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'Dancing With the Stars' recap: 'You Be the Judge'

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Adam Taylor /ABC

Dancing With the Stars

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Tom Bergeron, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman
Reality TV

Hi, my name is Maggie Fremont, and I cried during that opening video montage. Not my finest moment, but as we lose more and more contestants, everything just seems so heightened. The first shot of the six couples left standing together is a bit shocking — last week’s double-elimination has really made an impact. That stage is so empty! It is more evident than ever that every celeb left standing has their eyes set on the semifinals and they aren’t messing around. 

Also not messing around? Mandy Moore. How great was that opening number? The sexy walking! The giant glowsticks! The confirmation that I am not the only woman who desires a man who can dance, not one I can talk to. That stellar routine is foreshadowing for what proves to be an outstanding night of competition. We’re also treated to a new challenge: the Judges’ Team-Up. Each judge will be given a team made up of two couples and will select the dance style, song, and concept. Oh, and at one point, the celebs have to dance with one another. Can we keep this challenge? 

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd 

Paso Doble | “Victorious” by Panic! At The Disco

Maybe not everyone was crying during the opening montage, but if Nyle and Peta’s paso didn’t leave you in tears, check your pulse. We’ll all wait. Peta wants to somehow show the audience what Nyle’s world is like when he dances, so she decides that part of their dance will be done in complete silence — no music, no applause, nothing. The routine itself is pretty great. Len calls Nyle out on his frame again, but it’s a sharp, passionate, confident paso doble. What puts it over the edge, though, is that silent section. It was so profound that it had the power to make a grown woman audibly sob almost instantaneously. Like, I’m really sorry I messed up the silent thing, but the overwhelming emotion within that section was too much to handle. It was all too much and also not enough. In case you forgot: This was the first dance of the night. Time to strap in.

Judges Score: 29/30

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess 

Viennese Waltz | “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna

Week after week, the judges have harped on Antonio’s lack of technique, and Antonio knows he needs to work on perfecting the details if he wants to move up on the leader board. He especially knows it now since Tom and Erin inform the couple that they are in jeopardy this week before they even take the floor. No pressure or anything. Pressure seems to be a good thing for Antonio. He’s showing up early for rehearsal, he is being tougher on himself than we’ve ever seen him be, and he is committed to learning how to pronounce Viennese waltz. Everything’s coming up Antonio! The hard work pays off, and Antonio and Sharna put out a sultry, sexy routine. AB’s never looked so good! Len still rags on the last football player standing for losing hold a little, but overall the judges see a marked improvement. Antonio is improving at just the right time.

Judges’ Score: 27/30

NEXT: Everywhere you look there’s a 10


Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe

Jive | “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Christina Aguilera

This is the point in the season when the pros are feeling the pressure just as much as the celebs. Keo hasn’t had the easiest go of things this season, and he’s taking the claims that he’s holding Jodie back pretty hard. People need to leave Keo alone — he’s wearing a sparkly suit tonight! What more do you people want? Jodie makes it clear that she’s very happy with her partner, but Keo wants to prove they work well together on the dance floor. He’s not holding back on this jive. YOU GUYS. Their jive is unreal. Don’t throw virtual trash at me, but I like it better than Paige and Mark’s jive last week. This one was so fun and joyful and Jodie and Keo have never looked better together. They were sharp and in sync, and I already have this dance queued up to watch again. The judges praise the creativity of the choreography and staging (get yours, Keo!) and have never seen Jodie dance so confidently. The only damper on the whole thing is that they’ve already been put in jeopardy for the night. It just doesn’t seem right, people.

Judges’ Score: 30/30

Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas 

Viennese Waltz | “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato

Paige, Mark, and the entire human race are still riding the high from last week’s jive. Since that dance was perfection on top of perfection on top of Paige’s perfect legs, what can Mark and Paige do to improve? Pretty much nothing except for getting super into the creative side of the routine. This strategy is also known as The Ballas Special. Mark wants to turn the ballroom into a blizzard, and he and Paige dance as if they’re the last two survivors in this frozen tundra. As Bruno points out, it’s a risky move to add in staccato movements in order to fit the theme when the Viennese waltz is all about fluidity of movement. For Bruno, it works. Carrie Ann loves seeing a more emotional and vulnerable side to Paige. She nails the character here. Len, again, knocks some points off for her frame, but overall it’s a positive critique from all parties. Although Paige may be technically better than Antonio, I still prefer his Viennese waltz tonight. 

