Season 18 endures a partner shuffle;'s Annie Barrett signs off

April 08, 2014 at 04:30 AM EDT

Did the season 18 Partner Switch-Up need to happen? Nope. Did it happen anyway and we all just had to deal with it and maybe it didn’t turn out to be that bad? Ding ding ding! (The sound of a fork clanging against a hollowed-out mirrorball.) That’s just how life works sometimes, on and off Planet Mirrorballus. It’s the way of the worlds. You think a partnership’s going really well, and then suddenly it’s over.

But relax! It’s just for one week! Order shall be restored soon enough. Have some faith, DANCMSTRs.

Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhhh-ba!

Meryl Davis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 39/40 “Can I fall backwards?” wondered a wide-eyed Meryl upon learning her “new person” (wait, is this Grey’s Anatomy?) had just entered the room. “Can I go now?” Oh, to be an ice dancer! Just lean on back and chances are someone is waiting there to catch you. And if they’re not, hey, it’s just ice. Your life is like a box of trust falls.

Anyway, ARE YOU KIDDING ME with this Argentine Tango?!

“Oh, hey, just hanging out in this specific pose, no big deal.”

Incredible results from Meryl and Val on what tends to be the seethingly jealous Maksim’s favorite dance. Head judge Len Goodman called them out for being a bit too staccato at times, but I’m pretty sure he was just desperately trying to be creative. If you look at the totals from this week and last week (I’ve compiled them all at the end of tonight’s ranking), Meryl is ahead of the pack by miles. (Seven points.) Looks like the “Chmerswapskiy” — Tom Bergeron wordplay for the win — worked out for our ice goddess.

What’s the biggest difference between the Brothers Chmerkovskiy? “Val is down to business,” Meryl confided to the cameras. The business of braiding her hair.

James Maslow and Cheryl Burke: 35/40 Cheryl always gets what she wants (except for Peta’s height, long legs, and blonde hair), so this “perfect storm” of a tango — which involved James executing a cartwheel in just a few feet of space between some stairs and a freaking gem-tastic throne — had to make her happy even though the dramatic outpour of support for her original partner with his temporary partner (Drew and Witney) probably made her a little sad. Ever the pro, though — Our Pro — she carried herself like the dancing queen she is.

James is really going for it with his refusal to wear shirts, huh? I’m into him as a dancer. As soon as he distinguishes himself from Adam Levine as a person, I will probably be on board with him in the more humanlike aspects as well.

Amy Purdy and Mark Ballas: 34/40 Awww, poor Mark — he’s “never been like the physical type” (HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE IF YOU ARE A BALLROOM DANCING PRO), so he was absolutely nerve-wracked when it sank in that his temporary partner Amy had no legs. Luckily, Mark’s BFF Derek was on hand to sit down with him for a poignant chat about how they were both wearing fedoras.

“I mean, we’re indoors! So they’re even more unnecessary!”

The Switch-Up really worked in this case, though — Mark remained his “space-giving” self, leaving Amy on her own to find her balance during the salsa. It sounds treacherous when I explain it — and believe me, for a moment there I was horrified — but his hands-off style allowed her to claim her own danceability in a way that Derek’s more “I gotcha” human-chimney-sweep style had not. So, good work, guys! Effective switch. And I’m so glad the judges were all able to agree that they love Amy Purdy’s tight ass!

NEXT: Is Drew Carey suddenly a contender?

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