It takes two to make a thing go right (and also tango)
Unfortunately, Dancing buddies, ‘Face Off Night’ is not an hour-long homage to the 1997 Nicholas Cage/John Travolta film, as some recappers previously thought (read: hoped). But seriously, how great would an Argentine tango with Laurie as Sean Archer and Val as Castor Troy be? Google it and get back to me. No, ‘Face Off Night’ is a new little challenge DWTS is trying out, mainly to fit 12 dances into a condensed 60-minute show (there is a presidential debate going on, if you haven’t heard), but also a little bit for the drama.
Here’s how it works: The 12 remaining couples have been paired up. Each pairing has to dance the same style of dance to different songs, back-to-back. The judges will score each couple and the couple with the higher score gets immunity for the week. It’s basically You Got Served: Ballroom Edition. (Wait, has that been pitched yet? Get on it, people.) The six losing teams will all be up for elimination during the results show. In short: ‘Face Off Night’ is a time to impress the judges.
Now to the dance-off:
Jana and Gleb vs. Babyface and Allison
It’s the Battle of the Singers. Jana says her 8th-grade self would never believe she’d be jiving against Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds. Obviously, Jana and I had very different vision boards in 8th grade. She’s also feeling some pressure thanks to the sheer speed of the jive. If she thinks that’s fast, she should watch DWTS try to cram 12 dances into one hour — seriously, this feels like Dancing With the Stars: Speed Dating. Anyway, Babyface isn’t feeling very confident in their given style of dance, either: The jive is about letting loose, and Babyface does not let loose. At least not in public. Babyface and Allison and their golden costumes take the floor first. It’s definitely not the fastest jive out there, and Babyface was right to worry about looking stiff. He attempts to channel Little Richard (he’s dancing to ‘Great Gosh A’Mighty’), but you can tell he’s uncomfortable. Jana, too, looks a little off her game; at times, it’s more like Gleb is flinging her around the dance floor. But her flicks and kicks are a smidge sharper — when you’re playing in the face-off, a smidge could be worth everything. Spoiler alert: It is!
Babyface and Allison: 25/40
Jana and Gleb: 26/40
IMMUNITY GOES TO: Jana and Gleb
Rick and Emma vs. Vanilla Ice and Witney
Ah yes, the unlikely bromance of the season is going head-to-head. Vanilla Ice and Rick Perry both hail from the great state of Texas, so, as Ice puts it: The boots are coming off. Vanilla Ice tries to sound intimidating, but he also pronounces his dance style as “paso boble,” so it’s really anyone’s game. Rick and Emma dance first and perform a more traditional version of the paso doble. It’s honestly not a bad dance style for the former governor. He’s still completely lacking in musicality, but he does punctuate his moves.
Fun fact: Watching Vanilla Ice dance to an Eagle Eye Cherry song was also on my 8th-grade vision board, and look at this! Okay, so it’s not the Eagle Eye Cherry version of “Save Tonight,” but close enough! Vanilla Ice and Witney hit the floor with a darker, sultrier paso, and I’m surprised how much I buy him as this intense character. Also, he wears a sparkly hat. If that’s not an obvious choice for a winner, I don’t know what is.
Rick and Emma: 23/40
Vanilla Ice and Witney: 23/40
IMMUNITY GOES TO: Head judge Len Goodman is our tie-breaker, and he gives a slight edge to Vanilla Ice and Witney
James and Sharna vs. Ryan and Cheryl
Sure, both James and Ryan are speedsters, but this feels like the most uneven match-up of the night. James is a little nervous going up against an Olympic athlete, but Ryan’s over in rehearsal doing his best to make Cheryl laugh — mainly via his complete lack of flexibility, but also purposefully. Cheryl wants to show off more of Ryan’s personality, and he does seem to be having more fun with the process. He’s into this now! Unfortunately, he’s going up against James, and he knows James is one of this season’s better dancers.
Out on the floor, James and Sharna give us a fun cha cha with lots of hip action and even more flirtation. They’re a great pair and it shows in this dance. James made it clear the cha cha is not a Canadian style of dance, but you wouldn’t know it from where I’m sitting. For me, this feels underscored. Ryan and Cheryl opt for a sexier version of the cha cha, by which I mean, Ryan shows off his pecs. He’s having fun on the ballroom floor, but Cheryl does most of the dancing.