Judges’ Score: 28/30

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Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy 

Argentine Tango | “Telephone” by Lady Gaga ft. Beyoncé

Is Dancing With the Stars punking me right now? We all know that my favorite costume frequented by Val is the blazer, no-shirt combo. BUT A LACE BLAZER, NO-SHIRT COMBO? I’m retiring right now. There’s nothing left for me here. Oh, wait, I was just informed that I’m not allowed to retire halfway through a post. But you guys understand how this costume now changes everything, right? Okay, there was some dancing, too. Some pretty great dancing, to be honest. “Good ol’ Ginger Zee” (Val’s words, not mine) was worried about transforming herself into a seductress for this Argentine tango, but she nails it. Carrie Ann is blown away by how perfectly connected Val and Ginger were, moving as one, completely in sync and matched in shaping and movement. Bruno, too, is stunned by the high level of partner work, and Len is happy to see all of the elements of light and shade come together so well. The girl is sitting pretty atop the leader board once again.

Judges’ Score: 30/30

NEXT: The DWTS Props Curse strikes again


Wanyá Morris and Lindsay Arnold 

Jive | ”Can You Do This” by Aloe Blacc

Wanyá and Lindsay are feeling blue after their disappointing scores last week (I still think they were underscored!), and Lindsay especially is feeling the pressure this week. She wants Wanyá to make it to the finals — she loves her guy! These two are an unlikely pairing, but they work so, so well. I believe in their friendship! They’re dancing tonight with last week’s scores, plus the added stress of knowing they are the third couple in jeopardy tonight. That’s a lot to have on their minds as they try to jive their little hearts out. Unfortunately, the pressure may have been too much. As the two try to be as high-energy as possible, they lose time and have a big snafu when Lindsay’s bandana trips up Wanyá. He tries to recover, but the damage is done. This is most decidedly not their best dance. Wanyá tries to keep his Z-Pak smiling, but she feels like she let him down. When Z-Pak cries, we all cry.

Judges’ Score: 25/30

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Team Bruno: Nyle DiMarco & Peta Murgatroyd and Jodie Sweetin & Keo Motsepe

Bruno selects a down and dirty argentine Tango for his team. They’re dancing to “Habanera” from Carmen, and surprise, surprise, Bruno is throwing out the rule book. Which actually just means he wants Jodie and Peta dancing together and the boys to do the same. One thing is clear after this crisp tango: We need more same-sex dancing on DWTS. Jodie and Peta move so in sync! Keo lifts Nyle! What a time to be alive! Of course the other judges are handing out 10’s to their buddies (smart!), but the shrewdest judge in DWTS history turns out to be America, who never votes higher than a 9. Stop being so stingy, America!

Judges’ Score: 29/30

Team Len Goodman: Wanyá Morris & Lindsay Arnold, and Ginger Zee & Valentin Chmerkovskiy

There are no words for Len Goodman’s samba fantasy come to life. Okay, there are three words: Wanyá’s glitter abs. And five more: Yummy, yummy, where’s my mummy? That’s all you get because this team dance is a total “had to be there” moment. Do yourself a favor and watch this routine.

Judges’ Score: 29/30

Team Carrie Ann: Antonio Brown & Sharna Burgess and Paige VanZant & Mark Ballas

Carrie Ann scores the athletes for her team dance, and saddles them with a highly physical paso doble set to Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” So, yes, it is brooding and full of contemporary elements like “throwing chalk dust” and “rain.” The real highlight is the sequence of lifts Antonio and Paige barrel through. Why doesn’t Antonio show this much power in his regular routines? It was jaw-dropping, and although it was only paso doble-adjacent (it even had a LIFT), it was my favorite of the three team dances. The athletes came to dance, y’all.

Judges’ Score: 29/30

There’s not much time to bask in the glory of a great evening of dance as there’s still an elimination lurking nearby. As previously announced, the three couples waiting to hear if they’ve done enough to make into the semifinals are Antonio and Sharna, Jodie and Keo, and Wanyá and Lindsay. There are no easy cuts left, but tonight’s elimination particularly stings because the couple getting sent home achieved perfection: That’s right, Jodie and Keo are the next couple to bid season 22 farewell. Candace Cameron Bure is still crying somewhere. 

Five couples remain to face off in the semifinals next Monday. And if saying goodbye to Jodie and Keo wasn’t frustrating enough, America’s Dad Tom Bergeron announces that there will be a double-elimination. Sharna’s death stare in this moment is a thing of beauty. 

WATCH: Jodie and Keo dance the jive to “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.”

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