Movie night comes with its own twist ending: a double elimination.
Pop that popcorn and silence your cell phones (no, seriously, silence them you robots). Dancing With the Stars is headed to the movies! And since all movies need dramatic tension to keep the audience interested, DWTS has decided to opt for a double elimination this evening. I mean, I’m still reeling from the elimination of Heather and Maks, but, man, do I love some trimming-the-fat drama. Which two couples will be sent home? Can you even stand the pressure? To make it even more exciting, the couple with the highest score will win immunity from elimination, get to sit out the Dance-off round, and basically cha cha scot-free into the semi-finals. Every couple wants that immunity.
Before we get to the cuts, let’s look at pretty things. Like Mandy Moore’s gorgeous opening number that serves as a nod to Old Hollywood. And in other excellent news: Moore is guest judging! It’s about time, DWTS.
Okay, enough yapping — lights, camera, DANCE.
Bonner Bolton and Sharna Burgess, Western Films
Paso Doblé, “Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes” by Aaron Copland
Was there any question which film genre our handsome cowboy would be assigned? It may be his world, but let’s be real: This number is all about Sharna. That’s a great thing for us, but probably not so much for Bonner. Sorry not sorry, I was watching Sharna the entire time. Also, bow down to our queen for refusing to be a barmaid in this little story. Girl wants some card action. Carrie Ann agrees that Bonner gets lost in the number, and thought it lacked real paso content. Bruno wants Bonner to smooth out his lines. But Len and Mandy Moore are pretty pleased, and they seem like a tough crowd. So… call it even?
Judges’ Score: 29/40
Nancy Kerrigan and Artem Chigvintsev, Romance
Tango, “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison
Things I’m thankful for: watching Artem don his best Jack Dawson to deliver the line, “Never let go… of your frame,” and knowing that there’s a place called the DWTS Hotel. Can this place become real? Where your key is a mini mirrorball and room service is delivered by men wearing sequined blazers with no shirts under them? I mean, I’m just brainstorming here. Anyway, Nancy is finally looking relaxed, and it boils over into her technique. Carrie Ann says she needs to watch her arms a little bit, but Bruno can see improvement in her lines, and Len is impressed by the amount of dance content. Nancy’s living her best life in this routine. It’s probably due to her stay at the DWTS Hotel. Does that place have any Yelp reviews yet?
Judges’ Score: 36/40
Simone Biles and Sasha Farber, Silent Films
Charleston, “Charleston” by Bob Wilson and his Varsity Rhythm Boys
So, the Charleston is the perfect dance style for Simone and Sasha, huh? It’s goofy, high energy, and full of tricks. If Simone could dance this style every week, I wouldn’t hate it. Also, the fringe curtain makes a reappearance, and everything is better with a fringe curtain. It’s no surprise that the judges love this routine. Mandy Moore, however, brings up the one major critique Simone’s had all season long: her lack of connection to the character and to her partner. She needs to tap into her emotions a little bit more, instead of being a buttoned-up gymnast. Let that emotional freak flag fly, you know? DWTS is a safe space!
Judges’ Score: 37/40
Pardon the interruption: America’s Dad Tom Bergeron pulls one over on all of us (seriously, I thought something terrible had happened) to introduce a routine performed by the kiddos from The Descendants 2. People eat apples and become evil or something like that? The lesson here: Fruit is terrible for you.
Nick Viall and Peta Murgatroyd, Action Movies
Argentine Tango, “Dangerous” by David Guetta feat. Sam Martin
This week, Nick learns about the magical powers of Maks’ arms. Peta brings her man in to show Nick what a true Argentine tango should look like, and Nick learns what we’ve all known for years: Maks is a dreamboat. Also, he’s a great dancer. Nick ditches the spy character for their action movie routine and just channels Maks. The judges like what they see! Well, mostly. There’s some less-than-stellar footwork, but Mandy thinks Nick looks like a dancer for the first time this season, and Bruno thinks it’s his most believable routine to date. I’m just excited to see all these female empowerment routines out on the floor. Peta as an evil spy besting Nick? Yes, please and thank you.
Judges’ Score: 34/40
Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater, Horror Films
Paso Doblé, “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff
Never say Dancing With the Stars doesn’t commit to a theme. For their horror paso, Rashad and Emma conjure up their own spooky story, and we get to watch it play out, first in the package, and then in the routine. It’s about a serial killer from the days of yore who dances with his victims after he kills them. Yeah. It gets real dark, real fast. Regardless of how you feel about the package, the routine is excellent. The judges get nit-picky about Rashad’s posture and throwing away his hands, but it’s only because he’s a real contender. As Len points out, it is an epic dance set to epic music. Okay, so maybe sitting through the weird little bit beforehand was worth it.
Judges’ Score: 37/40
David Ross and Lindsay Arnold, Sci-Fi
Salsa, “Universal Mind Control” by Common
“Nothing solidifies a great partnership like a toot to the face,” says Mandy Moore after watching David and Lindsay’s package, in which, yes, she does fart directly in David’s face during a lift. This is just the show that keeps on giving. Speaking of Lindsay, her costume in this sci-fi “Aliens Go to the Club” routine might be my favorite of the season. And her choreography is fun and clever, per usual. It masks some of David’s mistakes in technique and highlights what we’ve always loved about him: his ability to entertain.
Judges’ Score: 32/40
Normani Kordei and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Foreign Films
Argentine Tango, “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás” by Andrea Bocelli feat. Jennifer Lopez
Oh okay, legs. Normani may be feeling the pain throughout rehearsals — the Argentine tango does a number on her back and legs — but she doesn’t let that slow her down on the ballroom floor. Val wanted to present Len with a routine full of content, and this classic Argentine tango is just what the grumpy judge ordered. Seriously, Normani’s legs. I have nothing else to say, just: HER LEGS. The judges are all wowed by Normani’s ability to be strong and vulnerable at once, and Mandy is proud to see how much Normani’s grown technically. It’s clear this is the best dance of the night. One more time: LEGS.
Judges’ Score: 40/40
With their perfect score, Normani and Val win immunity for the evening and get to sit out the dreaded Dance-Off (dreaded for the couples or for the audience? YOU DECIDE). That leaves the remaining six couples to pair up and square off. Simone and Sasha select Nancy and Artem as their challengers (I thought she would’ve gone for Rashad, but what do I know), and Nancy selects the cha cha as their dance style. This one is pretty close, even if it feels like Simone and Sasha get much more camera time than Nancy and Artem. Simone and Sasha win the two extra points.
Rashad chooses David as his opponent, and David picks the jive (avoid the rumba at all costs, that’s his motto). This head-to-head is fun, but it’s obvious Rashad and Emma are going to take the win. And they do. That bumps Rashad and Emma’s overall score up to 39.
Well, that leaves the cowboy versus the bachelor to dance a rumba. This one might be the most evenly matched of them all. Bruno votes for Nick and Peta, but everyone else gives the two additional points to Bonner and Sharna.
This is getting tough! And the way this season is going, you just know at least one of the two couples getting ousted is going to be a shocker. Tom and Erin whittle down the remaining couples until three remain: Nancy and Artem, David and Lindsay, and Nick and Peta. David and Lindsay are declared safe, which means Nick and Peta and… please don’t make me write it… Nancy and Artem are going home. What is going on with this season?