Dancing with the Stars All Stars 2012 trimmed the field from five to just three during the November 20 results show. Which couples advanced successfully to next week's finale and which Cha Cha'd back home? Read on for a full recap.
Co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet opened the hour with a look at the week's leaderboard, which saw Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough leading the pack, and Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy tied with Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke at the bottom. Head judge Len Goodman called Apolo Ohno and Karina Smirnoff to the stage to perform their beautifully sensual "Man in the Mirror" Rumba a second time.
Without a wasted moment, the results began as Shawn and Derek, who impressed mightily with both a Knight Rider Bhangra and a "Bad" Argentine Tango, were called to the stage. Shawn, who was comfortable that she'd "left it all out on the dance floor", became the first hopeful to advance to the DWTS November 26 finals. The thrilled duo hugged and high-fived after hearing the good news.
Two other couples --Apolo and Karina and Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani-- joined Brooke in the sky box to talk about the competition. Apolo called the experience "amazing" and "life-changing", while Melissa said she was confident that she and Tony had done everything they could do to advance.
But it wasn't time to find out their fates quite yet. Instead, New Zealand-born hiphop artist and choreographer Parris Goebel hit the ballroom floor with an inventive and energetic routine of her own. The Wanted followed with a medley of their popular tunes "I Found You" and "Glad You Came". They looked slick in muted solid-colored suits, though they probably could've done without the quartet of scantily clad female dancers.
And finally, more results followed as perfect-scoring pairs Melissa and Tony and Apolo and Karina made their way to the ballroom. Following a dramatic pause, Tom and Brooke revealed that Apolo and Karina had received the fewest votes of the week, while Melissa and Tony successfully advanced to the finals. Gracious in defeat, Apolo praised Karina for teaching him "so much about" himself, and called the show "a blessing".
Following a break, Brooke chatted with the two safe pairs. Shawn joked that they'd "bring in the balance beam" for their supersized freestyle, while Melissa was so pleased to make the finale that she literally squeaked in excitement.
Up next, musical guest Paula Abdul lightened the mood even more with the Macy*s Stars of Dance routine for the week, which she called her Dream Medley. It featured four of her hit songs and plenty of visual accompaniment. It was definitely a spectacle, like a cross between eighties chic and outrageously bizarre.
Derek followed with a contemporary performance alongside four talented young dancers. He called the style "very new" and challenging, but hoped it would go over well with viewers. It was amazing to see him on stage with the likes of So You Think You Can Dance alums Allison Holker, Kathryn McCormick and Melanie Moore. They completely rocked it.
With only minutes remaining, the last two couples standing --Kelly and Val, and Emmitt and Cheryl-- hit the stage to find out which of them would advance to the finals. With little ado, Emmitt and Cheryl were eliminated from the competition, while Kelly and Val moved on to the finale. Emmitt called the all star season "a great ride" and praised Cheryl for pushing him "to another level".
It's frustrating to see the cocky Val and Kelly advance over Apolo and Karina, but the soap star is extraordinarily popular so it's not a big surprise. If they want to earn the Mirrorball Trophy, they'll need to step it up big-time to compete legitimately with Shawn and Melissa.
Tune in next week as Shawn Johnson, Melissa Rycroft and Kelly Monaco each perform their favorite routine from the season as well as a special supersized Freestyle. Dancing with the Stars All Stars 2012 ends November 27 when one of them is crowned the big winner.