Warning: This recap of the October 10 episode of Dancing With the Stars contains spoilers.
Welcome to Most Memorable Year night, that teardrop-shaped evergreen that lets our stars relive important lifetime moments — career triumphs, personal heartbreaks, good old-fashioned baby-making, etc. — while the rest of us sit quietly and sob. Got your gem-encrusted tissue box ready? Then let us begin.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess: 29/30 This week’s tango, a stunning glitter explosion set to “The Right Time” by Yves V featuring Mike James, recalled that time mere months ago when the Indy car driver almost died during a race. Anyone who can snap back after significant machinery slices straight through his body can certainly survive the tango. But James does it so well and with such unyielding charisma that he almost makes it seem easy.
Look at him, completely at peace — perhaps in love, even — with the visual representation of “smithereens” before him. So many shards of glass and metal, scattered across Queen Sharna’s skin, willing him to rise up and adjust that ballroom frame in overdrive. Yes and please to all of this. “You are a miracle on the dance floor!” cried Carrie Ann. And we would have cried, too, had we not been so mesmerized by all the fairy dust.
Marilu Henner and Derek Hough: 27/30 It wasn’t quite a total eclipse of the Derek, but Our Pro did loosen up and cede the spotlight to his partner after she admitted to the godlike figure and amateur life coach that she was a bit afraid of him and had never felt more awkward. Suddenly forced to shine semi-solo in a smoked-up galaxy far, far away, Marilu held her own in a Viennese waltz honoring her late mother, Loretta.
“Instead of trying to be great, you just let yourself be great,” said Carrie Ann after herding Marilu and Julianne into a group hug. (Bruno, of course, opted for a halfhearted dip from Derek instead.) Having awarded them straight 9s on a night of just-as-good dances that only warranted 8s, the judges are firmly in Marilu’s corner. “I know how much you want this — almost more than anybody in this competition!” Julianne laid her praise on even thicker than her makeup.
Terra Jolé and Sasha Farber: 27/30 These two really amped up the pearly gates drama for a contemporary piece dedicated to Terra’s late father — who very well might be up in heaven shaking his spirit head in disbelief that his daughter missed his passing in order to stay on tour with Miley Cyrus. We don’t know what the deceased are up to. That is not for us to say. All we can do is attempt to make things right via extravagant set design and some brilliant dancing.
Nearly disappearing into the mist in vain was an apropos effect, as were Terra and Sasha’s numerous emphatic “intense partnering” moments. They are just really damn good at those assisted face lifts. Fantastic chemistry. “I’m sure your dad is here and proud of you just like we are,” gushed Carrie Ann. “This is what you were meant to do.”
Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko: 26/30 An abusive relationship left her in shambles 10 years ago, but Jana’s been a different person since having baby daughter Jolie Rae early this year. She’s stronger, more courageous — fearless, even. Heck, if Gleb says this contemporary number calls for a trust fall straight into his crotch, then you know what? That is what Jana will do.
Ironically, Gleb got his head trapped under Jana’s skirt on an unrelated occasion, but of course, he handled it like a pro in what Bruno called “a pure, undiluted expression of unconditional love.”
Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 25/30 Life hasn’t been all smiles for the 16-year-old gymnast — she’s dealt with a dislocated kneecap here, a torn tendon there, and repressed negative emotions pretty much constantly. Call it Bindi Irwin syndrome — Laurie has no trouble expressing joy, but as a high-achieving perfectionist by trade, she tends to bottle up the dark stuff. Aha! Val has a no-fail exposure therapy fix for that: What if she started out their paso doble in a terrifying corridor of pressure?
Actually, yeah! This was working for me — it was weird but quick, and she sold it just as hard as Jennifer Beals might in a Flashdance spinoff about gymnastics. Or maybe Laurie was supposed to be trapped inside a balance beam — and there’s no escape because her only tool is a dreaded basin of loose chalk.
