The remaining five couples tackle two routines each — including the trio dances. Numbers!
We are in the nitty-gritty of Dancing With the Stars season 24. Before we narrow this field down to the final four, some business: This evening’s events consist of two rounds of dance. The first is the Pro’s Pick. Each pro gets to select a song and dance style that they think best captures the essence of their celeb partner. Fingers crossed it is overly telling. What can I say? I live for the drama.
Round two is Trio Round…but with a twist! This season, instead of the pro selecting who will join the partnership for a spin around the ballroom floor, the judges get to select the other professional dancer. It’s not the greatest twist, but this is season 24, so sure. In other news, Julianne is back on the judges’ panel, which is fine, but also: Remember how good Mandy Moore was?
Enough with the formalities! Let’s dance our faces off until some poor couple gets tossed off this train right before it pulls into the semi-finals.
PRO’S PICK ROUND
Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater
Jive, “Shake a Tail Feather” by Blues Brothers
Emma thinks the world of Rashad. He’s the kind of guy everyone else wants to be around (even when he’s making them run sprints on the football field). He’s happy, upbeat, and just thinking about his wonderfulness bring’s Emma to tears. These two are the cutest. To encapsulate all that positivity in a dance, Emma picks the jive. She wants to show off his high-energy showmanship, and she also puts him in a sequined blazer. Emma knows exactly what she’s doing. The judges all bring up Rashad’s footwork, which could be sharper, but no one can deny how entertaining this routine is. Let us all shake our tail feathers like Rashad shakes his tail feather.
Judges’ Score: 36/40
Normani Kordei and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Contemporary, “Freedom” by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton
Normani and Val are feeling good after earning the elusive Ten From Len for their Argentine tango. But just because they sit at the top of the leader board, that doesn’t mean the pair is going to take things easy. Instead, Val choreographs a dance that shows a vulnerability to Normani that we’ve yet to see in the competition. Normani opens up about the online harassment she’s faced — seriously, terrible stuff. So, Val gives her the gift of a routine all about breaking free and not breaking down. It is powerful and, to steal a Carrie Ann word, profound. The only thing Normani can do after pouring her heart out on the floor is hug America’s Dad Tom Bergeron and take in rave reviews from the judges.
Judges’ Score: 40/40
Bonner Bolton and Sharna Burgess
Argentine Tango, “Believer” by Imagine Dragons
Bonner is having a tough week. Sharna’s choreographed a routine that once more forces him to relive the story of his accident. It’s all about overcoming pain and adversity (Sharna stars as Bonner’s Pain, because she is brilliant), so it’s intense. That intensity, paired with learning two routines, led to some tension in the rehearsal room. I know Bonner is dealing with a lot, but NO ONE WALKS OUT ON SHARNA. The judges appreciate his obvious effort, but his Argentine tango is lacking the fluidity and emotion one comes to expect. He seems to lose energy throughout. No one is impressed. Len maybe takes his critique a little too far and flat-out tells Bonner that he is in over his head. Grumpy Len is all about the tough love.
Judges’ Score: 30/40
Simone Biles and Sasha Farber
Foxtrot, “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction
Simone’s eye-roll when she hears what song Sasha has selected for her is one of the top ten eye-rolls in reality TV history. It also hints at a larger issue: Does anyone really know Simone? After her serviceable foxtrot, Carrie Ann and Julianne both reiterate how much they want Simone’s real emotions to come through. She can perform all the steps, but there’s a lack of authenticity. Is that smile rehearsed? Julianne wonders. Bottom line: It all feels safe. In fact, the most authentic moment from Simone comes in her post-dance interview, when she admits that she hasn’t experienced most of the emotions she’s being asked to portray. It’s real and surprising and all the judges want from Simone.
Judges’ Score: 36/40
David Ross and Lindsay Arnold
Waltz, “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw
Holy mirrorballs, people. Hands-down, David and Lindsay are the couple who know each other the best. David is blown away when Lindsay explains that she selected “Humble and Kind” because she knows it’s how he was raised and those are the values he wants to instill in his children. He is moved. We are all moved. Honestly, I was crying throughout this entire routine. The most gorgeous father-daughter dance on the DWTS. And when the dance ends and David mumbles a little “thank you” to Lindsay, well, the tears start all over again. He may not be the best dancer, but I’m glad David’s stuck around so long. The judges state the obvious: This is his best dance to date.
