Warning: This Dancing With the Stars recap contains spoilers.
The eight remaining Season 22 hoofers fought through their varying limb/costuming pain twice as hard on Week 7 during two rounds: solo dances set to iconic songs, plus a men vs. women freestyle war that spiritual leaders James Brown and Beyoncé would have either casually side-eyed or flat-out ignored. Hey, these are amateurs. Just be glad they sparkle.
The delightful mess ended with a rushed double elimination most of us saw coming. The first to go: NFL star Von Miller and his partner Witney Carson, who brazenly committed Houghery in the first degree during their otherwise satisfactory Elvis Presley-themed salsa.
Eat your heart out, Derek! For one night only, there was a new Latin-loving crotch-bobber in town.
Von had finally, almost begrudgingly, begun to warm up in the last two weeks, whereas the other eliminated couple, The Facts of Life star Kim Fields and her partner Sasha “Fierce” Farber, had been trying super hard from day one. Kim was shocked to be sent home after earning straight 9s on this week’s high-energy “ABC” samba, which seemed to take place at 123 Sesame Street.
She may never know if they were Pity 9s or Real 9s. But does the correct interpretation really matter? You take them both, and there you have ‘em.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd: 28/30 foxtrot + 28/30 Team James Brown = 56/60 After being confidence-shamed by Len last week, the deaf top model spent much of rehearsal time afraid to sign anything cocky. Nevertheless, Len managed to swipe at him from the other, more technical end, complaining that Nyle’s bum stuck out throughout their “Beautiful Day” foxtrot.
“No one’s complaining!” cried Bruno, speaking for everyone else in the bum-loving crowd. Tragically, they all turned on Mr. Tonioli after he tried to score Nyle a 10 even though the judges’ official scrap paper definitely said 9.
Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold: 27/30 foxtrot + 28/30 Team James Brown = 55/60 Despite a Boyz II Men-related commitment in NYC that kept him from team freestyle practice (and on the phone in L.A. sounding quasi-important), Wanya managed to serve as both head cheerleader and the guy who drummed out the beat of the James Brown medley on Nyle’s shoulders so Nyle could lead the pack through some jazzy lurches. That’s teamwork. Is there anything this original boy bander can’t do?
Yes: Pray hard enough for 10s! Wanya and Lindsay’s foxtrot, set to Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer,” fell just short of the judges’ most gilded paddles. Len loved its “whimsy and joy,” but pointed out, much to Wanya’s able-bodied surprise, that he’d somehow lost his neck. Carrie Ann eloquently explained that she expected “Jyeahhh!!!” from this dance, but it only ended up being “Yayyyyy” for her. Very helpful. He must know exactly what to do to fix that.
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas: 30/30 jive + 25/30 Team Beyoncé = 55/60 Who runs the world of Tina Turner impressions in a ballroom setting?
Paige! This couple’s “Proud Mary” jive was jam-packed with difficult technical content and acrobatics — in particular, a “cartwheel situation” in which Paige and Mark appeared to be fighting each other UFC-style while a giant killer cheese grater loomed above.
Back away from the potential frontrunners, grater! These two still have plenty of aging to do in the next few weeks. We must preserve their unique flavor.
Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 30/30 Viennese waltz + 25/30 Team Beyoncé = 55/60 Lesser entertainers have crumbled under the pressure, but GMA’s chief meteorologist has proven well-suited to weather Val’s stormy “You must be better/PLEASE DON’T PANIC” training style. Can he help that he’s so passionate? Our Pro just wants his partner to look the best she can!
The pair earned the first perfect 30 of the season for a romantic Viennese waltz set to “I Have Nothing: Namely, The Rights To The Whitney Houston Original” — a lesser-known cover of the iconic hit. Their chemistry and Ginger’s long white gown couldn’t have been stronger, but technically this fell short of perfect for me. She’s simply not the dancer Val and the network want her to be. But she’s trying.
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess: 24/30 tango + 28/30 Team James Brown = 52/60 The last remaining NFL star and his smoldering flame of a partner gave great face during their solo tango, but were ultimately overwhelmed by the elaborate staging, background druids, and furious nature of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”.
Carrie Ann insisted there’s a hidden reserve of magic Antonio can tap into if he remembers that each dance is not a sprint, but a series of nuanced moves — the little steps leading up to the big plays. As this wizard is still becoming aware of his own powers, he did not notice Sharna’s boob popping out at the end of their dance in time to cover it up. Too much going on, really. The netting, the patterns, the windswept hair, Darth Vader…
So Tom made a big deal about it instead, via the Nip Slip Police in his earpiece, and all was perfectly awkward.
Whoops! Crisis achieved.
Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe: 26/30 quickstep + 25/30 Team Beyoncé = 51/60 It’s too bad Jodie danced first this week — the judges might have better appreciated her charming quickstep set to Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life” if they’d had more time to soften up.
Or would they have had it out for Keo either way? Carrie Ann insisted he missed a step on the Charleston and failed to keep Jodie “in the right contact” throughout the dance. Isn’t this supposed to be about her performance, not his? If she danced it correctly, what is the problem?
Regardless, this was a much better week for the Fuller House star than the low-hummed critical fanfare would suggest.
Fronting Team Beyoncé with an extra dose of attitude never hurt anyone, either.
Be sure to bedazzle your texting thumbs for next week, when America becomes the fourth judge!
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.