Warning: This Dancing With the Stars recap contains spoilers.
It’s Week 6, which means Dancing With the Stars has officially transitioned into Dancing On Injuries. But there’s no rest for the weak or the weary, especially if they submit to silly institutions like naps or X-rays. Wellness is for quitters!
Famous Dances Night — or shall we call it Freestyle For Dummies? — offered up a bunch of flashy ensemble numbers designed to show off the athleticism and charisma of contestants who probably won’t make it to the finals. Decent stuff, but we’d seen most of it before, often within this very ballroom.
If they really wanted to ensure every dance was “iconic,” perhaps all of them — not just the fabulous group opener — should have evoked the famous Surfer Flamenco, a stunning Season 15 romp in which Our Pro Val Chmerkovskiy sported his best look: hardly anything.
Now that’s what I’d call a theme week!
No stranger to surfing or ridiculous costumes, former NFL star and current cool dad Doug Flutie was eliminated Monday following a jolly good Slumdog Millionaire-inspired Bollywood routine with partner Karina Smirnoff. Doug departs Planet Mirrorballus with a mild respect for sequins, very little patience, and a much deeper well of insecurities re: his short-term memory.
Despite straight 7s this week, he deserves at least an 8 for effort.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold: 29/30 I fully expected Joey Fatone (Season 4) and Lance Bass (Season 7) to escape their boring front row seats and reemerge on the giant bobblehead TV screens as special guest dancers at the start of Wanya’s jazz tribute to *NSYNC’s absolutely famous and exceedingly iconic “Bye Bye Bye” performance from the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. But the former ballroom bridesmaids said no, no, let the Boyz II Men star have his moment in the blazing spotlights all to himself.
And Wanya did not disappoint! Bruno Tonioli called the frontrunner’s routine “pop in its most pure and brilliant form,” while Carrie Ann Inaba sat on the judges’ table and momentarily forgot where she was, in effect making her critique of Wanya being “so in it, under it, around it, on top of it, and under it one more time” reflect her own Dancing With the Stars trajectory. She’ll perch on the edge, she’ll run around for a hug, she’ll tumble off her chair multiple times due to excitement. No reason not to. That’s what being “SO IN IT!” is all about.
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas: 28/30 If anyone knows about getting into character, it’s on-again-off-again Englishman Sir Ballas, who overcame his disappointment about not getting to use some other mystery song and dance just in time to channel one of his many spirit animals.
The couple’s jazz throwback to the opening credits of Austin Powers — which would have been a total disaster without the right crazy people involved — was evocative and peppy, but I’d have liked to see more of an emphasis on Paige. (I was promised tricks, damnit! I need more flips!) Clearly high from one bite of his four-layer birthday cake, Grumpy Len Goodman was the only judge to score them a 10. That’s practically a 12 in human scores! Or at least it used to be. Len’s gone pretty soft and sugary this season.
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess: 27/30 Before they could dive into rehearsing their Footloose-inspired jive, Antonio had to bring up something that had been deeply bothering him: Sharna’s lack of belief in him as a viable contender for the COVETED MIRRORBALL TROPHY.
Whatever! I am still not buying that this guy gives a crap, and we all know Sharna is one of the most dedicated and generous partners to ever practice “smell-the-fart acting” in the ballroom. But whether you saw this pair’s perfectly paced “pit stop” as a well-acted bout of nonsense or a moving turning point in their partnership doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that the NFL star kicked up his intensity and focus to great effect and somehow commanded most of their jive’s attention amidst a sea of pastel hot people and flittered flags.
“It’s as much about the will to win as the skill to win,” said Len, more sugared up than ever. “Hard work pays off!” cried Bruno. Sure, whatever! Lookin’ good!
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd: 25/30 Shrouding Nyle’s noggin in neon green prosthetics might have been one of the worst visual crimes in DWTS history, but it did force us to evaluate his mediocre movement instead of his amazingly beautiful face. The judges loved the performance value of the couple’s jive tribute to “Hey Pachuco” from The Mask, but called Nyle out on a broken frame and poor timing.
Len, clearly jealous of Nyle’s bright yellow suit, scolded him: “You’re a good dancer, but don’t start saying ‘I’m as good as Val,’ because you’ll just annoy people.’” For the record, Nyle never said he was as good as Val; he merely named Val as his main competition and said he didn’t see the other celebs as better dancers than him. This was just the America’s Next Top Model winner’s natural confidence shining through, with a little help from the Tyra Banks Ego Beams drilled into him last week. It’s fine! It happens.
Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe: 25/30 “Nearly broken bones will not prevent me from getting out on that dance floor,” said Fuller House star Jodie after taking an elbow to the face and Keo’s entire body weight to her foot. Their contemporary sendup to Pink’s “Try” video was an angry flurry of facial strains, limb strains, and perhaps most importantly Keo’s abs. “Nothing’s fractured!” Jodie beamed as she leaned in to the power of a dynamic, artistic, “borderline ugly” comeback arc. It was almost too perfect.
So she threw her partner through a table. No big deal. This dance was effective in that it was freaky as hell, but overall it lacked the technical chops to back up all that emotion.
Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 24/30 In preparation for their jazz imitation of Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” video, Val uttered the four words we prayed we’d never hear from him: “That’s too much hump.” His insistence on sharpness and “cleanliness” might have inadvertently kept Ginger from unleashing her potential in this dance — Len called it “a bit more tasty than nasty” — or it might just be that Ginger is more of a charming buttoned-up substitute teacher than a bad, bad girl. Her best move occurred just beyond the scope of the dance, when she saw her partner’s pesky red shirt for the blight on society that it was and just ripped it right off.
“I don’t have time for that!” screamed Ginger’s eyes. “I’m a smart, sassy business lady!” Survey says: Not nasty.
Von Miller and Witney Carson: 24/30 The judges were much easier on Von, who didn’t quite channel the inherent fierceness of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video, but did seem to care this week for the first time all season. Of course the one week they don’t have to do ballroom or Latin, he steps up!
Despite his towering stature, Von is never big enough when he dances. MJ’s power was in his containment, but in Von’s case, there has to be more to contain or it’ll just look competent. Don’t get me wrong, though: His competency is refreshing and just in time (for next week’s double elimination, if we’re being realistic).
Kim Fields and Sasha Farber: 24/30 The Real Housewives of Atlanta star had been hiding her swollen ankles from her partner long enough, so she got some X-rays and waited for the bad news from Dr. Shamloo: “This is not something you ignore,” he said. “I want you to not do the rehearsal.” Huh? Can he not tell that Kim has two kids and can therefore handle anything?!
Obviously this guy was a quack. If he truly meant what he was saying and his words should be prioritized in the slightest, he’d be gently cupping a mirrorball in his hands instead of that stinky whiff of truth.
Kim was much more effusive with the man who told her exactly what she wanted to hear after their Hairspray-infused jive, a veritable beehive of activity involving somewhere between eight and 80 troupe members and not enough energy from Kim. She thought she’d make up for it by running up to Bruno and bouncing in place…
But, true to the musical, Bruno could not be bothered to stop the beat. It’s like he didn’t even see her there! That’s how committed he was to his own dance!
“You’re so consistent that sometimes it scares me,” said Carrie Ann in the most passive-aggressive white lie of the night. “I don’t want you to disappear.”
And that, my friends, is how you foreshadow one part of a double elimination. The only thing Kim can do now is pray for a better show placement next week to save face and kill the dance no matter what, then tip her hat and back away.
See you next week for the Stevie Wonder of it all, men vs. women team dances, and a sure-to-be-appalling double elimination!