Warning: This Dancing With the Stars recap contains spoilers.
Is it raining happiness, or have the fog machine fumes and confetti thoroughly blinded us to reality? Who cares! Zero sparklailens were eliminated on Monday’s Dancing With the Stars, which means four couples will dance in next week’s season 21 finals. After her tumultuous Week 9 and subsequent hospitalization, Tamar Braxton has withdrawn from the competition due to blood clots in her lungs.
I’d include a stock image of Sad Lonely Val here, but frankly I’d rather remember this shining moment of his from the opening group number instead!
Buttons are for fools.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough: 27 salsa + 30 jazz + 3 for the samba dance-off = 60 points total I barely registered that they had yet to actually dance after that whirlwind of an intro segment about Bindi’s childhood zootopia (featuring her well-spoken little brother Robert, another pinnacle of humanity). “Every single day was just like living in this beautiful hurricane,” Bindi sparkled through the tears, reflecting on her late dad. How could a standard mosh pit salsa ever compare to that?!
Well, it tried. Judge Juli wanted a more “down and dirty” vibe to the dance set to “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile,” a basic tenet of Planet Mirrorballus (give or take the last three words). We can only assume Shirtless Derek’s sister was perturbed that he’d modified his signature full-backbend crotch bob into a mere backward-leaning crotch nudge for his young partner.
Bindi delivered much more grit for Julianne in the samba dance-off she won against Nick Carter, but it was her jazz trio with prop masters Derek and Mark Ballas that really lit the judges’ fires. This “totally compelling and intriguing work of genius” (according to Bruno) had Bindi breathing life into electric lanterns, swinging a rope around her own neck, and conveying unique lyrical expressions in a wire frame box, such as “Death to Derek” and “Get me out of this box!”
Derek’s “little light ninja” has no respect for her feet, so I took on that terrible burden for her and could not stop thinking about her superglued-on toenails during their barefoot romp through the light and shade of the latest Restoration Hardware sale. The confetti shower during their salsa freaked me out as well. Paper on the floor is a deathtrap! “It’s raining happiness!” Bindi translated into Sunshinese. What a beautiful language. I do hope to learn it someday.
Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson: 28 contemporary + 29 Charleston + 3 for the cha cha dance-off = 60 total Carlos had ripped his shirt off weeks ago. At least one dance had been for God. There really wasn’t much more he could do out on that floor. But suddenly a message dangled down from heaven, clear as a dab of hair gel: a stripper rope for the contemporary. YES. Do iiiiiit, the rope implored Carlos. Or was that the playful taunting of his partner — a sparkle-scamp in head-to-toe hose — daring him to climb the ropes in this advanced gym class lest his vivid dream of being on TV disintegrate along with her costume by song’s end? Hard to say.
But whatever, scamp. That rope was God, it turned out. And obviously Carlos could rise to any challenge with his upper body strength. “Like watching Tarzan doing Cirque du Soliel!” cried Bruno. I sided more with Carrie Ann for once. “I didn’t quite get it,” she mused after Carlos and Witney’s ropes course. I never thought I’d say this in a DWTS context, but here goes: TOO. MUCH. SPINNING.
Witney and returning pro Karina Smirnoff found themselves in a similar boat of cluelessness when faced with the prospect of a Charleston trio. (If only it’d been the Carlton instead.) Luckily, there’s YouTube for that. After a brief life-coaching session in which Carlos encouraged his original partner to be positive and join him and their new third leg in a cult of confidence, the ladies cranked out a sharp, clean routine that effectively showcased Carlos as a leading man.
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold: 30 waltz + 27 Argentine tango = 57 total “I am so glad you did a ballroom dance tonight,” raved Julianne, a judge on a ballroom dancing reality show. Indeed, these impossible odds had finally worked in Alek’s favor — the waltz required no character other than the steadfast “gliding eagle” of his true heroic self. Everything worked here: Linsday’s angelic white gown, “America the Beautiful” in the background, a huge flag flying high against the wind machine. But let’s not get too complacent in conservatism, okay?
“It’s nice to see that you’re still waxed!” marveled Judge Juli after Alek brandished his clean slate in the salsa. Carlos actually won this spicy mess of a dance-off, but at least Round 2 got Alek all hot and bothered for the night’s (his life’s?) main event: the Argentine tango trio with her majesty Emma Slater.
Only Alek’s Switch Up partner (pictured in black) can bring out the pleasure-demon lurking underneath his vest. Someone get this guy a crash course in creative visualization before next week’s finals!
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess: 24 tango + 30 salsa trio = 54 total The Backstreet Boys poured in this week to help list the tough times in Nick’s life. “He surrounded himself with the worst people,” A.J. McLean testified as a pic of Nick and Paris Hilton flashed by. He got into drugs, blamed himself for his sister’s overdose, “put up a hardcore shell, and then broke down,” said Nick’s brother and season 9 contestant Aaron Carter. After such an intense share-fest, is it any wonder Nick lost his way early on in the tango? “Forget about it! Come back, and be better,” encouraged Bruno.
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. It didn’t even matter that Bindi won all three votes in their samba dance-off. Backstreet was back, with a high kick and a vengeance.
Nick was in his boy band element during his salsa trio with the Downunder Girls, Aussie BFFs Peta Murgatroyd and Sharna. “I still believe you’re a contender,” Julianne told Nick. “I felt it from the ground up,” Carrie Ann came at him hard. “A bit of Timberlake there!” noted Bruno, so wrong that he was right.
Can Nick pull out a win next week, or does Bindi have this locked up? Discuss!
And welcome back to the lovely Peta!
“Get a little spray tan on my suit.” —Tom Bergeron, most valuable gem
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.