James and Sharna: 29/40
Ryan and Cheryl: 25/40
IMMUNITY GOES TO: James and Sharna
NEXT: Megatron shows his softer side
Terra and Sasha vs. Calvin and Lindsay
Both Terra and Megatron are tasked with the same challenge: Use the Viennese waltz to show a softer, more vulnerable side. Being emotional is easy for Terra once she connects her routine to her feelings of self-consciousness. She wants to be seen as equal, she wants to feel comfortable with who she is. All of this emotion is put into her dance: A fluid, elegant routine. Terra and Sasha look great out there and Terra really sells the vulnerability.
When Calvin and Lindsay heard they were battling Terra and Sasha, they knew they had a lot of work to do. Terra’s had consistently higher scores, so if Megatron wants that immunity, he has to dance his best dance of the season. You guys: HE DOES. He still needs to work on the emotion coming across his face and on being a little more delicate with Lindsay’s head, but man, was he in this dance. Also, they do a sliding split across the floor. Now, I’m not an official judge — probably because people are afraid of my passion — but I’m pretty sure sliding splits are an automatic win.
Terra and Sasha: 30/40
Calvin and Lindsay: 32/40
IMMUNITY GOES TO: Calvin and Lindsay
Amber and Maks vs. Maureen and Artem
And now we have the Battle of the Blondes…or leftover competitors who didn’t fit with anyone else, your choice. Amber and Maks are handed J. Lo’s “Big Booty” as their song, which feels very pointed…toward Maks. He says it’s so he can show off his assets. NEVER CHANGE, MAKS. Amber’s feeling that jam, too, which is a good thing, since both she and Maks know they’re currently sitting much lower on the leaderboard than their competitors. Things aren’t easy over in Camp Maureen, though. The competition is starting to a take a toll on her body, and Artem is afraid of pushing her past her limits. Are they best friends?
Amber and Maks perform a much more “street”-style salsa, complete with glitter jeans, selfies, and lots of booty shaking. It makes me wish we had a camera on Len the entire time, because you know that guy hated it. So much messin’ about! Maureen and Artem stick to a more traditional salsa, and it’s a winning strategy. The ending is very clunky and it’s not her best dance, but Maureen holds her own through most of it.
Amber and Maks: 25/40
Maureen and Artem: 28/40
IMMUNITY GOES TO: Maureen and Artem
Laurie and Val vs. Marilu and Derek
Things to file under “Thought I Could Not Love Laurie More Until”: 1) She giggles every time she has to caress Val’s face; 2) She admits to having a hard time being sultry because hey, she still sleeps with a teddy bear; and finally, 3) When Val wants her to answer “It takes two to what?” her initial response is to quote Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. Don’t let Val fool you, Laurie: It does take two to make a thing go right. Case in point: Laurie and Val’s tango. They dance in lasers! Oh, happy day! All of Val’s anxiety over whether Laurie can be intense — he doesn’t want her to be Cute Laurie for the entire competition — is for naught. She’s sharp and focused. Turns out that to look intense, Laurie just imagined she was smelling a really good quesadilla. Add it to the list, you guys.
Marilu and Derek draw a tough card this week, and they both know it. Derek’s hopeful they can use Marilu’s maturity to their advantage and really showcase it in their own tango. This tango has no lasers, which automatically brings it down a few points, but Marilu isn’t half bad. She’s not as sharp as Laurie, but Derek is wearing a velvet vest. It’s a draw! Just kidding, Laurie was obviously the better of the two.
Laurie and Val: 31/40
Marilu and Derek: 28/40
IMMUNITY GOES TO: Laurie and Val (and the lasers)
Anyone else’s head spinning? And I don’t mean from that Hilary Clinton-Donald Trump inspired tango (there are some things you can’t unsee). That was a lot of dancing crammed in there. I’m sweating, maybe? Since we’ll once again be treated to a two-hour filler results show, hopefully we’ll get a few words of wisdom from the judges to see what they thought. Until then, the fates of Babyface, Rick, Ryan, Terra, Amber, and Marilu rest in your capable hands. Who’s headed home next?