The semi-finals are all about American Icons, and one Olympian says goodbye

By Samantha Highfill
Updated May 13, 2014 at 03:58 AM EDT
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I think we can all agree that American Icons isn’t much of a theme, right? Personally, I didn’t feel like there was much consistency throughout the semifinals, which didn’t bother me all that much, but I just sort of felt like there didn’t even need to be a theme. The theme was that it was the semifinals, and everyone was “Under Pressure.” Get it? My American Icons would be Queen! OK, that’s precisely why this night didn’t work.

Tonight’s guest judge was director/choreographer Kenny Ortega, who has more credit in the dance world than just about any guest judge we’ve seen. Sure, he didn’t have Ricky Martin’s pants or Redfoo’s hair, but at least he didn’t have Abby Lee Miller’s anything, am I right?

All in all, I thought Kenny was a tad bland, but I will say that his comment about what he was looking for threw me for a loop. I had barely opened my Diet Pepsi for the evening when I had to write this down: “I’m looking to see you surrender to one another, enjoy yourselves, and take me to a place I’ve never been.” I’m not sure what show you think you signed up for Kenny, but we keep things PG over here on DWTS.

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: 34/40 First up, we went into rehearsals with Candace and Mark, who actually sort of stole my heart in their discussion about dancing to Janet Jackson’s “Nasty.” Candace admitted she wasn’t nasty; Mark creeped her out. It was an all-around good time. And no, there’s not a dance where she can just go “Heyyyyy.” But suddenly, I really wish there was.

This week, contestants also got to meet with a personal icon, and for Candace, that was Angela Thomas, a Bible teacher and author. Thomas helped Candace realize that her dances are less for millions of people and more for an “audience of one.” And no, she wasn’t talking about her Aunt Becky, Lori Loughlin, who was in the house — the full house, if you will. (I’m here all night!)

First, Candace and Mark had a waltz that was just plain painful. My only good note happened at the very beginning and consisted of two words: “Good walking.” Good walking, guys. Honestly. But this dance fell apart quickly after Candace messed up and basically crumbled before our eyes. Mark had to physically move her arm at one point in the routine. Had she literally stopped moving?!

Also, I found it fitting how the dance ended with him walking away with a suitcase, presumably going to pick up another partner. OK, that was harsh, but as Carrie Ann would say, “It’s my job!”

The judges recognized that the pressure got to her, but they cheered her on for her second number. Bruno mentioned how she needed to watch her face, because her mistake was apparent in her panicked expression. As my American Icon would say, “The show must go on!”

And in case you were wondering, Mark was whispering steps into her ear trying to get her through. Also, somehow — no thanks to me — Candace was safe. As bad as that dance was, I will say that celebration was pretty epic. Mark could barely hold her back. Why can’t she move like that when it counts?

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: 40/40 After talking to his idol, Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, Charlie prepared for a samba to “Mo Money, Mo Problems” — yes, you read that correctly. As Sharna put it, “Hip-hop doesn’t really sit well on Charlie’s body.” As if we couldn’t tell from the way he said, “More Money, More Problems.” Although, he had no problem saying, “Welcome to New York, b—h,” which I found endlessly fascinating and oddly charming.

First up, Charlie and Sharn’s foxtrot marked the return of that freakin’ cane! Thankfully, Sharna threw it away before he could drop it, but then he dropped his handkerchief. Stop it with the props already! As my roommate put it, “Why does she keep doing this to him?” And as I put it (in my head), “Why does she keep doing this to me?!” Thankfully, the number recovered and ended with Charlie doing twirls on twirls on twirls, being all “Welcome to the Olympics, b—h!” At least that’s what he was saying in my head.

Kenny wanted to pop some champagne and called Charlie the toast of New York. Bruno loved the sophistication, and Carrie Ann — whose hair looked really full and awesome tonight — gave it a brilliant times-3. Len? “Just right tonight, Charlie White. End of story.” Oh, Len.

And in my weekly relationship with Erin, I think I’m officially on board. She both hated on the cane and said the phrase “Make it rain.” It’s official: I can’t hate that woman.

NEXT: Who’s Oprah Winfrey?

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: 39/40 Before taking on the quickstep and a jazz number this week, Amy got a little call from superfan Oprah, as in Oprah Winfrey. Sorry, guys, if you don’t know who she is, go here.

