Dancing with the Stars is moving at a breakneck pace this year, seeing as we're only two episodes in and we're already at the halfway point. WTF?!
In addition to getting a visit from Season 24 winner Rashad Jennings as a guest judge, it was also team night on Dancing with the Stars, which was exceptionally challenging for the new recruits. They'd only just begun getting used to dancing with one partner, and then you throw in three other teammates? Yikes!
We also got another double elimination (they're dropping like flies!), which unfortunately included two pretty predictable picks. Here's how it went down:
Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess - Paso Doblé - "The Plaza of Execution" by James Horner
The dance: They may have steamed up the dance floor with last week's routine, but Josh and Norma's Paso Doble didn't have the same impressive kick — which is nuts because there were like 18 kicks in that routine. The chemistry between Sharna and Josh was still totally there, but Paso Dobles are all about striking really amazing poses, and Josh's poses just felt like they were all over the place. After finding out he was juggling rehearsals with training, I've decided to forgive like 40 percent of those loose limbs.
What the judges said: Rashad knew how hard it can be moving from the football field to the dance floor, so he sympathized with the rough edges. Len loved the performance, but Bruno and Carrie Ann took issue with the form a little. "When you put so much power into it, you throw away the hands, and you know that," Bruno said. "You cannot do that. You have to sustain the lines all the time." LINES, LINES, LINES JOSH!
Score: 30/40. He should be safe.
The dance: Jennie had some major issues with the "risque" song Keo originally picked for this dance, which means they had to restructure the entire dance in three days. Yikes! It ended up being a seriously fun (if a little rough) routine, despite the time crunch. Jennie did lose the beat a couple times though, which snagged her some low scores. Those scores (plus the fear that she'll pull another "let's change everything" move) made her a likely candidate for elimination this week.
What the judges said: Len called it a "very competent performance" even though he noticed it lacked a bit of rhythm and she lost the timing on a few occasions. The head-to-toe leather obviously impressed Bruno, but he had the same note as last week: Get control of your hands, girl! Rashad had nothing but rave reviews for Jennie, and Carrie Ann respected Jennie going with her gut and staying true to herself when it came to the song choice.
Score: 26/40. Deserved. Enough said.
The dance: OMG this dance was so cleverly crafted to deal with Lindsay and Kareem's height difference! The whole first half of the dance was done with Lindsay sitting on the shoulders of Hayley Erbert, one of the troupe members. That girl deserves STRAIGHT TENS for dancing with someone literally sitting on her and only Kareem's feet to go off of for partnering. As for Kareem, he seriously brought it this week, and people will no doubt be talking about that shimmy for daysssss!
What the judges said: The judges loved the tribute to Kareem's father, but they especially loved the shimmy. Everyone agreed that Kareem brought the party this week and provided the much needed "funk" that was missing from his first performance. As for Rasheed? He pretty much just fangirled over Kareem the whole time, and it was excellent.
Score: 26/40. Not the best scores, but I respect the judges scoring on substance over style.
Chris Mazdzer and Witney Carson - Viennese Waltz - "Next To Me" by Imagine Dragons
The dance: Holy crap, guys! Chris can seriously dance! Like, what even?! The Viennese Waltz can be a killer, since it relies on the elegance and natural rhythm a lot of non-dancers just don't have. Chris does though! That waltz was romantic as hell, and you could tell Chris and Witney even knew how amazing they did by the way they immediately started talking about how they nailed it the second their mics came on. LOL.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann couldn't stop gushing about the routine, calling it outstanding and complimenting the nuance, the finesse, and like a million other things Chris brought to the performance. His heel leads — which are typically the one thing the judges whine about contestants not paying attention to — got some major compliments too. Bruno even called him the "waltzing heartthrob," and frankly... umm, yeah!
Score: 33/40. That was definitely the first nine of the season in case you were super confused by literally everything about that scoring segment.
The dance: It may have been a few years since Tonya Harding was once one of the biggest powerhouses in the athletic world, but tonight's Quickstep made it clear she hasn't lost a step since then. This routine was so fast and it took a crazy amount of athleticism to pull it off. Frankly, it felt like a routine the pros usually reserve for the younger contestants, but Tonya Harding tackled it like it was a walk in the park. It was a ton of fun to watch, and she absolutely killed it.
What the judges said: All the judges loved the fun element of the dance and it was clear Tonya and Sasha's energy was contagious. Len pretty much nailed it when he said, "This dance made me feel good! It just had that feel good factor!" The one critique? Tonya needs to let Sasha lead so she doesn't "lose her neck." Ok, that sounded like a threat, right??
