Dancing With the Stars, Season 21, Week 7, Halloween Night

Halloween Night has now become a staple of the DWTS fall season, but sadly, the end of a short opening for this one does not include Len emerging from a coffin to announce himself as back.  Erin isn’t back yet either; Leah continues to fill in; even as a monster(actually Sasha Farber, who has apparently been pranking everyone all week) shows up to freak her out during one of the interviews!  Halloween Night also means team dance week, but first, the individual dances:

Nick Carter & Sharna Burgess: Argentine Tango; “Bring Me to Life” Evanescence.  They portray Frankenstein(kind of confusing whether it’s the scientist or the monster) and his bride, and the routine and the dancing is surprisingly romantic.  Technically things are not quite as sweet; he looks awkward at points, and even as he compares it to a silent movie, Bruno also seems to think it was more a paso doble than an Argentine Tango.  That keeps the judges’ scores down to straight Eights and 24.

Hayes Grier & Emma Slater: Waltz; “Once Upon a Dream” Lana Del Ray.  After a fluff where he talks about needing to be more mature, Hayes portrays a young werewolf with a silly-looking beard, dancing with his lady in the woods.  It’s a combination of song and setting complications that quite frankly weirds one out.  But none of that’s Hayes’ fault, and he does his job well, being quite elegant and giving out the feeling of a weird waltzer.  Bruno praises his improved lines, and Julianne even talks of her getting chills at the beginning.  But Carrie Ann still has criticisms, and gives an Eight, combing with Nines from the other two for 26.

Alexa PenaVega & Mark Ballas: Paso Doble; “Hora Zora” Rodrigo y Gabriela.  This is a tribute to Edward Scissorhands, with Mark once again making himself look ridiculous in order to portray a character.  Which raises the worry he’ll steal the dance, but he’s smart; the choreography makes sure neither he nor the dancing trees outstages Alexa.  She, meanwhile, after having a couple of breakdowns over last week, this week rises up to the spotlight and proves herself worthy of it, and of owning a paso doble.  The judges rejoice in her being able to do it when the pressure’s on and break out the straight Nines for 27.

Tamar Braxton & Val Chmerkovskiy: Foxtrot; “People Are Strange” The Doors.  The fluff before this one ends with Tamar going ahead and declaring she’s the best dancer on the show(*presumably* she means amoung the celebrities!)  The belief seems to make her bold, as she tackles this scary funhouse routine-and she and Val are out of sync, and there are multiple mistakes.  The judges don’t exactly call her out on her speaking a little too soon, with Carrie Ann saying she genuinely is the best mover-but then she points out they want improvement, before they break out another set of straight Eights for 24.

Andy Grammer & Allison Holker: Paso Doble; “The Beautiful People” Marilyn Manson.  They’re portraying punkish vampires, which isn’t exact the kind of thing Andy’s known for.  But with some scary eye contacts, a fierce stance, and the ability to hit the moves of the paso right, he brings one of the undead to life this week.  Except the whole punk feel includes a less than traditional shaping in the paso doble, which Bruno insists should not be allowed, while Carrie Ann insists is can be, and Julianne is torn.  But ultimately both ladies break out the Nines, which combine with Bruno’s Eight for 26.

Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough: Argentine Tango; “Cry Little Sister” The Lost Boys.  They too are portraying vampires, with her having to be an evil queen, so she too has to stretch and defy her persona.  But she does it wonderfully, nailing the character, and the dance too; it’s by far the most striking thing we’ve had in the ballroom so far tonight.  The judges even declare it’s this highly-accomplished couple’s best dance yet, with Carrie Ann and Julianne even making “we’re not worthy” gestures, before breaking out the straight Tens for what proves the only perfect score in the first round.

Alek Skarlatos & Lindsay Arnold: Viennese Waltz; “Haunted” Beyonce.  This fluff opens with Lindsay complaining Alek isn’t going all-out, while he seems to think he’s doing as good as he can.  Thankfully when they take the judges advice and invite Artem Chingvintsev in to work with them, he convinces Alek to put more into it.  It results in a good amount of expression in a relatively simple “Woman in Black” dance where they dance in so much fog there’s points you can’t tell where they’re doing.  Still Carrie Ann is impressed enough by why she sees to raise their score to a Nine, though the other two give Eights, for 25.

Carlos PenaVega & Witney Carson: Paso Doble; “O Fortuna” Carmina Burana.  Although this is a Phantom of the Opera dance, for which there is really no excuse, but they even have the boat, the sea of chandeliers, and again so much fog you can’t always see what’s going on! (Seriously, who’s running the fog machine tonight?) Although the fog is gone for enough of the routine for Carlos to impress everyone with his dancing, including his use of the cape after struggling with it in practice.  But he’s not perfect technically; Bruno spots a loss of balance in the beginning, and Carrie Ann spots of hesitation.  But Julianne apparently spotted neither, because she breaks out the Ten; Nines from the other two add up to 28.

The team dances this year take their music and their team names from a pair of movies: Nick & Sharna heads up team Nightmare with Tamar & Val, Andy & Allison, and Hayes & Emma, while Bindi & Derek are joined on team Who You Gonna Call? by Carlos & Witney, Alexa & Mark, and Alek & Lindsay.

Team Nightmare: Freestyle; “This is Halloween” The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Their story starts with them at a banquet table and seems to just be them dancing around, finding a graveyard at one point.  But whether they’re at the table, amoung the graves, or just nowhere in particular, these four couples combine lots of innovative choreography in what feels like a comprehensive number, and in terms of both synchronization and their individual moves they absolutely nail it.  Julianne even calls it one of the best team dances the show has ever seen, and the other two say pretty similar, until by the time they raise them the straight Tens feel like a formality, taking Andy & Allison and Hayes & Emma up to 56, and Nick & Sharna and Tamar & Val up to 54.

Team Who You Gonna Call: Freestyle; “Ghostbusters” Ghostbusters.  They go with the obvious idea, making the men ghostbusters and the women ghosts(although maybe they could’ve gone the other way…?)  What results is a fun dance, at least once the fog stops trying to obscure it, with a couple of high-risk moves that pay off.  But there’s not the quality of perfection Team Halloween had; Bindi, of all people, goes out of sync during the opening, it feels like the story kind of stops when the individual couples do their solos, and only Bindi & Derek really fully go all out during theirs.  And when Carrie Ann and Bruno discuss the sync issues at the beginning, though Julianne didn’t notice them the damage is done; the Ten from the last is accompanied by a pair of Nines, and with a score of 28 Derek’s perfect record in the team dances is unceremoniously snapped, though he and Bindi hold onto the overall lead with 58, while Carlos & Witney join the three-way tie for second at 56, Alex & Mark go up to 55, and Alek & Lindsay are in last with 53.

Once again the couples are lined up to see who is in jeopardy, and there’s more shocks: Hayes & Emma are joined by Tamar & Val!  And then also by Alexa & Mark!  And there’s no time to then call one of these couples safe; they’re simply going all three stand there while the final announcement is made out of the three of them.  All you can think at this point is if Tamar & Val are going home there is something seriously wrong with America…

But fortunately they aren’t: Hayes & Emma are.  But unfortunately that little attempt to give us all one last scare means there’s no time for more than a handful of words goodbye from Hayes.  Though the camera fades on him being a little more creative in his last dance than usual.  Vine stars can usually make an impression in only a few seconds.

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