Warning: This recap of the Nov. 14 episode of Dancing With the Stars contains spoilers.
Somebody’s crying tonight. I’ll give you a hint: It’s everyone. Sometimes that feels good, right?
Sure. I mean, it may be hard. It may feel like the world is crashing down around us and everything we’ve ever loved (family members, happier times, Tristan MacManus) is slipping away. But at least we’re all in this juiced-up Manic Monday alternate universe together, and damnit if those tears aren’t made of sparkles!
After the final five couples made their hearts dance the planks in both a solo routine and a Trio Challenge, Terra Jolé and Sasha Farber (pictured at right along with Lindsay Arnold and Calvin Johnson Jr., who landed “in jeopardy”) have been eliminated. Terra, who earned two perfect scores for an emotional rumba and a tattooed tango, was “literally on fire” according to Julianne Hough.
False alarm on the “literally,” as usual, and we’re all glad for that. Still, Terra and Sasha were consistently brilliant — one of the most fantastic partnerships ever, due to the combo platter of his care and her perseverance in the face of a massive height difference and tons of physical pain. (Two hernias and thousands of tumbles later and you, too, could be a DWTS semifinalist.) One of Tom Bergeron’s favorites to ever appear on the show, Terra was always lightening the mood: pranking her partner or performing some crazy antic in the background. And I’m pretty sure she embellished an ouchie during rehearsals, anticipating that Artem might happen to slip her a bonus hip check.
See now that is just a smart lady. (“Artem is, like, hot,” she explained.)
Sadly we never got to see Megatron lift Terra up with one hand and fling her into an adoring audience whereupon she’d land safely in a heap of cushiony gems. But give it time. There’s always the finale.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 30 + 30 = 60/60 The waterworks began as soon as Laurie started talking about her grandma Brulinda, the one who always did her hair for gymnastics or made her chocolate milk or rice when she got home. We choked up with America’s Sweetheart as she admitted she felt guilty about being away from home for so long while her grandma suffered from Alzheimer’s. “But I think I’m gonna see her soon, so…” Laurie trailed off. Then suddenly: Brulinda passed away, just one day after Laurie’s interview about her.
The judges have wanted to see more emotional maturity in the 16-year-old for weeks now, and although the circumstances hurt, I swear it’s like she grew up five years over the weekend. Resilient, strong, and now shaken, Laurie laid her feelings bare in the foxtrot, blurring into the purple shooting stars as if they were part of her soul. Which, of course, they absolutely were. You saw all those Mardi Gras beads and brave smiles on grandma at the nursing home. You just know she was loving this.
Tom, no stranger to loss in the past year, flew into protective dad mode (one of his faves). “That was the most amazing display of courage I’ve seen in 23 seasons,” he said, fighting back tears.
If Tom’s even close to crying, then you know everyone watching is freaking out for real. This is a long-term DWTS rule, and yet one of the most shaky. With sobs, I mean. Aggggh. Somebody please hold me.
Oh yes, that’ll work just fine.
The family vibes only grew stronger — and a lot more peppy — during the couple’s samba trio with Maks. You see, the elder Shirtoffskiy brother was the one 90 percent responsible for Val’s dance education, which is why Val “f—ing loves him.”
“But that’s how much I love him!” Val protested in the face of censorship. (THIS big!!!)
Watching all three of them together, I’m struck by how much Laurie is Val’s Meryl Davis — the wide-eyed, uber-hardworking pillar of cheer that makes him a better man and will probably win him the mirrorball trophy to boot. Granted, Val’s more outwardly a softie than Maks, but he’s certainly got his edges. “Even though they seem really tough, they’re teddy bears on the inside,” said Laurie, clearly a callback to Meryl, who’d said the same thing.
Eager to share his education and keep learning, Val took Laurie back to school — specifically the “Dance With Maks” studio — for a samba that was more of a guided lesson than a proper trio, but can you really blame the brothers Bearkovskiy for wanting to deliver an authentic ballroom journey?
And in the grand tradition of Planet Mirrorballus, that peek of red under those cumbersome outer layers could only mean one thing… Ladies and gentlemen: Off with their sweats!
Yes! The exuberant second half of their trio “suited you in a way that no other dance has,” raved Carrie Ann. “That fiery spirit, and the curves, and mmmmmmmm!” Bruno called the samba “so deliciously theatrical, like Strictly Come Dancing in one and a half minutes” — a nice nod to the Chmerkovskiys’ longstanding commitment to tradition.
James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess: 29 + 30 = 59/60 Plenty of folks have danced blindfolded on DWTS (Bindi Irwin with Derek, Nyle DiMarco with Peta), so it’s practically a rite of passage on one’s noble quest for the Coveted Mirrorball Trophy. But since James and Sharna are always putting a bonus twist and an extra wiggle on everything, Our Pro was the one who dipped under the fabric for a sensual, no-peeking-allowed Argentine tango.
Low knee mobility? No problem! Let the IndyCar driver effortlessly lead the way. This dance attempted to mimic James’s rise from the ashes following his near-death racing accident. “He came back from an injury, and hopefully it’s the same for us,” said Sharna, the prettiest drama queen in all the Glitter Galaxy. “I come back, and we end up better than ev-ah.”
Not content to let Sharna’s blindfold and signature cerulean-based beauty steal the show, James threw in a fancy chair-based trick of his own. WHOA:
HANDSTAND! “Guys, don’t try that climax at home. Doesn’t matter what you’re taking!” Bruno cried in ecstasy. You’d think nothing could harsh the buzz of a handstand on a chair — but lo and behold, there was Carrie Ann, who detected “two little wobbles in the beginning.” Ugh.
“Welcome to our threesome,” James practically drooled as his girlfriend since high school, looking more lovely yet helpless than ever in the audience, cringed.
Obviously, he meant “trio” instead of “threesome.” Butt really…. what’s the diff?
Jenna Johnson, who’s filled in for Sharna the past two weeks, twirled on in for a seamless jive trio featuring James’s IndyCar and a giant champagne bottle filled with confetti. “Helio, we did a number like this!” Julianne piped up, but her Season 5 partner seemed even less interested in this fun fact than the current cast had in seeing footage of Erin Andrews dancing blindfolded with Maks during Season 10. Kudos to Erin for bouncing back and speaking for millions of concerned viewers as she requested that Sharna kindly quit jumping around after the threesome received their 10s. Indeed, it’s time to go elevate and ice that knee so that nothing except Sharna’s creative genius shakes loose before next week’s finals.
Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko: 28 + 30 = 58/60 All dolled up in their hot pink ombre quickstep costumes, Jana and Gleb called to mind a rose-syrup-infused meringue in The Great British Bake Off — looks delicious, but you’re not necessarily craving it. It’s just… there. Still there.
New blond highlights on Week 10 are a bold move, but Jana needs to try everything in her purple-flittered wheelhouse if she wants to stand out against Laurie and James’s superior sob stories and their esteemed pros’ choreography. Here, Gleb the hunky shoe salesman miraculously held on at the end of their quickstep to offer some tiny shoes to the woman who’d ditched her stroller-bound baby to dance with him. It didn’t really make sense, but it didn’t need to: Despite this and a few other missteps, they still received all 10s.
Similarly, the graphics behind them in their paso doble trio with Alan Bersten might end up being more memorable than Jana’s performance. But what a picture this was: two studs in puffy shirts, shot down by the force of a villainess who just wanted to branch out and get more 10s.
I’ll definitely remember Jana’s lockjawed grimace, and the way it was physically impossible for this dance to achieve “hairography” even though that’s exactly what Erin complimented them for.
Perhaps she was referring to the face jewels and neck fringe? “It was high passion dressed in high fashion, dressed to kill and sexy as hell!” raved Bruno. Hey, good enough. 10s all around!
Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold: 26 + 30 = 56/60 First things first: Season 2 runner-up and unlikely ballroom standard Jerry Rice still looks amazing behind a splash of #sparklebarf bearing his key stats.
So that’s settled. “Bring it home for the receivers,” said Rice, who sang the former NFL star’s praises along with Calvin’s rockin’ blue-haired sister and the rest of his extremely attractive family. Megatron insisted he hasn’t retired from life, just football. But he and Lindsay did retreat a bit from their usual level of precision during their Round 1 dance, the tango.
Carrie Ann even whipped out her dusty 8 paddle to show she meant business on Week 10. Meanwhile, Lindsay seethed behind her painted-on grin, as everyone knows an 8 during the semifinals is practically a 3 anytime else. But that just meant they’d have to step it up during Round 2 in their salsa verde trio with the self-proclaimed Dumb to Lindsay’s Dumber: fellow tickle-monster Witney Carson.
Not just step it up, mind you. Lift ’em both up and swing ’em around Blades of Glory-style, like a neon green S-shaped Tetris block hurtling through space. “You guys are like the limes or something,” offered Julianne, but then Erin went and totally trumped her, calling Lindsay and Witney the Doublemint Twins upstairs. “Gimme a tortilla crisp, baby!” cried Bruno. Is anyone else ready for lunch? I’m thinking pistachio/chocolate macaroons with a margarita on the side. Rocks and sweat.
Thank God they ripped those sleeves off of Ecto Coolvin, by the way, as that color was giving me a serious headache. As it is, now I’m merely annoyed I don’t have 16-pack abs. Pretty sure I’ll live.
See you next Tuesday to recap the Season 23 finals!
The Fringe Fairy
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC. Watch clips and full episodes of DWTS on Yahoo View.