By Lynette Rice
November 16, 2020 at 10:30 PM EST
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Credit: ABC

It's the semi-finals already? Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that we were mourning the loss of our beloved Tom Bergeron. But he's on Cameo, friends! Book your Christmas greetings now. Until then, we can only hope to get a surprise call from Nev Schulman, who not only wants to win your vote but is hoping to bundle your home and auto insurance at the same time. 

It's redemption time!

Nelly and Daniella Karagach: Bruno Tonioli thought the rapper looked like Megatron while performing his first paso doble, so he asked for a desirous do-over. Shirt was optional: use of his muscles and neck were not. "Megatron no more! You can see the artist," said Tonioli. "I could see shapes. I could see your neck. You used restrained power. And by the way, you are looking good." And what time is it, you say? (Cut to Nelly checking his diamond-encrusted wristwatch.) It's time for the rapper to earn his first 9! Score: 26 out of 30

Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten: The Bunk'ed actress opened the show (wearing sparkly gold) after getting tips for a new and improved cha cha from silver fox Tonioli. (Don't you appreciate all the hair hues brought by Inaba and Tonioli this season?) "Papa is proud. My little golden girl brought some extra bling to the cha cha with 24-carat hip action!" he exclaimed. "I thought it was amazing, I'm so proud of you. You were so tight, so crisp!" added Carrie Ann Inaba. Hough wrapped up by saying it was his fave dress of the season. Score: 27 out of 30

Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart: The Olympic skater, who would make a very effective boiler room phone operator, had a so-so salsa the first time around. So at the urging of Inaba, Weir was forbidden to use his hands this time. If only she said something about pursing his lips so much. No matter ... he rocked the Cuban heels! Somebody deserves some extra credit. "I felt you had much more control," said Inaba. "That was a tough routine. That was intricate," added Hough. "The fact you were able to do it with power and finesse...it was great." Score: 27 out of 30

Justina Machado and Sasha Farber: I found it hard to focus on Machado's otherwise steamy tango because of that loco music. What was with that Roxanne growl? But I agreed with Hough — so good! "The attack, the passion, the energy, your frame is so exquisite," said Hough. "You don't mess with that girl. She was on top of it!" continued Tonioli. And lookee here! Machado got her first 10! Score: 28 out of 30 

Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson: In revisiting his week 1 foxtrot, Hough required Schulman to bring his tush back into the proper DWTS zip code. He also said ANOTHER thing about Schulman's chest hair. Give Chewy a break, will you Derek? "It was classic, it was pure foxtrot. You were in absolute control from start to finish," said Hough. "In these past few weeks you have mastered the technique and have become a true ballroom artist," added Inaba. Score: Perfect 30

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev: Inaba was turned off by Bristowe's lack of energy in her first paso doble, so the Bachelorette realized it was time to bring on the drama. Easy peasy! "From the moment you began, it was passionate, it was powerful. You were so in the zone," said Inaba. "Doesn't redemption feel good?" "It was 100 percent authentic paso doble," added Tonioli. Score: Perfect 30

Round two! (Forecast: Warm and forgiving breezes with 100 percent chance of 10s).  

Justina Machado and Sasha Farber: Farber chose the contemporary dance to pay tribute to their mutual trust. And boy does she have faith in her partner: she was all (gorgeous) smiles throughout the number. So judges: is the 48-year-old Latina woman truly killing it on the dance floor?  "I love watching you dance. It feels effortless. Your gift is to make it come from you from within," said Hough. "Justina, you are right about Sasha, he has a special heart," continued Inaba. "It was beautiful, it was authentic. You were telling us your appreciation for Sasha." Score: Perfect 30

Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten: It was lonely for Skai to grow up in front of the camera, so she decided to redirect that sadness into her Viennese waltz. Boy, can she make vulnerability graceful! "The poise, the elegance, I'm telling you that could be a Vogue cover," said Tonioli. "You managed to develop and maintain an emotional connection." Added Inaba, "Skai you are an exceptional woman filled with elegance, grace, and determination." Score: Perfect 30

Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart: Being on DWTS has made the skater "feel competitively alive" again after giving up his battles on the ice more than eight years ago. Since he couldn't yell from the dance floor, he let his impeccable jazz dance do the talking: LET HIM STAY! "That looked like you felt like you were on cloud nine," said Inaba. "It had this feeling of hope." Added Hough, "It was a beautiful routine ... I want to give it an 11!" Score: Perfect 30

Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson: The Catfish guy didn't really need to prove that he deserved to be in the final three — he was a shoo-in after week 4. But he made sure to deliver a splendid contemporary dance, nonetheless. "I forgot to judge, honestly. I was just watching, and like, wow. It was so wonderful to witness," said Hough. "Just the partnership, the fluidity... listen, you aced it. That was phenomenal."  "You cannot be THAT good," added Tonioli. Score: Perfect 30  

Nelly and Daniella Karagach: He had his doubts about making it to the finale. "It's super tough," he admits. And Daniella is "annoying as hell." Did the producers just set us up for Nelly's departure? It sure seemed like they wanted us to believe that jive was his final performance. "I can't believe it, Nelly, you nailed it! Where did it come from? It was almost miraculous!" said Tonioli. "Nelly, what happened? This was incredible! This was the breakthrough! You had a fire under your foot." Score: Perfect 30

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev: The Bachelorette performed a contemporary dance to a song that was beloved by her late childhood friend. All I can say is: wow. "Kaitlyn, your friend Lindsay is smiling down on you and so proud of you," said Inaba. "This is the dance I knew you would be incredible with." "You'll always have this for your friend," added Hough. Score: Perfect 30 (perfect 60, if you reward Artem for his exquisite abs)

Bottom three were Johnny, Skai, and Justina. (Even Tyra was surprised that Nelly made the finals!) Johnny was sent home first, and the judges were asked to decide the second eliminated dancer. Hough and Inaba saved Justina so it's goodbye Skai.

Next week are the finals and Hough will dance! I'll bring the cheap champagne.

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