They may have dumped the final two Flirty Dancing episodes over in the abyss that is Saturday television, but they can never stop Jenna Dewan from her quest to help people who want to be on reality television attempt to find love whilst dancing. In the season finale, we get two hours of hopefuls step-touching into each other’s hearts, plus a welcome visit from the host of the UK’s Flirty Dancing, Ashley Banjo. Ashley hosts the final hour and it must be said that he’s very good at his job and I would like him to be my life coach now. Shall we dance?
Alex is a 28-year-old youth group leader in Oregon, who seems to dance a lot while wearing lederhosen. But the goofy guy is hoping to take this opportunity to show that he can be flirty and romantic and desirable. That seems like a lot to ask from a routine you’ll be dancing with a stranger, but even Jenna knows that goobers deserve love, too!
Alex & Melissa, “Speechless” by Dan + Shay
Alex’s first match is with 24-year-old Melissa who not only grew up just 20 miles away from Alex, but whose grandparents actually met on a blind dancing date. It! Is! Fate! Well, maybe. First, they each have to learn this slow, romantic dance by choreographer and tapper Chloe Arnold. Immediately, Alex is nervous by how out of his comfort zone this routine is, but there will be no traditional German dances here tonight, sir.
The two head over to Calamigos Ranch and I am very sorry to report that this routine fails from the get-go. Melissa is not into it at all and, you guys, by the end of it SHE JUST SHAKES HER HEAD NO. Afterward, when pressed as to whether or not she felt chemistry she says ‘yes’ with her mouth, but literally every other part of her is screaming ‘no’ into the camera. Our first outright bust of the season, a thing to behold!
Alex & McKenzie, “Perfect Strangers” by Jonas Blue feat. JP Cooper
Alex’s second match is McKenzie, an NFL cheerleader. She feels confident when she’s performing, but is timid in every other situation, so dancing to meet a guy is actually a great loophole for her and I’m just glad we found one person this format really works for before the season ends. McKenzie turns out to be just as goofy as Alex, so Jenna thinks this could be a perfect match. Literally anything will be better than what just happened.
Alex and McKenzie get the flirty, fun number and maybe it’s just the performer in our little cheerleader, but these two can’t stop smiling at each other. It’s very cute and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Alex won’t go 0-for-2. Even Jenna is like “THIS IS CHEMISTRY.” She cannot mask how worried she was.
The Second Date: Melissa says it was hard for her to really let go and she wasn’t able to get out of her own head, but she’s “not heartbroken” she wasn’t Alex’s choice and we’re all like “yeah, we know.” Alex and McKenzie still seem smitten with one another during their first date where they are allowed to speak, which is a great sign. Their update video is of them going on their second official date, which is just not enough. I need more than two dates to know if these two have really made it or if everyone involved is just shaking their head ‘no’ at this point.
Get Navi a boyfriend, guys! She seems great. She’s 39, she is very content with her job as an executive assistant, she performs classical Indian dance, and generally seems to enjoy life. She just wants a guy to enjoy it with. She tells Jenna that her parents had an arranged marriage and are still together 45 plus years later. I really hope Navi doesn’t think Jenna’s putting her into an arranged marriage, but, man, what a show that would be.
Navi & Tarun, “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole
Tarun is a writer and meant to appeal to Navi’s carefree, adventurous side. These two free spirits will be dancing the fun routine, but choreographer Jonathan Redavid puts in a big trust fall move toward the top, so it is also possibly deadly. There’s no reward without risk, that’s just life.
They dance their little hearts out in a pavilion on Olvera Street, and I’m no expert, but they both seem to really enjoy being there. That’s key when you spend a significant portion of the dance moving around while also touching foreheads. That’s hard! Afterward, Navi is thrilled with how things went: She had been worried about being able to let go, but once she felt Tarun taking the lead, she was happy to give in to that. There is no head shaking, which now we know is the baseline to rate all of these pairings.
Navi & Mark, “Walk Me Home” by Pink
Former baseball player and current auto finance manager Mark has arrived on the scene as our token hopeless romantic. It’s only fair that they’ll be dancing the sensual routine of the evening. Jonathan Redavid isn’t messing around with the sensuality, guys: There is a lift in this routine in which Navi will be straddling Mark. You better hope there’s chemistry or that will be awkward.
Mark’s extremely nervous and has absolutely zero dance experience, but as much as the Flirty Dancing producers are trolling him about it (the montage of nervous giggles and “aw, shoots” is a lot), he ends up being quite the leading man on dance day. I’m sorry, Dance Day. It’s as if they have been straddling all their lives! And that final move in which they cuddle on the sidewalk? There was some definite un-choreographed arm stroking. Navi tells Jenna that Mark “took her breath away,” which means Tarun doesn’t stand a chance. Those are the flirty dancing rules!
The Second Date: Navi picks Mark because once you straddle a man without speaking to him first, you are legally obligated to meet him for a beverage. Welcome to America. Their little meet-and-greet is actually one of the most genuine on this entire series, but their update video doesn’t really give up the goods as to their current status. I’m rooting for these two!
