Warning: This Dancing With the Stars recap contains spoilers.
Week 8 offered a relatively sober solo round followed by a wild sexual experiment called The Judges’ Team Up Challenge in which fans weighed in… liiiiiiiiiive! As Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli got busy directing all sorts of bodily traffic within their ideal visions of dance quartets, “America” — read: eastern and central viewers watching in real time — filled in as the third judge.
Unlike the old-timers, who were content to shower themselves in perfect scores along with the sweat/lifeblood of Our Pros, guest judge America wasn’t willing to rest on the tendrils of its barely-there grass skirt. Viewers ended up scoring a measly 9 to all three Round 2 dances, even Carrie Ann’s exploration of fabricated nudity disguised as a paso doble.
When asked to justify its lack of love, America shook off some excess moisture and scoffed, “Respectfully, my loves, that was no surfer flamenco.”
At least the Team Up Challenge delivered a new signature scent for Dancing With the Stars: strong floral tones, hints of Earl Grey, and a near-intoxicating cloud of spray tan molecules wafting up from his formerly white bare feet: Ladies and gentlemen, presenting head judge Grumpy Len Goodman like you’ve never seen him before.
Good lord! This show is getting weirder than ever. Someone should call a doctor — but just as a formality, of course, so that we can ignore the diagnosis and keep on living the fever dream. As a team.
Sadly, despite an electrifying jive-themed field trip in which they took the entire viewing audience to church, Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe were eliminated Monday. Jodie will be fine, don’t worry. Production on Fuller House Season 2 starts this morning, and quite frankly the internet’s insistence on bullying her partner (the ultimate ”How rude!” that Stephanie Tanner never could have forseen) was bumming her out. Congrats to Jodie for making the most of her ballroom run — there’s no better way to depart the Glitter Galaxy than with a perfect 30 and a positive attitude.
Will the judges please reveal the rest of their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhh-ber!
Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 30/30 Argentine tango + 29/30 = 59/60 It’s hard out there for a star meteorologist — just because the network loves her doesn’t mean Ginger loves herself. The busiest mom in showbiz had trouble channeling the “dirty brothel of a character” she was meant to portray in the Argentine tango, and her deliberately timed eyebrow-scrunching resulted in her looking vaguely cranky as Our Pro passionately devoured different sections of her body.
It worked well enough for the judges, though, who had nothing but praise for the “light and shade” (Len) of this “voluptuous intertwining of limbs” (Bruno). Bowled over by the sheer force of Ginger and Val’s velvet lace overlays, Carrie Ann provided the most mind-blowing and munchies-inducing critique: “There’s a gravitas to you,” she drooled to Ginger. “You can just feel it. Mmm. Yummy yummy yummy yummy, honey. I am hungry! But beyond the honey, what’s incredible is you were really dancing as one.”
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd: 29/30 paso doble + 29/30 = 58/60 Nyle could have gotten away with merely improving on the technical notes he’d received last week, but he and Peta figured why not push the boundaries of the viewing experience at the same time they jam Nyle’s persistent bubble butt into frame? Their paso doble music cut out in the middle of the routine for a few measures so that we could feel the same sound of silence Nyle feels every time he dances. Never mind that the audience was still clapping along with the beat, or that the mute button would have achieved the same effect. Those are annoying details, okay? There is absolutely no sound at all, and Nyle is triumphantly leading the Troupe guys in an ecstatic celebration of the shirtless life!
I didn’t think this was his best performance, but what do I know? “It was like watching five men dancing to the beat of a single heart!” cried Bruno as Carrie Ann wept silently in preparation for her turn.
The black and red lighting scheme and Peta melting into a pool of blood at the end seemed to scream “Houghery!” — but it was a silent scream, so again I can’t be sure.
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas: 28/30 Viennese waltz + 29/30 = 57/60 Not being able to hear the music was so last segment. (Shudder.) What if no one could see? Anything?
“I wanna create what looks like a blizzard in the ballroom,” said Mark, who has never done anything by the book so don’t even bother asking him if he knows how to read. You’re wasting his time! Winter is coming! This couple’s Game of Thrones-inspired Viennese waltz kicked some serious ice, even though we could barely see their feet at times. Somehow the more absurd Mark gets with his art direction, the better his dances seem technically. Paige’s athletic appeal combined with her good-natured mocking of Mark’s on-again-off-again British accent make her a strong contender for the COVETED MIRRORBALL TROPHY this season.
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess: 27/30 Viennese waltz + 29/30 = 56/60 But don’t think the wide receiver with a renewed sense of purpose doesn’t have more tricks up his sleeve — even if they’re just more “friendship flowers.” Flowers can be very effective. When it comes to Carrie Ann, they’re sweeter than honey. Antonio finally showed up early to one practice instead of an hour late, so there’s really no telling where this impressive ballroom run will lead him next. The couple incorporated plenty of the judges’ notes from previous weeks into their Viennese waltz, which featured the same high-intensity “smell the fart acting” as Sharna had employed during Season 20 with both Andy Grammer and Noah Galloway. Works like a gem every time.
Carrie Ann called this dance an elegant expression of Antonio Brown’s soul, so she must have caught a whiff as well.
Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold: 25/30 jive + 29/30 = 54/60 Sometimes it seems like nothing could ever break the few, the proud, the invincible Our Pros, but then out of nowhere (but most likely from Lindsay’s waistband holster, a classically intriguing approximation of “pants” on Planet Mirrorballus), a flimsy red bandana slides across the floor, trips your recently thinned-out partner and just shoots everything about the second half of your jive to hell.
Now the unflappable Lindsay must contend with a sudden blast of self-loathing along with heightened judges’ expectations for the Boyz II Men alum, whose will to win along with an amped-up metabolism has him consistently dancing ahead of the beat. I still consider him a frontrunner, no matter what the inconclusive “in jeopardy” lights might say. If anything, this week’s flubs set Wanya and Lindsay up for total ballroom domination next Monday.
Week 9′s DOUBLE ELIMINATION promises to be brutal. So until then, be sure to savor the small stuff— the hidden gems in the rough, those lustfully longing lunges of everyday life.
It’s what Sultry Tony would want.
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.