A front-runner emerges as the first celeb is sent home

By Maggie Fremont
March 29, 2016 at 02:52 PM EDT
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There are certain things you can count on during DWTS Latin Night: people being intimidated by sexiness, steamy partner work, skimpy outfits, bongos, awkward rubbing, not awkward rubbing, and lots and lots of temperature puns. The season 22 installment of Latin Night did not disappoint.

Although the second week of competition arrived with the built-in drama of discovering which celebrity would be sent packing first, if you’re anything like me, you spent your afternoon more concerned about whether or not Mark Ballas would be able to dance after suffering a back injury in rehearsals. You guys: MARK BALLAS. Who else would voluntarily (and enthusiastically) dress as a giant bunny, a duck hunter, or Edward Scissorhands for the art of dance? No one! Respect the Ballas, is all I’m saying.

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Tom refuses to give away Mark’s dance status, because he’s a showman first and foremost. So we all need to band together and put it out of our minds because there’s some dancing to get to.

Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe

Samba | “Burn Up the Dance” by Dillion Francis, Skrillex

Jodie got the memo about the tiny costumes for Latin Night, and the news isn’t helping her constantly increasing stress levels. Most people would be happy with a 20 for their first night in the ballroom — lord knows Geraldo would — but not Jodie. Would you expect anything less from Stephanie Tanner? Thankfully, Jodie has Keo in her corner. He calms her down by cooing something about getting rid of desperate energy, but I’m only partially sure about that because when Keo starts talking, I only hear harp music. Whatever he said, it worked, because Jodie comes out and owns the dance floor with a fun samba. The judges can tell she’s feeling more comfortable, but Carrie Ann and Bruno both want Jodie to get out of her head a little more.

Judges’ Score: 21/30

Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani

Argentine Tango |“Don’t” by Ed Sheeran

When Tony’s happy, I’m happy. And after his debut with Marla last week, Tony is happy. He admits to being impressed with his partner, and I hope Marla knows that some women (for instance, me) have dreamt of hearing those words from Tony Dovolani all of their boring non-anti-oxidant lives. Marla admits to being intimidated by the inherently sexy Latin Night, but her powerful Argentine Tango says otherwise. Seriously though, those splits had me googling where I could buy Tigernuts. The judges were equally impressed with Marla’s continued ability to infuse each of her dances with elegance, but felt the routine was lacking the intimacy and grittiness the Argentine Tango is known for.

Judges’ Score: 20/30

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Geraldo Rivera and Edyta Sliwinska

Salsa |“Ran Kan Kan” by Tito Puente

After last week’s pathetically bad performance, Edyta wants to focus on playing up the story of their salsa. Unfortunately for all of us, the story is about a President Donald Trump. Is not even the ballroom safe? Let’s talk positives: Geraldo has a great attitude, he knows his limits, and he’s not afraid to simply do the best he can. If you look closely, you’ll notice that none of those positives have anything to do with actual dancing. The judges commend Geraldo’s spirit, and Carrie Ann notes some improvement in rhythm, but the performance was all entertainment and no technique. Despite adding in some actual content this week, Geraldo ends up facing those dreaded 4 paddles once again.

Judges’ Score: 13/30

NEXT: It’s time to see how Mark Ballas is doing

Paige VanZant and Alan Bersten

Salsa |“Danza Kuduro” by Don Omar featuring Lucenzo

Well, you guys, Mark Ballas is out of commission for the evening. On Latin Night of all nights! He looks so sad up there in the balcony that I have to look away. Though he’s still waiting for test results to see if he’s out for the rest of the season, Paige seems to do just fine with her last-minute partner replacement, Alan. Everyone says it, but seriously, kudos to the guy for jumping in two hours before showtime to lead Paige to the top of the leaderboard. It took me almost two hours to decide what I wanted for lunch today, so I have crazy respect. He and Paige look great together and their lifts are incredible. Carrie Ann comments on the power behind Paige’s dancing, and Bruno loves the energy. He cautions her to keep it all in control, but no one is really listening because DID YOU SEE THOSE LIFTS?

Judges’ Score: 24/30

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess

Rumba |“Adorn” by Miguel

True confession: Roughly 90 percent of pre-taped packages about people learning the rumba make me very uncomfortable. Antonio and Sharna’s rehearsal package is most definitely the rule, not the exception. True, Queen Sharna invited Antonio to invade her personal space, but I haven’t had enough wine yet to listen to two people who’ve just met talk about dirty dancing. What is this? Last call at the local dive bar? As for the actual dirty dancing, it receives mixed reviews. Antonio and Sharna are easy to watch together, and it’s obvious that they enjoy their partnership, but Bruno calls Antonio out for his sometimes staccato movements — the rumba needs to be fluid. Despite the routine’s flaws, all three judges are positive that Antonio has a real dancer inside of him, he just needs to let it out.

Judges’ Score: 19/30

Kim Fields and Sasha Farber

Salsa |“Conga” by Gloria Estefan

Added to the quickly growing list of Reasons Why Kim Fields is The Best: Kim knows that you can’t have Latin Night without at least one Gloria Estefan jam. While she’s trying to embrace the Estefan spirit, the fast footwork and spins on spins on spins start to bring Kim down. Thankfully, Sasha has a surprise in store that would replace tears of sadness with tears of joy on any human who has ever wished to take a ride on the Miami Sound Machine: a video chat with Gloria! The plan works, and Kim bursts out into the ballroom looking super hot and obviously enjoying herself. Sure, she has a little footwork mishap and seems lost afterward, but none of the judges can deny that Kim is a natural performer.

