The celebs channel pop culture icons for some top-notch performances
Credit: ABC

All right, Dancing With the Stars, I see what you’re doing here. Trying to distract me by way of an opening number featuring sparkly dresses and men wearing shirts with glitter collars? Nice try! I’m still acutely aware that there’s a double elimination in our future. With the leader board constantly changing, any of our remaining couples could be headed home. It’s all tough cuts from here on out. I’ll probably be crying, but what else is new? Thankfully, to ease the pain we get to watch everyone dance twice: first with their individual routines and then in a gender-war team dance round.

Let’s get it on, people. To the ballroom!

Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe

Quickstep | “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder

Jodie’s still feeling the pain from last week’s intensely physical contemporary routine. She and Keo are pushing through it. Keo’s never made it this far in the competition, and he doesn’t want it to end here. All they want are some gosh darn 9’s. Last week Jodie threw Keo through a table, so she’s unsure of what more she can do to get higher scores. Tonight, they go for a completely different vibe. The routine was fun, light, and full of joy — the exact opposite of their last dance — and the judges applaud Jodie’s ease of movement. However, they also call out some lack of body contact and misplaced footwork. Carrie Ann even goes so far as to blame Keo for falling out of sync. HOW DARE SHE. Keo is a delight, and he’s wearing a full suit again! You don’t hate on Keo when he’s in a suit. It’s DWTS 101, Car. Regardless, a few 9’s do make an appearance. Jodie and Keo can’t ask for more than that.

Judges Score: 26/30

Kim Fields and Sasha Farber

Samba | “ABC” by the Jackson 5

Whew, boy. I would not want to be the judges this week. After the judges scored Kim and Sasha’s Hairspray routine lower than expected, Kim is not pleased. Sasha, being the partner he is, helps Kim channel that anger into determination to do better this week. Kim knows the judges are challenging her, and she needs to dig deep if she wants her scores to improve. Kim is one of those rare contestants who makes no bones about being an extreme competitor but is still endearing. How can she not be when she and Sasha dance in black light? Their samba is funky and fun, and Carrie Ann thinks that the anger Kim was feeling was the perfect motivator. She came out and, according to Len, performed her best dance of the season. As a reward for her hard work, the judges give Kim a much improved score: 9’s across the board. Kim jumps for joy. No one celebrates good scores quite like Kim Fields.

Judges’ Score: 27/30

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd

Foxtrot | “Beautiful Day” by U2

Nyle is not the same after Val-gate last week. Now Nyle’s worried about positively representing the deaf community. That’s a lot of responsibility to put on those very handsome shoulders. He’s quiet and aloof throughout rehearsals, and this makes Peta sad. Don’t make Peta sad, Nyle. She addresses the issue the best way she knows how, by choreographing a foxtrot that shows off Nyle’s technical prowess. When Carrie Ann comments that it was so effortless that it was as if a magnet were pulling Nyle across the floor, she isn’t kidding. Len rains on Nyle’s parade and criticizes his frame: Nyle’s shoulders were hunched, and his butt was out. But Bruno thought they did a fabulous job of creating romance with such a challenging song. Unfortunately, Bruno is too busy worrying about that romance that he doesn’t correctly present his score. That’s right — there is another scoring mishap as Bruno calls out a 10 but apparently wrote down a 9. Come on, team. It’s 2016. Can we figure out how to accurately announce scores during a live celebrity dancing competition? WE PUT A MAN ON THE MOON.

Judges’ Score: 28/30

NEXT: Why so serious, Antonio?

A DANCING PSA: Who is this Shannon person, and can he stay forever? Last week he transformed Von into a dancer worthy of his MJ routine; this week he causes my jaw to fall off my face simply by dancing to a Beyoncé song while wearing extremely tight jeans. America needs, nay, deserves more Shannon.

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess

Tango | “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones

Antonio’s riding a high after last week’s stellar Footloose performance. It may not have been the highest scored, but it’s the one that’s been on repeat in my house. Like Jodie and Keo, Antonio and Sharna are tasked with a number that is starkly different from last week’s success. Mainly, Antonio has to learn to keep his smile under wraps. This is a serious routine! I’m not one to rag on a person for not being able to not smile, but Antonio needs to work on his fierce face. The judges love the attitude he brought to his tango, but I didn’t find it to be the most believable. They continue to call out his lack of precision and technique. Carrie Ann even puts it in football terms and asks Antonio to treat the finishing of each movement as if he’s timing out a catch. Or something like that. Is football the one with the end zones? Just checking.

