I bet you weren’t expecting to spend two hours of your Monday night weeping like a three-year-old.
But, if you’re anything like me, you immediately busted out a fresh box of Kleenex upon learning that Dancing With the Stars‘ Week 5 theme would be “My Most Memorable Year” — an episode that frequently ends with contestants, judges and audience members reaching for their pocket handkerchiefs and wiping dried mascara from their cheeks.
As is tradition, many of the Season 23 hopefuls turned in their strongest performances yet during Monday’s broadcast, using emotional stories from their pasts to channel their inner Mirrorball champions on the dance floor. In the spirit of the evening — down with negativity! — let’s revisit the three most memorable routines:
3. Terra Jolé and pro Sasha Farber (Contemporary) — Dancing‘s producers certainly saved the most tearjerking performance for last. After reflecting on her dad’s untimely death — and her life-long regret of not being by his bedside at the time he passed away — the Little Women: L.A. star turned in a deeply poignant number that perfectly capped the emotional evening. Though Terra and Sasha didn’t score quite as high as some of their competitors, their performance was far more meaningful than a number on a paddle. Judges’ Score: 27/30
2. James Hinchcliffe and pro Sharna Burgess (Tango) — James’ impeccable frame is impressive enough on its own. But upon learning the extent of his Indycar-induced injuries — in other words, he shouldn’t be alive after a disastrous wreck 18 months ago — the racecar driver’s technical precision is even more commendable. Julianne Hough correctly pointed out that James needs to go a smiiidge further with his lines — and, I would argue, work on the vacant facial expressions — but his natural dancing talent is simply undeniable. Judges’ Score: 29/30
1. Jana Kramer and pro Gleb Savchenko (Contemporary) — After spending the last four weeks in the middle of the Season 23 pack, Jana finally broke through with a highly emotional piece dedicated to her daughter. Having escaped an abusive relationship years ago, Jana commented on the strength she’s found through her (insanely cute) baby girl, then hit the ballroom floor to deliver her most graceful performance thus far. Her lines were gorgeous, her chemistry with Gleb was remarkable — that face-first trust fall was by far the evening’s most ridiculous move — and her genuine connection to the choreography and song made Jana’s dance worthy of countless rewatches. Judges’ Score: 26/30
Given how warm and fuzzy Monday’s broadcast was, there was no elimination — but who might be in danger of getting the boot next week? Hit the comments with your thoughts on who could be sent packing.