Dancing with the Stars went from high school hallways to federal prison Monday night, with each contestant revisiting the most memorable year of his or her life.
The show also introduces a twist — in Len's absence for the second week in a row, "America" (or at least two time zones) will act as the fourth judge. Viewers can vote within a two-minute time frame after the dances, the results of which will be shown alongside the judges' scores. (Only Eastern and Central time zone viewers' votes will be tallied.)
And now, the performances:
Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy (rumba)
The dance: Janel's story about her mentor was especially touching, and clips like this always makes me wonder how people can dance after such an emotional package. Anyway, their routine is lovely but seems to me to be more contemporary than a traditional rumba. Janel's movements are perfectly fluid, and the Sam Smith rendition of "How Will I Know" is a great choice to convey her heartbreak.
What the judges say: Julianne echoes my sentiments about the tearjerking lead-in,and compliments Janel's technique in spite of it.Bruno calls Janel an "exotic angel" and says she expresses emotions beautifully through her movements, but nitpicks that she should work on her spins. Carrie Ann says Janel's mentor B.J. would be proud.
Score: 36 (out of 40, including "America")
Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker (samba)
The dance: On Mondays we dance in red. Jonathan plays to hisMean Girls fan base, and at the same time makes me cry by talking about losing both of his parents within the span of a year. The movements throughout his "Milkshake" routine are a little tentative, but it's such a crowd-pleaser that it (almost) distracts from any missteps.
What the judges say: Bruno says Jonathan never got the samba technique down, and his timing and footwork were off. Carrie Ann agrees with Bruno, and basically says Jonathan will probably float by based on the audience vote.Score: 24
Betsey Johnson and Tony Dovolani (jive)
The dance: My favorite part of this dance is Betsey's giddiness after she nails that little freeze in the middle of the routine. She looks radiant tonight, and I totally agree with Tom that she's actually reverse-aging, Benjamin Button style. She's buoyant and bouncy throughout the routine, and doesn't look a day over 20 with those steps.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann is delighted and says Betsey "nailed every single step of that dance." Julianne gushes over Betsey's personality, if not her dancing. Naysayer Bruno says she went wrong towards the end.
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough (rumba)
The dance: Accompanied by a live performance from Colbie Caillat, Bethany falters a bit at the beginning of the dance while trying to keep pace with Derek, but then recovers swiftly. The routine is a little boring — to my eyes, it seems like they strove for an emotional peak and didn't quite hit it, and I would have liked to see a little more dancing and less schmaltz.
What the judges say: Julianne cries but says there wasn't enough rumba content, and Bruno also compliments the message but says Bethany's hips were a little lacking. Carrie Ann says Bethany does better when she's focused on the story as opposed to the steps.
Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater (quickstep)
The dance: Michael's story about his friend Dale Earnhardt is definitely touching, but the harsh truth is that he's the least improved dancer since the first week of the competition. His attitude is great, but that will only carry you so far when you look like a fish out of water on the dance floor.
What the judges say: Bruno appreciates Michael's effort but says the quickstep was completely wrong. Carrie Ann agrees that it started strong and petered out at the end, and Julianne agrees, comparing Michael's frame to someone in a deodorant commercial.
Lea Thompson and Artem Chignitsev (contemporary)
The dance: Lea's previous dance experience really shows in this number, but something about it (which I can't put my finger on) just feels off to me. It's graceful, moving and technically sound, but it seems like the emotions are more than the sum of the steps themselves. Regardless, it's definitely heartbreaking to see Lea break down at the end.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann says she'll remember the dance for the rest of her life and compares Lea to an angel. Julianne calls it "flawless," and Bruno agrees.
Score: 39 ("Ew, America" — Erin Andrews)
Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke (samba)
The dance: I can't complain about Antonio revisiting his appearance in Janet Jackson's "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" video (even though it's set to an atrocious bad-karaoke version of the song), but Cheryl is the real star of this routine. Antonio's face and body are so nice to look at that it doesn't really matter what he's doing with them, and that's working to his distinct advantage at this point.
What the judges say: Julianne tells Antonio he needs to work on filling the space around him. Bruno points out a couple of missteps and says he feels like he was watching an audition tape for Magic Mike 2.5. Carrie Ann liked the hottt opening, but that's about it.
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd (jive)
The dance: Tommy was so psyched about his "Jailhouse Jive" when we chatted last week that this is the routine I've most been looking forward to tonight. He's a little clumsy, and it's obvious that Peta is really pulling most of the weight here, but Tommy's so exuberant and joyful that I hope he sticks around for at least one more week.
What the judges say: Bruno loves Tommy's "vibe" and "spirit," even though there were a couple of missteps. Carrie Ann praises his "naturalness" and says the enjoyment of watching him outweighs any technical flaws. Julianne says it wasn't their best.
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas (samba)
The dance: This is my favorite routine of the night. Sadie seems like she's really coming into her own in this competition, and looks so much more comfortable out there as compared to Week 1 that it's unreal. The Duck Dynasty-themed routine (with plenty of Robertson family cameos) is a cute and clever take on the evening's theme — and, to be brutally honest, it's refreshing to see a pair take an unpleasant event and spin it into something fun amid all the sob stories we've seen tonight.
What the judges say: "By far, the best samba of the night," Carrie Ann gushes. Julianne says it's the perfect blend of technique and content. Bruno compares Sadie to Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson (jazz)
The dance: Carlton is in da house! And so is his dance. Alfonso says his No. 1 goal this week is to please the fans, and he certainly succeeds. This is a delight, and he's a complete natural on the floor. Also props to Witney tonight for incorporating the Carlton into some great jazz choreography, knowing it wouldn't be the focus of the routine.
What the judges say: Julianne says the Carlton payoff was totally worth the wait. Bruno says Alfonso would fit in on Broadway, and Carrie Ann breathes a sigh of relief that she finally saw the Carlton in full force.
So, who's getting sent home — Betsey, Tommy or Michael? The final results:
Safe: Tommy and Peta, Michael and Emma
Eliminated: Betsey and Tony
What did you think? Did Alfonso deserve his perfect score? Did you love seeing the Fresh Prince and Mean Girls shoutouts? Were you disappointed that Betsey got sent home? Sound off in the comments!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
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