Lights, camera, elimination!

By Maggie Fremont
October 23, 2017 at 11:15 PM EDT
Eric McCandless/ABC
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Welcome to “A Night at the Movies” on Dancing With the Stars! It’s always an exciting theme, what with the creative movie homages (I’m looking at you, Mark Ballas) and fun costuming, but this season is even more so thanks to our guest judge (and performer): Shania Twain is in the house, you guys! Honestly, if she doesn’t begin every critique with “That don’t impress me much,” what is she even doing here?

Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev
Argentine Tango, “Dernière Danse” by Indila (Foreign Films)
A beret-clad Len Goodman informs Nikki and Artem that they’ll be tackling foreign films as their movie genre, and he wants to see a routine full of class, elegance, and style. Nikki spends rehearsal working on her technique and her ability to be vulnerable. Both are easier with Artem at her side. Seriously, Artem is such a great partner for Ms. Bella. Their swanky Argentine tango suits Nikki so well. They lose balance at one point, but it doesn’t matter — the rest of the routine is très good. Those legs! They way they get into hold! Shania comments on how sensual the flick of two ankles in unison can be. I mean, (1) She’s right, and (2) LOOK AT YOU, SHANIA.
Judges’ Score: 36/40

Drew Scott and Emma Slater
Paso Doblé, “Legend” by The Score (Action Movies)
Drew is feeling good after getting his first 9 for his “Disney Night” routine, and who doesn’t like being called a contender? The pressure is on for Drew to keep improving and, well, he doesn’t. Being an action star is Drew’s dream (he’s a karate guy, remember?) but this routine … is not good. It’s a shame because he’s so into it and Emma, as a femme fatale, looks amazing, but the judges are right: This is awkward. During a group sequence Drew loses timing and goes very, very wrong. He doesn’t seem in control throughout most of it. Len wants a paso with a balance of aggression and finesse, and this has zero finesse. Leather duster jackets don’t fix everything, unfortunately.
Judges’ Score: 30/40

Nick Lachey and Peta Murgatroyd
Samba, “Wild, Wild West” by Dru Hill, Will Smith, and Kool Mo Dee (Westerns)
Oh, boy. It’s tough to watch Nick talk about having no confidence in his dancing and then go out and perform a routine that sets him back in his DWTS journey, but that is exactly what happens. The judges are spot-on in their critiques of this Mad Max-inspired western. They call out how stinkin’ great Nick looks during the group breakdown and line dancing, but how he stiffens up immediately when he gets into hold for samba. It probably doesn’t help that his brother Drew’s most memorable dance was his western-themed freestyle. Who wants to live in that glorious shadow? Bad news: Nick and Peta already know they’re in jeopardy this evening. Good news: I have never wanted a pair of pilot goggles so badly. Oh, I guess that’s only good news for me.
Judges’ Score: 26/40

Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy
Paso Doblé, “We Will Rock You” by Queen (Sports Movies)
To prepare for their sports movies routine, and to get Victoria into an aggressive hockey player character for the paso, Val starts talking a lot of smack this week. He challenges Victoria to a swim, and although he can rock a Speedo, he cannot best the Olympian in the pool. But the training works, and Victoria gets into her Mighty Ducks homage. Len and Bruno want her to work on the strength and finesse of her arms, but otherwise, it’s another tight routine from the couple. It’s lacking in triple dekes but has some great Spanish shaping. Gordon Bombay would be proud. Mr. Ducksworth? Who knows, that guy was always so cranky.
Judges’ Score: 31/40

Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke
Jive, “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man (Spy Movies)
Usually the jive is tough for the taller guys (big feet get in the way!), but Terrell has his eyes on the prize. The prize, in this routine, being stealing the 10 paddle from Len Goodman’s personal safe. For the love of Shania, I hope Len actually has that self-portrait hanging in his real house. Terrell and Cheryl perform a slower, sexier jive than we typically see on the show, and it pays off. Terrell’s charm paired with Cheryl’s fun choreography pleases the judges. Carrie Ann is flustered, Len is impressed, Shania forgets where she is for a minute. But, like, in a good way, not a scary is-something-physically-wrong-with-you way. The judges are into Terrell, and Terrell is into dancing.
Judges’ Score: 37/40

Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson
Jazz, “Holly Rock” by Sheila E. (Animation)
Please, we can never lose Frankie and Witney if only so that we can get more of Witney’s hilarious takes on how to calm her partner down: “I guess I’ll just give him one of those mushrooms.” Or her acting training: “Show me creepy. … That is just your normal face.” Also she gets Frankie Muniz to dress up like a troll and do the worm, which is a sentence I never even thought to dream of writing, and it is blowing my mind. Sure, Frankie had a bunch of missteps and lost timing all over the place, which is so unlike him, but the guy is having fun. This jazz routine is full of fast-paced content, and it gets the best of him this time. Still, that worm, you guys.
Judges’ Score: 31/40

Vanessa Lachey and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Quickstep, “Let’s Be Bad” from Smash (Musicals)
Even Vanessa knows her Snow White routine on “Disney Night” was not her best. She and Maks have been riding 8s for a while, and they are both ready to move up on the leader board. So for their musical-themed routine, they are giving us a “quickstep on steroids.” It sounds horrifying, but Vanessa and Maks have never looked so happy in rehearsals. Their high spirits show — this routine is So. Much. Fun. It’s glamorous and silly and, man, if Vanessa doesn’t perform the heck out of it. There is a wardrobe malfunction when they get into hold, but you’d never know it because Vanessa keeps on truckin’. This is the Vanessa we saw at the start of the competition. More, please.
Judges’ Score: 36/40

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold
Rumba, “Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheeran (Drama)
Could I order a print of Jordan and Lindsay’s “Drama Movie” poster? It’s so Nicholas Sparks it hurts. Actually, the entire story of their routine is very Sparks-ian. Jordan is mourning his dead lover, and he dances a romantic rumba with her ghost. A handkerchief and a rainy window are also involved. The judges seem like they’d buy a ticket to this movie. Well, maybe not Len, who goes hard on Jordan for some of his less-than-traditional hand flourishes. He still gives the couple a 9, so he didn’t dislike it. Bruno and Carrie Ann are completely enamored with the elongation and fluidity of Jordan’s movements. Is it almost like Jordan can stretch so far it looks like he’s in two places at once? #LandonAndJamie4Eva #IHopeYouWatchNicholasSparksMovies
Judges’ Score: 39/40

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas
Argentine Tango, “Human” by Sevdaliza (Sci-Fi)
Mark Ballas plays a mad scientist and now we are all really living. We are so blessed that Mark gets sci-fi as his movie genre. The expectations are high, and he doesn’t disappoint. Bruno describes the routine as Ex Machina meets a perfect Argentine tango, and he is not wrong. It’s weird and creepy, but sexy too. Lindsey’s legs are insane and the musicality of the entire routine is unreal. Carrie Ann thinks Lindsey has seriously upped her game, and she’s never seen her dance like this before. Bruno calls it the best dance of the season. Which, like, is a little much, but it is crazy-good.
Judges’ Score: 10/10

Well, that was fun! Now let’s crush some dreams. The bottom three couples of the evening are Victoria and Val, Terrell and Cheryl, and Nick and Peta. V & V Music Factory are easily sent to safety, and in the end, it is time to say goodbye to Nick and Peta. His positive attitude and hella handsome smile will be missed, but there are a lot of contenders, and it was obvious to everyone (including Nick, let’s be honest), that he just wasn’t one of them. Hey, Hollywood is a tough town.

Episode Recaps

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