Marlee Matlin is eliminated with a touching tribute from Tom and an inappropriate song; plus, Derek and Shannon lash out at the judges, and the hoedown gets a do-over
Marlee Matlin, Dancing With the Stars

”Dancing With the Stars” elimination recap

Hey, eliminated star Marlee Matlin. Thanks for all your time and effort, and for providing inspiration to millions week after week on Dancing With the Stars. Now guess what! All you are is dust in the wind! Or so the Harold Wheeler Ensemble seemed to convey with that somewhat macabre song choice for Marlee’s exit. (Is it wrong that I was somewhat comforted she couldn’t hear it?) All in all, Marlee’s was perhaps the classiest and most tear-jerking goodbye yet. I know, I know — I always say people’s exits are ”classy.” Why ”tear-jerking”? You know why! Because Tom Bergeron, MVP of Life, waltzed outside the host-contestant continuum to gently tell his close friend Marlee, ”I am so proud of you,” before nudging her to the center of the ballroom to stand and sway. Tell me that didn’t set you off!

Neither Mario nor Karina looked surprised to join Marlee and Fabian in the bottom two. They left the overwrought emotional performances of the evening to Cristián and Marissa, who endured an absolutely painful backstage Samantha segment that ran way too long, but since the show is liiiiiiiive!, no one could do anything about it. Any time Cristián and Marissa were engaging in physical communication (hops, hugs, various forms of fives, etc.) was fine. Everything that was spoken was just a disaster. Except Cristián’s ”Uh, Len’s butt? Uh, yeah,” because who doesn’t say that whenever they’re caught off-guard?

Something horrifically, dementedly dramatic finally happened on a results show this season! Beloved young pro Derek lashed out against the judges during his backstage confessional with Shannon. In the voice of about a 12-year-old (Shannon usually sounds 5), Derek complained about Bruno and the others calling Shannon out on her lack of hip action: ”What about the heel leads happening out there…the feet coming off the floor, the horrific, demented lines people are making out there?” he asked. ”And you’re giving them 9s and 10s. Are you kidding me?” (It’s worth noting that Derek’s picked up that last rhetorical quip from Shannon, who spat it out mid-bawl. Aww. Samesies!)

Anyway, yikes. Shannon and Derek both apologized during Tuesday’s show, explaining that they were just caught up in an emotional moment, one that came so naturally to them because they’re really passionate about what they’re doing. Derek might have been taken more seriously if his cheeks hadn’t been splattered with goopy, fake, red kisses. I’m guessing people will disagree about the awfulness level of Derek’s rant. I’ve always enjoyed him, so I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, with the understanding that he caught some of Shannon’s frenetic energy and felt a duty to protect his partner. Everyone does stupid stuff; his just happened to be on camera and totally out of character for him (or so we’ve been led to believe). If anything, the outburst was a sign from Ballroom Heaven that they should cut the showmance crap and focus on the dancing instead. (That way, Derek could stop deluding Shannon into thinking she’s a really awesome dancer who deserves more than the already very high score of 24.)

Another big issue is that the couple (particularly Shannon) has to find a way to not interpret the judges’ critiques — which are always inconsistent and never perfectly fair; see last night’s ”Judgment Day” filler segment — as personal attacks. Shannon seemed to have chosen the one Carrie Ann comment that struck a nerve and then just hip-lessly scuttled down the hall with it, dragging her supportive partner into the billowing folds of her pastel-pink quandary of sequins and tears. I bet if we inspected that dress closely enough after their backstage scene, the sequins would now resemble tears. You really can make anything seem like something else if you think about it hard enough. Oh, look, I’ve just mentally willed this paragraph to almost be over. See? So Derek and Shannon: Get over it, move on, and try to remember that you’re ultimately competing for a giant ball of glitter.

NEXT: Hoedown and dirty

Group dance again! Of course Len had to pick Monday night’s laughable group hoedown for the encore performance. That live dance directly followed the taped footage of Derek’s little rant, so his convenient starting pose atop the judges’ table gave him the opportunity to shake hands with DANCMSTR, and DANCMSTR the opportunity to pretend to pound Derek’s head against the surface. Some foreshadowing of what’ll go down when Derek faces some of the celebs he thinks have ”horrific, demented lines,” perhaps? (I hope not; Derek’s poor neck, rife with destroyed muscles and at this point likely held together by a single wound-up piece of fringe, would probably snap.) A few tweaks on Hoedown, Round 2: Cristián (I think! They all look the same to me!) wiped out face-first on the floor after leapfrogging over Marissa; the camera crew did choose a different angle for the big moment involving Marissa’s crotch; and Jason and Edyta got behind after their somewhat botched lift and then never really caught up. It was actually pretty cute.

”Newly engaged Ashlee Simpson” (and everyone can stop calling her that right now) (I know, they won’t) sang a song called ”Boys.”…I’m sorry, I can’t bring myself to write any more about her than that. But it was great to see So You Think You Can Dance stud/Carrie Ann loverboy Artem Chigvintsev and Alec’s brother Genya Mazo, who danced with partners Lilit Avagyan and Anna Tovbin but also did a lot of hip-hop-esque solo work involving prop handkerchiefs. The Riverdance segment was much more satisfying for me, partly because whenever they perform, I cannot believe what human feet are doing on my screen in real time, and mostly because the bamboo-looking fireballs lining the ballroom floor made the whole set look like a festive tiki hut. And, the principal dude (Michael Patrick Gallagher) wore a green outfit featuring sequins, and after a minute of his flailing-legged magic, the principal lady (Alana Mallon) fluttered out, decked in a green outfit featuring fringe. When their bodies collided, so did my entire DWTS-based belief system. It was hot.

The kids — now 13-and-under — were more awesome than ever, and seeing two of them get ”sent home” after a few minutes on screen was less of a blow when the evictees involved didn’t need Tom to get down on his knees in order to converse with them. The first couple, Brandon and Brittany, were my faves because I thought their cha-cha choreography was just incredible. Carrie Ann even hinted that both of them could become DWTS professionals someday, which was pretty bold considering they’ve just hit puberty and the producers have little to no idea how hot they’ll turn out a few years down the line. (I’m kidding. Look at the pros!) But Austin and Liza also won me over with their interview segment, during which the vertically challenged Austin defended the ballroom’s honor against those big jocks who think they’re cool: ”I’m the kid who ballroom dances. Who’s gonna get some more girls in the end?” Loved that. Plus, I have a permanent soft spot in my big old nougat-encrusted heart for any girl who’s always walking around with a boy who’s a good amount shorter than her. Raise your hand if you’ve been there! Now pretend to pat the boy’s head. I’m totally the only one doing this right now, huh?

Really embarrassing confession of the week: I didn’t know if Carrie Ann and Artem were still dating, so I went to Carrie Ann’s MySpace page to see if her status said ”In a relationship.” Whew! That research was exhaustive.

What do you think? Did Marlee have another week or two in her? Were Shannon and Derek understandably venting or way out of line? And do you think their backstage disaster will lose them a lot of fans?

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