Immunity is back on the table on Monday's "Dynamic Duos" episode of Dancing with the Stars, with a new twist that allows the highest-scoring couple of the night to be automatically safe from elimination. The rest will go head-to-head in a dance off.
Who will be able to rest easy, and who will get sent home? Let's find out:
Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev (jazz)
The dance: Lea and Artem's Bonnie and Clyde routine is fun and cute but starts to drag a bit at the end. It's never a good sign when my mind starts to wander just three minutes into the show. With this being a jazz routine, shouldn't it be a little more fast and upbeat? But while the choreography's lacking, Lea's dancing is fine, and she's definitely got her groove back.
What the judges say: Len enjoyed the tango feel of the dance but says they're playing it too safe. Julianne was also a little "underwhelmed" by the choreography, which she says was "dated." Bruno notes that the content didn't match the execution, and Carrie Ann says Lea's confidence is finally back.
Score: 32 (out of 40)
Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater (foxtrot)
The dance: Poor Michael. Will he finally be put out of his (and Emma's) misery this week? Only time will tell. This certainly isn't their weakest routine, and Michael actually stays in time for the most part (probably because he's just kind of walking around, rather than dancing). He just can't seem to loosen up out on the floor, and his steps are so robotic that he seems more like the Iron Giant than the king of the jungle.
What the judges say: Julianne says it was an improvement from last week and Michael seemed more comfortable. Carrie Ann and Bruno agree, but Carrie Ann observes that Michael's not dancing at a Week 8 level. Len says it was Michael's best dance (out of the four he's seen).
Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy (contemporary)
The dance: Of course Janel and Val are Romeo and Juliet. I'm over this showmance that's being forced down our throats. As far as the dance goes, they're a little out of sync at the start, but it's all uphill from there. Props to Val for this great choreography. The dance is sensual, emotional and 1,000 times more authentic than the supposed sexual tension between Janel and Val that producers want us to see.
What the judges say: Bruno calls the routine "extremely ambitious yet gorgeous." Carrie Ann gushes over Val's choreography and says the routine epitomizes "what dance is about." Janel moved from good to great in Len's book, and Julianne adds that it was "breathtaking."
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd (paso doble)
The dance: It's a "Ring of Fire" rather than a ring of smoke for Tommy this week, with his and Peta's Johnny Cash/June Carter-themed paso doble. Tommy has a bit of trouble with this one, noticeably faltering on some of the steps and looking a little unsure of himself overall.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann loves Tommy's "magic mojo" but notes that his timing was off for most of the dance. Len compares Tommy to a hot dog (tasty, but never sure about the content). Julianne continues to be charmed by Tommy's personality, if not his dance moves. And Bruno says the paso doble needed to have more fire.
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas (contemporary)
The dance: Hopefully Len will be a little more lenient with creativity this week, because Mark's choreography in this routine is pretty awesome — and Sadie isn't thrown by it even a little bit. This dark spin on the Adam and Eve story is a nice demonstration of Sadie's range. While it's not too sexy, it marks a nice departure from her usual girl-next-door shtick.
What the judges say: Len insists that he loves Mark's creativity and passion and defends his previous comments, but keeps his critique to a "well done" for tonight's dance. Julianne compliments the "maturity" of the routine. Bruno can't believe how far Sadie's come, and Carrie Ann's impressed by the intensity, but is going to dock points for them falling out of sync at one point.
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson (cha cha)
The dance: Superhero shows are trendy right now. Who else wants to pitch a series with Witney and Alfonso as a modern-day Batman and Robin? I'd watch it. This dance is great. Aside from fun choreography and the amazing costumes, they both look like they're having an absolute blast out there. I think I'm rooting for Alfonso to win (assuming that Tommy is not long for this DWTS world).
What the judges say: Julianne makes some notes on Alfonso's legs. Bruno gushes about the costumes, and Carrie Ann calls the routine super smooth and super smart. Len says they'll definitely be back next week.
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough (salsa)
The dance: Derek does a great job of putting a modern spin on a '50s sitcom (and still making it a classic salsa) with his and Bethany's "I Love Lucy"-inspired routine. It's such a contrast to their Halloween dance, but they still knock it out of the park. Bethany may have been complaining about fatigue in the package, but she's as energized as ever when it comes to the performance.
What the judges say: Bruno speaks in Spanish and praises Derek's versatility between last week's dark routine and this one. Carrie Ann saw one mistake on Bethany's part but says she's wonderfully animated. Len and Julianne loved the routine and are amazed by how much Bethany has come out of her shell.
Looks like Janel and Val have won immunity, so that leaves the remaining six couples to take part in the dance-off to earn extra points. The pairings are as follows:
Alfonso/Witney vs. Lea/Artem (jive)
After Artem's interesting observation that you should never pick a couple who's less talented than you, Alfonso and Witney opt to go against Lea and Artem, who edged them out on the leaderboard next week. Both pairs put on a good show, but in my opinion, Lea and Artem have a slight edge. Alfonso seems a little winded during his and Witney's routine, while Lea looks like she could dance the night away. All the judges say the couples were neck-in-neck — except for Carrie Ann, who puts her money behind Alfonso and Witney.
Winner: Alfonso and Witney
Bethany/Derek vs. Sadie/Mark (cha cha)
Holy hip action, Sadie! She and Mark prove to be a tough act to follow. Derek unbuttons his shirt to go for the skin vote, but in my opinion, he and Bethany are no match for Team Quack Attack. Julianne says both pairs were a little ahead of the music, but Bethany was a little tighter. Len says he'd like to see the routines again because it's such a tough decision.
Winner: Tie, but Bethany and Derek get the points because head judge Len voted for them
Tommy/Peta vs. Michael/Emma (rumba)
Tommy rumbas his way through a calf injury, and he and Peta are being so careful it's almost like the dance is happening in slow motion. The silver lining is that Michael finally gets to be the sexier pro in a competition. I never thought I'd say this, but I have to admit Michael was the better dancer this time around. (The judges do not agree, and I'm officially 0 for 3 on the team dances.)
Winner: Tommy and Peta
So, who's going home? The couples in jeopardy, with the scores and bonus points combined, are Michael/Emma and Tommy/Peta.
And eliminated couple is ... Michael and Emma.
No surprise there, but I'm still sad for Michael — who seems like a great guy, even if he is a terrible dancer. I also hope that Emma will one day get a partner who's actually a contender.
So, what did you think of tonight's episode? Did you agree with the verdicts of the dance-offs? Are you glad Michael went home? And what was your favorite routine of the night? Sound off in the comments!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.