Score: 33/40. Tonya doubling down on the redneck factored totally worked for her.
The dance: Mirai was not pleased with getting a seven last week (your inner Olympian is showing Mirai!), which only made her work 10 times harder this week. The most annoying song in the world notwithstanding, this dance was actually pretty solid. There was an elegance to it that made it feel like two pros were dancing out there. There's no reason this shouldn't be the best dance of the night, except seriously, who chose "It's a Small World After All" as the song? I will hunt you down, you sadist.
What the judges said: "That, for me — best dance so far," Len praised. The others called her the embodiment of a Disney princess and Carrie Ann did a weird neigh/screech thing she was so happy with Mirai's form. She officially earned the first 10 of the year.
Score: 37/40. Frankly, she deserved at least one more 10.
Arike Ogunbowale and Gleb Savchenko - Foxtrot - "What About Us" by P!nk
The dance: Arike donned the heels this week after getting her wrist slapped for dancing in sneakers last week, which actually helped her turn the whole thing into a pretty impressive feminist statement. The footwork was all there, but this routine just felt sort of off-tempo? Frankly, I blame the camera. The shots were so close it was hard to see Gleb and Arike's feet — that's the most important part, guys! The reaction shot of Arike's mom when she first saw her in the ballroom gown was worth at least 10 extra points though.
What the judges said: The poise and posture the judges missed last week got some major praise this week, and Carrie Ann even got all choked up by the "unique" quality she brought to the dance. It was hard to hear what Rashad was saying since the mic malfunctioned, but it sounded complimentary? Get it together, Dancing with the Stars!
Score: 33/40. Eh, that seems a little high, but whatever.
The dance: Adam Rippon has figured out what works for him, and he's now shamelessly — and delightfully — using it to his advantage. WORK THAT CAMERA, ADAM. Work it! Besides all the adorable little faces he shot to camera throughout this routine, the dancing was amazing too. Everything was totally in sync.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann was actually excited to realize that he wasn't totally balanced on his turns because it meant there was room for growth. That's what we call a silver lining, folks. The rest of the panel praised the chemistry, the partner work and the timing, which is probably why he got such STELLAR scores.
Score: 37/40. Tied with Mirai for the lead! These besties are unbeatable!
Team 1950s Tennis - "... Baby One More Time" by The Baseballs
Chris Mazdzer and Witney Carson
Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lindsay Arnold
Tonya Harding and Sasha Farber
The dance: Tonya rolled her ankle during the second rehearsal, and you're lying if you didn't immediately get flashbacks to the infamous 1994 skate-gate. As for the dance, it wasn't the best team routine the show's ever seen, but it also wasn't the worst? When you factor in that their crazy schedules meant these athletes barely got to practice the whole thing all together before hitting the stage, it's actually a miracle they managed it at all. Poor Kareem couldn't participate in most of it, but he managed to dazzle with the few steps they did give him.
What the judges said: In Len's words, there's a "ten" in tennis, but there wasn't a 10 in this routine. The tennis motif worked for a few of the judges, but they had to call attention to the fact that Josh fell out of step with the others a little bit. Ultimately, they gave it high scores, but nothing to write home about.
Team 1970s Football - "Instant Replay" by Dan Hartman
Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson
Arike Ogunbowale and Gleb Savchenko
Jennie Finch Daigle and Keo Motsepe
Mirai Nagasu and Alan Bersten
The dance: None of these kids were born in the '70s, but that didn't stop them from getting groovy with this Disco. As for the rehearsals, Arike had to go back to school to study for finals, so she had basically no rehearsal time with the group. It definitely didn't show though because this performance had it all! Body rolls, afros, football hikes, the works! As far as winners go, these guys definitely beat out the competition.
What the judges said: Monday night fever took Bruno by storm, that's for sure! Did he have a stroke during that judges session?! They had to rush through most of the feedback because they were short on time (and then Carrie Ann fell off her chair, which was a whole thing), but there was a 10 in there, which is all you can hope for in a round like this.
The Elimination: The fact that Jennie and Keo didn't make it into the bottom three this week is insane, but let's all move past that. Arike and Gleb and Kareem and Lindsay were the couples eliminated, which is pretty understandable at this point. Arike's schedule is probably killing her, and while she seriously improved week to week, it's not enough to compete with the major contenders when the show's abbreviated format this year. The same goes for Kareem; he's certainly cute to watch, but when other couples are pulling off lifts and flips that bring the audience to their feet, you just gotta bow out sometimes.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.