Dancing with the Stars, Season 24, Week 5, Disney Night

Normani & Val take the lead with a Mulan routine; elimination comes down to pair of couples after they’ve both had breakthrough performances.

Disney Night, as usual, starts with the mirrorball version of the logo. But the opening number may be the best Disney-themed opening we’ve had yet, turning the ballroom into a fairyland and bringing in season nineteen champion Alfonso Ribeiro to sing and even a pair of kids!

Ribeiro won’t be the only past champion singing tonight either!

For the first time this season, we also get results announced during the show, instead of just at the end. Things that are normal for nights like these include the Disney characters running around the ballroom. And, of course, they’re sure to include songs from whatever movies they’re trying to sell at the moment. So we get the new song from the latest live-action remake out of the way immediately.

Rashad Jennings & Emma Slater: Foxtrot; “Evermore” Beauty and the Beast

Disney night also means literally magical fluffs, with Emma amusingly spying on Rashad with the magic mirror to see if he’s gone to see the new movie yet. He portrays the Beast without a mask, told to just get into character. But the routine actually makes him into too generic a prince to really do that. But taken as just a prince and his lady, it is supremely romantic and quite graceful and lovely to watch. The judges all note that wasn’t an easy song to keep time with either, and Rashad did pretty well with it. But Len and Bruno thought he didn’t quite manage it, and Carrie Ann thought him to constrained. So he gets only a Seven from her and Eights from the men. But Julianne breaks out the Nine, so he ends up with 32.

Right after their scores, Erin declares them safe. After a commercial break and a priceless bumper featuring Dory, we also line up four more couples for results. Heather is still with Alan, but they’re safe, as are Bonner & Sharna.

In jeopardy are both of the next two couples to perform:

Nick Viall & Peta Murgatroyd: Jazz; “There are No Strings on Me” Pinocchio

So how to you make this song work when many viewers probably associate it more with Ultron? You start with a fluff where the Pinocchio noses have wonderful comic timing. Then you have a routine where Nick dresses as the puppet and everything is shamelessly silly even before they break out the can-can dancing. He shows some trepidation about that in the fluff. But tonight he embraces it, and he shows a knack for the comedy and nails all of those moves. He also expressed a hope in the fluff of becoming a real dancer. He kind of does, and Julianne even says so. “Do more of that,” Bruno adds, “because you can-can!” The ladies give him Nines, the men Eights, so he totals 34.

Erika Jayne & Gleb Savchenko: Viennese Waltz; “Unforgettable” Finding Dory

The fluff shows Erika deeply distressed out of her failure to connect with the audience last week, because that’s something she’s generally good at. Thankfully this week she’s got a song that’s long been a favorite of hers and her husband. Not that they neglect the origins of the version of it they’re dancing to. Not only is the underwater setting established with spectacular effects at the beginning and end of the routine, but the moves and the way Erika does them makes you feel like you’re watching a mermaid, even though she’s one in a normal ballroom skirt. She performs with some very real emotion too. “Forget princesses,” Carrie Ann tells her, “you are a Queen,” and the judges break out straight Eights for 32.

Heather Morris & Alan Bersten: Jazz; “For the First Time in Forever” Frozen

The fluff emphasizes Maks’ work choreographing a character-driven routine. It also shows him to have the ability to turn into Olaf and making it snow by snapping his fingers. It’s very much all about Heather being a comic Anna in an iced-over ballroom, complete with throwing snowballs and poking Len. There are also a lot of tricks, including a lift invented by Maks. Heather does it all excellently, and really makes the mood of it sing. None of the judges say much against her. But Carrie Ann does against Maks; she was not impressed by the choreography at all, and Len too was lukewarm on it. But Julianne and Bruno both absolutely loved the program, and Bruno goes into the spin cycle while taking about the spins. Eights from one side of the table and Nines from the other get them 34.

Also, Maks is apparently coming back next week. He thanks Alan, and we all hope he’ll finally get a turn in the main cast next season.

