Spooky! Scary! Sparkly! Happy Halloween from the ballroom, dance lovers! I almost missed the evening’s festivities because I’ve been watching videos of Val, Keo, and Mark doing that MC Hammer dance on a constant loop since last week. Alas, there was no Hammertime tonight, but there was plenty of ghoulish fun.
Seriously, Dancing With the Stars keeps Halloween looking right and tight. Halloween in the ballroom is all gorgeously grotesque costumes, legs that don’t quit, and fog — so much fog. Whereas Halloween in the real world is just me cuddling up with a bottle of Riesling, hiding from trick-or-treaters, and watching The Holiday because guess what, calendars: YOU DON’T OWN ME.
Dancing With the Stars was made for Halloween — or was Halloween made for DWTS? — either way, tonight was brimming with all the vampires, werewolves, and…Edward Scissorhands one could ask for. So, whose dances were scarily good, and whose were just plain scary? To the ballroom!
Nick and Sharna
Argentine Tango | “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence
Nick is still a little bummed about just missing a perfect score last week (I’m still bummed too, that Disco was life), but he’s determined to use Carrie Ann’s tough critique, as well as some tricky scheduling issues, as motivation for his Frankenstein-themed Argentine tango. After all, “practice makes perfect,” right, Nick? Er — not exactly. The judges found his Argentine tango a bit clunky. They praised his commitment and his big booty (YA HEARD), and Carrie Ann was right: The performance really picked up in the second half, after Nick worked out his nerves and got down to business with an insane lift sequence. But overall, Bruno wanted a sharper, more surprising routine. Not all was lost though. Carrie Ann invented the term “Franken-sexy,” and fingers crossed it becomes a national craze.
Judges’ Score: 24/30
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Hayes and Emma
Waltz | “Once Upon a Dream” by Lana Del Rey
If you would’ve told me seven weeks ago that a “Vine Star” would be half of one of my favorite pairings on DWTS, I would’ve said “you know I don’t speak tween”. But seriously, Hayes and Emma are so endearing. Emma just wants to protect Hayes’ spirit, and he called her his best friend! HIS BEST FRIEND, YOU GUYS. The two dance an elegantly dark Viennese waltz, and the judges commend Hayes on the improvement in his top line and his chemistry with Emma (um, duh). I would’ve given the kid a 10 solely for rocking that beard weave. Tyra would be so proud. America’s Dad Tom makes sure Hayes knows how confident he looked out there, and Julianne admits she got chills. It definitely wasn’t his best dance (Remember that contemporary? More of that, please), but Hayes shouldn’t be worried about improving.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Alexa and Mark
Paso Doble | “Hora Zero” by Rodrigo y Gabriela
Man, everyone is really feeling low after last week. Perk up, people — dancing is supposed to be fun! Alexa’s definitely in the deepest shame spiral of our celebs, after her time spent in jeopardy, but never fear, girl: Mark Ballas promises to be there to support her through it all. There’s so much hugging between these two this week — who do they think they are, Hayes and Emma?
Alexa has nothing to worry about though: Her Edward Scissorhands-inspired paso doble is my favorite dance of the night. It is the first routine where the staging and costumes enhance the dance, rather than detract from it. Oh, to be a dancing shrub in a Mark Ballas routine! A girl can dream. Carrie Ann is right: Alexa looked relaxed and out of her head on the dance floor, and the section while she was surrounded by those dancing shrubs was on point. The judges noticed a few missteps, but WHAT DO THEY KNOW? Oh, right…
Judges’ Score: 27/30
NEXT: Welcome to Tamar’s Twisted Funhouse
Tamar & Valentin
Foxtrot | “People Are Strange” by The Doors
Tamar may be the only one feeling more confident after her famous dance routine last week, and she’s brave enough to declare herself the best dancer in the competition. More important, her partnership with Val is in a better place than it’s ever been. Unfortunately, this chemistry doesn’t translate to tonight’s routine. Our three esteemed judges all found Team ValenTay’s funhouse foxtrot a bit underwhelming. The two were out of sync and missed some passes. Tamar is not enthused. The judges are feeling the tricks more than the treats this Halloween, huh? Listen, it wasn’t the pair’s best dance, but I don’t care what else you do in your routine: If a group of dancers comes passionately marching toward me (is there a technical term for this? There should be), I am so in. The judges’ low scores aren’t going to bring Tay down though. Ms. Braxton continues to employ a philosophy we can all get behind: Fake it ’til you make it.
Judges’ Score: 24/30
Dancing PSA: We get a quick taste of the next Dancing With the Stars tour, as the pros going out on the road dance us back into the show. AND THEN VAL TAKES OFF HIS SHIRT. Are ticket sales down or something? I’M NOT COMPLAINING.
Andy and Allison
Paso Doble | “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson
History will now be divided by the time before we saw a paso doble done to a Marilyn Manson song and the time after. I’m so happy to currently be living in the latter. Julianne asks what it says about her that Andy’s twisted-vampire paso turned her on. You know what it says, Jules? It says you’re a woman with a functioning libido. That was hot! Andy and Allison grew frustrated during rehearsals as they worked to bring out Andy’s aggressive side, but, damn, did all the frustration pay off. Bruno harped on the lack of traditional paso doble shaping, but the ladies didn’t mind. Andy’s been on an upswing the past few weeks, and it’s great to see him (and Allison) inching their way toward the top of the leader board. He’ll need to keep his confidence level up, though, if he wants to claim the No. 1 spot.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Bindi and Derek
Argentine Tango | “Cry Little Sister” by Gerard McMann
“Don’t confuse kindness with weakness… I’m nice but strong.” TEENAGE GIRLS, PAY ATTENTION. This is who you should be looking up to. Like Leah so perfectly put it: “I can’t with you.” I CAN’T WITH BINDI. She tries to scare people by jumping out and yelling “scary noise!” C’mon, people! This girl is great. Though I stand by my opinion that her Dirty Dancing rumba was over-scored last week, she fully committed to her evil vampiress character this week, so I can’t fault the judges for awarding her Argentine tango a perfect 30. I’d give it a 10 for the freaky-arms-coming-out-of-walls work alone. But also I’d subtract one point for that horrific neck-breaking sound effect. Derek: NO. Bruno called the performance an “Argentine tango master class,” and comparing this dance to Nick and Sharna’s routine, you really could see the difference between the sharp legs and tight movements the judges were harping on. Bite on, you little vampire child, you!
