Dancing With the Stars recap: America saves a fan favorite in the first elimination of the season
Just so you don’t slip into DWTS withdrawal after all the glitz and glam of the season 27 premiere, the ballroom gods have blessed us with two more hours of dancing this week. A lot of this episode is fluff — the extended recaps are great if only to see which celebs forget the cameras are always watching them — but four hours of dancing in one week is a big commitment!
We get some stellar pro dancer group routines (group numbers to The Greatest Showman soundtrack always and forever, please), we meet the cast of DWTS: Juniors (will you be watching these tiny humans take over the ballroom or is that a hard pass?), and, sadly one of our new couples gets eliminated. There is a twist though: Instead of all 13 couples dancing for a second time tonight, only the bottom six couples (based on a combination of scores and public vote) will have to take to the dance floor again. They’ll be dancing to save themselves, which when you think about it, we are all doing any time we dance.
The interesting thing about this format is that we’re getting a look at America’s favorites from the get-go. For instance, do you know who’s safe? Grocery Store Joe, that’s who! He and Jenna were easily the bottom (they scored a 14, the next worst couple was Nikki and Gleb with a 17), so it is clear that Bachelor Nation is turning in the votes. Joining Joe and Jenna in safety are DeMarcus and Lindsay (they get the encore performance!), Tinashe and Brandon, Juan Pablo and Cheryl, Bobby and Sharna, Milo and Witney, Evanna and Keo, and in a last-minute reprieve from jeopardy hell: John and Emma. It’s a nice mix of high scorers and fan favorites. Could some big elimination upsets be in our future this season?
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The remaining five couples take to the dance floor to win some points via additional judges’ scores and the ever dreaded live vote. You guys, a lot is going on tonight. Let’s see how dance number two goes down for the five couples remaining in jeopardy.
Mary Lou Retton and Sasha Farber
Cha-Cha, “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer
In case you were wondering, no, there’s no jumping out of a giant Wheaties box yet. ONE DAY. Mary Lou and Sasha were a lot of fun in their first cha-cha, and their second is no different. It starts off with Mary Lou doing a solo that ends up with her in a split that I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR. The disco cha-cha mashup has a ton of energy, but this time it is much more controlled. Bruno saw lots of improvement in Mary Lou’s footwork, and Carrie Ann tells the couple that this is the cha-cha she was waiting for last night. America’s Sweetheart should have nothing to worry about.
Judges’ Score: 21/30
Danelle Umstead and Artem Chigvintsev
Foxtrot, “Strong Ones” by Armin van Buuren featuring Cimo Fränkel
Is anything more precious than seeing Artem take care of Danelle out there on the dance floor? She’s really feeling the pressure to show improvement in just 24 hours, but for as overwhelmed as Danelle says she is, she looks more confident in her second foxtrot than her first. She loses her way a bit in the middle section, but as Carrie Ann points out, comes back better than ever. The second half of the routine is great. And hey, Bruno tells her that her shoulders are very much improved. And that’s extremely high praise out here on the ballroom floor where shoulders are the devil.
Judges’ Score: 18/30
Nikki Glaser and Gleb Savchenko
Salsa, “Tres Deseos” by Gloria Estefan
Nikki has the best attitude: She’s looking forward to taking the notes from the judges and making improvements. She tells Gleb that on night one, she gave them “chunky salsa” and night two will be “mild picante salsa.” Mild picante salsa seems a much better fit for Nikki! Carrie Ann notes that Nikki is still having issues figuring out what to do with her arms (they’re floppy!), but overall she looks more comfortable. Bruno wants Nikki to work on the fluidity of her hips. It’s Len who has the biggest change of heart: He tells Nikki and Gleb that tonight Nikki controlled the dance, not the other way around. I mean, with Grocery Store Joe being safe, it’s probably not enough to keep Nikki and Gleb in the competition but hey, go out on a high note.
Judges’ Score: 18/30
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Jive, “Shake the Room” by Gamu
Pretty much everyone is shocked that Alexis and Alan have found themselves in the bottom five. Their jive was a surprise highlight of night one. Yet, here we are. Much like Nikki and Gleb, Alexis and Alan are using their second dance to show a different side of the same style. Their first jive was cutesy and full of dairy products. Their second is a sexier jive. Can the jive ever really be sexy? Discuss! All three of the judges are basically like, “We don’t know why you’re here, you were great last night and you were great again tonight, okay bye.” Where are Alexis’s 12 million followers when you need them?
Judges’ Score: 23/30
Nancy McKeon and Val Chmerkovskiy
Quickstep, “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves
Well, look at these two pops of sunshine out on the dance floor. Nancy and Val were chided for their lack of body contact in their night one quickstep, but the judges are pleased to see that problem is totally gone the second time around. Val isn’t going easy on Nancy, she’s got harder choreography and a costume brighter than the sun — but the fast and furious routine doesn’t trip her up one bit. Len seems especially happy with this second routine. Has Grumpy Len turned into Giddy Len? Is this a whole new DWTS era? Hold me, I’m scared.
Judges’ Score: 21/30
The five couples in jeopardy have done everything they can. Once the scores and live votes from tonight are combined with those from last night, we learn who gets saddled with the dreaded distinction of being the first eliminated: Good-bye Nikki and Gleb, we hardly knew ya. Sadly, we will not get a season full of watching Nikki make Gleb giggle. If nothing else, don’t we deserve weeks upon weeks of Gleb giggling?