I can't think of anything more frightening than watching Ryan Lochte dance, so a Halloween edition of Dancing with the Stars sound just right. What, would you rather be handing out candy to little squirts who are using you for their sugar high? Do what I did and take the bowl of candy you were supposed to hand out and eat for yourself.
And for once, the ridiculous getups that our stars and dancers are subjected to each week makes sense! Given the ghoulish opening number, set to Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party," tonight looks like it's going to be fun and frightening.
One note to know: Sharna Burgess, James Hinchcliffe's partner, hurt her knee — you may remember it was in a brace last week — and has been ruled out for this week. That means James will head into the homestretch with a new partner, Jenna. Will it affect his performance? Is he that good of a dancer that it won't matter? Will Ryan sneak past another elimination because he made a deal with devil? (Sorry, that last question is always on my mind.) We'll find out.
More time-filling rules in this one: the top scores of the night don't have to participate in a dance off and are safe from elimination, while the others engage in an impromptu dance-off against each other for more points.
Let's look back at the dances and see who had it going on on Halloween night!
The dance: Inspired by one of the greatest movies of all time — Beetlejuice — Terra and Sasha reenacted the famous "Day-O" scene that is the show's centerpiece. It's a solid concept, but come on, no levitating!?!? Okay, that's asking too much, but there was something else missing with the dance. We're used to Terra dazzling, and some of that sparkle was lost here which is surprising given how well this song fits into her repertoire. Maybe we've set our expectations too high, or maybe the concept overshadowed the dance. It was solid, but this close to the end of the competition, we needed just a little more.
What the judges say: Bruno, who was not dressed up, called Terra a "possessed little fiend" but did it in that way where it was a compliment.
The score: 24/30, all 8s.
The dance: Val and Laurie went classic with a smooth and silky Viennese Waltz set in the world of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and it was waterworks all around. There was a major undercurrent of emotion in this dance — as evidenced by the training video when Val wept at wanting to win this for Laurie — and it flowed through the dance as they twirled and spun. The crowd was going nuts halfway through! But give it up for Val, who put together a spectacular routine that showed a wonderful side of Laurie that will reap rewards in the points. Here's the thing though: Val was still emotional and shaking well after the dance; you can tell this meant a lot to him. This is a truly wonderful partnership!
What the judges say: Carrie Ann was brought to tears, and Bruno called it "magical."
The score: 30/30, a perfect score and one of the best dances of the season!
The dance: Marilu unlocked her secret weapon here... HER LEGS! Like the spider-y backdrop of the dance, Marilu's stems worked well with the tango for a rebound dance from last week's unfortunate routine. But it wasn't a full bounce back. Technically, there were some missteps in there that still need to be ironed out in order for Marilu to be a contender. They're at the bottom of the scoreboard for a reason, and I feel like we're just waiting for their names to be called come elimination time.
What the judges say: Bruno wants Marilu to trust Derek a little more, and Julianne thought she was a sexy black widow who could eat Derek alive... but also pointed out those little errors.
The score: 23/40, Carrie Ann delivering the low 7.
The dance: Calvin has had some of the brightest set pieces (remember that lemon-yellow suit he wore?), something that humanizes his intimidating 6'5" frame, but here, Calvin and Lindsay dressed up as skeletons and danced on an empty dance floor. And it worked! This despite the skull makeup masking his 10 gigowatt smile. Calvin has better balance than a limbo champ on a cruise ship in stormy seas, and watching his limbs move in precision is a wonder. But here's the thing, he moves his body with a controlled looseness that makes it look easy when it's not. The judges will appreciate that. Can we also talk about how Lindsay is moving up into the upper echelon of pros this season? This is one of those perfect partnerships that's paying dividends.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann said Calvin reminded her of Emmitt Smith, which was a good thing! And Bruno loved the "content" of the dance.
The score: 30/30, another perfecto!
The dance: I don't know what the theme of this dance was! Ryan had some wings on his eyebrows? There were feathers involved? Was he a werepeacock? I don't know. But Ryan did more dancing than he has in the past, which is a positive step. This was one of his better dances, but compared to his competition, he's still clearly below the level of everyone else.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann said Ryan's dancing was kind of like wrestling, which isn't really a thing dancers like to hear.
The score: 23/40, Carrie Ann isn't afraid to give out 7s.
The dance: I don't know what happened here, but two people with clothes on came out and pretended to be Jana and Gleb! I almost didn't recognize them because they weren't half naked, but this was a solid routine — influenced by Little Shop of Horrors — that was packed with big moves. Jana did the splits three times, which is like six times more than I've ever done in my life, and the two did a cartwheel while holding hands at one point. How is that physically possible? This wasn't their best dance, but it's won't get them eliminated.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann liked to see this new side of Jana, but Julianne was surprised Jana didn't stick with her strengths... which is showering on the dance floor, I guess.
The score: 27/30, solidly in the top. But can they crack the top 3, which by my mind is Calvin, Laurie, and James?
The dance: I would have a metal rod surgically implanted up my butt if it meant I could get James' posture. That guy can stand up straight! Dressed as The Joker and Harley Quinn (from Suicide Squad), they spun a love story between two deranged criminals that worked well, especially with the way James is able to hold himself up and glide around the floor. And even though James has worked with Sharna all these weeks, it looked like he and Jenna had been dancing for years.
What the judges say: Julianne was so impressed by James' ability to dance with a new partner and not miss a step.
The score: 30/30! A third perfecto! And because they had the highest cumulative score, they earned immunity in the dance-off.
There was still 25 minutes left, so all dancers not named James or Jenna had to split up in three pairs of teams and compete in head-to-head improvised dances to a dance style chosen that very night (not sure I totally believe at least some of this wasn't all planned beforehand, tbh). They picked their opponents and dance styles, and then went for it, while viewers at home voted in real time online.
First: Laurie and Val versus Calvin and Lindsay doing the Jive! All three judges AND America picked Laurie and Val, so they earned extra points.
Second: Jana and Gleb versus Terra and Sasha doing the Salsa! Gleb took off his shirt because votes! Then Sasha took off his shirt while the judges were talking, and I swear Bruno humped the sky. The judges picked Jana and Gleb, 2-1. America picked... Jana and Gleb! What in the world is going on here with this voting system.
Third: Marilu and Derek versus Ryan and Cheryl doing the Cha Cha! Now we see how Ryan has made it this far. America likes him, as evidenced by the "live" favorability meter bouncing far into Ryan territory! I guess some people think trashing bathrooms in foreign countries is cool! The judges picked Ryan and Cheryl 2-1, as did America.
Now that that's done, let's all agree that this is a really horrible feature of Dancing with the Stars and is borderline arbitrary. After all the hard work these competitors do, they throw pairs into improvised dances against each other to help determine their fate? Yikes, and no thanks! First of all, the dances aren't good because they're totally unprepared. Second, two couples with perfect scores were out there dancing for their lives. Third, no one really seemed into it. Please kill this component, ABC. /End editorial.
After all that, the couple eliminated this week was... Ryan and Cheryl. Even though they just won the dance-off. So that makes a lot of sense! Good night everyone, and check your Snickers for razor blades!
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.