It helps to be the will-they-won’t-they couple of the season: Olympic champion ice dancer Meryl Davis and pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy — whose sizzling chemistry on and off the dance floor became the show’s favorite topic — were named the winners of “Dancing With the Stars” Season 18 on Tuesday night. (Yes, she’s already a dancer, and yes, there’s already a debate about whether her skills on ice gave her an unfair advantage.)
Actress Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas placed third, while Amy Purdy — the first paralympian to compete on the show — and Derek Hough were the runners-up. As an added bonus for Maks, it’s the first time he’s ever won the super-sparkly first place Mirror Ball Trophy in his 14 seasons.
“It’s just plastic but it means so much,” said an unusually emotional Maks in the final moments of the episode. “And to do it with Meryl is a dream come true. There’s a reason why it didn’t happen before — because it was meant to happen with this one.”
All together now: Awwww. Monday’s performance night was a Meryl and Maks lovefest as well; judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba adored them, so were obviously thrilled with this outcome. And we have to give the pair credit for the funniest part of the two-hour finale.
“Do you think anything will ever develop romantically with Maks after the show?” an off-camera producer asked Meryl, during a taped segment before their fusion dance, the pair’s last performance of the season.
“I can’t talk about that,” Meryl said shyly, shaking her head, as steamy dance floor photos of the two appeared on the screen. “Our relationship is very unique because he incorporates so much passion in what he does.”
Cut to Maks presumably being asked the same question. “I want to ravage her and have ice skating, big, Russian, mean babies. We’ll call them Boris and Oleg,” he deadpanned. “Their nicknames are going to be ‘Bear.’ Just have one nickname for both.”
Apparently Maks wasn’t aware those weird comments would be televised because he was several shades of red when the camera showed him and Meryl standing near co-host Erin Andrews. “I want to go on the record I have no desire to name my kids Boris and Oleg,” he protested. “No disrespect to Borises and Olegs.”
But Andrews wasn’t going to let awkwardness go to waste on live TV. “I love this idea, what do you think of it?” she asked Meryl. “Having babies with Maks?”
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Meryl muttered as Maks tried to escape.
Andrews changed the subject to their upcoming fusion dance (fox trot and cha cha), but Maks couldn’t help himself when asked if he had ever done a fusion dance before. “I fused other things together, but never two dances,” he said, eyebrows raised. Poor Meryl tried to run away before Andrews could ask any more questions.
“Be looking for Maks in our special summer series, ‘The Blushin’ Russian!’” co-host Tom Bergeron chimed in.
Anyway there were lots of other moments packed in the finale, with random performances (Iggy Azalea, Adriana Grande, Christina Perri) in addition the Top 3 couples final dances.
Third place finishers Candace and Mark have had a bit of a rocky journey (plagued by injuries and emotions running high), and the judges seemed less than enthusiastic about their samba/quickstep. So many backhanded compliments! “You have been truly the dark horse of this whole competition,” Len told Candace. “Sometimes not top of the leaderboard, but I tell you, you’re top with the fans.”
Meanwhile, the judges raved as runners-up Amy and Derek went out on a high note with an impressive cha cha/tango fusion. “You are a fantastic dancer,” Len told Amy. Bruno agreed: “Your dancing is right up there with the best — and your unbreakable spirit, determination, has been a lesson tonight for us all and all of America.”