Judges’ Score: 36/40
THE TRIO ROUND
Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater with Witney Carson
Argentine Tango, “Dreams” by Gabrielle Aplin and Bastille
Introducing Ménage à Shad: the sexiest trio on the dance floor. Rashad is a man caught between good and evil. An angel and a devil. A woman with normal lipstick and a woman with blue lipstick. Who will win? Honestly, we all do. This is a great Argentine tango. Rashad is strong and commanding — I mean, he lifts Witney over his head as if she were a doll. According to Len, he still needs to work on his feet, but Carrie Ann christens it Rashad’s best dance. And Bruno’s over in the corner making weird threesome jokes, as is Trio Night tradition.
Judges’ Score: 39/40
Normani Kordei and Valentin Chmerkovskiy with Alan Bersten
Jive, “Feeling Alive” by Earl St. Clair
This trio starts out by having Normani and Val don blindfolds and feel up Alan’s pectorals, so you know it’s going to be a good time. Val and Alan are hot Southern mechanics! Normani wears red fringe boots! Bonner makes a surprise cameo and steals Normani’s heart with his cowboy charm! This is so fun. And, as the judges point out, completely different from Normani’s first-round routine, in the best way. It shows off her range as both a dancer and an actress. Len knocks the team down a point for “messing about” on the judges’ table (it’s more fun with no context!), but the rest of the crew cannot resist the pecs and boots. And the great dancing.
Judges’ Score: 39/40
Bonner Bolton and Sharna Burgess with Britt Stewart
Jazz, “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars
Well, I’m uncomfortable. Sharna wants her and Bonner’s trio with Britt to tell the story of an oil tycoon and his hot secretaries, which is, um… sexist? And then gets kind of raunchy without doing much else. It’s also lacking in the fun trio moments that make this round so entertaining. The judges all have the same basic critique: a little too much raunch and not enough Bonner. It’s clear he’s the least talented dancer of the bunch, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch how sad the guy gets after another round of harsh critiques. Buck up, cowboy! Remember when you won Normani’s heart at the gas station? Hold that moment close to your heart!
Judges’ Score: 28/40
Simone Biles and Sasha Farber with Brittany Cherry
Paso Doblé, “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers feat. Daya
Well, now I’m uncomfortable for another reason. Simone looks miserable after she finishes her paso with Sasha and Brittany. “Smiles don’t win gold medals,” she announces. Is this awkward or scary? Hold me, America’s Dad! Sure, Simone arguably has the toughest trio round draw — typically pros pick a dancer of the opposite sex from their celeb so as not to draw comparisons. But this wasn’t Sasha’s choice. And not for nothing, but Brittany seems like such a good influence on Simone. She’s able to explain some choreography in a way that only another woman can. The routine is done well, but again, it feels more like dance-by-numbers than dance-with-real-passion. The judges can only give this critique so many times, you know?
Judges’ Score: 36/40
David Ross and Lindsay Arnold with Hayley Erbert
Paso Doblé, “Gangsta’s Paradise” by 2WEI
Some days you’re going about your business and a piece of information drops into your lap that completely and utterly blows your mind. THERE IS AN INSTRUMENTAL VERSION OF “GANGSTA’S PARADISE.” The world as I knew it is no longer. Hayley joins team Lady and the Gramp for trio night, and she immediately fits right in. Sure, I miss the Lindsay-Witney tag team from days of yore, but Hayley has instant chemistry with these two. Okay, so the paso is lacking in most paso technique, especially when it comes to shaping and fluidity, but man if David doesn’t give us some hardcore stank face. He is a gladiator and he will be victorious. Actually, his scores are much lower than round one, but whatever. Lindsay and Hayley had skirts that came out of the ceiling. PRIORITIES.
Judges’ Score: 29/40
Trio Night is a personal fave, so it’s a shame it has to end by sending one of our couples home, but that’s the rules, people! Normani and Val, Simone and Sasha, and David and Lindsay (PRAISE) are declared safe. After what feels like longer than normal, Rashad and Emma are given the final spot in the semi-finals. Whew, right? It’s time for Bonner and Sharna to ride off into the sunset, or whatever else cowboys do. Bonner, I shall miss your “yes ma’ams” and “no sirs” most of all. Manners are always welcome on the dance floor.