Our stars tackle three dances on the road to the finals.

By Maggie Fremont
November 24, 2015 at 07:24 PM EST
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Credit: ABC

After last week’s drama-filled Dancing With the Stars outing, I’m sure we’re all asking ourselves the same question: Is Carlos still crying? Oh, I’m sorry, I meant: What does Tamar’s early exit from the ballroom (due to health reasons) mean for the four remaining semifinalists? Only time and Tom Bergeron will tell. Good on Tamar for taking care of herself, but it is a bummer that the timing couldn’t have worked out more in Alexa’s favor — especially after she hoisted herself up to the top of the leader board with two perfect scores.

But, what we lost last week in two excellent celebrity dancers, we gain this week with three rounds of pure dancing joy: An individual round, a dance-off for bonus points, and one of my favorites, the trio round. They say good things come in threes, right? Well, let’s find out if that holds true in the ballroom.

THE INDIVIDUAL ROUND

Bindi and Derek

Salsa | “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”

Has there ever been a more perfect pairing of dancer and song choice? Bindi “It’s raining happiness” Irwin uses her salsa to remind the judges exactly what she brings to this competition: pure joy. Although Julianne, Bruno, and Carrie Ann agree that Bindi is a bright spot on the dance floor, they were all missing some of the “down and dirty” hip action that salsa usually takes on. They want more edge! But you know who thinks Bindi did just fine and couldn’t be prouder? Her little brother, Robert. We’re 10 minutes in, and I’m already crying. It’s going to be a long night, people!

Judges’ Score: 27

Alek and Lindsay

Waltz |“America the Beautiful”

Alek’s friends and family confirm what we all suspected: Alek goes after all his endeavors at full speed. He never does anything halfway, and that’s become very evident throughout the season. It’s no secret that out of the four couples remaining, Alek has the least amount of technical skill. But all of the extra work he’s putting in to compensate really pays off tonight. Alek’s patriotic and insanely elegant waltz turns out to be his best dance yet. The judges notice his improvement in his turns and award him a perfect 30. I’m still finding Alek a little stiff out on the floor, but the dude looks great in a suit, so I’ll ride this high.

Judges’ Score: 30

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Carlos and Witney

Contemporary | “Drag Me Down”

Update: Carlos has in fact stopped crying since Alexa’s elimination last week. In fact, that blow has only re-ignited his desire to win this competition — and it really shows in his contemporary routine. Not only did all of his rope work put his “muscle power to good use,” according to Bruno, but that move where he held Witney with ONE ARM as she ran in slo-mo was a stunner. Carrie Ann and Julianne had mixed feelings on the routine, and Julianne wants the pair to work on their chemistry should they return next week. But Bruno was a huge fan of Carlos’ powerful number and awards the guy a 10. I’m a little surprised the ladies would score Carlos under Alek, but I’m not the one holding the paddles (well, not an official one, anyway).

Judges’ Score: 28

Nick and Sharna

Tango | “Scars”

One thing we’re learning with these packages tonight is that most of our celebs are the same on the dance floor as they are in life. For Nick, that means sometimes he’s his own worst enemy. Nick suffers a few mistakes with his footing and totally loses it in the middle of his dance. The only thing bringing him back? That angel partner of his, Sharna. SHE’S GOT YOU, NICK. Seriously, I think I need a clip of Sharna winking at me to play on a loop any time I’m feeling down about myself. The two finish their tango, but they’re both a bit disheartened. The judges aren’t worried about Nick, though! He has two more rounds to go, and he’s proven himself to be a comeback kid time and time again. Plus, his little bro, Aaron Carter, has taken a time out from Aaron’s Party to support his brother. He believes in you, Nick — we all do!

Judges’ Score: 24

THE DANCE-OFF ROUND

Carlos and Witney vs. Alek and Lindsay

Cha-Cha | “Fun”

Alek and Lindsay take the floor first in hopes of winning those three-extra bonus points, and the judges’ earlier comments about Alek excelling in ballroom over Latin dances ring true. He doesn’t look as comfortable in this routine. Oh well, he knows where his bread is buttered, and he rips open his jacket in front of the judges’ table, assuring us all that his chest is indeed still waxed. Carlos, too, knows that a little booty-shaking won’t hurt his scores, and overall, he and Witney look much more in control during their last minute cha-cha. Carrie Ann was surprisingly impressed with Alek, but overall this was an easy decision.

