Dancing With the Stars, Season 20, Week 8, Night 1 “America’s Choice/Trio Night”

So after the week-long delay, we’re finally getting our first two-nighter of the season(not counting last week’s prefilmed 10th anniversary special).  After an opening sequence introducing America’s Choice Night, where the couples will dance to routine dictated by the viewers, it is explained that both eliminations will take place tomorrow, and that tonight is also trio night.  Two routines for everyone will make for a busy night, so we get underway:

Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess: Tango; “Geronimo” Sheppard.  Despite lots of requests on social media Noah refuses to wear a military uniform; they go with a suggestion of him in a white suit instead.  But the real problem with the viewer’s choice is that the tango really does require things Noah simply can’t do when he’s lacking one of his knees.  He really does all he can, especially performance-wise, although maybe he’s a little stiffer than necessary.  The judges note the problem, but Bruno expresses his amazement at Noah’s managing the proper frame.  A Seven from Len and Eights from the others leave them with 31.

Chris Soules & Witney Carson: Contemporary; “Lay Me Down” Sam Smith.  The fluff has them visiting some fans who made suggestions, including the one who made the winning one of “dark routine with lots of candles.”  Though the candles don’t really get involved; it’s just the two of them dancing around in a spotlight; with her doing a bit more than him, but him being wonderful at everything she’s given him to do.  It’s a tactic that pays off; the judges praise his improvement, though still have a couple of comments about his movement, and he even gets Nines from Carrie-Ann and Julianne, and Eights from the other two for 34.

Riker Lynch & Allison Holker: Viennese Waltz; “What Now?” Rihanna.  After the fluff hilariously shows why one suggestion of penguin suits & cacti is a bad idea, other fans suggested Riker get raw and vulnerable, as the song would dictate, which is another idea that gives him pause.  But he does it, and he proves able to expressive it with body and face both, and while doing some divine dancing while he’s at it.  Maybe Allison oversells the expression a little, but none of the judges hold that against him; three of them rave their heads off and break out the Tens.  But then Len decides this is a wonderful time to rant about how noone’s doing a proper Viennese Waltz with enough hold anymore, and he only gives a Nine, so it’s only another 39.

Robert Herjavec & Kym Johnson: Contemporary; “Champagne Kisses” Jessie Ware.  They take to the street to ask what people want, and with the romantic rumors flying about, of course people want them to kiss.  They do oblige during the routine, although unfortunately the camera-choreography combo at that point in the routine doesn’t make for the best view.  But meanwhile, it’s also a delightful, creative number with the sweetness of a kiss throughout.  Although Bruno compares it to a deodorant commercial(he meant it as a compliment…) and Len declared they didn’t need the wind machine, because he’s already a fan!  Julianne loves it enough to give them a Nine; Eights from the others add up to 33.

Nastia Liukin & Sasha Farber: Paso Doble; “Centuries” Fall-Out Boy.  Someone sends in a suggestion to make Nastia a gladiator, and Derek happily makes them both gladiators and himself the emperor who sits in his chair and watches them fight.  It’s his usual good choreography, and the two people dancing both throw themselves into it.  Maybe too much; they have sync issues, with the judges suggestion maybe she and Sasha are suffering from lack of experience with each other, and then Len apparently is still on a roll from Riker & Allison; the routine was really plenty paso-dobley but he thinks there wasn’t enough paso!  These issues keep their scores down to straight Nines for 36.

Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy: Rumba; “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” Doris Day.  The fluff is mainly about how he feels bad for stressing her out last week and will try to be nicer.  It also highlights the request made that their rumba be classical & elegant.  It’s a lucky request; when Val choreographs a very elegant but still sexy rumba, Rumer shows that being elegant and sexy together just might be her speciality.  Julianne calls it the Rumer & Val who were so great at the season’s beginning , Carrie-Ann calls it sheer perfection, and when Len starts talking about this was the simple, great dancing he wanting, we start to think things might just be aligning, and sure enough, out come straight Tens, the first perfect score of the season at last.

