A week after famous dancers come famous singers! This being on Icons Night, the dancing to musical icons starts with a soon to be iconic opening number, which is to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”
The 360 degree camera work from the center of the dance floor is a first for the show, and heavily promoted as a reason to tune in, as well as a reason to hit up their website. Because of course it is.
(By the way, their YouTube channel is back this week. It seems like they’ll only post videos if we’re not subscribed. How backwards.)
Down to the business at hand. It’ll be the last dances for two couples, Tom reminds us, before the remaining eight couples start their individual dances.
Jodie Sweetin & Keo Motsepe: Quickstep; “For Once in My Life” Stevie Wonder She wants a Nine. He wants to not go home. Which is facing reality? He leads her out of the audience before they dance quite frantically, which makes itself felt when they’re not quite in sync. The judges like her movement, but note the problems with sync and body contact both. Carrie Ann thinks those were actually Keo’s fault! She still penalizes them more: she only gives an Eight, but Jodie gets her desired Nines from the other two for 26.
Kim Fields & Sasha Farber: Samba; “ABC” The Jackson 5 Apparently she’s known the Jacksons since they were children, so she’s excited. She’s also even more mad than Jodie at her lack of Nines last week, especially since it left her tied for the bottom on the double elimination week. The dance starts with her joyfully bursting out an apartment door, and it just gets better from there, until by the end the audience are leaping to their feet. “I love it when you get pissed,” comments Carrie Ann, and the other two agree, with Len calling it her best dance yet. This time, all three of them break out the Nines for 27.
Nyle DiMarco & Peta Murgatroyd: Foxtrot; “Beautiful Day” U2 Peta claims Nyle’s comment last week about Val was taken out of context. Now he’s too scared to talk freely! But by the end of the fluff they’re joking about it. This week they go back to what worked before: romance and fog, except this time they reduce the latter enough so we can see clearly how sublime and romantic and on it he is throughout. The judges love it. Len does say his bum was stuck out when they were in hold and breaks out the Nine, but Bruno thinks a lot of people would like said posterior anyway and along with Carrie Ann holds up his Ten paddle–except once again he apparently accidentally submitted a Nine as his official score, so the final score is only 28, much to everyone’s indignation.
Antonio Brown, Jr. & Sharna Burgess: Tango; “Paint it Black” Rolling Stones They too make much use of mist, though mostly at the beginning, along with mystic black-robed figures which Tom christens the “Darth Vader Dancers.” They go out to do their intense tango-ing on the open floor–except near the end the cameras apparently lose it for a moment and a title flashes on the our TV screens for a split second, which really disrupts the mood. The judges didn’t have to deal with that, of course, so they enjoyed the full effect, with Bruno calling it “A Tango in the Temple of Doom,” but also were exposed to his various mistakes, with Carrie Ann suggesting his went through it too fast, and that keeps their scores down to straight Eights and 24.
Wanya Morris & Lindsay Arnold: Foxtrot; “Say a Little Prayer” Aretha Franklin The fluff is preceded by an adorable moment of them picking flowers on the white picket fence set. It gets more serious with him struggling with another commitment and trying to limit the loss of rehearsal time, but then we’re back to the sweetness, because this number is ridiculously cute, and it’s very well done too. “Wholesome as apple pie,” Bruno calls it. But then Carrie Ann expresses a disappointment that, while very good, it didn’t have the “wow” factor she wanted, though she still praises it as she as the other two break out the straight Nines.
Ginger Zee & Val Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz; “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston After last week, Val knows about the need for a “wow” factor, and he pushes Ginger very hard this week. It gets her to where she needs to be. She comes out and not only nails this dance, but does so while making the romance of it sing out and dazzle the ballroom, with the aid of a fancy mirror setup at first but they don’t even need it once it retreats. Carrie Ann describes herself as bursting into tears halfway through and calls it “perfection,” and when Bruno is calling it “impeccable” as well as her best dance so far, one gets the feeling this might just be the first perfect score of the season. And lo and behold, it is.
Von Miller & Witney Carson: Salsa; “A Little Less Conversation” Elvis Presley In the fluff she talks about taking advantage of his strength to do difficult lifts. But when she wisely casts him as Elvis and choreographs and stages accordingly, the real highlight of this performance is the chances she gives him to dance on his own Elvis-style. This allows the viewers to ignore how much less than impressive he is technically. The judges praise lifts and impersonations both, but they are not allowed to ignore the technical deficiencies. It’s another set of straight Eights from them.
Paige VanZant & Mark Ballas: Jive; “Proud Mary” Tina Turner In the fluff, she expresses her worry after being left hanging last week that not enough people are voting for her, then she panders declaring her admiration for Tina Turner. Thankfully, it was save the best for last in the individual round this week: she’s perfect in her steps, her attitude, her high energy, her emotion, and the hard cartwheel move she and Mark top it off with. The ovation goes on for quite some time and Tom even says he wants to see it again before the judges get their chance to rave. They’re pretty much required to give it straight Tens, and they oblige.
Been a great night so far, but now will the boys against girls team dances measure up? In accordance with the night’s theme, the two teams are dancing to medleys by two last icons:
Team James Brown: Freestyle; James Brown Medley The fluff show some tribulations during the Sunday blocking; Wanya struggles after missing the second rehearsal. Nyle struggles too, which everyone worrying what will happen if the deaf guy can’t get back into timing. But tonight, when the men get together to channel James Brown, they all do so quite well, Wanya gets his moves right, and when Nyle gets slightly out of timing, everyone else manages to shift to get back into sync with him! Carrie Ann is extremely impressed with that, though that he did is presumably why she and Len keep their scores down to Nines-but Bruno still gives them a Ten! So they take 28, which takes Nyle & Peta up to 56, Wanya & Lindsay to 55, and Von & Lindsay and Antonio & Sharna to 52.
Team Beyoncé: Freestyle; Beyoncé Medley The women want it more, they claim in the fluff, then spend much of it talking about searching for confidence and channeling their inner Beyonce. They need that confidence too, since this turns out to be a routine that changes musical mood more than any team dance in the past ever has. But they find it, being four great divas through fast and slow and solo moments and when they dance together as well. Sadly, they don’t manage to keep sync with each other all of the time. The judges cite that and Carrie Ann takes her score down to Eight while the other two give Nines, for a total of 26. Ginger & Val and Paige & Mark go up to 56 to tie with Nyle & Peta for the lead, while Kim & Sasha go up to 53, and Jodie & Keo to 52.
There are four minutes left to get rid of two couples, and three are called in jeopardy: Kim & Sasha, Wanya & Lindsay, and Von & Witney. Given two of these couples were in the three-way tie for last and Wanya & Lindsay were five points head, you figure the last will be the ones getting out of this one, except Von might well have gotten more votes…
But if so, not enough more votes. He’s out, and so are Kim & Sasha. Both couples seem a little stunned. But then again, this is the kind of competition where any of the couples going might feel like a bit of a shock to them. It almost makes you wish they’d held off on the double for a couple of weeks. Len noted at one point tonight he has no idea who’s going to win, and we certainly don’t either. Who knows who will even make the final.