However you interpret their dance art, the opening pressure cooker was sadly a bit more compelling than Laurie and Val’s paso, during which she struggled against the weight of both her skirt and America’s heightened expectations that she emote like a grownup. “Tonight … you went wrong,” said Bruno. “It happens to everyone.”
Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold: 24/30 If you’re still trying to block out the fact that 2012 is when Lindsay graduated high school, good luck. That’s never gonna happen. But this is about Calvin, and 2012 also happens to be the year he destroyed Jerry Rice’s record for single-season receiving yards. He couldn’t have done it without his family — or Jerry Rice, for that matter. So it was only appropriate that his Grease-like jazz routine featured not only Calvin’s dad in the front row but the Season 2 runner-up and face gem expert himself, Mr. Jerry Rice. What better place for two NFL legends to casually meet for the first time than the televised ballroom? Sometimes this show just makes so much sense. No face gems on Jerry, though? DENIED.
It’s too bad Jerry’s ringing endorsement of Calvin’s personality couldn’t save him and Lindsay from being underscored as usual. Bruno complimented Calvin’s smooth charm, but the ladies wanted more, more, more. “You’re a big man,” Carrie Ann reminded/seduced him. “Use it all.”
Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke: 24/30 Their contemporary routine threw it back to the newly engaged Olympian’s crowning career moment: his first gold medal in 2008, years before he even knew Rio existed. It’s still mostly a blur, to be honest. Where is that, even? Mexico? Ryan dedicated the dance to his mom, who wants the world to see Ryan “as he really is, and not for the one mistake he made.” So Cheryl was his mom in this dance, I suppose, as mother and son creepily saluted each other amidst an infinite pool of dedication and smoke.
Luckily, the judges didn’t consider Ryan’s routine a mistake, though its rhythmless music and paint-by-numbers emoting certainly had me guessing. “This was your most honest performance to date,” Bruno played along. “By far your best,” Carrie Ann corroborated. “Thank you for GOING THERE.”
Related: Ryan Lochte Previews ‘DWTS’ Week 5
Maureen McCormick and Artem Chigvintsev: 24/30 Most Memorable Year night was tailor-made for walking sob story Maureen. The couple’s heartfelt yet simplistic foxtrot honored her husband, Michael, who saved her from hitting rock bottom following a heavy post-Brady Bunch cocaine addiction. (Christopher Knight vouched for it, so you know it’s true.) “You approached that dance like you approached your healing: one step at a time,” said Carrie Ann. “What I’m seeing in you is a winner.” Pretty sure that was one step too far, but whatever. It’s a non-elimination week! Reach out and feel the love!
“I was crazy when I met you, just crazy in love with you. But now? It’s just through the roof,” the wonderful Michael beamed to his wife backstage. “Me too, with you,” Maureen murmured repeatedly, shaking with sobs over the newfound power and glory of her ballroom fairy tale come true. It was quite a moment.
Hidden gem: Artem in Tears, aka my new favorite band of all time.
Amber Rose and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 24/30 Amber finally blew a fuse during Sunday’s dress rehearsal as she realized their dance would be “20 times harder with heels on” and freaked out when Maks kept stopping due to her missed steps. “Amber, these mistakes are not you,” he confronted her on the glittery staircase. If she sticks around, they can probably turn her fleeting self-scrutiny into another week’s worth of drama.
Basically, though, no one cares. Amber still hasn’t convincingly let herself go in any dance — this week’s effort marked a gross misuse of tiered ass ruffles considering how little she shook those hips. To be fair, though, Amber keeps getting sacked with un-ideal dances for these theme weeks — if she wanted to dedicate a routine to her 3-year-old son, did it really have to be a samba?
“When you’re solo, you are like queen bee,” said Julianne, reminding Amber to “really reach out” when she and Maks are actually together.
See you next Tuesday to talk Week 6! Should anyone have headed home this week? Discuss!
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.