Judges’ Score: 19/30

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd

Rumba |“Stole the Show” by Parson James

How many times have you watched Peta and Nyle’s cha cha from last week? Go ahead, this is a safe space. And if your answer isn’t in the double digits than really I should be the one who’s embarrassed (but I’m not). Nyle set out to prove that he had talent and wouldn’t ever be accused of getting the sympathy vote. Mission accomplished. Now comes the hard part: Keeping that level of skill up and pushing even further. The judges are pretty split on Nyle and Peta’s rumba, Len calls it too hectic, Bruno likes the intensity, but, as with Antonio, he wants more fluidity of movement, and Carrie Ann finds the whole thing stunning, albeit a bit too strong for the music. I, however, could watch Nyle and Peta dance forever. Thank Yeezus for YouTube.

Judges’ Score: 20/30

Mischa Barton and Artem Chigvintsev

Cha Cha |“Pata Pata” by Miriam Makeba

Tom refers to Mischa’s cha cha as a “dance of redemption.” So when Artem asks for less drama and more fun, you know the guy is wasting his breath. Dude, this is Marissa Cooper. Just dance to “Hide and Seek” every week and let’s call it a day, okay? But seriously, it is tough to see so many celebs giving it their all even when things go poorly — ahem, Geraldo — and then watch Mischa just shut down when she’s frustrated. Mama Carrie Ann tries to give some words of encouragement after Mischa and Artem’s offbeat cha cha — Mischa smiled, is the jist of it — but the girl is so down on herself, she pretty much walks off before Erin can even give out the pair’s voting number. Carrie Ann’s right though, Mischa: All we want is to love you.

Judges’ Score: 15/30

NEXT: The coolest taco cart in town

Von Miller and Witney Carson

Cha Cha | “Ain’t Too Cool” by LunchMoney Lewis

There’s lots of talk about Von paying Witney $100 for every minute he’s late, or every time he farts, but I seriously can’t concentrate on that cute package when there is something infinitely more important to talk about: TOM’S TACOS IS REAL AND IT IS SPECTACULAR. This can’t be the first time America’s Dad Tom Bergeron has made it into a dance, can it? Help me, Ballroom Babes! As Tom slings tacos in the background, Von and Witney attempt to get down and dirty with their cha cha. There’s still not a ton of attack in Von’s dancing, and Carrie Ann puts it perfectly when she tells Von that he’s dancing too small for such a big guy. Then Len tries to compare the dance to tacos, in a negative way, and I am, for the first time in my life, questioning my love for Len Goodman.

Judges’ Score: 20/30

Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold

Salsa |“Echa Pa’lla” by Pitbull

More true confessions: I’m a sucker for a Latin dance done in the round. I’m also a sucker for a beautiful man dressed head-to-toe in blue. Hey, the heart wants what the heart wants. What Wanya wants, however, is to go out into the ballroom and look the part of a dancer. He does this and then some. Talk about being a sturdy frame for your partner — the tricks in this dance looked simultaneously impossible and just so, so easy. Bruno finally finds the smooth armography he’s been searching for all night, and Len appreciates a dance full of rhythm and energy. After two weeks of high praise from the judges, Wanya cements his place as a front-runner in the competition.

Judges’ Score: 24/30

Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff

Paso Doblé |“Buster Voodoo” by Rodrigo y Gabriela

Doug is the first to admit that he has a lot of fight in him, but this week he’s channeling one special fight in particular: his son’s fight with autism. He’s continually inspired by his family. I know, I know: swoon. Last week, Len told Doug he thought the masculine, powerful paso would be Doug’s dance. Oh, that Len. He’s right, of course! Okay, I’m back on Len. Doug confidently attacks the dance, and he’s much more assured of himself out on the floor. Doug’s always willing to go for it, even though he doesn’t have the most talent. Maybe those younger footballers should start eating their Flutie Flakes. (Can you tell I really want to bring Flutie Flakes back?)

Judges’ Score: 20/30

Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Samba |“Sorry” by Justin Bieber

Ginger and Val want to work on Ginger’s “swag factor,” but no matter how hard they may try, or how long Ginger may gyrate, the girl just can’t kick her adorableness. As Carrie Ann astutely points out, ain’t nothing wrong with that. Sexiness and swag is just owning who you are. Carrie Ann is feeling very Mama Bear tonight, and I’m into it. Their samba was fun, full of energy, and featured Val in one of my favorite ballroom outfit combos (blazer, no shirt). Ginger may have slipped up a bit, but she never showed it — the true mark of a celeb who can go the distance in this competition.

Judges’ Score: 21/30

For all the talk of drama on Latin Night, season 22’s first elimination held few surprises. Mischa and Artem, Geraldo and Edyta, and Doug and Karina, all low on the leaderboard last week, found themselves under the ever-intimidating lights of jeopardy. Finally, Tom announced that the first couple to be eliminated this season is Geraldo and Edyta (and her legs).

For all that Geraldo lacked in dance skills, at least he genuinely looked like he was having fun. But would it have been better to have put Mischa out of her misery? Anyone else counting down to the as-promised Facts of Life tribute next week? Remember to bring the tissues, as “Most Memorable Year” is basically just an excuse to make people forget about your lack of dance skills by forcing them to hear your Sob Story. Fun!  

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