This week on How the Heck Are Bonner and David Still on Dancing with the Stars?, the two-hour window with which the show has to fill was padded with a new twist: all the couples would dance twice, with the second dance a trio dance with a troupe partner selected by the judges. Sure, why not? We got 120 minutes and we can't just stare at Bruno thrusting his crotch at the camera in downtime. (Or could we?)
There was just one elimination on the night, meaning the pressure was mounting as only three pairs would make the finals.
Let's review the dances and the elimination.
The dance: As an NFL running back, the Jive is essentially second nature for Rashad with its high steps for his quick feet replicating what he does in training and on the field as he's looking for a gap in the offensive line, so obviously he nailed this Blues Brothers-themed routine (the matching sparkly suits were a bonus). But what really made this dance work for him and Emma was their synchronicity -- they were like coordinated clock parts ticking at the same beat, essential for a coordinated dance.
What the judges said: Everyone loved Rashad's ability to entertain, but they all said he had minor issues with his footwork, like how he needs to point his feet better. But honestly, I'm pretty sure they all just said that because they had to find something to critique.
The score: 36/40, 9s across the board.
The dance: Oooh boy, there was a big political statement behind this emotional number, which seemed to absolutely mentally exhaust Normani by the end of it. In the intro video, Normani talked about being cyber bullied online with racial slurs thrown at her, and this dance really tapped into that. The powerful message was matched by her powerful performance, which dominated the stage with solo dancing that Val confidently put upon her. There was a nifty twirly lift in the middle of the dance, but the mood was anything but fun as it tackled Normani's past with cyber bullying and our own country's horrible past with racism and slavery by using troupe dancers to form a ring around her from which she could not escape. Normani needed to do this dance, and many of us needed to see it. Perfect scores coming in 1... 2... 3...
What the judges said: "I'm completely mesmerized," said Julianne. "No one will ever break you, my dear," said Bruno.
The score: 40/40, and well deserved.
The dance: This was one of Bonner's better dances if only because he looked more spry than usual and he had an emotional connection to the routine, whereas before he's seemed a bit out of it or disconnected. Was it enough for the Argentine Tango? Maybe not, but what I saw was a man who finally lost himself in the dance. Whether that was out of anger, frustration or just finally getting it, Bonner looked better than usual out there.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann saw more range of motion and emotion. But Len was totally tone deaf and told Bonner that he should have been eliminated a long time ago. Hey Len, leave that sort of criticism to me!
The score: 30/40. Honestly, it looked like Len's comments got to Bonner. Sad!
The dance: This dance was entirely... fine! Like, not great, not a disaster, somewhere in the middle. I think that because this is Week 8 it's time to expect more from the dancers, and Sasha, who is normally risky with his choreography, played it really safe with a candy-sweet prance to One Direction. Yes, Simone did the steps well, but this was like a solid Week 3 dance, not a good one while you're jockeying for the finals.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann still thinks Simone is out there faking it, basically. "There wasn't something that wowed me, but there was nothing that disappointed me," Julianne, reading my mind.
The score: 36/40, but it was reluctant 36 from all the judges, it seemed.
The dance: Fun dad kept it together this week by being First Dance at His Daughter's Wedding Dad tonight, with a sweet and flowing waltz that looked straight out of a wedding. David even teared up after the dance, embracing Lindsay like he was handing her off to some lucky dude in holy matrimony. We've talked about David going out of his lane with more formal routines since he's such a cut-up, but he gave a real dance another shot and was great. No one thought he would last this long -- himself included -- and there's a great chance that he'll even be around for one more week.
What the judges said: "You attempted to get the right footwork, which most of the celebrities here totally disregard," said Len. Julianne loved David's growth as a dancer, and pointed out their strong partnership. Bruno pointed out the father-daughter dance thing, too. Man, I really should be a DWTS judge!
The score: 36/40, Lady and the Gramps' best score of the season!
The Trio Dances
The dance: Rashad was caught between two women in this male fantasy come to life, a story about one taken man tempted by another woman (Emma). At one point, Rashad held both of the women aloft and spun them around, and that's when I was like, "Well, can't compete with that." Rashad also perfectly lined up with the stage lighting at the end, when the floor was split in half and Rashad was right in the middle ready to choose which women he would end up with (it was Emma, of course). A very adult and very well told dance.
What the judges said: "You've got dancing in your blood, it's just not reached your feet yet."
The score: 39/40, with the 9 coming from... guess who.
The dance: This Kid Rock video come to life featured Normani line dancing on top of the judges' table while dressed like Daisy Duke, so what wasn't to like? There was even a cameo by Bonner at the end, as she ended up right in his arms. Alan and Val also went shirtless because things tend to get more fun without the formality of the couples-only routine. What's amazing is that this dance happened on the same night as her first performance, showing Normani's total range an ability. We've seen Normani consistently ascend each week, and she's been my pick to win for some time now, and now I'm calling it a lock.
What the judges said: "You are an incredible actress," said Carrie Ann. Len loved the contrast from the first dance, but he did have something he didn't like: stand on the judges' desk. Ha ha, this guy!
The score: 39/40 with the 9 from... GUESS WHO!
The dance: Bonner played the high-powered CEO of Bonner Bolton Enterprises sitting in his office while Sharna and Britt played his secretaries in ridiculously short skirts, and uhhh, okay. One problem with the routine is that given Bonner's problems with not connecting to the dance, he shouldn't play someone who acts a little too cool as he seems a little distant. However, he did jump up onto a desk, a physical feat I wasn't sure he could pull off given his recent injury. But hey, *Len voice* it was fun, the crowd loved it, well done.
What the judges said: "I feel like I need to take a shower," said Carrie Ann. "It was a little bit too raunchy for the old guy," said Len, who also said Bonner didn't put a step wrong in the dance.
The score: 28/40, all 7s. The crowd was silent. Can America save Bonner?
The dance: Sasha took the two ladies into the future, complete with a video screen playing what looked like old-school vector-based backgrounds. But truthfully,
What the judges said: Carrie Ann says Simone sometimes dances too on beat. "You gotta lift your game up," Len said, after saying she's his favorite to win. Bruno went on too long, was told to sit down, and then fell down and hurt himself.
The score: 36/40, which sums up Simone's season. Almost perfect, but not quite.
The dance: Wow, a gladiator-themed dance! To a cover of "Gangsta's Paradise!" This is basically what happens when drunk people are allowed to make decisions. But you know what, it wasn't a total disaster. David was able to be serious again, which was pretty shocking, but David didn't really have the skills for Paso Doblé. He needed to come out and have fun instead of rolling out this fantasy role play.
What the judges said: "I didn't like it at all," said Len. Bruno likened David to Godzilla chasing airplanes. Yep!
The score: 29/40, with Julianne being nice with the 8.
It came down to Bonner and Rashad for elimination, and the couple who got booted was... Bonner and Sharna. That was expected, but he gave it his all as long as he could. Sorry, ladies!
Dancing with the Stars airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on ABC.