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Dancing With the Stars Season 20 Finale Recap: Rumer Willis, Riker Lynch Top the Leaderboard


Tonight, the final three couples on Dancing With the Stars season 20 each set out to prove not only that they deserved to be in the finals, but also that they should take home the golden Mirrorball prize. Each pair remaining in the competition — Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess, Riker Lynch and Allison Holker, Rumer Willis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy — started the evening by reprising a favorite dance from earlier in the season and then followed it up with a freestyle routine. It was obvious from the get-go that they had all worked about as hard as they could work, and that their hard work had paid off.

There was literally only one score given out the entire night that wasn’t a perfect 40. One. Yet even though one couple received less than flawless marks on one of their routines, it would be foolish to count them out. So as the final dances came to an end, the only thing that was obvious is that anyone could win.

Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images

Redo: Argentine Tango

How they did: Though Galloway admitted in his practice video that he only expected to make it to week three, so he was thrilled to have gotten to the finals, it seems the pressure of competition finally caught up with the army vet. Galloway and partner Burgess started strong, but struggled with a major lift.

“Overall there is an improvement in your dancing,” Len acknowledged. “Yes, there was a little bit of a flub,” Julianne conceded, “But you still have another dance. So just come back with that and be confident.” For her part, Carrie Ann said she was “worried” about the couple, but also encouraged them to focus on their next routine.

Burgess led Galloway into more vulnerable territory for their freestyle performance, drawing inspiration from the way the vet felt when he first woke up after his war accident. For the dance, Galloway went completely shirtless and looked more comfortable than ever on the dance floor.

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“For me, that was a celebration,” Julianne said. “To me, that was what a freestyle is. You’re supposed to be free and you were so free in that.” Bruno praised it as “truthful” and “meaningful” and gave major kudos to Burgess for her choreography. “You have shown us over and over again what art is,” Carrie Ann said.

Redo Score: 32 out of 40

Freestyle Score: 40 out of 40

Grade: A

Riker Lynch and Allison Holker

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images

Redo: Paso Doble

How they did: Lynch and Holker opted to perform their Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired routine to gun for the perfect 10s from Len and Julianne that they had just barely missed the first time around. The R5 frontman reflected on what he needs to do in order to beat Rumer Willis (whom he clearly sees as his only real competition). “The competition between us is so, so tight,” he mused. “We literally have to be absolutely perfect.”

And, as it turns out, they were. In fact, their dance had Len on his feet applauding. “I love the way you brought to life the magnificent eccentricity of the character,” Bruno praised, while Carrie Ann gushed, “You owned it!” Len summed it up saying, “Riker, that was epic.”

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For their freestyle, Lynch and Holker opted for a nostalgic routine that combined hip-hop and a top hat—need we say more? The routine was a miraculous combination of old and new school and the judges loved every moment.

“That is a true freestyle, if I’ve ever seen one,” Julianne said while Bruno called Riker “Fred Astaire repackaged for a new generation.” Carrie Ann spoke too fast to really get what she said, but it’s safe to say she liked it. “You brought the past into the present, Len affirmed.

Redo Score: 40 out of 40

Freestyle Score: 40 out of 40

Grade: A+

Rumer Willis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images

Redo: Foxtrot

How they did: Their video package revealed a very grateful and emotional Willis. More than once the actress broke into tears reflecting upon how much this experience, and working with Val in particular, had impacted her. Though the dance was a serious one, Willis couldn’t keep her smile off her face the entire time (and neither could mother Demi Moore or father Bruce Willis, both of whom came out to support their daughter).

Julianne called the performance “flawless” while Bruno declared, “You may come from Hollywood royalty but now you are dancing royalty!” Carrie Ann added, “There was nothing else going on except pure, exquisite poetry in motion.”

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Willis and Chmerkovskiy took it up a notch by creating their music for their freestyle in addition to the dance. So, what did they do, exactly? They made their own rendition of Britney Spears’s “Toxic” in which Willis sang and Chmerkovskiy played the violin. In their preview video, the pair reflected on the fact that Chmerkovskiy had made it to the finals three times and never won. They made it clear that their only goal tonight was to do everything in their power change that.

“Every move, every intention, sharply in focus,” Bruno gushed before calling it “unbelievable.” Len called it “pure” and “brave,” and Julianne said, “It was raw. It real. It was honest. It was everything that both of you represent together.”

Redo Score: 40 out of 40

Freestyle Score: 40 out of 40

Grade: A++ (Val played the violin!)

Tell Us: Who do you think deserves to win this season? What was your favorite dance of the night?

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