s still stiff and sticking out his but. There is no justification on the score they gave J.R. and Karina for their first dance. Everyone knowas this. Everyone also knows Derek Hough is always the favorite. Don,t get me wrong. I think he,s fantastic but it puts a lot of pressure on the others and makes them feel like no matter what they do Derek and his partners will win no matter what. Personally I would like to see J.R. win.

November 22 2011 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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