'Dancing With The Stars' Season 25 Cast Revealed

The challenge is on to win over the fans for next week's two-night finale as the best dancer often doesn't take home the Mirrorball Trophy.

With next week’s two-night "Dancing with the Stars" finale event looming, and only five couples remaining, the pressure was higher than it’s been all season. For the front-runners, Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold, things were even more intense as Arnold suffered a knee injury during rehearsals on Sunday. The couple was coming off of a pair of perfect scores last week.

To raise the pressure even more, each couple would be reprising a "DWTS" classic performance in the second round of the night. These were dances that earned perfect scores their first time on the stage, with many of the original celebrities going on to win that trophy. At least they had great "game footage" to watch to prepare for that.

Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Carrie-Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tolioni. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe. Yes, there are only three judges on the panel this season, but let’s face it, you’re the fourth judge. Your votes mean just as much, if not more than the judges, so I’ll gladly sit fifth behind all of you watching at home.

ROUND ONE

Drew Scott & Emma Slater

Riding the bottom of the leader board in the semifinals puts Drew in a very difficult spot with this Scottish-tinged tango. That was clearly meant to be a fun piece, and it certainly had some enjoyable elements, but as quality dance it was lacking in a lot of fundamental ways. Drew’s legs were bent through most of the tango we did see, and there were a couple of times where he looked genuinely lost in the movements. Maybe the kilt threw him, and the long dress on Emma certainly wasn’t doing her any favors, but I saw more elements of the uncertain early season Drew than I want to be seeing at this stage of the game.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8

My Score: 7

Victoria Arlen & Val Chmerkovskiy

Val went with a different aspect of Victoria’s story for this contemporary piece, choosing to bring in another partner (Jenna Johnson) and present it through the eyes of her parents. It was a beautifully choreographed piece, echoing the compassion and commitment her parents made to her in sickness and throughout her recovery. Val created some wonderful moments with his “mom” and “dad” physically helping her walk, lifting her and then letting her fly on her own. The partner work between the two was mesmerizing. It’s a season’s worth of chemistry that allowed this connection between the two, with Victoria looking more mature than we’ve yet seen her.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9

My Score: 9

Jordan Fisher & Lindsay Arnold

The Argentine tango is about connection, and these two have it in spades, though there were a few places where it looked like there was too much space. The lifts throughout were extraordinary, and the opening lift sequence looked like it left Lindsay off the ground for like a full minute, and yet both dancers were in control the entire time. I know Jordan has a background in dance, but not in all of the styles we’ve seen thrown at him and yet he comes out week in and week out and he delivers perfection. This dance was hard, and Lindsay didn’t miss a beat -- even with Sunday’s knee injury. She deserves her first Mirrorball every bit as much as he does after the run they’re having this season.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 10

My Score: 9

Lindsey Stirling & Mark Ballas

This contemporary routine worked a little better in concept than in execution. Lindsey and Mark were out of synch a lot during parts they were meant to dance in tandem, but even in parts when they were together. In a lot of the lifts and partner work, it looked like one or the other of them was just off the beat and it was making the movements a little jagged. I see what that dance could have become with more polish and practice, but it never quite got there, and it left some awkward visual moments throughout.

Judges Scores: 10, 9, 10

My Score: 8

Frankie Muniz & Witney Carson

He did it! Frankie proved himself a man of his word and ripped his shirt open at the end of a dance that was half great and half not-quite-there. The opening of this salsa had swagger, and Frankie was great dancing with his b-boys around the hoop, and even kept it up when he first got with Witney for the classic salsa portion. Later in the piece, though, it was as if he ran out of steam or they lost the count or something, because things just fell out of synch in a couple of places that were glaring. At one point, he looked like he’d forgotten the steps completely and he left her literally hanging there at one point in a head back. But for swagger and confidence, which was Len’s challenge, Frankie really stepped it up here.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 9

