Ah, yes. Dancing With the Stars‘ biannual cry fest otherwise known as “Most Memorable Year” is upon us. DWTS isn’t messing around either: The show begins with world renowned violinist André Rieu’s 60-piece orchestra playing “My Heart Will Go On” while our pros waltz around like the gorgeous, bedazzled angels they are. What does this have to do with “Most Memorable Year?” I don’t know, and I don’t care because I’ll never let go, Jack. Not having Derek as Jack paired with Sharna as Rose seems like a big missed opportunity, but oh well, I guess we’ll just have to revisit Titanic on DWTS at a later date. (But seriously, the below deck Irish dance party is begging to be brought to the ballroom.)
Now that our tear ducts are sufficiently warmed up, let’s see what our stars have selected as their most memorable years:
Maureen McCormick and Artem Chigvintsev
Foxtrot, “From the Ground Up” by Dan + Shay
Maureen’s most memorable year is 1985, the year she married her husband, Michael. Michael hasn’t gotten as much air time as some of our other star’s significant others have in previous years (I’m looking at you, Ginger Zee), and that is a travesty. Post-Brady Brunch, Maureen hit the party scene hard and battled with a severe drug addiction — she says that Michael saved her from rock bottom. As she and Artem rehearse her homage to Maureen and Michael’s love story, Michael lovingly watches. Then during the live performance, Michael shows up IN A TUX. After Maureen and Artem get through their graceful, heart-warming foxtrot, Michael makes us all tear up again by telling his wife what an honor it’s been to go on this adventure with her. Artem is all of us in this moment, by which I mean a teary-eyed mess of a third wheel.
Judges’ Score: 24/30
Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold
Jazz, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Calvin chooses 2012 as his most memorable year — the year he broke Jerry Rice’s record for single season receiving yards. But, Calvin’s selected 2012 not just because it’s when he bested an idol of his but because it was a dream he was able to share with his family. Calvin says his family was his first team (swoon), and he wants to pay tribute to the support he has at home with this dance. If paying tribute means donning a glitter blazer and doing a jaunty Motown-esque jazz routine, then mission accomplished. Megatron is smooth on the dance floor and his lifts are insane, but Carrie Ann wants him to work on his musicality. At the end of the routine, Calvin catches a football tossed by one of his back-up dancers, who turns out to be — SURPRISE — Jerry Rice! Calvin is shocked and delighted (the two have never met). I could watch a full half hour of these two just chatting in the Red Room. Hey, a girl can dream, too!
Judges’ Score: 24/30
Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko
Contemporary, “In My Daughter’s Eyes” by Martina McBride
Our friend Jana here opens up about an abusive relationship that ended with her ex-husband going to prison for attempted murder. It’s really heavy stuff that Jana’s tried to put behind her, but it obviously broke her — until 2016, when her daughter Jolie was born. She’s dedicating this dance to her little girl and the obvious emotion behind the routine comes through in every movement. Carrie Ann praises her extended lines; it’s her breakthrough week. Bruno loves that she danced with so much fearlessness, most especially in that insane trust fall she does into Gleb’s arms. Most importantly, they show little Jolie in the audience wearing giant hearing protection earmuffs and that is just gosh darn adorable. At least one point for the tiny baby in large head gear!
Judges’ Score: 26/30
NEXT: Someone broke the human emoji [pagebreak]
Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke
Contemporary, “Song For You” by Leon Russell
Did anyone even think that we’d be here in week five of DWTS crying alongside a Ryan Lochte contemporary routine? I don’t even think Ryan dreamed that dream. Yet, here we are. Ryan’s most memorable year is 2008, the year he won his first individual Olympic gold medal. He talks about his family standing by him throughout years of training in order for him to reach that goal, but more importantly them standing by him during his recent Rio troubles. He dedicates his performance to his mom, who you know is just crying in the audience before his routine even starts. Cheryl has really pushed Ryan to be his most vulnerable out on the dance floor and it shows. The judges are seriously impressed by his ability to show both his strength (those lifts are impressive) as well as his fragility. He’s so emotional, that Lochte guy!