Long story short, Oprah is a huge DWTS fan and promised to take Amy and Derek to dinner, but only if they win, which I thought was kind of brilliant.

The quickstep was first. Amy was wearing a new set of legs that really allowed her to bounce around the dance floor. I was horrified that she and Derek were going to hit heads at one point, but they both got away without any bumps or bruises. And Derek was feeling real good about it. Cue Tiger Woods fist pump!

Bruno thought Amy’s lightness of touch was incredible, and Carrie Ann thought she went full throttle. Carrie Ann also made a comment about “because of the way everything’s working down there,” to which I would just like to say: No. Please stop.

Moving on, Len thought there was “plenty of bounce to the ounce,” though he would’ve liked more body contact, and Kenny would like the world to know it’s his mother’s 88th birthday! Also, his family calls her Triple Amy, which is something I should probably get, but please don’t hate me if I don’t. I’m only halfway through my Diet Pepsi.

Upstairs, Derek got serious about life, talking about how pressure doesn’t really exist but rather we create it. Honestly, I’ve never had a thought that deep in my life, and suddenly I want to go on a zen retreat with Derek. We’ll do yoga during the day and dance at night. Who’s in? We can bring Tom to narrate and make fun of everyone and everything.

For the judges, Len was the only holdout for a 10, which is why dear old “Lenny” got booed. Also, this is when we found out all three Olympians were in jeopardy, a phrase that Tom would repeat at least 8 times during the show.

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: 40/40 James was dancing a cha cha to Michael Jackson’s new song, which meant he needed to meet up with L.A. Reid, which I’m sure had nothing to do with his music career. All in all, I thought the performance was fun, but I felt that James’ chest popping could’ve used some work. Yes, he was smooth, but let’s not compare him to MJ, because no. Also, was this dance shorter than all the others?

Important side note: Paul Anka was in the crowd! But before you get too excited, not that Paul Anka. Rather, the human Anka co-wrote that song and thought he’d pay the ballroom a little visit. Carrie Ann, for one, couldn’t believe it. Through her screams about Paul Anka, she said James was spectacular — but not as spectacular as freakin’ Paul Anka! — and Len thought it was a fantastic blend of cha cha and MJ. Kenny thought it was electrifying, and Bruno decided there was a bit of “Smooth Criminal” in James’ upper half, and a bit of “Bad” in his pelvic thrusts. Bravo, Bruno.

P.S. James was sick, and a perfect score is the perfect cure for nausea! If only I could find a dance competition next time I’m sick?

Commercial break secret: The trick to Carrie Ann’s hair = she has a curling iron at the judges’ panel! My hair never stood a chance.

NEXT: Maks kisses everyone

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 40/40 Meryl met with season 6 winner Kristi Yamaguchi, before entering the pressure cooker that was rehearsal this week. Maks was feeling the pressure knowing that he had the best partner in the competition. He didn’t want to let her down. Cue the “Aww!”

Can I just say that I love how Maks’ anger doesn’t scare her? She immediately goes back to making fun of him, and therefore pulls him out of his own head and helps heal his “creative blockage.” Favorite Meryl line of the night: “This isn’t helping your case for sanity.”

And spoiler: Creative blockages lead to greatness from Maks, because that jive was all kinds of ridiculous fun. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my notes said the dance was “as colorful as their clothes,” but it was! The only problem: Those fake sideburns have to go, Maks. The kisses, however? They can stay. Just ask Bruno/Kenny/everybody.

Len thought the routine was fantastic, and Kenny was amazed at their synchronization. Bruno thought it was sharp and precise, and Carrie Ann loved how Maks kissed her in the routine. More specifically, she loved that Meryl had turned him into something “warm and fuzzy.” But really, she thought Meryl’s movements were flawless.

OK, Maks. Stop celebrating and get rid of those sideburns, please!

Crowd-spotting note: Was that Florence Henderson? And why?

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: 38/40 In round 2, Candace kicked things off in a wig, probably hoping we wouldn’t recognize her after her earlier number. Mean, I know. What can I say? It’s really hot in my apartment right now, and I’m cranky. Costume-wise, this Janet Jackson number was pretty hot, but I wanted more from Candace’s hips. I thought the idea was cool, but the actual dancing didn’t blow me away.

