Beautiful, beautiful Sam.

Dancing with the Stars, final week: And the winner is…

It’s the final dance off, fully voted on by the public – and here are your final power rankings. Dancing with the Stars, it is over.

ABSOLUTELY NOT: Dai Henwood – Contemporary Interpretative

It’s not a super successful parody dance if that dance is better performed than one of your contestants performed just the previous week.

ELIMINATED: Shavrique – Freestyle

I really apologize to both of these beautiful people for this awful screenshot.

Of the finalists, I would say that I’m the most familiar with Shavaughn as a star and a presence. I’ve known her as a What Now host, a C4 video jockey, a Shortland Street actor, and even briefly a stage actor. I have friends who would freak out at being in the same room as her – that’s a big bar to clear for a New Zealand celebrity.

I’ve said it in previous weeks, but what Shavaughn brought to this competition was a goofiness and a warmth that only celebrities in this country can pull off convincingly (Jennifer Lawrence is a mild and momentary exception). Goofiness in itself isn’t special though – Shav married it with a genuine talent for dance and a sense for performance that only comes from being in front of a camera for nearly two decades.

We need more of her on our screens – in any capacity. Please. We missed her.

SCORE: 26.

Dai Henwood banter: None, just a lovely story where Shavaughn relates how the two cassettes her family had while growing up were ‘Islands in the Stream’ (which she performed for her freestyle) and a Queen cassette.

3. Jess Quinn (and Johnny) – Freestyle AND Cha cha

You fly, Jess. You fly.

I came into this competition with a lot of scepticism when it came to Jess Quinn. The words ‘social media influencer’ inspire only antipathy in my heart, and I never expected her to get as far as she did.

But she’s been one of the best dancers on the show thus far: always game, always endearing in her interviews. And unlike so many of these contestants who are performers (even newsreaders and cricketers are performers in their own way), Quinn came into this as an on-stage novice. She leaves it one of the better dancers the show has ever seen.

Throughout the competition, I’ve had no sass or shade to throw at Quinn. I am similarly lacking in ammunition here, and also lacking in any desire to have any. She’s been an ace performer in this competition, and I wish her well for her modelling career in LA!

SCORE: 28 and 29.

Dai Henwood banter: “As a deep-V aficionado myself, I’d be proud to wear that in ‘da club’.” Let’s go clubbing sometime, Dai.

2. Chris Harris (and Vanessa) – Freestyle AND Paso Doble

The Nation’s Favourite Black Hatted Uncle.

I have been so won over by the former Black Hat during this competition, in a way I haven’t been won over by a cricketer since high school. He’s charming and gawky while still being a beautiful and fun dancer to watch do his thing.

Throughout the competition, he’s built up a narrative of being a little bit goofy and breaking out of the what little macho and masculine persona that a cricketer can possibly have. He’s given us Shakespear’s Sister, he’s given us the heterosexual camp classic that is ‘Lightning Crashes’, and he’s always been fun. If Rockin’ Rog was the uncle you looked at with pity, then Chris Harris is the uncle who you’d call if you ended up getting stuck a party you didn’t want to be at. He’d pick you up, take you to Maccas on the way home, and make sure you were okay.

Much like my colleague Calum Henderson all those months ago, I am now fully in the bag for Chris Harris. Well done.

SCORE: 30 (the first perfect score of the season) and 30 (the second perfect score of the season).

Dai Henwood banter: “You were getting a bit of Michael Flatley happening there!”

WINNER: Sam Hayes (and Aaron) – Freestyle AND Contemporary

Beautiful, beautiful Sam.

I never had high hopes for Sam Hayes in this competition, and consistently underrated her based on her quite strange promo video, but I am always happy to be proven wrong. It happens a lot, because I’m often wrong.

And I was wrong here. Sam Hayes, especially in the second half of the season, has had consistently high scores, she’s been a genuinely beautiful performer to watch and despite occasional stiffness and some odd song choices, she’s never slipped anywhere near the bottom of the table.

Her freestyle performance is one of the best of the entire season, combining some of the strongest parts of her entire run of the show with cleaner transitions, a costume reveal (someone’s been watching Drag Race!) and a truly epic club drop.

Congratulations, Sam. You are the only Sam who has won this season, because I sure as hell haven’t.

SCORE: 29 and 29.

Dai Henwood banter: “Seems like we’re talking about gymnastics more and more!” I would love to talk about gymnastics with you, Dai.

And finally, a big thanks to the readers who have stuck with me through three months of this show. It’s been equal amounts joy and ordeal to bring the fastest turnaround power rankings in the business to you on a weekly basis. From my anger at various stars and politicians leaving, to that directed at certain politicians who hung around far too long, it’s been a fun experience. If this happens again next year, I’ll probably see you then. But if not, what a ride it has been.


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