It was an emotionally charged episode of Dancing with the Stars Monday, especially for Nick Carter, who not only left the judges speechless with a moving dance dedicated to his pregnant wife, but also found out the sex of the baby they're expecting on live TV. (It's a boy! Cue "Backstreet Boy" jokes in 3, 2 ...)
The pairs are also competing for immunity, which one couple will earn and thus avoid going into a dance-off. And of course, another twosome are sent packing.
Here's how it all went down:
Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson (salsa)
The dance: For someone who's never performed a salsa before, Carlos is a natural. (His Latin roots must account for something!) His lifts are a little frenetic, and he really screws one up toward the middle - but at that point, after he ditches his shirt, everyone was probably focused on his abs anyway.
What the judges say: Julianne says Carlos seemed to know what he was doing, but offers him some advice on his hips. Bruno praises Carlos for tossing Witney "into positions that don't even exist in the Kama Sutra." Carrie Ann notes that the dance got off to a rough start, but Carlos had a nice recovery from his mistake.
Score: 27 (out of 30)
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold (contemporary)
The dance: Alek and Lindsay's contemporary is definitely greater than the sum of its parts (thanks mostly to that lovely cover of Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero" that they dance to). The dance is incredibly moving and powerful, and Alek looks more graceful than we've seen him before. But I winced when Alek nearly dropped Lindsay after their lift, and the mood never fully recovered.
What the judges say: Bruno observes that it's hard to critique the dance after Alek's moving package, but notes that the lift misstep was an "oh my God" moment. Carrie Ann says Alek rose to the occasion and recovered nicely from the misstep. (She also criticizes Lindsay's choreography for being too simple.) Julianne wanted more "side-by-side action" from the dance.
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker (Viennese waltz)
The dance: After his tearjerker of a package dedicating the performance to his mom, I'm confused why Andy has a big grin on his face throughout this waltz. (Maybe it's an "If I don't laugh, I'll cry" type thing). As a result, though the footwork is mostly on point, I'm totally distracted by Andy's facial expression. The dance also feels like it's on a Week 1 or Week 2 level, rather than a post-halfway point routine.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann says the dance was emotional and lovely, but says Andy looked like he was in another world and the dancing suffered as a result. Julianne agrees with the negative points, but compliments Andy on a touching tribute. Bruno says Andy's heart was in the right place, but his body wasn't.
Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas (Argentine tango)
The dance: Per usual, Mark wins at choreography, and the gladiator-themed stage set is amazing too. And the dance itself is appropriately dramatic, with a compelling narrative to boot. (All I could think when Alexa mimed slitting Mark's throat was, "This is supposed to be a family show!") Anyway, this is definitely the best overall dance of the night so far. Their movements are sharp and they're completely in sync. Alexa, however, is mortified afterward about a couple of slips she made - which I, for one, barely noticed.
What the judges say: Julianne grimaces and empathizes with Alexa about the slip-ups. Bruno says the mistakes really stood out, and shouldn't be happening this late in the competition. Carrie Ann says the mess-ups didn't detract from what was otherwise an "epic" dance.
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess (contemporary)
The dance: Aw, dad-to-be Nick is so excited about the little one they have on the way! And we seem to have raised the bar in this second hour of Dancing. Sharna says in the package that she's hoping this will be their best dance of the competition, and it is. The choreography is gorgeous, the narrative is poignant, and Nick is so obviously emotionally invested in this number that it's contagious. The lengthy standing ovation they get is well-deserved.
What the judges say: Bruno calls the storytelling and narrative "perfect." Carrie Ann cries. Julianne tells Nick that he's finally "truly a dancer" tonight, and later adds that she wishes she could give them an 11.
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough (foxtrot)
The dance: We learn that Bindi's been grinning and bearing her way through broken toenails, knee injuries and blisters. As a result, I have no idea how she dances this foxtrot in those heels. Her timing is a little off in the aerial shot (which is super-cool, by the way), but it's a really fun dance. Not their best routine of the season, but Julianne is definitely right that Bindi is in a class of her own.
What the judges say: Carrie calls the routine "incredible" and loves Bindi's energy. Julianne says she tries to find fault with Bindi's dancing and mostly can't (other than her frame). Bruno says Bindi's "Hollywood sweetheart" appeal is "infectious," but gives her notes on her shoulders.
Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy (paso doble)
The dance: It's fitting that Tamar and Val are dancing to "Born This Way," because Tamar looks like she was born to do this dance. Aside from a couple moments where she seems to be concentrating too much, rather than just letting herself feel the music, this routine is nearly flawless.
What the judges say: Julianne says the choreography was excellent, but advises Tamar to stretch her arms more. Bruno says this paso transported him to Spain. And Carrie Ann praises Tamar's confidence, but deducts points for one foot lift.
That's the end of the individual dances, with Nick and Sharna winning immunity (and three extra points). We're on to the dance-off - and there's a twist this year. Viewers will be voting in real time, and the results will be posted on the big screen for everyone (including the dancers) to see. Yikes!
-Bindi and Derek opt to face Carlos and Witney, who choose the jive. Tamar and Val choose Alexa and Mark, who select the cha cha. That leaves Andy and Allison facing Alek and Lindsay with the samba.
Bindi/Derek vs. Carlos/Witney
I'm not a fan of the camera angles for this competition, which don't seem to allow equal time for the two couples. Plus, there's too much going on to pay attention to the "scoreboard" in the background. Bindi and Derek's dance looks a little more energetic and visually interesting (nice kicks and flicks, Bindi!), but Carlos and Witney do a decent job as well. There's not a clear winner here (unless you're the judges, who unanimously pick Carlos and Witney). At-home voters, however, select Bindi and Derek.
Tamar/Val vs. Alexa/Mark
Is it just me, or do Val and Tamar look a little lost at one point during the start of the routine? They recover nicely, but Alexa and Mark are giving it their all from the get-go, and I find my eyes drifting to them more often than Tamar and Val. Carrie Ann and at-home viewers choose Alexa and Mark, while Julianne and Bruno tip their votes towards Tamar and Val.
Alek/Lindsay vs. Andy/Allison
This is basically a race to the bottom. Alek looks a little more awkward throughout this dance, but I'm not sure why Andy breaks into the worm at one point. Did he forget the choreography? Neither of these dances is particularly good (or much of a samba, as Carrie Ann points out). The judges unanimously go with Andy and Allison, as does America.
With all that said and done, here are the results from tonight:
Safe: Bindi and Derek, Tamar and Val, Alek and Lindsay, Alexa and Mark
In jeopardy: Carlos and Witney, Andy and Allison
Eliminated: Andy and Allison
What are your thoughts, Dancing fans? Which was your favorite dance of the night? Did you enjoy the dance-off? And are you disappointed we won't be seeing more of Andy and Allison? Sound off in the comments!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.