Great way to end the first round, then come the trios, with whom everyone incorporated revealed as we go along:

Noah Galloway, Sharna Burgess, & Emma Slater: Salsa; “Mr. Put it Down” Ricky Martin feat. Pitbull. Sharna describes Emma as like her, and the three of them rejoice in the addition of all the extra limbs to the routine for them to make use of.  But that sort of takes over the routine, where the two ladies dance around Noah, and he does lifts and occasionally shakes his hips something great, but the ladies steal the show.  It’s probably because of this that the judges only give them Eights, but the routine is too much fun to watch for them to not speak highly of it, and Bruno even raves enough about this that he falls out of his chair!  They take their 32 to go up to 63.

Chris Soules, Witney Carson, & Lindsey Arnold: Paso Doble; “Outside” Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding.  These are a pair of pros who killed it with a paso doble in last season’s trio round.  But Chris Soules is not Alfonso Ribeiro, and while these two ladies in practice try to spur “the beast” out of him, tonight his attempt at intensity simply is no match for that of these two women.  Carrie-Ann sums it up: they overwhelmed him, and Len suggested he was too focused on the steps to perform, and while he did them, his technique still had issues, and Bruno and Julianne note.  The last two did like his intensity more, and that gets Eights from them; Sevens from the first two makes for 30, for a total of 64.

Riker Lynch, Allison Holker, & Brittany Cherry: Jazz; “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” Fergie, Q-Tip, & GoonRock.  Riker talks about how he’s used to dancing as part of an ensemble, and he wants this routine to be his party.  And it is; even when the two ladies are brilliant Riker is front and center and absolutely shines doing something he’s kind of amazing at.  When Carrie-Ann gives the routine a whopping eighteen snaps up and Len declares it’s happy hour on Dancing With the Stars, we start to think maybe this one will be another perfect score, but it turns out happy hour isn’t enough for Len, who only gives a Nine, that party pooper.  So that’s two 39s for a total of 78.

Robert Herjavec, Kym Johnson, & Jenna Johnson: Samba; “Cinema Italiano” Nine.  With Carrie-Ann’s comment from last week about Kym being too much woman for him floating about, the fluff is about whether Robert can handle these two.  With a setup that makes him a rich film director and them the two supermodels on his arms, he doesn’t blow them away like Riker did, but he does hold their own with them, especially when the routine does well with his fun side.  Unfortunately, he also makes multiple mistakes, leaving the judges lamenting.  Julianne still liked the personality enough to give him an Eight, but Sevens from the others at up to 29, for a total of 62.

Nastia Liukin, Derek Hough, & Sasha Farber: Jive; “Diane Young” Vampire Weekend.  Derek is apparently recovered enough to kind of do this, at least once they get a song with slower and faster parts, and he creates a love-triangle story that allows Nastia to do the slower parts with him and the faster parts with Sasha, only bringing all three together at the end.  This is a tactic that was very annoying in the early history of the trios, but Derek being a choreographic genius, he uses it to instead make for a fun and amusing routine, which Nastia, despite struggling with long hours in rehearsal, comes out and nails.  Julianne even calls it the most creative trio she’s ever seen on the show, Carrie-Ann calls it beyond brilliant, and when Len stands and calls it fantastic, it looks like there’s going to be another perfect score.  Indeed there is, for a total of 76.

Rumer Willis, Val Chmerkovskiy, & Artem Chingvintsev: Paso Doble; “Scot & Fran’s Paso Doble” David Hirschfelder & The Bogo Pogo Orchestra.  Having the two hot Slavs in her routine Rumer wants them shirtless, but perhaps they’re a little sick of that and refuse, though they do end up with open jackets.  Instead, the most gimmicky thing on the floor are the flames.  And Rumer is fiercer than those anyway; like the rumba this is a simple dance-only routine(as much as can be with the extra partner anyway) and that’s all it needs to be to be stunning.  By now time’s running short and Tom starts cutting off the comments, but Carrie-Ann has time to call it: “Save the best for last.”  And not only do they win the night, they do so with a second perfect score.

And there the night ends, with the eliminations saved for tomorrow.  Let’s just hope we don’t lose another couple we shouldn’t this time!

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