Chaz Bono shook what his legendary mama gave him. