So one week after one of the most shocking eliminations in the show’s recent history, we’re back for a night when there are twists and turns from the start thanks to the format. Following an opening number set to “Sing Sing Sing” and involving glowsticks, Tom announces that after each couple does a normal dance, there will be a second round of “Switch-Up” without quite explaining what that is yet, only that it’s impossible to prepare for. But first the couples must get through the first round, all the while hoping they didn’t get so few votes as to make it pointless…
Bill Engvall & Emma Slater: Tango to Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Emma initially thinks the song’s called “Beefburger in Paradise” and doesn’t think it’s very tangoey. They make up “redneck tango” story about a vacationing couple arguing over a cheeseburger. He has no problem with the comedy, of course, but still has problems with the footwork. Oddly enough, while Len and Carrie-Ann give them 8s, Bruno goes lower with a 7, to total 23, causing Bill to threaten with him the mustard bottle.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren & Valentin Chmerkovskiy: Cha Cha to “Put Your Hands on Me” by Joss Stone. It’s a dance that reminds her of Showgirls, and she talks about the damage that movie did to her career and how now she wants to be sexy on her own terms. And she absolutely is; from her opening solo onward she is a sexy force of nature, not putting a foot or hip wrong. Three raves later we have our first perfect 30 of the season.
Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani: Quickstep to “Man Wanted” from the musical TV movie Cocacabana. The fluff piece has their reaction to last week’s scores and a friend of hers visiting the studio. But tonight, while she’s slightly slow at the beginning, once they’ve got into it Leah finally starts really dancing like she belongs on the floor. Len calls it her best dance yet, but does dispute whether a quickstep routine with the separations they make during it is true to the rules of the dance. Still, all three judges give them 9s for 27.
Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd: Tango to “The Night Out” by Martin Solveig. He too gets a visit from a friend in the fluff piece, in this case a Pretty Little Liars co-star. His tango is high on the intensity, but could maybe be sexier, and the judges debate whether it was clean: Bruno saw a stumble, Len didn’t, Carrie-Ann calls it just him losing the time. So Len gives them a 10 while the other two only give him 9s for a total of 28.
Amber Reilley & Derek Hough: Samba to “Get It Right” by Fantasia Barrino. It opens with her yelling at the orchestra. In an interview before the fluff piece, Ambers says she “hit the wall,” which makes one’s head spin when near the end of the fluff Derek tells Amber, “I’m your wall.” He puts her through a difficult routine with four samba-walks and a very hard samba-roll, and they do it fast and furious no problem. Except that while Bruno and Carrie-Ann rave, Len complains the four walks made it too repetitive. Derek informs him he put them all in hoping to please him. So while the other two give 10s he only gives an 8; their total is 28.
Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke: Paso Doble to “Conquest” by The White Stripes. She says in the fluff piece she’s more worried about him expressing the attitude than his doing the moves, which turns out to be right and wrong of her; right because while he does go aggressive throughout the routine, as Carrie-Ann notes later it was one-dimensional. Wrong because his timing goes off. Carrie-Ann suggests he tried too hard. Len doesn’t object as much, giving a 9, but the other two give 8s for a total of 25.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi & Sasha Farber: Foxtrot to “Build Me Up, Buttercup.” In the fluff piece he talks of them dancing like Fred and Ginger and she is crabby, especially when he starts replacing harder steps with easier ones. But it’s a strategy on his part that works; the two of them surround themselves with a park setting and just skip around perfectly. The judges are impressed enough to give them straight 9s for a total of 27.
Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff: Viennese Waltz to the Game of Thrones theme! He gets really excited when he learns what they’re dancing too; turns out he’s a huge fan of the show. He throws himself shirtlessly and enthusiastically into the roll of Khal Drogo to Karina’s Daenerys, even if that means he has to die at the end of the routine, and with their performance ability and even a split second of CGI dragons flying off from the ballroom ceiling to lead off the number it certainly works as a dramatic portrayal. The judges argue, however, whether it works as a waltz; Len doesn’t think the choroegraphy qualifies it as one, Bruno is disappointed that in his excitement Corbin lost his lines, and Carrie-Ann agrees is was an unorthodox waltz but nonetheless an acceptable one. But even she only gives an 8 along with Bruno, while Len gives a 7 for a a total of 23.
We sit through a weird pop version of “Popular” from Wicked before it’s time for the first ever Switch-Up Challenge, and we finally learn just what that is: basically two four-couple dance marathons where the music switches randomly and couples are judged by their ability to connect their dancing to the music playing and make the transitions from one song to another work. The two groups then draw paddles to determine whose in group 1 and who’s in group 2. Group 1 ends up being all the male celebrities except Brant while Group 2 is all the female celebrities except Snooki.
Group 1: Starts with Jack & Cheryl getting attention with him hitting the floor and Bill, who had threatened to take his shirt off during this earlier in the evening, getting it loose. But after looking like he liked the format best in the rehearsal, Bill & Emma are still the first tapped off, and Jack & Cheryl the next. But really, by their speed alone plus their not doing much wrong Corbin & Karina are clearly the best of the four couples as this, and so they take the 4 points for winning their group and get out of last place with a 27 total. Snooki & Sasha settle for 3 points which gets their score up to 30, Jack & Cheryl take 2 up to 27, and Bill & Emma with only one are left alone at the bottom of the leaderboard with 24.
Group 2: Leah & Tony struggle from the beginning, and when they spend too much of the Blue Danube in a lengthy lift(which the others promptly imitate) they’re the first tapped off. The other three are a little closer to each other in their ability to do this, but ultimately Elizabeth & Val and Brant & Peta get tapped off in that order, leaving Amber & Derek the winners. With 4 points their score goes up to 32, ultimately tieing them for the lead with Elizabeth & Val, who with their 2 points reach the same total. 3 points leave Brant & Peta just behind with 31, and 1 leaves Leah & Tony with 28.
Then the couples are all lined up, and couples start getting called safe rapidly. When the last couples standing are highlighted there are only two of them: Jack & Cheryl and Bill & Emma. Everyone finds themselves thinking that one could go either way…
And then Jack & Cheryl are called safe, so Bill & Emma…aren’t leaving either! Tom suddenly announces that because, amoung other technical difficulties last week, the wrong phone numbers were displayed for certain couples muddling up the vote, that vote’s been thrown out, and instead everybody’s scores will be carried over to next week. That might not have been the nicest of jokes to play, but hey, we’ve reached the point in the season where everyone’s fun to watch and you don’t want to lose anyone, so it’s nice for tonight that we don’t have to(the double elimination that will have to happen at some point because of this is going to hurt though). It’s probably more convenient for the team dances too to retain an even number of contestants. Yeah, those are coming up next week too…