Dancing With the Stars, Season 22, Week 9, Semi-Finals

The intro to the semi-finals this season isn’t too long: an opening montage, and then the celebrities and their partners dancing out to each other on the floor.  So there’s time for not only a reminder of the double-elimination but yet another announcement from Tom: scores and votes from this week will carry over and count towards the final winner-determining totals next week!  Well, if they don’t eliminate anyone next Monday night, that actually makes sense; they’ve got to do something with them, after all.  Another new thing this season: it’s trio night, and the trios will open the show this time:

Paige VanZant, Mark Ballas, & Alan Bersten: Samba; “Hip Hip Chin Chin” Club des Belugas It seems there are claims out there Paige is dating this guy who filled in for Mark on Week 2, and they refuse to confirm or deny as Mark talks about their chemistry and how that’ll help in this routine where they’re natives fighting over her.  Actually, it’s hard during the dance proper to keep track of which guy is which, because Paige is absolutely electric and perfect and dances like she was born to do this, so takes all the attention.  Len calls her brilliant, and Bruno calls her, “my little bird of paradise,” and the first score of the night is a perfect 30.

Antonio Brown, Sharna Burgess, & Hayley Erbert: Argentine Tango; “Mi Confesion” Gotan Project  Sharna says she needed “another fierce woman,” but now she needs to get Antonio to hold his own against them.  She creates a number that is more “fun” than normal for this type of dance, allowing Antonio to bring his personality into it.  That works well, and he the dancing pretty well, though maybe there are points in the dance where the two pros do take the attention from him.  Carrie Ann and Len argue about whether his lines were what they ought to be or not, but they all agree on the scores: straight Nines for 27.

Wanya Morris, Lindsay Arnold, & Witney Carson: Paso Doble; “Explosive” David Garrett & Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  Lindsay helped Witney with her trophy, and she wants to return the favor.  Lindsay and Wanya just want to be having fun again after the distress of last week.  Of course the paso requires drama and aggression, but Wanya goes for that, even telling them he wants no props, so there are none, just him being aggressive and hitting the mood and steps right, until you feel the impact at the end.  Carrie Ann stands up to give him a hug, Len stands up and claps, and Bruno stands up and raves, and they break out the straight Tens.

Nyle DiMarco, Peta Murgatroyd, & Jenna Johnson: Jive; “Hit the Road, Jack” Hermes House Band  The story involves Peta as Nyle’s girlfriend catching him on a date with Jenna, but it’s pretty much a fun and comic number, with all three hamming it up.  Nyle proves very able to do comic and fun, but sadly, he obviously has sync issues, and Peta  has a slip; “we had too much fun,” Nyle comments.  Len also breaks out the “hectic” comment.  Bruno and Carrie Ann are quick to note the jive was going to be one of the hardest dances for him to do, and the routine itself was one of the evening’s more technically difficult.  That gets him too straight Nines for another 27.

Ginger Zee, Val Chmerkovskiy, & Artem Chingvintsev: Paso Doble; “Shot Me Down” David Guetta feat. Skylar Gray They look like paso doble, says Ginger.  They do, even when put in a vague wild west desert setting, and at the beginning it really looks like they’re going to steal the dance from Ginger, but she proves a fierce presence who can hold her own.  “One of the most intense and surreal paso dobles I’ve seen,” says Bruno, but all three judges, while agreeing on the greatness of the performance, noted it was also slightly short of technically perfect, and lower their scores to Nines for yet another 27.

In the second round, the dances are preceded by biographical segments:

Paige VanZant & Mark Ballas: Argentine Tango: “One Time” Marian Hill  The segment reveals she actually danced when she was young, and also how her classmates went after her during her adolescence, before it ends with her telling Mark she’s ready to be a woman.  That segues well into this routine, where for the second time tonight she perfectly embodies a character, and is extremely sexy with Mark; this is the hottest thing we’ve seen so far this season.  The judges are very impressed indeed, and Bruno threatens to judge in speedos next week if she doesn’t make the final.  Except Len still insists it was too sexy for his tastes, and only gives them a Nine, so with Tens from the other two they finish the night with 59.

Antonio Brown & Sharna Burgess: Contemporary; “Hall of Fame” The Script feat. Will.i.am The fluff is filled with all the odds he defied to make it in the NFL, as well as his difficult relationship with his father.  The routine then also tells the story of them, him shirtless and against a backdrop of photos of himself.  The emotion of the routine is thus highlighted, and he expresses it to very great effect.  It’s enough for Bruno to not only call it his best performance, but to break out the Ten.  The other two also praise his performance but still cite his not being the best dancer there so keep their scores down to Nines, so he takes 28 to go up to 56.

Wanya Morris & Lindsay Arnold: Charleston; “Shame on Me” Avicii feat. Sherling Fox & Audra Mae He too talks about a difficult background and family, and a mother whose struggles he wanted to help with.  Of course the Charleston doesn’t lend itself to reflection that story, but it does lend itself perfectly to Wanya’s personality, so he goes out there and delivers the personality wonderfully, and nails all of the steps too.  Carrie Ann calls him her hero, and Len expresses a hope he makes the final.  It’s all capped off with a second set of perfect Tens to top the leaderboard-and then Wanya tops it off by winning an impromptu twerking contest against Bruno!

Nyle DiMarco & Peta Murgatroyd: Argentine Tango; “Unsteady” X Ambassadors This guy settles for nothing, after talking about his journey into the spotlight and being an inspiration to other deaf people, he declares his intention to dance blindfolded tonight!  Actually, he only does that for a short time tonight, but still.  Except that ultimately, even that doesn’t have as much impact as the sheer beauty and emotion with which Nyle dances the routine as a whole.  “You have to be blindfolded to not fall completely in love,” says Bruno, and the other two judges agree, and it’s another set of straight Tens to total 57.

Ginger Zee & Val Chmerkovksiy: Quickstep; “Fire Under My Feet” Leona Lewis performing live  Ginger tells her general life story including her difficulties with anorexia and her ambition to make it as a meteorologist, a story which this song reflects.  Putting Leona in the center of the floor to sing might not have been the best of ideas, since it steals too much attention away from the dance, honestly, but Ginger expresses the song with energy and a good grin, and she and Mark seem to get it done.  Except Carrie Ann thinks she saw things go wrong with her skirt for a moment, and so she only gives a Nine.  The other two saw nothing wrong and break out the Tens again, so they take 29 to finish with 56.

Bruno also says at this point that really, all five of these couples should be in the final, and Tom and Erin continue the laments we’re all having as the couples line up to see which three made it in.  Ginger & Val, who won last week, are the first to be announced as into the final, and Nyle & Peta, who came in second, are also in.  That leaves Paige & Mark, Antonio & Sharna, and Wanya and Lindsay waiting.  Paige & Mark were only a point ahead, and there’s no telling at this point whether Bruno will indeed be judging next week in speedos…

But no, he won’t be asked to make good on that one: Paige & Mark are in, and thus Antonio & Sharna and Wanya & Lindsay are out.  Everyone engages in so much hugging that by the time to the two couples are brought down to the hosts, there’s pretty much no time for interviews, all they can do is wave.  Symbolic of the overabundance the close of this season has been?

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