Winner: Carlos and Witney

NEXT: Bindi and Nick go head-to-head

Bindi and Derek vs. Nick and Sharna

Samba | “Lean On”

Bindi and Derek come out strong. After being chided for lack of hip action in her salsa, Bindi makes sure the judges know she can shake it with the best of them. Carrie Ann bows down to Queen Bindi. Although the judges seem to have made their choice before even seeing Nick and Sharna, the Backstreet Boy, too, comes out full force. He needs this, you guys. The chemistry between Nick and Sharna is intense, and against anyone else, these two would’ve claimed those points, but this is Bindi’s world, and we’re all just living in it (that’s not a bad thing).

Winner: Bindi and Derek

THE TRIO ROUND

Bindi and Derek with Mark Ballas

Jazz

Bindi pulls the dream team of Derek and Mark for her trio dance. Now, Mark never mentions the awesome moniker he shared with us all last week — Kill the Vibe Derek — but it’s implied, always. If this is killing the vibe, though, I’d like more of it, please. We all know Derek and Mark are genius choreographers and, when paired together, can come up with some pretty kooky (also: amazing) routines, but Bindi is game for everything these guys throw at her — even a lightbulb attached to a rope that she needs to fling around her body (has that sentence ever been uttered before in history?). I have goosebumps the entire time, and the judges feel the same way. The dance was intricate and inventive, and Bindi held her own between the two pros.

Judges’ Score: 30

Total for the Night: 60

Alek and Lindsay with Emma Slater

Argentine Tango

Without any hesitation, Alek chooses Emma to join him and Lindsay for their trio dance because “she’s such a good dancer.” Sure, Alek, whatever you say. Oh, showmances (or is this real? WE NEED ANSWERS, ERIN.) The three dance a sexy Argentine tango, and for the first half of the song, it seems like Alek really is in control of his two blond babes. However, as the judges point out, he begins to lose steam by the end of the routine. Julianne wishes it had been a bit more consistent, because it was so dynamic at the start. Regardless, Alek has had a great night — and that’s super important as they head into the finals.

Judges’ Score: 27

Total for the Night: 57

Carlos and Witney with Karina Smirnoff

Charleston

Witney selects Karina for the trio dance, and I couldn’t be happier. The ballroom isn’t the same without Karina! Last time these ladies paired up (with season 17’s runner-up Corbin Bleu) they scored a perfect 30. Can they do it again? Well, almost. Their Charleston is fun and infectious, but it just misses the mark. Though their three-tiered spin was a treat, I was never really wowed. The judges think Carlos was the star of that number, which is the most important thing on trio night, and applaud Wit and Karina for showcasing him so well.

Judges’ Score: 29

Total for the Night: 60

Nick and Sharna with Peta Murgatroyd

Salsa

Everybody wins in this trio: Sharna gets to dance with her bestie, Nick is the filling in an Aussie sandwich, and Peta (another pro I’ve missed!) gets to dance with the guy she had taped up on her wall as a teenager. Dreams do come true! Sharna prepares her partner for a tough, competitive salsa, and once again, Nick has trouble getting out of his head — in rehearsals. On the dance floor, Nick is a changed man. He has so much swag and is really leading his gals. Most important: He looks like he’s having fun out there again. This was the dance of the night, and I’m not just saying that because of the extended crotch grab (but that didn’t hurt). The judges agree: Carrie Ann thinks this is the most solid Nick has looked on the ballroom floor, and Bruno was thrilled to see Nick make his comeback. Nick finds himself at the bottom of the leader board, but at least he saved his best dance for last.

Judges’ Score: 30 (LIKE THERE WAS ANY QUESTION)

Total for the Night: 54

Tom and Erin make the four couples line up for elimination and declare that Nick and Sharna and Bindi and Derek are in jeopardy — but they’re not fooling anyone (except maybe Nick, who looked panic-stricken). Since Tamar had to withdraw from the competition, all four couples are safe and moving on to next week’s finals!

So, dance fans, which was the best dance of the night? Who was your favorite trio team? And do we all still think it’s coming down to Bindi versus Nick, or is there another finalist that shouldn’t be overlooked?

Episode Recaps

Dancing With the Stars

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