‘Dancing with the Stars’ finals recap: The top 4 sought redemption before their epic freestyle dances [UPDATING LIVE]

Dancing with the Stars” season 25 is in the home stretch. Broadway star Jordan Fisher, actor and auto racer Frankie Muniz, HGTV realtor Drew Scott, and violinist Lindsey Stirling made it to the finals, performing for much-needed points from the judges and much-needed votes from viewers at home before the Mirror Ball Trophy is handed out at the end of the special two-night finale event on Tuesday, November 21. So how did it go on Monday the penultimate night of the competition? Scroll down for our live, minute-by-minute blog of all the biggest events as they happened.

In Monday night’s show the four contestants performed a pair of routines: a redemption dance in which they and their pro partners tried to improve upon a dance style they previously learned earlier in the season. After that came the pivotal freestyle dances, in which the celebs weren’t constrained by the choreographic requirements of a specific dance style, allowing them to focus on entertainment and showmanship. That’s important because impressing the judges (and even more so the audience) with a good freestyle routine is often the key to winning the Mirror Ball Trophy.

Going into Monday night’s show Fisher still had an overwhelming lead in our Mirror Ball predictions. But he and his rivals won’t be able to kick back and relax before Tuesday night’s finale. Instead they’ll have one day to prepare a “24-Hour Fusion Challenge” routine that combines two different dance styles, and they’ll also be delivering an encore performance of their favorite dances of the season. The contestants’ points from Tuesday night will further contribute to their scores that will help decide the Mirror Ball champ.

So how did the celebs do in night-one? Find out below in our live blog, which features commentary by me along with Gold Derby contributors Cordell Martin and Jeffrey KareAll times listed are Eastern.

Daniel Montgomery, 7:55pm — Everybody ready for “Dancing with the Stars” finals?

Jeffrey Kare, 7:55pm — Yes, I am!

DM, 7:58pm — Drew Scott has don an admirable job, but I hope the finale three are Frankie, Lindsey, and Jordan.

Cordell Martin, 8:01pm — Here we go! Yes, I agree the final three should be Frankie, Jordan and Lindsey! I wonder who’s going to get the pimp slot tonight.

DM, 8:02pm — So strange to see Val Chmerkovskiy dancing in the troupe during finals. Usually he’s a finalist.

Drew Scott and Emma Slater
Redemption:  Paso Doblé – “Get Ready” by Rayelle

DM, 8:04pm — Judge Bruno Tonioli has arrived to give Drew some trips for his redemption paso doble. “I really expect a transformation from Drew,” said Bruno. “Your challenge is to sort out your shaping, your artistry, and your timing.” “I’m not going down without a fight,” Drew insisted.

DM, 8:08pm — Is it just me or did a screw up a bit of his choreography in the middle there?

JUDGES — Bruno said, “I’m so proud of you. The makeover worked … Tall, dark, handsome, in charge. You just had a little foot fault in the turn. Otherwise, looking good.” Carrie Ann Inaba added, “That was absolutely, by far your best dance … There was a little bit of a toes stepping all over each other incident.” Len Goodman said, “I thought this had finesse, quality, and control … You not only got the polish, it also had determination and attack.” And guest judge Julianne Hough concluded, “What you did tonight was so confident. You had a peace, you had an ease … A whole new side of you came to life.”

JK, 8:09pm — I thought he gave it his all in this round.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Len (9), Julianne (9), Bruno (9) = 36 out of 40

DM, 8:11pmThose felt a little generous to me. It was a 9-level dance without the mistake. With the mistake I’d have given an 8.

CM, 8:13pm — Maybe they think he’s going home tonight.

DM, 8:13pm — We’ve all seen what happens when they do that.

Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson
Redemption: Foxtrot – “I Won’t Dance” by Frank Sinatra

DM, 8:15pm — “It feels like a dream. I can’t believe there are just four couples left and I’m one of them,” said Frankie. Judge Carrie Ann wants to see a repeat of his week-one foxtrot because she thinks he can actually win the competition. Part of the challenge is for Frankie to deliver a solo portion of his routine. Hope his confidence has improved.

DM, 8:19pm — He nailed that.

JK, 8:19pm — Very classy!

JUDGES — Carrie Ann said, “You let it all out. You had form, you had shape, you had confidence … I saw more freedom in your body.” Len added, “It was a more accomplished, polished performance … You’ve still got a little bit of work to do on your frame.” Julianne said, “I feel like I was transported to the golden age of Hollywood … You were that Frank Sinatra manly man.” Bruno concluded, “Great flair, great confidence … You can never go wrong by channeling Fred and Ginger.”

CM, 8:22pm — All 9s?

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Len (9), Julianne (10), Bruno (9) = 38 out of 40

DM, 8:27pm — I’m very happy with those scores

Pitbull and Fifth Harmony performance: “Por Favor”

CM, 8:28pm — Normani!

