Do you remember where you were that fateful day during Season 18 when Dancing With the Stars announced they would be switching partners part-way through the season? Were you tearfully screaming at strangers that if the perfect pairing of Maks and Meryl was split up for good that you’d never watch the show again because you don’t support injustice? No, I totally wasn’t either.
Thankfully, we quickly learned that the “switch up” was only a week-long challenge, and partners would be reunited in no time. Now I look forward to the Switch Up! It showcases just how much our celebs have learned, but more importantly, it shines a spotlight on the personality and teaching styles of the pros. Are they protective? jealous? relieved? It’s an interesting experiment where for one week, we’re all Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors. And who doesn’t want to be a post-Brad Pitt, pre-Goop Gwyneth Paltrow for a week? C’mon, you know you’re curious.
Even without an elimination this week, the tension is high, as most celebs (and pros, too!) bemoan losing their partners (or maybe it is the fact that Maksim “The Truth and Nothing But the Truth” Chmerkovskiy is back as guest judge). For the most part, the great ballroom experiment of season 22 is a big flop for our couples, but there are two major standouts. To the dancing!
Wanyá Morris and Witney Carson
Tango | “Hold Back the River” by James Bay
It’s no secret that Wanyá is a front runner. He’s got the talent, the swagger, and the drive. He wants this, you guys. He wants this so much that even his new partner, Drill Sergeant Barbie, is surprised at how tough he wants her to be. Pulling the first dance of the night is a tough spot for anyone, but it really does Wanyá a disservice. The judges are extra-harsh on the guy. Len finds the whole thing too hectic, and both he and Maks (who are sharing a brain this evening) criticize the pair for not keeping their top line still — a tango is all about the legs. Bruno once again asks Wanyá to rein in his energy in order to improve his technique, but, like you can’t lasso the sun, Bruno. Carrie Ann simply misses the easy chemistry Wanyá and Lindsay have. I miss his fur-lined Mufasa outfit. We’re all missing something tonight, okay?
Judges’ Score: 30/40
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Kim Fields and Keo Motsepe
Viennese Waltz | “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding
Kim and Sasha are extremely hesitant about being split up for the week. Though I’m a fan of the drama the Switch Up brings, I was not looking forward to breaking up the Dream Team. And just when you think you couldn’t love them anymore, Kim admits that she wants to make Sasha proud. They aren’t even dancing together and they’re wreaking havoc on my emotions. If anyone had to take Kim away from Sasha, I’m glad it’s Keo. The two time travel to the 1940s and dance a gorgeous Viennese Waltz. Well, okay, according to the Grumpy Twins, there was hardly any Viennese Waltz in the choreography. The dance style calls for lots of rotation and a strong frame in hold. Keo explains that he compensated for their height difference by expanding their frame, and thus losing some of the sharpness. Maks says something snarky about the height difference between him and Meryl, but Keo takes it in stride. Most important, tonight we learn that Keo is scared of Karina. These scores are way too low for such a national treasure… and too low for Kim, too.
Judges’ Score: 28/40
NEXT: Even Tom Brady loves Flutie Flakes
Doug Flutie and Peta Murgatroyd
Tango |“Black and Gold” by Sam Sparro
Like so many Miss Congenialities before him, Doug Flutie is just happy to be here, folks. He’s still a bit crestfallen about his Mary Poppins dance flatlining, but he seems determined to do his new partner proud. Peta quickly learns that Doug’s biggest issue is his less-than-stellar memory. Doug eats a big bowl of Flutie Flakes (Tom Brady’s a cereal fan, too!) and gets to rehearsing. Or so I imagine. Anyone who has a cereal named after himself should be eating it at least once a day. Alas, even after all the practicing, Flutie still doesn’t quite bring it. The judges praise him for hitting all of the steps in the content-heavy routine, but it seems like a reach. I was waiting for Doug to bring that masculine power and confidence he had during his Week 2 paso, but he just looked uncomfortable.
Judges’ Score: 28/40
Ginger Zee and Mark Ballas
Salsa | “La Malanga” by Eddie Palmieri
Sorry not sorry, Ginger, but your husband is my soulmate. I knew he was a fan of DWTS, but he really outdoes himself this week. He knows it’s the “Switch Up,” and he takes it upon himself to vet the new guy. There’s little to worry about, though, because as Ben so perfectly puts it, “Mark is like a nice merlot, Val is a dirty martini.” Emphasis on the dirty. Okay, he didn’t say that part, but he didn’t have to, either. Especially after he goes on to call Val a “Russian Love Slave.” Get out of my brain, Ben! Just kidding! Stay there, always. After an awkward intro, Mark and Ginger shake and shimmy with the best of them. Ginger gives good face, but some of her legwork felt a little stiff to me. The judges disagree. All four loved the performance, thought she nailed the content, and believed she really sold a dance that they know she felt uncomfortable with. Ginger is on a roll.