Bonner Bolton & Sharna Burgess: Tango; “When Can I See You Again” Wreck-It Ralph

Sharna wants to put them into a video game for the routine. The fluff ends rather scarily, with Bonner turning into a the character. But while they are very much in the game, and there are moments for them to move like 8-bit characters, the actual tangoing is apart from that. And for that, Bonner is one smooth mover, doing unmistakable tango even in a song that doesn’t really lend itself to that. Not that he isn’t good at portraying the character too. Len and Julianne are especially impressed. But while Bruno’s quick to say Bonner didn’t wreck the tango, he does think it less than perfect, and Carrie Ann has reservations too. So they only give Sevens, which combine with Eights from Len and Julianne for 30.

Four more couples to go, and they line up for results first. Simone & Sasha and David & Lindsay are both safe, and after a nervous moment Nancy & Artem turn out to be too. Normani & Val, disturbingly, are in jeopardy.

Though then again, maybe we should’ve guessed that, since we knew before the commercial break they were next to dance:

Normani Kordei & Val Chmerkovskiy: Paso Doble; “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” Mulan (Donny Osmond performing live)

Mulan was Normani’s favorite film as a girl, and Val draws parallels between the two women. The fluff has too much fun with her learning combat choreography. But the routine has not only that, but plenty of paso doble, and plenty of just Normani being a young woman determined to be kick-ass. And she absolutely is. She’s already owned the floor whenever she’s been on it, but this takes things up another level, combining excellent choreography and character to be one of the best things on a night where that’s saying plenty. Bruno calls her “the fierce all-conquering paso princess,” and Carrie Ann calls it perfection, and out come three mouse-eared Tens. Len won’t go further than a Nine though, so they settle for 39, which still ultimately proves the lead.

David Ross & Lindsay Arnold: Jive; “Ride” Cars 3 (ZZ Ward performing live)

This is a new level of promotion: a TV premiere of a song from an upcoming movie. It also requires David to do a hard and fast dance that makes him feel his age. Hey, at least he’s finally gotten his championship ring? It’s an good song if you just want something to pump you up, but that means it requires a *lot* of energy. David supplies it as much as he has in him, but his age does show a mite. Plus he’s a little flat-footed, and you can definitely tell his legs are not the kind of sharp-moving things the jive really needs for them to be. His upper half is good and fun, and he gets the moves themselves done. Len makes a comment about his feet getting a puncture, as three of the judges give them Sevens. Julianne’s a little nicer with an Eight, so they take 29.

Nancy Kerrigan & Artem Chigvintsev: Jazz; “That’s How You Know” Enchanted

Since this is the big Central Park number, it really does require an ensemble. Which Nancy hasn’t really done on the show, and she spends the fluff being anxious about having a bunch of people better than her on the floor with her. But even if it’s on ice, Nancy has shown herself as being perfectly capable of leading a dancing ensemble and staying the star. Artem wants to routine to show her “fun side,” and she vanishes impressively into the character of Giselle and manages to find a sparkle to inlay her dancing with. That dancing’s pretty good technically too. The judges note this may have been the most “Disney” routine of the night, and they love it, and give her straight Nines for 36.

Simone Biles & Sasha Farber: Contemporary; “How Far I’ll Go” Moana (Auli’i Cravalho performing live)

The fluff shows Simone still struggling with Sasha’s continuing to push her hard. He goes easier on Auli’i though, having Simone dance away from her at the beginning so she doesn’t get whapped with anything. Simone is showcased a lot here, on the floor and in the air with all the jumping she does, with Sasha not nearly as important. But that’s appropriate enough, for Moana and Simone both. It works very well, and Simone takes everything Sasha gives her and nails it. It blends with Auli’i’s singing until one gets a little feeling of perfection for the second time tonight. Two of the judges agree, with Bruno making comments about gravity possibly not applying to Simone; he and Julianne break out the Tens. Carrie Ann and Len give them Nines, so they settle for 38.

Erika & Gleb, Nick & Peta, and Normani & Val line up. It really would be ridiculous for Normani & Val to go for multiple reasons, so they’re called safe next. So now we’re left with the two couples were left at the bottom of the leaderboard last week after the only couple below them went home, who both had brilliant dances this week, after which you don’t want to see either go. Which of them finally delivered a little too late?

Erika & Gleb, it turns out. They try to take it philosophically; at least they went out on a high note. And at least they have Mickey and his friends running to hug them when they go out on the floor.

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