Top contender Brooke broke through with the season’s first nine scores last week, and continued to show she’s a force with a top-form quick-step to the ’80s classic “Take On Me.” She and Farber started separately on an elaborate, neon-filled ’80s stage, before joining together for the spirited romp.
“That was so bright, I needed sunglasses. I was suntanning,” declared judge Bruno Tonioli, who said the dancers “lost synchronicity on the footwork,” possibly because they started separately.
“But as a performer, you’re a contender,” said Tonioli, who gave an eight (matched by judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who agreed with the synchronicity issue).
In a rare reversal on the show, perpetual-critic judge Len Goodman lashed at other judges for being too harsh on the sync issue. “You need to go to Spec-saver,” said Goodman, before apologizing for the un-Goodman-esque outburst.
“First out, first-class. I liked it very much,” Goodman said in his critique, pointing out “little foot-faults.” He gave a nine score, keeping Brooke near the top.
Total score 25/30
‘The Office’ star Kate Flannery and pro Pasha Pashkov
Flannery continues as a surprise “DWTS” contender and worked an excellent underdog angle in the pre-dance video, talking about working a second restaurant job to pay the bills until she was 41. The comic actress has nailed the fast dances with a smile on her face. But she has struggled to be serious in the competition’s dramatic dances. That was until her passionate spinning in her Viennese waltz Monday night. By the end, the judges were dizzy.
“I am speechless,” said Inaba. “When you put in the hard work and learn the technique, it pays off. It felt like the most victorious Viennese waltz.” She gave Flannery the star’s first nine score of the season, and the other judges followed with the lofty score.
“I am a happy chappie,” said a smitten Goodman, calling the number an “absolutely great performance.”
Final score: 27/30
Comedian/actor Kel Mitchell and pro Witney Carson
Mitchell has been a star on the rise, earning his highest score last week. To train for his Monday quick-step, Carson called in fellow dancers Spicer and Hannah Brown to hurl dodgeballs at Mitchell. The training paid off in a ridiculously light quick-step to “Part Time Lover,” including intricate sections where Mitchell was dancing flawlessly on his own. Carson stepped on her dress during one errant moment, a mistake noticed by Goodman, who called it “a major incident.”
Goodman called the dance overall “an amazing job, fast and clean” and gave an eight. But his criticism over the mistake was the night’s most heated judge battle. Show interviewer Erin Andrews calling Goodman “a jerk” for making Carson cry in a pointed joke.
Inaba called the routine “ridiculously amazing” with the “one tiny” mistake. She gave a nine, matched by Tonioli.
Total score 25/30
‘Queer Eye’ culture expert Karamo and pro Jenna Johnson
Karamo upped the emotional stakes bringing his estranged father, who once couldn’t accept his son’s sexuality, onto the show and dedicating the contemporary dance to him. The moving, acrobatic dance on the fog-filled dance floor featured the completely open-shirted Karamo looking ponderous for the entire routine. He collapsed into a heap at the end of the dance in tears.
Goodman, who has been a harsh critic, called the dance “fluid. It had a lovely flow to it throughout. Really well-constructed dance.” He gave an eight, matching Tonioli.
Inaba was blown away, saying that contemporary dance was about “taking the inside and putting it on the outside” showing “love and passion and connection.” She gave a nine.
Final score: 25/30
‘Bachelorette’ Hannah Brown and pro Alan Bersten
Brown continues to show her post-“Bachelorette” emotions, crying into the arms of partner Bersten during their pre-dance video. She brought her parents from Alabama to cheer her up, and danced a country-style samba to Carrie Underwood’s “Southbound.” Brown wore a white belle dress and Bersten donned a denim shirt and jeans.
Somehow it worked, and even featured a shake from Brown hips, as requested by the judges. It wasn’t quite reckless abandon, but movement.
“You brought Brazil to Nashville and country flavor to correct samba motion,” said Tonioli, who gave an eight, matched by all the judges
“No question you’re a phenomenal dancer, with moments of excellence,” said Inaba, who said not everything in the routine “quite worked.”
Final score: 24/30
Sailor Brinkley-Cook and pro Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Brinkley-Cook continued to try to step out of her mother Christie Brinkley’s shadow with a buoyant jive to “Wake Me Up Before You Go.” Since taking over for her mother, Brinkley-Cook has sparkled. But the shine was especially bright Monday, as she hopped with confidence during the number. She owned the dance floor and was positively beaming afterward.
“That’s wasn’t decaffeinated, that was chock full of flavor,” said Goodman, giving a nine score (matched by all judges)..
“You have got it all at your disposal,” said Tonioli. “She was like, ‘Look at me, I am the star.’ “
Final score: 27/30
Sean Spicer and pro Lindsay Arnold
Spicer showed off a new side with his Viennese waltz to “Someone to Love” wearing his now-trademark fixed dancing smile and a tuxedo while dedicating the dance to his wife of 15 years. “At heart, I’m a pretty romantic guy,” he said. There were green lasers on the dance floor, a number of minor missteps but Spicer kept smiling throughout holding his arms out with all the grace of a G.I. Joe doll. As the dance ended, he produced a bouquet of roses for his wife in the audience.
“I admire your tenacity and hard work. Dancing doesn’t come easily to you, but you give it your all,” said Goodman.
Tonioli called his look, “almost regal” praising an “incredibly brave attempt” even if, at times, his footwork “looked like tumbleweeds.” The judge stressed that his seven score reflected “effort.” The score was matched by all judges for Spicer’s best score of the season. Adding President Trump’s tweet support, and Spicer looked to be tough to beat.
Final score: 21/30
Actor James Van Der Beek and pro Emma Slater
The “Dawson’s Creek” star came out on fire at season’s start, but has risked flat-lining in the results in past weeks. The judges want to see more progress, and Goodman said he needed to see more “hip action” in the samba. Van Der Beek brought that hip action to such a high level in his techno routine that the judges were tripping over themselves to find adjectives to describe his moving body parts.
“That was a close encounters of the hips kind,” purred Tonioli, whose nine was matched by all judges.
“The whole thing was just ridiculous; it was off the charts,” swooned Inaba.
Goodman rocked it with this comment: “Tootie-frutty, what a booty!” So Len. The marks were Van Der Beek’s highest in the season.
Country singer Lauren Alaina and pro Gleb Savchenko
The waterworks truly started with the last dance, coming on the one-year anniversary of Alaina’s beloved stepfather, Sam, dying of cancer at 47. Her contemporary dance to her own song “The Other Side” was profoundly moving on the darkened stage. Onstage at the end, she held her hand to heaven and burst into tears. The tears continued as she hugged her mother in the audience, sobbing and through the judges’ comments.
“You’re a brave woman, dancing tonight. You touched all of our hearts tonight,” said Inaba, who gave a nine. “There were angels all over you dancing.”
Tonioli said he was “so happy to see so much love, truth and honesty” in the dance.
So what happened?
Alaina was the first couple shown to be saved by the judges’ scores and votes, and Spicer too quickly cleared the dance floor, safe.
In the end, it was Ally and Sasha along with Sailor and Val left in the bottom two of the dance competition. That left the final call to the judges to decide on the one couple spared, and the one sent home. Inaba and Tonioli struggled for words as they made the difficult decision to save Ally and Sasha.
This meant Sailor Brinkley-Cook, who had stepped in to dance for her injured mother, was voted off. The unrelenting tears flowed to such an extent for the young model that her pro partner had to shepherd her out of the camera’s view, hugging her in an attempt to give comfort.
“This is a hard one, a hard one,” said host Tom Bergeron, shaking his head.