DM, 8:29pm — Part of me wishes Normani Kordei could substitute for one of the celebs in the freestyle round?

DM, 8:30pm — I wonder if another Fifth Harmony member would ever end up doing the show.

CM, 8:31pm — Probably not.

DM, 8:31pm — Maybe Pitbull next season.

CM, 8:32pm — I’m surprised he hasn’t done it yet.

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold
Redemption: Charleston – “Bad Man” by Pitbull feat. Robin Thicke, Joe Perry and Travis Barker

DM, 8:32pm — Len wants to see another Charleston from Jordan, and this time he wants more Charleston content in the routine. He wants to see at least three recognizable elements.

DM, 8:33pm — Training week was tough since Lindsay has a bum knee and Jordan has a corneal abrasion in his eye, which he says is just as bad as it sounds.

DM, 8:38pm — This is basically a Charleston from Cuba and I’m loving it. First perfect score of the night I’m pretty sure.

JUDGES — Len said, “I saw so much energy … full-on, full of energy … Well done!” Julianne added, “I’m in shock … When I watch you guys I become a fan. You guys are so in sync with each other.” Bruno said, “This was another virtuoso performance. The content was sharper than a samurai sword … Two instruments perfectly in tune.” Carrie Ann concluded, “What’s amazing about you is that you consider to push yourself … You dance on the edge.” And Jordan says “Lindsay has made me a better artist.”

JK, 8:42pm — Jordan literally just killed it!

CM, 8:42pm — Good lord!

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Len (10), Julianne (10), Bruno (10) = 40 out of 40

JK, 8:42pm — Well-deserved!

CM, 8:43pm — I agree!

DM, 8:44pm — Definitely deserving of those perfect 10s. I’m so nervous for Lindsey now.

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas
Redemption: Quickstep – “Barflies at the Beach” by Royal Crown Revue

DM, 8:48pm — Lindsey and Mark had a difficult training week since both were on tour with their music. “Lindsey’s going to nail this dance,” said their judge Julianne Hough via webcam.

JUDGES — Julianne said, “You absolutely nailed [the posture] … That was awesome, you guys nailed it.” Bruno added, “You scoundrels, that was criminally good! … It was silk smooth my darling.” Carrie Ann said, “It was vastly improved … To me, you are the most improved.” And Len concluded, “I know you play the violin, but there was no fiddling about with that quickstep, full of flair … I’m going to use a word I never use: awesome.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Len (10), Julianne (10), Bruno (10) = 40 out of 40

JK, 8:55PM — Excellent!

DM, 8:55pm — Just as good as Jordan’s as far as I’m concerned.

JK, 8:55pm — Now they’re becoming much more neck-and-neck.

CM, 8:55pm — About time [Lindsey got another perfect score]! Okay who won the redemption round?

DM, 8:57pm — Lindsey did as far as I’m concerned, mostly because Jordan didn’t really have that much to redeem, and Lindsey really owned that quickstep.

DM, 8:59pm — Though I thought Lindsey’s original quickstep was badly underscored anyway.

Drew Scott and Emma Slater
Freestyle: “The Ding-Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies

DM, 9:04pm — “Our freestyle is going to be completely different to everybody else’s,” said Emma about the dance she’s choreographing for Drew. And Drew wants to show he’s improving by trying steps he hasn’t been quite as good at before.

JUDGES — Len said, “On that performance, the house is fixed and you have become a hot property.” Julianne added, “Honestly that was exactly what a freestyle should be … You went all out … That was awesome.” Bruno said, “You really have exceeded all expectations tonight … You took this number and made it yours.” And Carrie Ann concluded, “It was amazing, it was fabulous, and such a crowd pleaser … I did see when you went off time a little bit.”

CM, 9:15pm — Not bad.

JK, 9:15pm — Overall, much better job here than they did earlier.

DM, 9:15pm — Gotta give him a lot of credit, he took on a lot of real choreography and did it mostly very well. Kudos!

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Len (10), Julianne (10), Bruno (10) = 39 out of 40. Total for the night is 75 out of 80.

DM, 9:16PM — Given the dancers who are coming up, I suspect Carrie Ann wanted to avoid giving a perfect score so soon, so she looked for a reason to dock a point.

Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson
Freestyle: “Run Boy Run” by Woodkid

DM, 9:23pm — “I want it to be super powerful,” said Witney about the dance she had planned for Frankie. She wanted a powerful dance, but the producers questioned whether she should choreograph something more light-hearted for him. But ultimately Witney went with her gut and is giving him the emotional dance.

DM, 9:27pm — What’s with the producer trying to discourage Witney’s idea? Super serious and dramatic sounds like a great idea for Frankie given the routines he has pulled off before this season.