My Score: 8

ROUND TWO - ICONIC DANCES

Drew Scott & Emma Slater

The bar was set very high when Corbin Bleu showed up to present them with a jazz routine he’d performed with Karina Smirnoff. One of the best technical dancers on the show, Corbin was the Jordan Fisher of his season. The intimidation got the best of him, and Drew was tepid at best throughout that number. It felt like it took forever to get going because he was just so cautious. Dance needs to breathe and feel alive even in the small movements, but it kept looking like he was waiting for something. The head swing was every bit as terrifying as Emma promised, but it also didn’t look confidently executed. All in all, I’d say the dance defeated Drew this time.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8

My Score: 7

Victoria Arlen & Val Chmerkovskiy

It was former winner Amber Riley’s Charleston with Derek Hough that Victoria faced for her iconic round. While I applaud her confidence in the routine, I didn’t see the connection or the sharpness of movements, nor did I see the sheer joy that the Charleston and this particular dance demanded. Victoria’s come a long way, but she is still thinking a bit about her feet and legs and that trepidation kept her leg movements a little smaller than the dancers around her. It was a fun routine, though, and I suspect she’s a fan-favorite to carry her into that finals.

Judges Scores: 9, 10, 10

My Score: 9

Jordan Fisher & Lindsay Arnold

Paige Vanzant and Mark Ballas made a classic jive in Season 22, and now it was Jordan and Lindsay’s turn to tackle it. With this couple, though, there was no need to even think about that previous performance. Channeling all of Tina Turner’s fierceness and so much grace, speed and power, this is one of the most impressive pairings the show has ever created. They were in perfect synch together and apart, and I felt even more excitement and energy off of them in this round than I did in the first round. After their first critical remarks in weeks from the judges, they came out with a fire under them and burned the studio to the ground.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10

My Score: 10

Lindsey Stirling & Mark Ballas

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s tango blew the roof off the studio in Season 18 on her way to total victory. While they couldn’t quite match the original chemistry -- which was the stuff of legend -- Lindsey and Mark absolutely nailed the intensity of that original piece. It was breathtaking stuff, and if the movements weren’t quite as powerful as I would have liked, I can’t fault the commitment of either dancer. Lindsey doesn’t have the raw strength in her limbs to extend them with the same command Meryl did, but it didn’t detract from an otherwise wonderful routine. Her carriage was beautiful, and it was like textbook tango throughout.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 10

My Score: 9

Frankie Muniz & Witney Carson

Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough owned this paso doble on their way to Mirrorball gold way back in Season 4, so Frankie had even more reason to be nervous. Witney took the bold choice of not changing the choreography at all, despite being two very different dancers. To their credit, they powered through that routine with confidence and strength. Frankie excels at stepping into characters, and he acted like he was the fierce matador, while Witney simply shone as the cape. I had to watch it twice to remember to watch him he did such a great job of spotlighting her grace and fluidity throughout. But Frankie was not to be dismissed. He lacked command in only a few places toward the end, but the knee walks and the lifts and slides were impeccably presented.

Judges Scores: 9, 8, 9

My Score: 9

ELIMINATION

And then it was heartbreak time, with only four couples advancing. First up, Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas advanced, followed quickly by Drew Scott and Emma Slater. This latter sparked trouble for one of the other celebrities as Drew is consistently the weakest dancer remaining.

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold followed suit, meaning it was the end of the road for either Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy or Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson. While Frankie is technically the weaker dancer, either would be a huge loss to the competition.

That said, all five are worthy competitors and this is the stage where fan support becomes essential. And those fans came through for Frankie, ending Victoria's triumphant journey on the show.

As heartbroken as she clearly was, Victoria has nothing to be ashamed of as she had an amazing journey, told her story and inspired millions of people around the world to live their full lives and never give up. Just look what she’s been able to do and will continue to do.

Next week, it’s all over. Four couples dance. One will emerge victorious in the two-night “Dancing With the Stars” Season 25 finale, Monday at 8 p.m. ET and one hour later on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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