It's Halloween Night on Dancing with the Stars! Our tricks and treats include Leah Remini filling in for co-host Erin Andrews for the second week in a row, no guest judge, and the first team dances of the season!
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess (Argentine tango)
The dance: The Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein performance set to "Bring Me To Life" is a nice touch. It's appropriately dark and dramatic for a tango, as well as a nice way to kick off this spooky night in general. Was anyone else seriously freaked out by Sharna's dead eyes at the end of the routine? Nick looked a little tentative on that lift, and his motions could have been a little precise for a tango.
What the judges say: Julianne says Nick should have been sharper. Bruno says he was "bewitched" by the dance, but the content was more paso doble than tango. Carrie Ann calls Nick "Frankensexy" and compliments him for not breaking character.
Score: 24 (out of 30)
Hayes Grier and Emma Slater (waltz)
The dance: Maybe this is that "stalking" quality that Bruno was saying Nick and Sharna's tango should have had. This waltz is haunting (thanks, set designers!), but Hayes seems a bit hesitant at times and makes a few missteps that break the mood. But overall it's one of the stronger dances they've done.
What the judges say: Bruno overpraises Hayes and calls him a "romantic" and "charming" Teen Wolf whose lines are impeccable. Carrie Ann says Hayes' stiff neck made her uncomfortable but everything else was great. Julianne says Hayes' "maturity and groundedness" gave her chills.
Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas (paso doble)
The dance: As a big Edward Scissorhands fan, I'm excited about this routine before it even begins. Alexa is nearly flawless, but it's actually Mark who throws this dance off for me. His Edward Scissorhands seems a bit too goofy, when I feel like the mood should be a little bit darker and scarier. But I'm nitpicking - the choreography is flawless and Alexa is definitely back with a vengeance after last week's misfire. Plus, no snakes!
What the judges say: Carrie Ann is thrilled that Alexa finally got out of her head and allowed herself to "dance like there's no tomorrow." She'll even forgive extra space in their holds, because of Mark's (literal) scissor-hands. Julianne encourages Alexa to be more consistent with her focus. Bruno thought the dance perfectly captured director Tim Burton's imagination.
Tamar Braxton and Val Chermkovskiy (foxtrot)
The dance: Tamar's set a pretty high bar for herself, saying she's the best dancer in the competition in their lead-in package. Yikes. But with this foxtrot, she puts her, um, feet, where her mouth is. It's dramatic and sensual, and for the first week Tamar looks just as comfortable (if not more) than Val is out there. They say pride comes before a fall, so let's hope that's not the case for Tamar!
What the judges say: Julianne tells Tamar that confidence is great, but points out a misstep mid-routine and says she and Val seem "disconnected." Bruno agrees about the mistake (more than one, actually), and says Tamar seemed "over-driven." Carrie Ann says she and Val were "for sure" out of sync, and there were a lot of mistakes, but she reassures Tamar that, if nothing else, she's the most natural mover in the competition. Ouch.
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker (paso doble)
The dance: As Andy points out in the package, this is basically the opposite of their Singin' in the Rain dance from last week. It's fun to see a darker side of Andy, but he seems to be much more comfortable being Gene Kelly than Marilyn Manson. It's a good routine, but not great thanks to a couple of timing and synchronicity issues on Andy's part.
What the judges say: Bruno says Andy's posture was off throughout the dance. Carrie Ann agrees, but thinks the dance still worked. Julianne awkwardly tells Andy that she was "extremely turned on" by the dance, despite (or because of?) Andy's "weird" movements.
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough (Argentine tango)
The dance: Bindi as an "evil queen vampiress" is a stretch if I've ever heard one. But damn if she doesn't pull it off, and convincingly to boot! This isn't Derek's most impressive dance, choreography-wise, but there's plenty of content and Bindi doesn't miss a step. And the two of them are perfectly in sync per usual.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann is shocked that Bindi's strongest dance was on Halloween night, but it was. Julianne agrees, and says Bindi and Derek are "on a whole other level" from the rest of the competition. (Nobody tell Tamar.) Bruno calls the dance a "master class" in Argentine tango, not to mention "spellbinding dance magic."
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold (Viennese waltz)
The dance: After Artem comes off the bench and whips him into shape during rehearsals, Alek is like a different dancer out there. He's still not the most natural mover, but the intensity is there, and he's obviously been working on his facial expressions and lines - which are still not perfect, but show signs of improvement.
What the judges say: Julianne thanks Alek for showing a little passion in his face. Bruno is thrilled that Alek that he was definitely more dynamic, but couldn't see his footwork because of all the smoke on stage. Carrie Ann says Alek finally looks like a contender.
Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson (paso doble)
The dance: Looks like Carlos managed to figure out that cape! This may the best routine of the night - it's dark and intense, and Carlos' posture is impeccable, with or without the cape. Unfortunately, towards the middle, some of the dance gets obscured by smoke on the stage for at-home viewers. (As Tom Bergeron pointed out earlier, the ballroom hasn't been this smoky since Tommy Chong was competing. I lol'd.)
What the judges say: Bruno says Carlos' cape work was stellar, but is crushed that his balance prevented the dance from being perfect. Carrie Ann says Carlos, unlike most people, performed better with a mask on, but his timing was off at points. And Julianne can't believe Carlos thought he was overscored last week.
Now it's time for the team dances! We have Team Who You Gonna Call? and Team Nightmare.
Team Nightmare (Nick/Sharna, Andy/Allison, Tamar/Val, Hayes/Emma)
The dance: Team Nightmare is actually a dream come true. Their "This Is Halloween" routine may have what it takes to end Derek's streak of never having lost a team dance. There isn't a weak link in the bunch, and even with all eight dancers moving together, it's thrilling, spooky and kind of perfect all at the same time.
What the judges say: Julianne loved everything about the dance, which she calls one of the best team dances she's ever seen, and thinks Hayes was the standout. Bruno felt like he was watching a Broadway show. Carrie Ann says the other team should be "pooping in [their] pants" right now. (Somebody page Paula Deen!)
Team Who You Gonna Call? (Bindi/Derek, Alexa/Mark, Carlos/Witney, Alek/Lindsay)
The dance: There's definitely something strange in the neighborhood ... and it's the beginning of this dance, when the ladies' attempt to look like scary ghosts comes off as just awkward, and they can't seem to stay in sync to kick off the routine. Bonus points to Carlos, who pulls off "dancing" on a hoverboard with aplomb. The dance works the best when all eight team members are dancing together (and all look like professionals), but the misguided opening seconds will probably bring Derek's streak to an end.
What the judges say: Bruno says the routine "captured the fun" of the movie, but notes that the ensemble was out of sync at the beginning. Carrie Ann praises the energy, and blames Bindi or Alexa for screwing up the beginning. (Bindi takes responsibility.) Julianne says she didn't notice Bindi's mistake, and actually preferred this dance to the previous one.
And now a hurried elimination.
In jeopardy: Hayes and Emma, Tamar and Val, Alexa and Mark
Eliminated: Hayes and Emma, who get a standing ovation and a heartfelt goodbye from Tom.
What did you think, Dancing fans? Are you surprised Hayes and Emma went home? Which team dance did you prefer? And how do you think Leah's doing as a co-host? Sound off in the comments!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.