You knew it was coming, people. It’s “Most Memorable Year” night on Dancing With the Stars, the bi-annual tradition of manipulating people’s emotions until they cry for reasons no one really knows. This year things get even more manipulative as DWTS trots out some sort of Cry Cam so we can watch the celebrity watch emotional rehearsal footage of themselves right before performing. No one wants this, DWTS. NO ONE. What we want is poignant dancing and celebrations of life — and we get that too, so it’s not all a miss.
Why put off the inevitable? It is time to dance and it is time to cry. Let’s see what each of our celebrities choose as their Most Memorable Year.
Mary Lou Retton and Sasha Farber
Viennese Waltz, “We Are the Champions” performed by Ray Chew Live
Not surprisingly, Mary Lou selects 1984 as her most memorable year. The year she won the Olympic gold. But, as Mary Lou tells us, the road to gold wasn’t a foregone conclusion: Six weeks prior to the Olympics, she had knee surgery and was almost unable to compete. Present-day Mary Lou is very proud of that young girl from 1984. 1984 Mary Lou would probably be very proud of present-day Mary Lou, too! She is elegant and graceful throughout this routine (I really love Mary Lou in the ballroom styles), hitting some gorgeous lines and working those arm flourishes. Carrie Ann is already crying! WHAT A NIGHT.
Judges’ Score: 24/30
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson
Jive, “Can You Do This” by Aloe Blacc
Young Milo only has 17 years to choose from, and there’s no time like the present, so he picks 2018 as his year. And why shouldn’t he? His life is about to begin! I mean, why not celebrate the year you graduate from DWTS High, where Gleb is your principal? What more could you want from an education? This jive is jam-packed with fun. Milo just wants to make people smile? Mission accomplished. Um, the dude does a backflip off the judges’ desk. It takes a lot of guts to flick and kick with your feet right in front of Len Goodman’s face, but Milo’s not worried. And Len is a big fan. Hey! Another reason 2018 is Milo’s most memorable yet.
Judges’ Score: 27/30
Nancy McKeon and Val Chmerkovskiy
Rumba, “Love Someone” performed live by Lukas Graham
This “watch the celeb watch the package” thing is just too much. We get it! We’re all emotional! Nancy here is dancing her rumba as a tribute to her family (her most memorable year is 2006, the year her family was complete), and yeah, talking about her husband and their two daughters is going to make the woman cry. Even Val gets worked up in rehearsal! Their routine is nice — made nicer by the Lukas Graham farm sing-a-long ambiance — and you can see Nancy dances from the heart. Although, both Len and Bruno point out that she does not dance from the hips. She’s lacking the hip action that helps give the rumba its fluidity. I guess this routine, like life, needs less heart and more hips.
Judges Score: 22/30
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Contemporary, “How to Save a Life” performed by Ray Chew Live
I cannot get over how gratuitous this Cry Cam thing is. We know Alexis is emotional over dancing for her late mother. We don’t need to see her watch herself talk about how sad she is! I am so mad for her! ANYWAY, Alexis chooses 2014, the year she lost her mother, and she and Alan dance a moving tribute to her. Len is impressed with the lifts — he didn’t know Alan was that strong (what show have you been watching dude?). Carrie Ann and Bruno focus on the beautiful “gift” Alexis is sharing with us. Said it before and I’ll say it again, getting contemporary on this night is a huge advantage, regardless Alexis dances the heck out of this routine.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe
Viennese Waltz, “Hedwig’s Theme” by John Williams
What a relief! I thought I was dead inside because I wasn’t crying, but then I realized I get to write about a gorgeous Harry Potter-themed Viennese waltz on Dancing With the Stars, and honestly, my whole life has been leading up to this. 2018 is now my most memorable year! Evanna Lynch picks 2006, the year she was cast as Luna Lovegood, but it wasn’t just about the huge movie role. The world of Harry Potter meant so much to her: Evanna suffered from an eating disorder and the books saved her life — she became pen pals with J.K. Rowling while in the hospital — and this routine encompasses all of that history. There’s slow, graceful moments, and then fast, intense ones. Anyway, I’m obsessed. So are the judges.
