Looks like we’re not getting a different opening sequence after all, but that’s okay; sometimes we’re getting a full-on opening number instead. Such as this week, where we get one involving the entire ballroom and pyrotechnics. The hottest night of the year, we are reminded, before the dances commence.
Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy: Salsa; “Turn the Beat Around” by Gloria Estefan. The choice of song makes Val decide they must do a disco-themed salsa, despite him not knowing much about disco. They get into character as best they can, even preparing by practicing at a roller rink, which results in poor Val getting a split lip. The routine has so much disco it doesn’t feel much like a salsa, but it qualifies contentwise, and for what it is it’s a great routine which they nail. Len even calls it the best number of the season so far and Bruno declares, “Monday night fever starts here!” But Julianne thinks Rumer only got the energy up halfway. A Nine from Len and Eights from the others leave them with 33.
Charlotte McKinney & Keo Motsepe: Rumba; “Empire” Shakira. The fluff shows her struggling with her dyslexia and taking too many breaks to check her email, much to Keo’s displeasure; he talks about her need to concentrate. He’s right to: during the performance Charlotte alternates between nailing moves beautifully and being awkward and not on it the next moment. The judges all tell her she had to put more focus and work in, although perhaps Bruno’s essentially calling her a brainless beauty is not called for. Perhaps he gives her a Six in apology. Carrie-Ann gives a Six as well, but Fives from the other two leave them with 22.
Michael Sam & Peta Murgatroyd: Salsa; “Celebrate” Pitbull. The fluff has her taking him to a spa to relax after his previous grueling week. But things get hair-raising in the rehearsal room; she choreographs lifts that make use of his considerable strength, and he worries about hurting her. Then tonight, he does great lifts and is careful not to hurt her-to the expense of everything else about the routine! And then the judges dispute between themselves whether even the lifts were that good, but the mistakes, footwork issues, and lack of good hip action can’t be debated, and they give straight Sixes across the board for 24.
Riker Lynch & Allison Holker: Salsa; “Limbo” Daddy Yankee. The fluff has them discussing how he will make himself sexy for this one; he refrains from taking his shirt off until the end and instead tries to be “rock and roll sexy.” I don’t know if that really works, but sexy or not, Riker is fun, sharp and on point, well connected to the music, and also blindingly fast, so there’s plenty to love anyway. Except Len insists he could be much better and only gives them a Seven. Carrie-Ann actually wants more testosterone and Julianne more chemistry, but that doesn’t stop them and Bruno from raving in general and breaking out the Nines, leaving them with 34.
Suzanne Somers & Tony Dovolani: Samba; “Cocacabana” Barry Manilow. For the decorations of this one they turn to Suzanne’s old wardrobe, as she dawns the fruit headdress she wore at the Moulin Rouge 35 years ago, and she plays the role of the showgirl to the hilt, as Tony gives her a high-content routine. Maybe a little too hard, a couple of mistakes throw her off for part of the routine. Still, the judges call it fun, and Bruno finds it fun enough to give them a Seven. But Carrie-Ann declares she wants more “depth,” and Suzanne doing something other than just fun, and she and the other two give Sixes, for a total of 25.
Chris Soules & Witney Carson: Argentine Tango; “Dangerous” David Guetta feat. Sam Martin. The fluff is largely about Chris being depressed about last week, but also has him practicing shirtless. The shirt actually stays on tonight, though there’s a good mood and chemistry between them, and if maybe Witney does a bit more of the harder stuff than Chris does, as least that allows him to hit it. The judges are all glad to see the recovery after the previous week, with Len even calling it the best he’s done, but Bruno still critiques his turns, and the scores are straight Sevens for 28.
Robert Herjavec & Kym Johnson: Rumba; “How Long Will I Love You?” Ellie Goudling. In the fluff he actually expresses disappointment in how he did last week, and dances through back pain. His fun-loving shtick doesn’t work for the rumba, of course, but he and Kym prove able to do sweet and loving as well. There’s still technical issues, and three of the judges have a lot to say about that before giving Sevens, but Julianne declares she thought that his best performance, and breaks out her Eight paddle, giving them a total of 29.
Patti Labelle & Artem Chingvintsev: Cha Cha Cha; “Oye 2014” Carlos Santana feat. Pitbull. In the fluff, Artem notes the rave reception she’s gotten so far, and is feeling a bit of pressure now to live up to it, while Patti just expresses her intention to be sexy in this one. And she is, more or less. It’s a fun routine involving a hotel setting and bellhops and there’s nothing really wrong with it, but there’s no “wow” performance factor like there was for her first two, and without it there’s a problem, especially when the judges complain about the lack of cha cha cha content. Len and Julianne only give them Fives and Carrie-Ann and Bruno Sixes, for 22.
Willow Shields & Mark Ballas: Paso doble; “Hanuman” Rodrigo y Gabriela with John Tempesta. Willow takes a bit of a blow to the chest in rehearsal, and then things start getting worse, until by the time of the dress rehearsal on Sunday at one point she’s having trouble breathing. One wonders why they didn’t go to the doctor, honestly. But she does seem pretty much fine and on it tonight, with Mark doing another creative routine casting her as fire and himself as ice. It’s the first paso doble anyone’s done this season, and Len declares it’ll be hard to beat, while Bruno declares, “My little Mockingjay is catching fire!” and they break out the straight Eights for 32.
Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess: Argentine Tango; “Rather Be” Clean Bandit feat. Jessie Glynne. She initially tries to make him dance with a prosthetic arm, but he struggles with it, declares he hates it, and finally says he doesn’t want to use it, and she decides not to force him, even though it means rechoreographing the routine two days before the show. They pull it off like they’ve done so far, working around his weaknesses, though the last minute changes might have been why his feet go wrong at one point. The judges have good words, with Julianne even calling it his best yet, and she and Bruno break out the Eights, while Carrie-Ann and Len pulls out Sevens, for a total of 30.
Nastia Liukin & Derek Hough: Samba; “Chillando Goma” Fulanito. They too have an injury issue when he steps on her thumb, which might not seem that big, but it keeps them from rehearsing, and when her classes and his Radio City Music Hall gig cuts severely into their time as it is; she even has to rehearse in LA with Henry Byalikov! But when they come out tonight they don’t show signs of any of these problems; she nails the dance, with a good amount of energy too, and they have no problems connecting and staying with each other either. Except Bruno thought they might have gotten too carried away with her use of her flexibility; Julianne too has very specific advice, even while praising them for one of the most difficult sambas she’s ever seen. She and Carrie-Ann go ahead with the Nines, while Len and Bruno give Eights, leaving them tied with Riker & Allison for the lead at 34.
Once again there’s been no calling of results during the show, everyone is once again placed on the stairs. This time only three couples are called down to be declared in jeopardy: Chris & Witney, Noah & Sharna, and Charlotte & Keo. You don’t want to think Noah is getting kicked out after that sweet story last week, but thankfully he’s not; he and Sharna are called safe next. So now Chris & Witney are left to see if his mistakes last week did indeed doom them, against a couple five points ahead of them that definitely improved…but are they getting enough votes?
No, they’re not; Chris & Witney get a lucky escape as Charlotte & Keo are voted out instead! Poor Charlotte tells Keo she’s sorry. Although really, while she would’ve had reason for that had they been sent home next week, perhaps her only real fault her was not being the kind of star who could get votes easily. And as it is, he says he’s happy to have danced with her, which is more than his last partner got.