It’s semifinals week, DWTS fans, which this season means more than the usual ramped up chest exposure and ramped up Hough exposure; season 20 means ramped up judge exposure! But really, why has it taken 20 seasons to integrate the judges into the dance to make them prove they’re worthy? I’ve spent 10 years Googling Carrie Ann Inaba each season to remember what it is that qualifies her to critique ballroom dancing—or any dancing—and 10 years discovering that being a fly girl is apparently all it takes. (That’s 20 seasons of face palms for those of you keeping score.)
Tonight’s semifinals was about more than technique, skill, and judges stepping on toes (metaphoric and literal) however, it was a show full of surprises, emotion, and a lot of tissues.
Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy
“Earned It” | Viennese Waltz
In a video package where we had to once again hear the awful story of how ugly everyone thought Rumer was as a child and how hopeless it made her feel, mom Demi Moore (or Courteney Cox, I’m not sure) prided her daughter on the incredible growth she’s shown since DWTS began, and dad Bruce Willis just told us he thought she was neat.
With Rumer’s voice-over starting the steamy waltz with, “Mr. Chmerkovskiy will see you now” (which I may or may not have recorded on my phone to play on a loop later), the two floated around the ballroom in an ode to “50 Shades of Grey,” complete with Rumer’s awkward lip biting tribute to Anastasia and Val’s tribute to Christian with, well, everything. He was forceful and controlling, and the minute the two of them spent on the dance floor was packed with more heat and chemistry than the entire two hours of the movie … and the next one.
Len thought it was great; it made Julianne a bit uncomfortable (IT WAS SUPPOSED TO!); and Bruno told Rumer that she “nailed the character.” Actually, Bruno, I think that was Mr. Chmerkovskiy’s job.
Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess
“The Time of My Life” | Viennese Waltz
Noah’s video package reminds us of the tragic story that led to him losing his arm and leg, and we also find out that he has a fan in Captain Kirk. Random, as is usual with Shatner.
According to the judges, Noah and Sharna have their best dance of the season waltzing to “The Time of My Life.” (If it sounded vaguely familiar, it’s because it was David Cook’s winning song on American Idol. David Cook. American Idol. Anyone?) Bruno, Len, and Carrie Ann are quick to offer praise of the dance they deemed “expressive, emotional, and charming,” and Julianne calls it “smooth” and then basically tells them goodbye.
Up in the red room (which is where Rumer and Val will most likely be hanging out after the show), Noah’s girlfriend greets him, and after she tells us how proud she is of him, Noah drops to his one knee and proposes, right around
Glinda the Good Witch Erin Andrews! (But really, she could’ve taken a tiny step back, don’t you think?) Forget the finals, I think Noah just won everyone’s hearts. Again.
Riker Lynch & Allison Holker
“Work Song” | Contemporary
In the video package, Allison tells Riker that people have loved seeing his “deep, emotional side,” so they start off their contemporary dance by having Riker throw some chalk dust around in the air. Dancing in the cloud of dust in some khakis and a white Henley, Riker blurs the line between being a “star” and being one of the pros. At least according to Julianne. Carrie Ann loses her mind with excitement over his performance and throws herself across the judge’s table, inadvertently touching Len—twice!—which from his reaction is apparently something that is in his contract rider that is never to happen.
Nastia Liukin & Sasha Farber
“Feelin’ Good” | Quickstep
Born in Moscow with a name fit for a princess (literally), Nastia’s hopes for a second run at Olympic gold were dashed in 2012. But not to worry, her friends and family tell us, with the Olympic determination she’s shown this season, they can tell she’s going for a different kind of gold now. And the Quickstep she performs with Sasha (King Derek surprisingly stepped aside for this dance) proves it. With a big band behind her and definitely quick and perfect steps, she gives a “showstopping” performance.
NEXT: Bad Sandy steps in … and Len steps again