Judges’ Score: 24/30

Wanyá Morris and Lindsay Arnold

Foxtrot | “I Say a Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin

Before we get started on Wanyá and Lindsay’s adorable foxtrot, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the hilariousness that is Lance Bass trying to get away with calling boy bands “guy groups.” YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE, LANCE BASS. Embrace it. Wanyá had a tough week due to a previously scheduled BOY BAND engagement in NYC. He’ll be missing the DWTS rehearsal, and he’s not happy about it. Wanyá really wants to excel here; he landed at the top of the leader board last week, but that’s no guarantee of safety. The best part in Wanyá’s whole scheduling drama is getting to see how lovely Lindsay is with him. I’m a big fan of these two. So much so that I completely disagree with Carrie Ann’s critique. She thought the routine was nice, but she wanted more oomph behind it. The foxtrot was smooth, elegant, and, as Len put it, a joy to watch. The oomph was in the understated details.

Judges’ Score: 27/30

Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Viennese Waltz | “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston

If you’ve watched DWTS enough, you know that a couple is gunning for a “wow” moment when they bring out the full-length mirrors. Ginger was feeling down after her tribute to Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” didn’t go over as well as she and Val had been hoping. To make sure they don’t end up at the bottom of the leader board again, Val’s taking no prisoners in rehearsal. He’s hard on Ginger, but only because he wants her to do well. It looks like the tough love does wonders for Ginger. She’s sharper than ever before, all of her movements have purpose behind them, and that final spin is BEYOND. The judges are enamored. They applaud the amount of content Ginger tackled with ease and give Val a nice shout out for his choreography. Pros need love, too! Before the judges announce their scores, it’s obvious Ginger’s getting the first perfect score of the season.

Judges’ Score: 30/30

NEXT: Von Miller works the cape

Von Miller and Witney Carson

Salsa | “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley

Judges, we need to have a frank discussion. If you can give Ginger a perfect score, you can find it in your hearts to reward Von and his sparkling personality higher than a 24. A 24? Did you not see the hips? The pop of the shirt? Those sideburns? Von Miller is having fun, and it is infectious. The judges do commend him for his commitment to character; they, too, love seeing him go all out and play whatever part Witney throws at him. Also, he speaks for all of us when he is baffled by Witney obviously having only the smallest idea of who Elvis is. Von Miller, you are us. We are you. That dance deserved at least one 9 for the lifts alone. Okay, and maybe one for Witney’s stellar hair. A 24? With all the scoring snafus we’ve sat through this season, here is where I demand a recount.

Judges’ Score: 24/30

Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas

Jive | “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner

Now these are some 10’s I can fully get behind. I mean, I’d like to have some time to think about it, but that might be my favorite dance of season 22 thus far. Okay, done thinking. It totally is. Paige and Mark needed to bring it after landing in jeopardy last week. Paige is worried that people don’t like her — it’s true, she may have had the smallest DWTS fan base coming in to this thing, but man, is she leaving it out on the dance floor every week. WHAT ARE HER LEGS, AND WHERE CAN I BUY THEM? Their jive was fast, full of content, and full throttle from start to finish. The judges are amazed that she was given that much jive content and was able to keep up with Mark throughout. More important, she looked like she was having fun. I know I’ve said that about several people this season, but when you can tell the celeb is enjoying it, the dance is immediately elevated.

Judges’ Score: 30/30

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The Guys: Team James Brown

This gender-war team dance is one of the best ideas DWTS has had in a long time. It’s great to watch this mash up of male celebs — each bringing something very different to the ballroom — work together to make a great performance. They have to battle Wanyá’s aforementioned scheduling issues and Nyle’s new challenge of learning choreography amidst a whole room of people, as well as an apparently very rough dress rehearsal. They come out of it unscathed! The dance is full of James Brown swag and does a nice job of highlighting each celeb. Having Nyle lead the group at the end was particularly great.

Judges’ Score: 28/30

The Ladies: Team Beyoncé

What would Beyoncé do, you guys? Probably smash up some cars, roll her hips, stand in front of fan, and make every human rethink their life choices. I mean, I’m just guessing — I don’t know her life. The ladies of season 22 try their best to channel the essence of Bey, with varying success rates. When Kim Fields stood in that spotlight and licked her thumb? I squealed. That’s a Sasha Fierce move right there. Jodie also nailed those hip rolls, but otherwise, the routine was honestly a little underwhelming. It’s tough to take on the Queen and live to tell the tale. Just ask Becky with the good hair, you know?

Judges’ Score: 25/30

If a recapper doesn’t write about the elimination, did it even really happen? Unfortunately, yes. No matter how hard we all would like to be in denial, Kim and Sasha, Wanyá and Lindsay, and Von and Witney all end up in jeopardy. How do we lose two of these couples? Life’s just not fair, you guys. Wanyá and Lindsay are safe (let’s be honest, losing them would’ve been the greatest tragedy of the three), so we have to say goodbye to the perfect pairings of Kim and Sasha and Von and Witney. Maybe Beyoncé could do something about this. Not all superheroes wear capes, you know?

Episode Recaps

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