DWTS Carlos PenaVega

Dancing With the Stars Week 4 Recap: Did the Right Couple Go Home?

Being a regular Dancing With the Stars viewer comes with an important cardinal rule: Don’t even attempt to watch the traditional “Most Memorable Year” night without buying Kleenex in bulk beforehand.

Monday’s Alfonso Ribeiro-hosted installment forced even the iciest of hearts to thaw, providing us with two hours of emotional pre-performance video packages and tearjerking routines. (I just about lost it every time Bindi Irwin’s dance was even teased at the commercial breaks.)

In keeping with the reality staple’s uplifting theme, I’ll gladly forgo my usual “Worst of the Night” negativity and instead highlight the evening’s five strongest performances, ranked from least to most compelling:

5. Carlos PenaVega and pro Witney Carson (Waltz) — Until Monday’s episode, Carlos had yet to perform a truly memorable routine, relegated instead to watching wife Alexa get all the kudos. And while his pre-performance video package might not have had the emotional gravitas of, say, Bindi Irwin’s or Nick Carter’s, Carlos still masterfully channeled his past loneliness and loss of faith into a beautiful, breathtaking routine. Judges’ Score: 25/30

4. Nick Carter and pro Sharna Burgess (Jazz) — Not even I, a diehard ’N Sync fan, can deny how fun and nostalgia-driven Nick’s routine turned out (and Joey Fatone’s presence in the audience should prove that even the most dedicated boy-band lovers can reach across the aisle). Complete with a few cameos from other BSB members — and original “Backstreet’s Back” choreography! — Nick’s performance was easily the most entertaining of the night. Judges’ Score: 27/30

3. Hayes Grier and pro Emma Slater (Contemporary) — Confession: Whenever Hayes takes the floor for a new routine, I can’t help but remember his first-ever rehearsal with Emma, in which he said, “Damn, you’ve got a big one,” in regards to his partner’s booty. Ever since then, Hayes’ lack of maturity — both on and off the dance floor — clouded my enjoyment of his routines (whether or not he was wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume at the time). Monday night, though, he was able to prove me wrong, matching Emma step for step in a tricky contemporary routine that he made look easy. Judges’ Score: 27/30

2. Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy (Rumba) — Perhaps even more compelling than Tamar’s elegance on the dance floor — which she had in spades — was her willingness to be so vulnerable before, during and after the routine. After three weeks of watching Tamar give Val major side-eye for his so-called sexist performance concepts, it was wonderfully refreshing to watch the TV personality let her guard down (and deliver her best performance as a result). Judges’ Score: 27/30

1. Bindi Irwin and pro Derek Hough (Contemporary) — You may need to check yourself for a pulse if Bindi’s tribute to her late father, Steve Irwin, didn’t have you blinking back tears. Not only was the Aussie able to perfectly encapsulate her relationship with her dad throughout the number, but Derek provided the means to do so with absolutely stunning choreography. Judges’ Score: 28/30

And your results:

TWO COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Carlos PenaVega and pro Witney Carson
Gary Busey and pro Anna Trebunskaya

ELIMINATED
Gary Busey and pro Anna Trebunskaya

Your turn! Were Gary and Anna the right choice for elimination? Which performance tugged at your heartstrings most? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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31 Comments
  1. Eli Edwards says:

    Bindi and Derek received a 28/30. There one 10 was from Bruno.

  2. Christine says:

    Gary is much more entertaining than Paula, so it probably should have been her. At least Anna, aka “From Russia with Love”, seems to enjoy working with Gary. Louis needs to be put out of his misery.

  3. chadcronin says:

    Absolutely. Everyone did an amazing job. He had his time and this was the right time for him to go. Very touched by everyone’s story and my heart went out to so many. Good week

    • Lily says:

      Nice comment – positive, supportive without being mean to anyone;
      I thought this was a good week as well and agree the personal stories were very touching. Gary had a good run and it was time to go. I loved the choreography in Bindi’s dance!

  4. Angela says:

    Yeah, Bindi’s dance…oh, lord. I don’t think there was a dry eye in that ballroom after that. Certainly wasn’t one here. Absolutely beautiful tribute, though. Really, really well done.
    Alek’s package thing was pretty emotional, too, with his visit back to his hometown in Oregon. How horrifying to watch the news and see that unfolding in your town. I’m glad he got to go back and check in on his friends and pay his respects, and pay tribute to them all tonight.
    And Tamar was fantastic, too, definitely. And Nick-ahhhhh, nostalgic flashbacks :D. Still love me some BSB. That song is so fun.
    Tonight was a pretty good night in general for most of the dancers. Definitely stepping up their game a little.

  5. Laura says:

    Putting the name of the eliminated couple in the headline of your article was a bit of a jerk move, don’t you think?

  6. Rebecca says:

    Bindi is my early pick to win the whole thing. I’ve been saying for the last few seasons that the only way Derek takes home the trophy again is if he gets a really outstanding partner that people think deserves the win. And that girl is just so unbelievably charming and graceful, I don’t see how she doesn’t win this whole thing. I keep forgetting she’s so young and I love their brother/sister dynamic- it feels different than his previous partnerships.

    I think Tamar dances beautifully but if she keeps up this backstage drama with Val, I don’t see them having a place in the finals. Her clip package this week was endearing but only because there wasn’t any time to see her whine about Val’s choreography being too suggestive.

    Nick’s routine was really fun and I’m sure Sharna was geeking out over getting to perform that song next to a real live Backstreet Boy the whole time, but didn’t it feel a tiny bit like he was cheating? I mean, hasn’t he basically done that routine thousands of times before?

    • So are you saying that Alfonso cheated doing the Carlton for his most memorable year? Because that was the dance he was known for.
      I’m a die hard *NSYNC fan like the author. His most memorable year was meeting the guys who changed his life. As Sharna, this was a love letter to the boys and all he did was the choreo from the hook. That’s it. The rest was all Sharna and give the girls some credit, she was amazing. Backstreet’s Back is my all-time favorite song of that groups.
      Nick has never fallen back on his BSB moves except really in this number (not counting the first dance really, it was just one four count). Nick has grown in four weeks as a great dancer and relied on his experience in front of a live crowd. Give the guy some amount of credit here. I do think there should’ve been 1 10 paddle for this.
      Bindi was outstanding.

    • Shaun says:

      Val and Tamar could make it :)

  7. Paula says:

    I think Paula is still there because of her fan base. I am surprised that Gary lasted this long. I think the final 3 will be Bindi, Tamar and Nick.

  8. Lorie says:

    Hayes’ contemporary dance was my favorite this week. I loved everything about it: choreography, execution & song.

  9. Ron says:

    I don’t watch this show anymore–haven’t in probably 4 or 5 years. But I check in on the recaps and stuff. After reading some of the comments about Bindi’s dance and video package, I thought I’d go and just watch her rehearsal and dance. Good Lord, I completely lost it emotionally. Not like a few tears falling, I mean completely sobbing levels of lost it. I, too, lost my dad at a really young age–I was even younger than Bindi was when she lost her dad. That whole dance and story just hit really close to home, and her dancing was simultaneously stunning and heartbreaking.

  10. I love dancing with the stars.But I don’t feel like family should judge family.Also you all have gotten so harsh on the show I am trying hard to keep liking it.Alfonso was terrible as a judge and Julian is no Len. She is not a good judge. my thing is you all have picks and have become very harsh judges.This season is bad.Dont be so mean say something good.Dont like show as much.