Dying to know if all you viewers are psyched about ABC’s new drama Big Sky from David E. Kelley. It sure is getting a whole lot of promotion during our crucial ballroom hours! But I digress: this space is devoted to champions of the cha cha and who made us weep the most. Word of warning, though: this recap includes an unfortunate reminder that we’re all so old. Jenna didn’t recognize Marky Mark!

Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten: The tiny teen is quite busy these days; she wrote a book, she starred in a TV show, and she’s taking three online courses in college. But when she hits that dance floor, she sure looks like a kid trying to dance a grown-up cha cha. Even Hough treats her like a kid each week by calling her “honey.” It’s hard out there for an imp! “There was a mess-up but it happens to all of us,” admitted Hough. “It's all a part of the highs and lows.” Score: 18 out of 30

Vernon Davis and Peta Murgatroyd: The former tight end shed tears when recalling how he lost his grandpa. But he parlayed that grief into the best play of his career! He dedicated his cha cha — which came with an amazing, technicolor dream suit — for his dear old gramps. “Very bright, very, very colorful. The suit alone was almost hypnotizing,” admitted Tonioli. “You have the right feeling for the dance. You get into it. Your timing is good.” Added Inaba, “I enjoy watching you dance. You are very comfortable with yourself. There were a lot of mistakes so the scores aren’t going to be that great.” Eh, they weren’t as bad as Skai’s. Score: 21 out of 30

Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart: Still reveling in his two 10s from last week, the skater boy opted to wear his fringiest costume yet for a so-so salsa at the top of the show. “Let’s talk about that costume. I love me some fringe,” said Derek Hough. “There was a few arm connections, a few misses, but overall a great way to start the show.” The other judges weren’t so kind. “Salsa has to have a much more grounded hip action,” said Tonioli. “You tended to dance it very, very lifted. The style is not quite right.” Added Inaba, “This wasn’t your best dance for me.” Score: 22 out of 30

Nelly and Daniella Karagach: Damn COVID-19; if it wasn’t for this pandemic, I’d be backstage interviewing Nelly about his latest awe-shucks revelation: he was influenced by Hank Williams and George Strait. That’s why he was more than comfortable with performing a Viennese waltz to a country ditty that “channeled my inner Bruno.” “Excuse me?” said Inaba. “That was … I’m like without words. There is something so beautiful happening!” Added Hough, “Honestly, that was wonderful.” Score: 24 out of 30

Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko: We’ve heard some pretty sad stories on DWTS, but this has to be among the most gut-wrenching: Chrishell, who we already know went through a very public divorce, also lost her mom and dad to lung cancer within the last two years. She dedicated her contemporary dance to them and earned her highest score of the season. “You poured your heart and soul into that dance,” said Inaba. “This is about the story. We felt it. We all did.” Added though, “You’ve had a heck of year, to put it mildly. Thank you for sharing that with us.” Score: 24 out of 30

Jeannie Mai and Brandon Armstrong: Did the host of The Real just tell us that her family came over on a leaky boat from Vietnam just so she could appear on Dancing With the Stars? I think she did. And then she wept before performing the rumba. How banal! How melodramatic! And yet, I’m absolutely smitten. Can she come back and cohost the show next season, ABC? “That was such a sensual and... that was really, really good,” said Hough. “Really well done.” “You are stunning and what is so exciting about you is how much you give every single thing you do,” added Inaba. “You dance at your edge.” Score: 25 out of 30

Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson: Before sharing a charming story about growing up in the same NYC building with his extended family, Nev realized that Jenna had no idea that their dance music “Good Vibrations” was sung by Mark Wahlberg. But that wasn’t the only thing “deliciously bonkers” about their jazz performance. “I don’t know what it was, but it worked,” exclaimed Tonioli. “I thought it was amazing,” added Inaba. “You threw in every jazz step possible.” Score: 26 out of 30

Monica Aldama and Val Chmerkovskiy: The cheer coach regaled us with her personal journey from marriage to divorce and back to marriage before dancing a steamy rumba. But every freakin’ week I follow her performance by asking myself, who is this woman again? It doesn't matter, I guess: she's rocking this show. “Wow, wow, there is nothing more exciting than watching someone come into their own,” said Inaba. “That was so refined, so sensual. You were radiant.” Score: 27 out of 30

A.J. McLean and Cheryl Burke: The Backstreet Boy seems to have developed a true friendship with his terrific pro, though he can’t help but say sorry during every one of their rehearsals. At least he has nothing to apologize for after performing that samba. “Oh my God, don’t be sorry, just do it!” said Tonioli. “You are solid, you always deliver, you are always on time … well done.” Added Inaba. “Finally I feel like that was such a breakthrough for you!” Score: 27 out of 30

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev: I think we know what kind of tattoo Kaitlin is gonna get if she wins DWTS. She already has nine tats; what difference would it make if she added a mirror ball to her arm or leg? Judging by Monday’s super samba, the Bachelorette should start workshopping some fresh ink designs. “That was fantastic,” said Hough. “Every arm is perfectly placed.” “That really was a first-class samba, so well played,” added Tonioli. “You didn’t miss a placement.” Score: 27 out of 30

Justina Machado and Sasha Farber: The One Day at a Time actress was rewarded with the last dance — a perfect Viennese waltz to entertain those viewers who respect and appreciate her voluptuous curves. “Smooth as silk, light as a feather, you are radiant,” said Tonioli. “You fill the floor with joy.” Score: 27 out of 30

Johnny and Vernon were the bottom two celebrities. Hough saved Johnny, Inaba saved Vernon, so Tonioli had to make the call: he chose to keep Johnny. Farewell, Vernon! Like Tyra Banks, we wish we could hug you.

Next week is Halloween-themed! See you then, Scary Spices.

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