Warning: This Dancing With the Stars recap contains spoilers.
Monday’s semifinals brought on some steamy trio dances, a brothel-based sensory deprivation experience like nothing you’ve ever seen or heard, and a staggering double elimination with seconds remaining on air. With one week to go before one of the final three nabs the coveted Mirrorball Trophy, DWTS bid a fond farewell to NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown and his partner, Sharna Burgess, and Boyz II Men star Wanya Morris and his partner, Lindsay Arnold.
There was no time to chat with the fallen post-boot, but at least Wanya got in a hug from judge Carrie Ann Inaba following his red-light matrix paso doble trio with wonder twins Witney and Lindsay. The big-hearted DWTS superfan’s elimination was somewhat of a surprise, whereas most of us had a feeling the footballer was on his way out. Antonio rarely captivated us like we wanted, but damn if he didn’t know exactly how to lift Sharna up where she belongs.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhh-ber!
Oh, sorry. Were you done doing … that? Great.
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas: 30/30 samba + 29/30 Argentine tango = 59/60
The couple’s samba trio with local Lord of the Smiles Alan Bersten was chock-full of intricate body paint, righteous bird moves from Paige, and, as host Tom Bergeron joked, “more peacock feathers than they have at NBC.” Carrie Ann called the UFC fighter’s star power “on fleek,” and I’m so sorry for mentioning that as you were probably trying to forget it.
Not to be outdone by soapy tabloid rumors or someone else’s height, Mark asserted his dominance over the Trouper by insisting the wardrobe department make his “cockfeathers” two inches longer than Alan’s. Overcompensating or accurate? We may never know. Lord knows we’ll never hear another peep from Alan, who was stunned into sweaty submission by a rapid-fire assault from Erin Andrews on just what is going on between him and Paige.
“This peacock … cannot stop shaking!” Erin reported liiiiiiiiiiiiive from the epicenter of awkwardness. Let’s briefly check in with REALITY for a better read on the Paige-Alan chemistry situation.
Still there! Whew, that was easy.
We learned just in time for the finals that Paige had a promising dance career up until her freshman year of high school, when she quit to focus on varsity cheerleading and was subsequently bullied out of the state by the trash-throwing divas who hadn’t made the cut. Sounds awful, but there’s a silver-fringed lining somewhere in there: If it weren’t for those jealous monsters, Paige might never have taken an interest in mixed martial arts.
The couple’s strip Argentine tango — a new style Mark just invented — artfully incorporated their various stages of undress into the choreography. Head judge Len Goodman found the dance “a little bit too hot and spicy,” but perhaps he was just jealous because he’d never thought to spin a leotarded lady out of his dress shirt while sporting a Markhawk.
Carrie Ann raved about Paige’s “multidimensional-ness. Is that a word?” while Bruno threatened to judge next week “in Speedos” if Paige didn’t end up making the finals. “You’re hot. It’s ridiculous,” Erin botted upstairs.
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd: 30/30 jive + 27/30 Argentine tango = 57/60
On the surface, their jive trio had everything you could possibly hope for: a kicky diner backdrop, water sports, Nyle’s sparkly pink tie, and three years of sign language experience from Troupe member Jenna. But their difficult “Hit the Road, Jack” routine was ultimately too out of sync for the judges’ likings.
Round 2’s blindfolded Argentine tango was much more up the America’s Next Top Model winner’s dark and twisted alley. Nyle insisted the blindfold represented his natural method for learning each dance based on timing and memorizing the steps. But I’m thinking maybe he just couldn’t bear to look at the dirty bedspread that accompanied their “Unsteady” dance and merely wanted a few seconds in a safe space away from this bedraggled monstrosity.
He later sank his face into Peta’s lap to further avoid both the scenery and his inexplicably short pants. Smart move.
The dance itself was fearless to such a degree that Carrie Ann was “inspired to the deepest core of her being” (a sparkly heart pounding against crystallized tears). “You’d have to be blindfolded not to fall head over heels in love with that!” cried Bruno.
Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 29/30 paso doble trio + 27/30 quickstep = 56/60
Thank the Lord Mirrorballus that Val picked Artem for their paso doble trio, thus ensuring our access to some of the sweetest manbun-on-man action in recent history.
Ginger, whom Val proclaimed as the chicken nugget alternating between honey (the patient Artem) and mustard (his acerbic but unquestionably full-bodied self), dipped seamlessly in and out of flavor during their "Bang Bang” routine.
“The guns are out in the mega drama of a pulp fiction paso!” yelped Bruno, who could feel the dirt, smell the fear, and behold with his very own eyes the wondrous display of one of my all-time favorite male looks on DWTS: Sleeveless With Suspenders. It’s no Shirtless, but it’s damn close.
Later on, GMA’s chief meteorologist and Val had to keep dodging a heavenly singer perched atop a big sparkly box during their quickstep — so don’t think Nyle was the only one challenging himself to the fullest this week.
Leona Lewis delivered a beautiful performance of “Fire Under My Feet,” but the whole you-get-the-guest-star ordeal seemed both a bit unfair to the other contestants and maybe not the best way to draw attention to Ginger’s dancing.
“There was a little bit of a catch in the dress — I have to call it,” said Carrie Ann before tossing in, “You’re like a sparkling diamond when you dance!” for good measure.
That’s it for Week 9, vicarious chicken nuggets. Feel free to spend your week deeply nestled in an imaginary honey mustard hug. I know I will.
See you next Monday for the freestyles and a presumably fully clothed Bruno!
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.