Len thought it was crisp and tight, and Kenny was having a Broadway moment. Bruno thought she was “nasty but tasty” — gross — and Carrie Ann wanted a little more attitude in some movements.

Meanwhile, Aunt Becky wanted a 10! And somehow, Candace got her first two 10’s of the competition. Good scores or not, I’m still left feeling all “meh.”

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: 36/40 Finally, it was time for Charlie to get a little down and dirty with a samba to “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” My first note: “I see you biting that lip, Charlie!” And my second note: “Those track pants have to go.” Honestly, I liked this number, but I had a hard time focusing on the dancing, because I couldn’t get what vibe we were going for. Why was he in a tracksuit and Converses, while she was in sparkly gold heels and fringe?

Kenny thought it was clean and precise. He would’ve liked a bit more funk, and Bruno agreed. As he put it, “Hit that rhythm stick!” Carrie Ann wanted to live in happy Charlie world but admitted he was flat-footed, and Len thought it looked heavy at times, though he said Charlie deserved to be in the final.

And what does Charlie’s world look like? It looks like Charlie encouraging himself in a mirror. Double the floppy hair! Double the fun!

NEXT: And the Olympian going home is …

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: 39/40 This jazz number had me torn, honestly. I think Derek is a ridiculously talented choreographer, but I wanted to watch this get performed by two pros. I felt like it was too good for a celeb. Instead of being mesmerized by the artistry, I annoyed myself by being all “not much happened.” I can guarantee that had this been on So You Think You Can Dance, it would’ve been one of my favorite numbers.

After Tom’s comment about “Amy, Derek, and a very happy table,” the judges basically spent the next few minutes praising Derek for his amazingness. Kenny said he redefines choreography for this generation, so to sum things up: Derek can go to bed happy tonight.

Commercial break note: Are they making it rain with actual money? And can I get some of the leftovers in the mail?

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: 36/40 This country rumba thing was not my cup of tea. First of all, if you’re going to go country, go country. What was that blue metallic stuff? It felt like she was the Little Mermaid and he was a confused cowboy. You can’t have it both ways, guys. As a girl who grew up in Virginia, I’m just telling you how it is.

Call me crazy, but I didn’t love James in this routine. I thought he was a little stiff, and I don’t get what people are talking about when they compliment his hips. For me, the real winner of this number was the random hottie the camera panned to in the crowd. I’d like to edit my request: I’d like some of that leftover “making it rain” money and that guy’s number. Thanks, ABC!

Carrie Ann liked James’ hips but called him out on needing to extend all the way through his weird hands, which set off something on the judges’ panel, because we spent the next two minutes discussing how to fix his hands. That aside, they loved it a lot more than I did.

Although I did love how Erin 100 percent did not believe James’ supposed Southern background. Perhaps Erin and I see eye-to-eye more than I even realized.

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 40/40 And we’re back to my favorites! At first, I was worried about Meryl’s long skirt for this waltz, but I should’ve known she’d be fine. Meryl and Maks’ chemistry on this number was out of this world. I’ve never wanted them to kiss more in my life, and based on Bruno’s reaction when they almost did, it’s safe to say I’m not sailing that ‘ship alone! Also, how cute was their high five after they finished? Ugh. Twue wuv.

Len loved the number, and Kenny was blown away by how they left nothing on the floor but a little sweat. Bruno made another movie reference, and Carrie Ann — with her hair full of secrets (or probably bugs) — loved watching the room watch Meryl. Then she mirrored my sentiments perfectly when she screamed, “You better not go home!”

But in case you’ve forgotten, Tom was here to remind you: An Olympian will go home tonight! Did you hear that? An Olympian!

Final note: Maks in suspenders? Yes, please. Maks in suspenders talking about how Meryl had changed him for the better? I can’t even handle it.

And in a highly stressful elimination, Charlie and Sharna left the competition, after which Charlie quickly declared himself #TeamMeryl. I’m not going to lie: I’m not happy with this elimination. I’m glad Meryl is still around, but I’m over watching Candace and James with their hips that lie to me every single week. Do you all agree?

Here are the contestants’ total scores from the night, which will be combined with your votes next week:

Meryl: 80

Amy: 78

James: 76

Candace: 72

I’ll see you all at the finals. If you need me before then, I’ll be listening to Queen’s greatest hits and making sure my hips don’t lie.

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