Yes, yes, we are here to find ex-NFL player Khairi love, but more importantly, we are here to welcome our new host for the hour, Ashley Banjo. I guess the quest for love on the dance floor has proved too exhausting for Jenna. Regardless, we welcome Ashley, host of the original Flirty Dancing, who is really diving deep with all of these dancers and I would watch a show of him and Travis Wall building people’s confidence up in a dance rehearsal room any day of the gosh darn week. But this is about Khairi, who says that he’s looking for a girl who is extremely beautiful, very intelligent, self-driven, has a great sense of humor and the list goes on. He just described the ideal human. Good luck to you sir.
Khairi & Leah, “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder
Khairi’s upbeat dance, choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars genius choreographer Allison Holker will be with Leah. Leah says that if a guy looks “like a douche bag, they are generally [her] type,” so this should be fun. In rehearsal, both Allison and Ashley are pushing Khairi to be really vulnerable and let himself go — a hard thing since he’s still feeling burned from previous relationships. Dance will heal him!
Before Khairi’s first dance, Ashley brings him into the space where they’ll be dancing, tells him he needs to bring his “heart and not just [his] head,” has him promise he won’t be scared to open up, and generally just makes the American public fall in love with him. Ashley Banjo, people! Oh, right, the dance! It’s full of eye flirting, which anyone who has watched all six episodes of this show must be into by now. The final pose has Leah sitting on Khairi’s knee, and they take an awfully long time to break eye contact and part ways. Is it love?
Khairi & Symphony, “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” by Ella Eyre
Khairi will be slowing things down with Symphony, a 26-year-old market researcher who is a romantic but is extremely nervous about the emotional commitment she’ll have to make to get through this routine. It is intimate, guys. Allison isn’t letting Khairi get out of this without really opening himself up. She even has a pep talk with him about “being enough.” Okay, I guess Allison can join my dream show with Ashley and Travis. Sharna Burgess can come too. It’s going to be so great.
This routine is pretty stunning and it looks like Khairi has already fallen for Symphony by the time he walks over to her and takes her hand. After the routine, Khairi describes it as if “time kind of stopped when she was walking forward.” I’m dead inside, but even I think that’s a good sign, right?
The Second Date: Well, we were wrong and everything is a lie. It doesn’t matter that time stopped, Khairi decides to go on a second date with Leah, not Symphony. It seems like both of them immediately know this was a terrible decision because not only do they start off by mildly insulting each other, but they then go into that awkward linking of arms to drink champagne thing. No amount of chemistry can survive that move. And apparently things “fizzled” right after this meeting.
Our final flirty dancer of the season is Ashlee, a DJ looking for love five years after her boyfriend passed away suddenly. Because of that experience, Ashlee is all about living life fully and she’s ready to commit to someone. She gets the dream team of Ashley Banjo and Travis Wall, so she has more of a chance than anyone to find love on this show.
Ashlee & Ben, “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth
Ashlee’s first match is Ben. He’s charismatic and he can take his sunglasses off in slo-motion. Maybe he’s the love of her life? Ashlee’s definitely intimidated by how close and intimate this routine is. There’s a lot of talk about her “making space” for her partner in the dance and in life, and Travis has a big heart-to-heart with her about letting down her walls and maybe I’ve drunk the kool-aid of this show now? Tell me more about how shattered I am, Travis!
Ben freely admits he’s not a good dancer, and as the routine starts he’s breathing so hard he might honestly pass out, but Ashlee walks down the steps and everyone seems to relax. Well, except for Ashley Banjo who is getting legit chills from all the eye contact these two single birds are making. Ben kisses Ashlee’s hand before she walks off and that is a real power move. When you can’t speak, you have to make your case somehow.
Ashlee & Steven, “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” by Shawn Mendes
Ashley Banjo sets Ashlee up with a tatted-up drummer and I’m immediately into this pairing. Steven claims that although he may look like a badass rocker, on the inside he’s quiet and shy and just wants to talk about being a good dad to his eight-year-old son. Sure, sure, that’s fine, too.
This routine may be the “faster” of the two, but it is no less intimate. I mean, there’s one move where Steven is basically just steamrolling over Ashlee while she leans against a wall. That move will tell you everything you need to know about a date. Ashlee and Steven have so much chemistry throughout this thing that if she doesn’t pick him, I will scream.
The Second Date: No screaming necessary! Ashlee goes with Steven, they were “undeniably connected.” Poor Ben is left leaning against a bus sign or something? I don’t know, but they couldn’t even set him up in a nice bar to get rejected. He seems fine with it, he would do it all over again. Ashlee and Steven really seem to hit it off during their meet-and-greet, but in their update they send in a video to say that they’ve decided to be just friends. Steamrolling over a person’s body while against a wall is a weird way to do it, but making friends as an adult can be hard.