Halloween on DWTS is filled with lots of treats and one final trick

By Maggie Fremont
October 30, 2017 at 11:09 PM EDT

Welcome boys and ghouls to Halloween Night on Dancing With the Stars, the evening when you come for the Halloween-themed dance routines but stay for the extraordinary amount of Halloween puns and also Sasha Farber scaring the crap out of people.

What fun! Even more fun: our first round of team dances, in which the team score will be added to each couple’s total score. There’s lots to cover, including a legitimately surprising elimination, so let’s dance.

Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy
Viennese Waltz, “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron
Victoria and Val did not like landing in jeopardy. Not one bit. So it’s no surprise that Val is extra tough on Victoria in rehearsals. Unfortunately, Victoria is having a tough time showing her emotions and allowing herself to be vulnerable. Ah yes, the “trouble being vulnerable” DWTS journey. We know it well. By the time V & V Music Factory hit the dance floor, that problem seems to be gone. They perform an ethereal, romantic Viennese waltz about two dead people rising from their graves to dance a little. Ah, love. The judges are happy to see Victoria improving, especially in the fluidity of her arm movements. See what happens when you ditch the hockey stick?
Judges’ Score: 27/30

Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold
Paso Doblé, “Animals” by Martin Garrix
Lindsay has proved herself to be a great professional partner throughout the years, so it’s nice to see this rehearsal package focus on her and the fact that season 25 is forcing her to go head to head with Mark Ballas, who used to be her instructor. It’s pushing her to be more creative. The extra motivation shows! This is a wild Little Red Riding Hood-themed paso, with clever little touches throughout. Jordan gets to dance more aggressively than normal, and this pleases Carrie Ann. Bruno calls it a mix of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and traditional paso, and Len tells Jordan he’s a little devil who dances like an angel. Aw, Len! Halloween brings out the softy in the guy.
Judges’ Score: 30/30

Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev
Jive, “I Put a Spell on You” by Bette Midler
You guys, I’ve never trusted the “secret menu” at Starbucks, and after watching Nikki-as-a-witch serve Artem-as-a-coffee-drinker some witchy brew from “Spellbucks” during their jive, I feel very vindicated. Menus are menus for a reason! Anyway, Nikki and Artem may be having fun together in rehearsals, but it doesn’t exactly translate to a showstopper on the dance floor. Their jive is serviceable, but the judges want more oomph. The footwork is clean for most of it, but there a few mistakes that seem to rattle Nikki and zap some of the energy from the routine. Nikki and Artem’s partnership is top notch, but this routine, not so much.
Judges’ Score: 24/30

Vanessa Lachey and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Paso Doblé, “Game of Survival” by Ruelle
Vanessa and Maks are tired of not being considered contenders, so they’re giving it their all in this zombie paso doblé (my favorite type of paso doblé). And man, do they really give it their all. Does Vanessa get a little overenthusiastic and become unable to be as precise as, say, Jordan? Sure. But Vanessa and Maks know how to tell a story on the dance floor. It’s aggressive and passionate, and when Vanessa is out in front of the troupe, she leads. Unfortunately, the judges want cleaner technique with their story. They seem tougher on these two than some of our other couples, and this routine feels underscored. The hard work will pay off eventually, though. That’s how life works, right?
Judges’ Score: 24/30

Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke
Tango, “Super Freak” by Rick James
Terrell Owens is a nerd vampire who goes trick-or-treating at a…sexy witch’s house…and there is a dining room table there, and also he can turn on fireplaces with magic? Whatever the ridiculous story, Terrell and Cheryl tango their cute little butts off. It’s not the most passionate, but as the judges note, it’s fun to watch these two dance together. Cheryl has whipped Terrell into shape and it shows in his posture and frame, which is extra difficult due to their height difference. Now that he’s enjoying the competition, he is much more focused. Basically, Cheryl Burke is a miracle worker.
Judges’ Score: 25/30

Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas
Paso Doblé, “Roundtable Rivals” by Lindsey Stirling
Well, now we know what we need to do in order to have Mark Ballas call us a tiger, which may or may not be something some of us have wished for: Injure your ribs and talk about it nonstop. Call me callous, but I’m not into the injury edit. Lindsey looks like she’s dancing in pain, and she is a beast for pushing through that insanely speedy paso, but, like, we get it? Carrie Ann is impressed, Bruno loves the combo of paso with Irish dancing, Len appreciates the excellent twist turns and press line, and dear Mirrorball, help me, but I can never get enough knee walks. Some of it was out of sync, but most of us can’t dance like that even with all our ribs where they should be, so who are we to judge?
Judges’ Score: 27/30

Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson
Contemporary, “Every Breath You Take” by Chase Holfelder
Sometimes routines are just so real, they shake you to the core. This was too real. In the best way possible. TOO REAL. Frankie helps Witney with some of their contemporary choreography this week — in which they tell the story of an intruder who may or may not be a figment of Witney’s imagination — and he is looking to redeem himself after his epic Troll Disaster. This couple does more than redeem themselves. Carrie Ann tells them that this routine elevates the world of dance. THE ENTIRE WORLD OF DANCE, YOU GUYS. Their connection is so strong, and the drama and emotion are palpable. I’m very scared, and probably won’t be able to sleep tonight, but again, I mean that in the best way possible.
Judges’ Score: 30/30

Drew Scott and Emma Slater
Charleston, “Remains of the Day” by Danny Elfman
Just like Frankie, Drew is feeling pretty down about his “Movie Night” performance. After weeks of growth, he and Emma toppled down the leaderboard. They need to improve, but they face a pretty grueling schedule of traveling this week. Thankfully, they have the Charleston, a dance style that suits Drew’s quirkiness. During the Corpse Bride routine, Drew and Emma take a bit of a fall, but play it off as choreography, and the judges are so into the joyous, fun number, no one notices. Except for Erin Andrews, who is ready to come after you post dance, no matter what. Looks like a little slip-up is exactly what Drew and Emma needed to climb back up the rankings.
Judges’ Score: 27/30


Team Monster Mash (Jordan and Lindsay, Lindsey and Mark, Nikki and Artem, Terrell and Cheryl)
With the two frontrunners and Mark Ballas dressed head to toe as a creepy scarecrow, Team Monster Mash is the team to beat. Unfortunately, the team seems to bite off more Halloween candy than it can chew. The concept is cute — the celebs are lost in a corn maze full of scary monsters and Artem’s abs wearing a hockey mask — but much of the technique is sacrificed for big production value. Their individual sequences are good, but anytime they come together as a group, things are out of sync. It’s charming but hectic, and you know how much Len dislikes hectic. Everyone is underwhelmed.
Judges’ Score: 24/30

Team Phantom of the Ballroom (Drew and Emma, Frankie and Witney, Vanessa and Maks, Victoria and Val)
This crew goes into their team routine knowing they’re the underdogs, and that’s probably what gives them the edge. They are super motivated to dance with their heart, and attempt to highlight their strengths. Anyone else still have chills from this Phantom of the Opera routine? The team blends paso doblé, tango, some waltz, and a whole bunch of storytelling, for what Len describes as the “most polished” team routine he’s ever seen on this show. You guys: That’s a good critique right there. Underdogs for the win!
Judges’ Score: 30/30

After all the spookiness in the ballroom, now comes time for the really scary part: elimination. Four couples find themselves in jeopardy: Terrell and Cheryl, Nikki and Artem, Drew and Emma, and Vanessa and Maks.

Terrell and Cheryl and Drew and Emma are sent to safety…and both Nikki and Artem and Vanessa and Maks are eliminated. Surprise! Inside your pillow case of candy is a big steaming pile of double elimination. Ugh. Halloween is the worst.

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