‘Dancing With the Stars’ Finale Recap: Three Perfect Scores — But Only One Dance Was Called the Best Ever!

It’s down to the final three — and they all want to be number one. For finals night on Dancing With the Stars‘ Monday, May 23, episode, all of the remaining celebrities (which, ICYMI, included Ginger Zee, Nyle DiMarco and Paige VanZant) seemed more determined than ever to deliver absolute perfection. While they all got close, some got closer than others.

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First up was each couple’s redemption dance, which gave them a chance to redo one of their weaker performances from earlier in the season. These were followed by their final dances of the season in freestyle form. (In other words, they could do whatever they wanted.)

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Ginger and Val Shine After She Suffers a Back Injury

At this point in the competition, the grueling schedule was beginning to take its toll on the new mom as her back and pelvis were starting to spasm. Still, Ginger pushed through the pain like a champ, and she and partner Val Chmerkovskiy delivered a contemporary routine that all three judges agreed was a huge improvement over the first. Len Goodman loved the lifts, and Bruno Tonioli said it showcased just how much the Good Morning America meteorologist had blossomed. Still, it wasn’t flawless, and they ended up with a 28 out of 30 for this first pass in the ballroom. Their second dance, a freestyle that honored Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, earned perfect marks, however, bringing the bubbly Ginger to tears.

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Nyle and Peta Fail to Master the Quickstep — But Stun in the Freestyle

Nyle and Peta Murgatroyd decided to take another pass at their quickstep, which you may remember was the routine they performed the night he made the comment about his real competition being Val (and only Val), which no one found too endearing. For some inexplicable reason, they opted for a country western theme, and while it was certainly an improvement over the original quickstep they’d done while he was dressed like the hero from The Mask, it was far from perfect. Bruno pointed out that Nyle “lost a little bit of control” from time to time, but because the judges hardly ever give 8s on finals night, Nyle and Peta ended up with three 9s, and 27 points for this one.

Their second dance, however, was a completely different story. Nyle and Peta decided to use their final dance to tell a story about how Nyle is helping deaf people find hope. What’s more, Peta brought in a specialized contemporary choreographer to craft them a show-stopping routine (which seems like maybe it isn’t really in the spirit of the show, but no one seemed to care). Their efforts paid off, and Carrie Ann Inaba said that in 22 seasons of the show, it was “the best dance” she’d ever seen. Pretty much everyone was crying, and Erin Andrews kept telling Peta she was “an angel.” Naturally, it was no surprise when the judges gave Nyle and Peta a perfect 30 for this last dance.

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Dancing with The Stars Season 22 cast Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images

Paige and Mark Prove She’s Still the One to Beat

Paige and Mark Ballas opted to get redemption for week two, when Mark was injured and unable to perform. Upping the ante, he decided to master the move that made him slip his disc in the first place. They performed a sexy salsa that showcased Paige’s athleticism, sensuality and legs. Carrie gave the routine an A+, and Bruno went completely gaga. Len, however, praised Mark’s choreography but argued that Paige didn’t have enough hip action. He was the only one who thought that, though, and they ended up with a solid 29 out of 30 (the highest score of all three redemption dances).

Later, Paige and Mark performed the final dance of the entire season. The theme of their routine was Paige’s journey from getting bullied in high school to ending up where she is today. Mark’s fiancée, BC Jean, sang live during their performance, and by the end of it, Mark was in tears. Before the judges could get a word in, Mark blurted out what a special moment this was for him. Bruno was also crying and called it a “triumph,” and it seemed he was in good company because the judges gave out yet another perfect 30.

Tell Us: Which couple do you think should win the Mirrorball Trophy?

Dancing With the Stars‘ season 22 finale airs on Tuesday, May 24, at 9 p.m. ET.

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