Judges’ Score: 30/30
Alek and Lindsay
Viennese Waltz | “Haunted” by Beyoncé
Hell hath no fury like an American Hero scorned. Alek felt under-scored for his Jailhouse Rock routine, and he isn’t afraid to show it. Carrie Ann’s rather brilliant piece of advice last week was to have Alek work with Artem — a pro who encapsulates that strong, masculine leading man (why wasn’t he a pro partner this season, again? #BringArtemBack) — and Alek and Lindsay decide to give it a whirl. Artem passes on some great advice about intensity and attacking your dance. And attack it, Alek does! I’m still not 100 percent sold on calling Alek a contender at this point, and I didn’t find Alek’s facial expressions as dynamic as some of the judges, but they were right in that this Viennese waltz was much closer to the Alek America fell in love with at the beginning of the competition.
Judges’ Score: 25/30
NEXT: The Phantom of the Ballroom is here
Carlos and Witney
Paso Doble | “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff
Oh, Carlos PenaVega, when will you learn? Never say that you think you were over-scored on camera. And never EVER ask for easier choreography. Wit’s in it to win it, and you should be too, bro. But I get the fear of incorporating a prop into a dance. Capes are hard! And I only wear them, not dance with them. Turns out, Carlos has nothing to worry about — his Phantom of the Opera-themed paso doble wows the judges — well, from what they could see through that fog. I warned you about the fog! (“We’re a little bit of smoke away from this being a radio show!” Oh, Tom, so much smoke humor tonight.) Bruno praised the theatrics, Carrie Ann loved the mask work, and Julianne thought he was in his element in this style of dance. Carlos was worried about Alexa knocking him out of the competition (Are you guys married? I hadn’t heard), but he rallies and climbs just past his wife on the leader board.
Judges’ Score: 28/30
The Team Dances
Finally, we’re treated to the first team dances of the season. It’s always fun to see how the team captains (in this case, Bindi and Nick) make their selections. Nick grabs the heavy-hitters (Tamar, Andy, and Hayes), while Bindi goes…for the short people? Even Bindi knows you can’t split up the PenaVegas! The squads are pretty evenly matched, so it’ll come down to performance.
Team Nightmare: Nick and Sharna, Tamar and Val, Andy and Allison, Hayes and Emma
“This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Val describes the concept for their dance as “a spooky-ass dinner and we’re monsters.” Please, tell me more, sir! More important, how does one get on the guest list for this dinner party? Because this performance is INCREDIBLE. Maybe I rewound it to re-watch Sharna and Nick’s solo in awe. Sharna is Queen, y’all. Bow down. The dance was so funky, fun, and flawlessly crisp. There was no weak link and the group sections were stellar. The judges are impressed. Like Tom, we all want more. Bruno calls it “the best of Broadway,” and Julianne thinks it’s one of the best team dances in DWTS history. AGREE.
Judges’ Score: 30/30
Dancing PSA: We need to keep Leah Remini on DWTS. Her interviews may not be the most hard-hitting (or coherent), but she’s always entertaining. Also, she asked Nick to show us his underwear, and that’s just one sister helping out all of womankind.
Team Who You Gonna Call?: Bindi and Derek, Alexa and Mark, Carlos and Witney, Alek and Lindsay
“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
Team Who You Gonna Call? has a complicated name and an even more complicated task ahead of them. They know how great Team Nightmare was, and even Derek’s unending Team Dance winning streak isn’t enough to instill the confidence the team needs right now. Maybe some of Bindi’s smack talk will help? Nope. Even Tough Bindi is Polite Bindi (“You guys will probably do a great job!”). The Ghostbusters have great energy and do incorporate some fun ballroom moves — also, props to Carlos for lifting Witney WHILE ON WHEELS — but, the group work just isn’t as tight as Team Nightmare, and the judges notice. The Reign of Team Derek is over.
Judges’ Score: 28/30
It’s been all fun and games tonight, but there is some business to attend to: Someone is going home. Eliminations are tough at this point in the competition; no one left is dead weight, and I honestly would miss any pair that’s sent home. I thought Halloween was supposed to be fun? This is a real bummer, but…
Eliminated: Hayes and Emma
No! Just when I was learning what Vine is! Thankfully America’s Dad Tom rushes in to remind Hayes that he was going out on a night where he really shone. THAT JUST MAKES IT WORSE, DAD. It’s obvious the whole group really loves this guy, as they rally around Hayes for a final solo dance. And now I’m writing a sentence I never imagined possible: “We’re all crying through one last raptor dance.” Oh, Dancing With the Stars, you’re such a rollercoaster of emotions!
So, did the right couple go home? Is Bindi running away with this thing? And where do I sign up to be a Mark Ballas shrub? And don’t forget to watch Derek’s video blog below: