The stakes were the highest they've ever been on Monday night's "Dancing With the Stars," as the competitors stared down the scariest hurdle that stood between them and the finals: a surprise double elimination.
In the end, the audience voted to send Johnny Weir and Skai Jackson home, despite the fact that they brought the judges to their feet. Carrie Ann Inaba even stalled in hopes of saving everyone in the bottom three, but the audience had spoken and the judges unanimously agreed to save Justina Machado, due to her consistent performances and steady improvement.
Weir and his partner this season, Britt Stewart, appeared with Jackson and her dance partner Alan Bersten on "Good Morning America" on Tuesday to reflect on their experiences in the competition.
"Well, of course, we are crushed and defeated not to have ended this journey in the way we hoped with the Mirror Ball Trophy, but the greatest gift that I was given from this process is my partner, Britt," Weir said.
"She's become my friend, my family, my confidante and believed so hard in what we could do that she really brought everything that I could possibly give authentically out of me every single week," he added. "I'm so honored and happy that we have each other."
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to my Britt for inspiring me, for believing in me and for being my friend. I love you. @BrittBStewart @DancingABC #teambrijo pic.twitter.com/9Kj7RkDoEF
— Johnny Weir (@JohnnyGWeir) November 17, 2020
Stewart also spoke about their bond and making history on the show. "It was such an honor to be the first Black female pro of 'Dancing with the Stars' in 29 seasons, and I would not have had it any other way than having that experience with Johnny," she shared.
"We really brought a different level of representation to the ballroom and so many people could relate to us," she added. "I'm so happy that we were able to have such an inspiring journey and I will remember this for forever."
Jackson said she was "definitely happy" about going out of the show with a perfect score, which she earned from her Viennese waltz. "I feel like last night was one of my best performances that I've done, so even though I did go home I'm glad that I did go out on a high note," she shared.
Host Tyra Banks pointed out during the episode that while it was immensely disappointing that Jackson and Weir would be unable to compete in the finals, they left the season on a high note by finishing with their highest scores and accomplishing their best performances of the season.
All the competitors were ready to meet the night's challenges on Monday. For the first of the two dances everyone had to master, competitors were tasked to revisit their weakest routine of the season in the redemption round. Much to the judges' delight, everyone rose to the challenge.
One such competitor was "Catfish" host Nev Schulman, who blew the foxtrot he performed in the first episode of the season by a 10-point margin by finishing with another perfect score of 30 out of 30. All three judges jumped out of their chairs and marveled over how much Schulman has grown as a dancer, which made it all the easier for them to award him a second perfect score for his contemporary, allowing him to finish the night with an unbeatable 60 out of 60.
Another star that amazed the judges and joined Schulman atop the leader board with her own perfect score was "The Bachelorette" star Kaitlyn Bristowe. The 35-year-old was first challenged to redeem her old paso doble routine and truly revel in the drama of the passionate dance, to which she said with a smirk, "No one's ever told me to have more drama!"
Later, with her emotional contemporary to The Chicks' "Cowboy Take Me Away" in honor of her childhood best friend who was tragically killed in a car crash at 18, Bristowe easily earned another set of straight 10s, pushing her final score to 60 out of 60.
"One Day at a Time" star Justina Machado electrified the judges in her redemption round, dancing the tango to Moulin Rouge's "El Tango De Roxanne," where she ironed out every flaw judge Bruno Tonioli brought to her attention during rehearsals.
For her second routine, the actress fully embraced her softer side with a tender contemporary to "Holding Out for a Hero," which she dedicated to her dance partner, Sasha Farber. She left judge Derek Hough speechless and finished the night in second place, earning a final score of 58 out of 60.
Rapper Nelly also accomplished his best scores, rising above the challenges of the paso doble while making both Derek and Bruno blush thanks to the "Ride Wit Me" artist flaunting his sculpted physique by dancing shirtless.
It was his jive, however, what truly pushed him over the edge, as it was full of pizzazz and humor and truly became the Grammy Award winner's breakout performance. He finished the night with a 56 out of 60.
Inaba remarked at the conclusion of the final round that she has "never ever seen dancing at this level, ever!"
Next week is the finals and only one dancer will win the Mirror Ball Trophy. Of course, the rule book will be thrown out and the four finalists will have full creative freedom over their respective freestyle routines.
In addition to Derek Hough returning to the ballroom floor for a special performance, Nelly will also take the stage to perform a medley of his greatest hits. Plus, as Banks teased in the final seconds of the night's show, there will be plenty surprises, as well!
"Dancing With the Stars" returns for its season finale next Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Here are your finalists of "Dancing With the Stars" season 29:
Nev Schulman, host of "Catfish," with Jenna Johnson — 60/60
Kaitlyn Bristowe, former star of "The Bachelorette," with Artem Chigvintsev — 60/60
Justina Machado, "One Day at a Time" star, with Sasha Farber — 58/60
Nelly, Grammy Award-winning rapper, with Daniella Karagach — 56/60