Judges’ Score: 32/40
Antonio Brown and Karina Smirnoff
Cha Cha | “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
A sequine-covered jacket and an insane back flip? Within 10 seconds, I was sold on Antonio and Karina’s fast-paced, fun cha cha. The judges? Not so much. The Grumpy Twins aren’t pleased with the lack of technique, and even Carrie Ann can’t deny that Antonio looks like he needs more rehearsal time. If the pre-dance package is any indicator, Carrie Ann might be on to something. Antonio’s watch is purely for decoration; the dude is late all the time! Antonio’s been the most disappointing this season, mainly because he has so much potential and he just isn’t applying himself. Yes, I’ve turned into your mother. If nothing else, this cha cha gifts us with Len Goodman repeatedly saying “bump and grind.” Be right back, I need to go change my ringtone.
Judges’ Score: 26/40
Paige VanZant and Sasha Farber
Rumba |“Perfect” by One Direction
Ugh! I’m so tired of these judges demanding there be actual elements of the dance-style in each routine! Okay, okay. I understand where Maks and Len are coming from tonight: Yes, this is a ballroom dance competition. But also, this is Dancing With the Stars. Give me a break, Lenny! Paige and Sasha brought the heat to that rumba. Carrie Ann gets it. She’s a big fan of this Switch Up pairing, and I suspect a lot of other people are, too. Bruno is! He praises the sensuality of the dance (of course he does), and once again calls out Paige’s beyond elegant lines. Len says something ridiculous about not believing the emotion of the dance, which I guess is a callback to the package in which Paige confesses she’s having trust issues, but mostly it’s an opportunity for Maks and Bruno to stroke each others faces. I’m only a little mad about it.
Judges’ Score: 31/40
NEXT: Witney gets very intense about her handshakes
Von Miller and Lindsay Arnold
Jive | “Hips” by Beans and Fatback
You guys, Witney is not a fan of the Switch Up. She wants to make sure Von doesn’t betray their partnership with any new handshakes, etc. Von’s not even allowed to laugh with his new partner. That’s a for real threat, too. Perhaps it eases her mind though when Von winds up with Wit’s BFF Lindsay. I’m a fan of Lindsay, mainly because she’s given me my new life motto: “You feel dumb, but that looks good.” Get out of my life, Z-Pak! She and Von dance a swaggified country jive, which is most likely the first and last in history. The choreography plays to Von’s strengths, but as Bruno points out, his kicks and flicks are not as sharp as called for in the jive. It must be a tough dance for such a big guy. Maks enjoyed the performance, but he’s craving more from Von. Aren’t we all, Maks.
Judges’ Score: 29/40
Nyle DiMarco and Sharna Burgess
Viennese Waltz | “I Get to Love You” by Ruelle
Can Peta and Sharna share Nyle for the rest of the season? Peta and Nyle are top-notch, but I don’t think I can go on knowing I’ll never see Sharna and Nyle emotionally dominate that dance floor again. Tyra Banks shows up to rehearsals and even her fiercest smizing cannot withstand the tears brought on by watching those two beautiful people waltz across the floor. Is “crizing” a thing? Now it is. This is a Viennese Waltz all four judges can get behind. That’s because it was beautiful and lovely and moving and covered in fog — as all the most precious things in life are. Carrie Ann can barely speak, Len calls is simply “fantastic,” Maks hails it as the best dance of the night (agree!), and Bruno tells Nyle that the magic of dance is alive within him. I don’t know much, but I know that that’s the greatest compliment one human can bestow on another. Not even an awkward scoring glitch can take that away from us.
Judges’ Score: 37/40 (but a 39/40 in our hearts)
Jodie Sweetin and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Paso Doblé | “Under Control” by Calvin Harris and Alesso
Nyle and Sharna are a tough act to follow. Like Jodie needs anything else to worry about after her big slip-up last week! Thankfully, she has her No. 1 fan, Val, as her partner this week. Val had a big ol’ crush on Stephanie Tanner growing up, and that makes my nerd heart jump for joy. Jodie remarks that Val is a much more intense teacher than Keo, but perhaps that intensity is exactly what Jodie needed. She comes out in attack mode for this paso. Where has this Jodie been hiding? All of her insecurities are gone and she straight up brings it. After the judges sing her praises (Carrie Ann correctly calls it Jodie’s best dance yet), Jodie reveals where this sudden burst of confidence came from: She realized that it was supposed to be fun. “It’s just a dance!” Somewhere, in a dark corner with “Hide and Seek” playing on a loop, Mischa Barton is weeping.
Judges’ Score: 35/40
That’s a wrap on the season 22 “Switch Up.” Which new pairings were your favorite? Should Nyle demand a recount? And after two weeks of stiff competition, who should go home next week? Come visit me on twitter to chat all things DWTS, because when Len Goodman tosses out the first 10 of the season, you know we’re in for some surprises.