JK, 9:27pm — Phenomenal!

CM, 9:28pm — Wow Frankie!

JUDGES — Julianne said, “I think the old Frankie would have played it safe … You decided to take a risk … That was more than the competition.” Bruno added, “All moody and menacing, you’re turning into the prince of darkness … This had a little bit of Janet Jackson, ‘Rhythm Nation.'” Carrie Ann said, “I’m really happy you made this choice … I think this was scary, and all of us tuned into that … You did lose a little steam … but I applaud you for doing it.” Len concluded, “I was expecting light and fluffy … You went with something full of attack and spirit.”

DM, 9:30pm — That was an excellent job, forget that producer.

JK, 9:31pm — Yeah, producers at times really have no idea what they’re doing.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Len (9), Julianne (10), Bruno (10) = 38 out of 40. Total for the night is 76 out of 80.

CM, 9:33pm — Carrie Ann and Len are making sure that Frankie or Drew doesn’t interfere with a Jordan & Lindsey final two.

DM, 9:34pm — But they made sure to keep Drew one point behind Frankie.

JK, 9:34pm — We shall see who the final two will be.

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold
Freestyle: “Puttin’ on the Ritz 2017 (Jazzy Radio Mix)” by Taco feat. tomX

DM, 9:37pm — “We are going full out,” Lindsay warned about the choreography for the freestyle dance. “I want Jordan’s freestyle to be a showstopper.”

DM, 9:41pm — Perfect. Again.

CM, 9:41pm — That was great!

JUDGES — Bruno said, “That was a sensational, showstopping number … Star power that is limitless … You’re a superstar.” Carrie Ann added, “Your star shines so brightly … You never cease to amaze me.” Len said, “Put it on the Ritz, it’s a cracker. It was a crackerjack of a number … Brilliant.” Julianne concluded, “It was everything but the kitchen sink … This show truly has taken you to a whole different level.”

JK, 9:43pm — No matter what happens tomorrow night, I think they should at least engrave a trophy for Jordan because that was just INCREDIBLE!

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Len (10), Julianne (10), Bruno (10) = 40 out of 40. Total for the night is 80 out of 80.

JK, 9:45pm — And another well-deserved perfect score!

DM, 9:46pm — Better bring it, Lindsey!

CM, 9:47pm — I think she will. And Alfonso needs to shut it about Jordan having some humble pie.

DM, 9:48pm — Haha, they needed to find something critical to say about Jordan. Though I liked the past winners’ description of Jordan as the best dancer and Lindsey as the best performer. That rings true.

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas
Freestyle: ”Remember the Name” by Fort Minor feat. Styles of Beyond/“Palladio” by Escala (Medley)

DM, 9:51pm — “The freestyle should be your band or your mark,” said Mark. “This is meant to reflect you to a T.” And it sounds like it might incorporate a violin idea he had the very first time they met as “DWTS” partners.

JUDGES — Carrie Ann said, “Last woman standing, kicking booty … It couldn’t have been a better showcase for your uniqueness.” Len added, “This is becoming the war on the floor.” Julianne said, “That was a Tim Burton quirky musical masterpiece of awesomeness … It was amazing.” Bruno concluded, “That was a modern classic extravaganza, conducted and orchestrated to perfection.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Len (10), Julianne (10), Bruno (10) = 40 out of 40. Total for the night is 80 out of 80, tied with Jordan.

JK, 9:57pm — Amazing!

CM, 9:58pm — Whoa!

DM, 9:58pm — Haha, can YOU play the violin while dancing, Jordan?


1st couple moving on to the finale: Jordan and Lindsey

2nd couple moving on to the finale: Lindsey and Mark

3rd couple moving on to the finale: Frankie and Witney

Eliminated couple: Drew and Emma

JK, 10:00pm — Our wishes for the final three came true!

DM, 10:00pm — Best final three in ages.

CM, 10:02pm — Now here comes the hard part, who wins?

DM, 10:03pm — They didn’t make it easy, left it entirely up to the fans at home. They’ve been giving Jordan the momentum all season with their scores, but they just gave Lindsey THE moment.

JK, 10:03pm — Hmm … Could Jordan still win or could Lindsey pull a “Moonlight”-like win (as long as the right envelope is handed out)?

CM, 10:03pm — It’s going to be tough. However, this last-chance voting thing tomorrow could put Jordan over the edge. Considering he has the huge fanbase.

CM, 10:05pm — But the odds are in Lindsey’s favor as seven of the 13 female champs prevail in the finale as the last woman standing.

DM, 10:05pm — And Lindsey might actually have a bigger fan base than Jordan. It’s hard to tell because neither of them has really ever been in danger where they needed fan votes desperately like Drew did.

JK, 10:06pm — Good point.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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