Judges’ Score: 24/30
Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Paso Doblé, “Rise” by Katie Perry
Obviously Laurie’s most memorable year was going to be her Olympic triumph of 2016, so I figured we’d all be safe from tears and mainly just filled with pride. I WAS WRONG. Laurie had a tough road getting into Olympic shape, she was sidelined by lots of injuries, but you’d never know since our human emoji is all smiles all the time. Since Laurie is an actual human person, she’s more than just smiles and in her rehearsal package we finally get a glimpse of that. The paso isn’t easy for Laurie and after Val’s intense teaching tactics, Laurie has a little breakdown. She’s new to the paso and she needs her partner to respect that. Val wishes she would share her feelings more often, rather than bottling them up. THESE TWO, YOU GUYS. Laurie channels her emotions into the fierce little number that starts with her in an actual box, continues with some messy footwork, and ends with Val being proud of his partner for being true to herself. All in all, not too shabby.
Judges’ Score: 25/30
Marilu Henner and Derek Hough
Viennese Waltz, “Surprise Yourself” by Jack Garratt
Marilu had some tough notes from the judges following her paso doblé. She was tense and awkward, and it showed in every movement. When she and Derek have a little rehearsal heart-to-heart about it, Marilu admits to feeling awkward because she’s scared of disappointing Derek. Marilu, girl, disappointing Derek Hough is my greatest fear, too. Derek wants no fear in her Viennese waltz dedicated to her mother, who died in 1978 — the same year Marilu was cast in Taxi. Marilu’s mother was a woman who loved dance and movement, so Marilu wants to be her mother out on the dance floor. The judges are right: Marilu is a different woman in the ballroom. She is graceful and dances with ease. There is a fluidity of movement that wasn’t there before. Most importantly, Marilu is relaxed. Mama Henner would be proud.
Judges’ Score: 27/30
NEXT: The bejeweled bodysuit gets a 10 [pagebreak]
Amber Rose and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Samba, “Woman Up” by Meghan Trainor
Amber and Maks are on a bit of an upswing, and Maks wants to capitalize on it. The plan from here on out is making Amber’s routine meaningful to her. Perfect timing since it’s, you know, “Most Memorable Year” and all. Amber’s most memorable year is 2013, the year her son was born. She wants to do a samba that celebrates motherhood. This one is for the ladies, y’all. Amber has a mini-meltdown during camera blocking, but her trusty partner is there to get her through it, mostly by telling her to suck it up. Tough love works! Also, Amber gets to wear a bejeweled bodysuit. It’s hard not to be fierce in something like that. The judges notice that Amber really works it in her solos but is much more timid when in hold with Maks. Trust Maks, lover of dance, creator of bejeweled bodysuits.
Judges’ Score: 24/30
James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess
Tango, “The Right Time” by Yves V featuring Mike James
In 2015, James Hinchcliffe hit a wall while driving 224 miles per hour. So, um, ouch. He lost so much blood, his doctor replaced it three times over. As he was being wheeled into surgery, he flatlined. No one survives the kind of injuries Hinch had. Yet, here he is, 18 months later, ballroom dancing. He is a miracle, and his parents are the cutest. Sharna knows James is feeling frustrated after some mistakes he made in his Cirque jazz, but she wants him to let it all go and tell his story. Apparently his story is a sharp, controlled tango. Carrie Ann says his posture is the best she’s seen on the show, and his technique is the one to beat. He’s unbelievable. They even trot out Hinch’s surgeon, another person who can’t believe James is out killing it on the dance floor. Hinch calls the good doctor a miracle worker for getting him to walk and Sharna a miracle worker for getting him to dance. Be still my heart.
Judges’ Score: 29/30
Terra Jolé and Sasha Farber
Contemporary, “Stand By Me” by Florence + The Machine
Terra’s father, her biggest supporter, passed away in 2013, before she was able to dance with him at her wedding. She’s using her contemporary routine with Sasha as a way to make up for that. She regrets not being there when he died and she regrets that he wasn’t able to see her succeed. As Carrie Ann points out, Terra’s dad is with her tonight and he’d be beyond proud. Terra has such an ease to her movements and she and Sasha dance so well together. Like Ryan, Terra is able to show both strength (she balances on Sasha’s thighs, you guys) and vulnerability in this dance. These two are shoe-ins for the finals, right?
Judges’ Score: 27/30
Whew. We made it. Anyone else make audible crying noises while alone on their couch? Yeah, totally, me neither. There’s no elimination this week, which is a nice reprieve from the tragedy of it all. But with a four-way tie for last place, it could be the last dance for any of our nine remaining couples. Well, except for Laurie, probably.