The five remaining couples dance a typical round 1, then pull mystery songs out of a giant mirrorbowl and cram for a crazy round 2

Kyle Kurt Dancing Stars
Credit: Adam Larkey/ABC

On week 8 of Dancing With the Stars, each of the five remaining contestants danced a classic ballroom round and a sure-to-be-disastrous INSTANT DANCE ROUND — the point of which, according to Carrie Ann, was to “fool us into thinking you know what you’re doing.” (This is also the point of the whole series.) But — excluding the Maks factor, which I’ll get to below — the instant round went swimmingly! They just reached into the red-velvet mirrorbowl for their pre-selected mystery songs, picked up the beat, and went with it! Easy breezy! Unless you were Bristol or Brandy.

Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann In-ahhh-ber!

Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 29/30 + 28/30 = 57/60 Maks’ white pants danced a lovely waltz during the first round. Oh, Brandy was involved, too? My apologies. I liked how the costumers basically turned Brandy’s boobs into enormous bubbles, knowing that partner’s bottom-bubbles would threaten to distract us from the Star. What’s hilarious is that their rehearsal footage actually involved a helpful comparison — with helpful visual aids from Maks — of the performance capacities of each of their butts! Girl, you know that’s a battle you are not going to win. Trying to win a butt battle against Maks would be almost as ludicrous as pretending you’ve never heard of “Teenage Dream” and Katy Perry! (I’m just jealous.) Carrie Ann thwarted a perfect 30 by knocking off a point due to a nitpick about Brandy’s neck.

Maks thought it would be okay to spend “four 8s” (according to Carrie Ann) of their instant cha cha cha messin’ about on the platform — he even admitted during rehearsal footage that he was approaching the choreography as if it were the Week 6 marathon. Dance, lather, rinse, repeat 1.5 times or as necessary. I didn’t see much repetition in their actual dance; just big gaps at the beginning and end. Carrie Ann freaked! “Kurt did much more dancing than you — he got right on the first beat,” she said. “Relax, don’t worry about it,” snapped Maks. (???) “Let’s get a 7, then.” (!!!) The way I’m telling this in any sort of order is entirely inaccurate because for about 30 seconds, Maks and Carrie Ann were just talking right over each other. I haven’t witnessed anything so dramatic and rude on ABC since Sunday’s Brothers & Sisters! Carrie Ann’s point was that Maks’ choreography, not Brandy’s dancing, was what insulted her. Is this even fair? I can see both sides, but I also think both of them overreacted. Emotions run high on Planet Mirrorballus. Understandable, considering the unique otherworldly atmosphere that is roughly 80 percent pure shimmer.

Of course Carrie Ann gave them a 9 anyway, so the whole episode could have been a non-issue. But then Maks went on a long-winded tirade on behalf of all the other pros as Brandy cringed! While visions of disappearing viewer-votes danced in her head. / And Brooke in her kerchief, and Under-Enthusiastic Bongo Gentleman in his baseball cap, / Had just settled their brains for a long winter’s nap….

No matter where you fall on the Carrie Ann vs. Maks spectrum, I think we can all agree that the real question up for debate here is: Are royal blue Hammer pants with thigh cutouts appropriate, even in a televised-ballroom setting? Discuss.

NEXT: Can Jennifer go all Lion King and “feel the love tonight”?

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough: 27/30 + 30/30 = 57/60 Jennifer is in a lot of pain due to the tendonitis in her knees. She’s past the point of wincing and screaming during rehearsals — now she’s just looking at Derek and shaking her head. It’s not good. Even Dr. Branzina (I could not stop thinking about tasty branzino here) said Jen was balancing on the fine line between ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘Keep going.’ She’s at a crossroads, just like Britney Spears. Even so! Jen’s white feather-bottomed quickstep was light, fresh, and seemingly pain-free, “like watching a classic Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers classic quickstep,” said Bruno. They just faced the music and danced. In fact, neither dance tonight suggested even slightly that Jennifer was in pain, but I still was acutely aware of my own bum knees and felt really uncomfortable for her during both routines — especially the rumba. (Agggghhh! Slower pain!)

Derek wisely had Jennifer rehearse the rumba to several different songs before facing the moment of truth from the magical mirrorbowl. The rumba was slow and smooth, and we got a Dirty Dancing shout-out right in the opening set of moves. Spin me out! After a series of raves, it was decided: A perfect 30! It’s no wonder; Len’s preferred style of dance (light and shade, high and low, “speed and slow,” etc.) is really what Derek’s all about. Carrie Ann laid it on a little thick when she asked Jennifer to look around and realize how much love for her there was in that great big ballroom. I don’t think her love levels are in question. It’s more like “When will my freaking knees give out?”

Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer: 27/30 + 29/30 = 56/60 Lacey just keeps yelling and yelling at Kyle, and it doesn’t even faze him! After two successful Week 8 dances, he seems to be thriving on his partner’s verbal abuse and tendency to dress like an early 1980s homeless woman during rehearsals. Also, maybe, pizza. Their partnership is fantastic. After their Viennese waltz, it was official: Carrie Ann’s crush on Kyle is back in full swing. (We were all on pins and needles!) And Len was so impressed with Kyle’s improved posture, long, wide frame, and heel leads that he upgraded the Disney Channel star from last week’s “little bud” to “a gorgeous orchid.” Speaking of plants, was anyone else mostly watching Lacey’s frothy green gown throughout the Viennese waltz? “Can you help me unravel the latest mistake” that was this dress? Just kidding; according to commenter Julia, she looked like “a slutty Alice in Wonderland” and you know I loved it.

In addition to assuaging our fears that the Instant Dance Round was the worst cracked-out idea the DWTS producers have ever entertained, Kyle’s engaging, seemingly effortless jive became one of those dances that should be memorable for weeks or even seasons to come — not as “Kyle’s Week 8 jive” but as “that one time Lacey wore a dress made out of patterned paper and Kyle whipped out lightning-fast footwork out of nowhere!” You know, sort of a “reset” button for your DWTS viewing pleasure. This dance changed my whole perspective of the Week 8 performance show. And the whole crowd went nuts. Even Enthusiastic Activia Lady, front-row staple Jamie Lee Curtis, was on her feet (possibly about to bolt to the bathroom)!

NEXT: “Ken Doll for mature people” ranks second-to-last with the judges.

Kurt Warner and Anna Tre-BUN-skaya: 24/30 + 24/30 = 48/60 Kurt Warner has a ton of beautiful children and one of them has a mohawk. That’s it. He should win. But the judges aren’t so convinced. Kurt’s first-round dance, a waltz set to The Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit,” gave the judges a great chance to remind him that he wasn’t as good as everyone else. It was Bruno vs. Carrie Ann all over again in an epic battle of backhanded compliments. Bruno: “Obviously we can see that people are better than you, but you’re trying to do it.” Encouraging! And Carrie Ann: “You’re not quite at the same level, but what’s so endearing is I see your effort with every move you make.” Ooh, such a close call! I’m gonna give this one to Carrie Ann because she also went ahead and likened the stately Kurt to “a Ken doll for mature people like me.” Whatever the hell that means!

As Kurt and Anna trained for the instant cha cha cha, Kurt’s beautiful children stopped by the studio to give him helpful tips (my favorites: “You need some musicality” and “Keep dancing”) and higher scores than he will ever see from the judges. (Well, except for that little DNCMSTR-in-training over on the left end, who low-balled him with a 7/”Seh-vehhhhhhhn!”) The instant dance was easily the best Kurt has ever performed — he had a never-before-seen ease about him, fun facial expressions, and…were you even ready for this? I wasn’t!…FRINGED PANTS. Sneaky fringed pants, too — I didn’t even realize there was fringe in the vast blackness of his lower half until I paused the dance during the end-of-show recap! Clearly, fringe was the secret ingredient to what Carrie Ann classified as “a very interesting new sex appeal”…before quickly acknowledging Kurt’s wife in the audience. “That’s right, she saw it! Two snaps up!” I swear, I’ve been recapping this show for 11 seasons and sometimes even I can’t believe the lunacy embedded in all that I type. “You’re becoming a dancer!” gasped Anna while adorably patting her heart. It’s about time! But seriously, what does this guy have to do to get a 9? (Change his identity.)

Teen Activist Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas: 24/30 + 23/30 = 47/60 Bristol’s first-round Argentine tango was her “most intense” performance, said Carrie Ann. I suppose I can’t argue with that…but it was still so…nothing! Would it kill Bristol to flex her knees a little, infuse some energy into her transitions, or care at all about improving on mediocrity? Basically, would it kill her to try? It might. The dance actually looked nice and artistic at times, but then they’d zoom in and I’d get mad that Bristol’s feet were just barely waving around Mark’s calves, not flicking violently like I knew they should. It was a full-on Monet, like in Clueless: “From far away, it’s okay, but up close, it’s a big old mess!” I’m disappointed because I think Bristol possesses the tools to be so much better. She simply can’t be bothered. It didn’t help that Mark was going for a straitjacket-chic aesthetic with that odd black sweatshirt.

Bristol, arguably the worst dancer left, received the most difficult of the instant dances: samba. Her hot pink tiered fringe did great! She did okay. I’m being generous. All I saw Bristol do was walk around and occasionally shimmy. Bruno became repeatedly thrilled that she’d at least perfected “the pencil sharpener.” Mark accepted “the blame” for whatever went wrong, but I don’t know that I could point out where exactly that happened even if a sparkly, legally purchased shotgun was pointed at my glitter-drenched eyelids. (I like to get dolled up for the performance episodes.) It was just a mess.

‘Til tomorrow, DNCMSTRs — who do you think will head home tonight? Discuss the week 8 performances in the comments, and nominate your Hidden Gems of the Week before 2 p.m. ET over at PopWatch.

Read more:

‘DWTS’: Your Hidden Gems of Week 7!

Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

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