Judges’ Score: 27/30
Viennese Waltz, “You Are the Reason” performed live by Calum Scott and Leona Lewis
Uh, so I totally forgot this was a Viennese waltz until Len Goodman said he wanted more Viennese waltz. He isn’t wrong to point out that it was lacking classic content. Joe, of course, is celebrating 2018, the year he stopped fearing commitment and fell in love. And now he’s facing another fear on television: dancing. All three of the judges are pleased to see that Joe’s confidence levels are up — in week three, he’s finally giving his all out there — but the quality of movement is still lacking overall. The judges are basically like, um, keep trying?
Judges’ Score: 18/30
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Samba, “Ni Tu Ni Yo” by Jennifer Lopez featuring Gente de Zona
Juan Pablo and Cheryl are partying like it’s 1999, the year Juan Pablo left Buenos Aires to follow his dreams of overcoming bullying and becoming an entertainer in Los Angeles. They’re celebrating the hard work he put in that year, which helped him get to where he is today: on the receiving end of the first perfect score of DWTS season 27. The hips! The footwork! DON’T FORGET THOSE SAMBA ROLLS. Most Memorable Year could always use more samba rolls. Carrie Ann calls Juan Pablo the child of her three favorite male DWTS celebrities: Mario Lopez, Emmitt Smith, and Gilles Marini. The combo is dead on.
Judges’ Score: 30/30
John Schneider and Emma Slater
Waltz, “Smile” performed by Ray Chew Live
Aren’t we all blessed to have Emma Slater in our lives? She choreographs a lovely waltz for John in tribute to his mother, who died in 2016. His mother’s favorite flower was a yellow rose, so they hold one throughout and then at the end, yellow rose petals fall from the sky. No wonder John couldn’t keep his posture up — the guy was feeling everything. If you’re not going to get over-emotional during your most memorable year dance, when are you? Even with a lack of finesse, Bruno praises John for the nice framing of his partner, and Len calls out just how difficult it is to dance the waltz to that music. John does his mom proud!
Judges’ Score: 21/30
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess
Contemporary, “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman
The concept behind Bobby’s tribute to 1998, the year he graduated high school (the first in his family to do so), is that he’s that little kid in his bedroom, dreaming of something bigger and better. To hit that theme home, YOU GUYS, they have the son of one of the Ray Chew Live singers dressed like Bobby, singing. I cried more watching the kid’s mom tearing up over her son than I have all night! But about Bobby: the judges have been repeatedly asking for more refinement from the radio host, and they get it! Bobby isn’t only jumping around and doing the floss, he gets honest and real and, hello, emotional. Sharna’s choreography sings and Len tells Bobby it is his best dance yet.
Judges’ Score: 23/30
Tinashe and Brandon Armstrong
Rumba, “2 On” by Tinashe
Tinashe’s parents for everything! There’s nothing like trotting a proud mom and dad out to talk about their fearless, talented kid, and Mom and Dad really cut to the core of me. Tinashe is celebrating 2014, the year she put her first album out and finally felt like her dreams were coming true (the footage of baby Tinashe singing warm my cold, dead heart). It’s nice to finally see that Tinashe and Brandon can slow things down without losing any of their charm. This rumba is fluid and full of sensuality, as a rumba should be. Carrie Ann tells Tinashe she was grounded and elegant and that this is only the beginning for her. How life-affirming!
Judges’ Score: 27/30
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold
Argentine Tango, “Lux Aeterna” by Clint Mansell & Kronos Quartet
He’s just a lift machine! Bruno’s right to ask Lindsay if she’s insured after witnessing the raw power of DeMarcus — and the intensity doesn’t stop with tricks. This Argentine tango is meant to tell the story of DeMarcus’s hard work and determination finally paying off when he won the Super Bowl in 2016. More than winning though, he wanted to celebrate how much it meant for him to have his two kids in the stands watching him play. His kids are adorable, BTW. Carrie Ann thought the immense display of power and passion felt more like a paso than Argentine tango, but even so, Len saw those lifts and is never going to mess with DeMarcus. Was he going to before?
Judges’ Score: 26/30
These eliminations are getting frustrating since there is clearly someone who should be going home based on scores and dancing ability, but that person has not even landed in jeopardy yet. Instead, possibly going home this evening are Nancy and Val and Tinashe and Brandon (NO). Not even the power of Val “Blazer, No Shirt” Chmerkovskiy can stop these results: Nancy and Val must take their final bow.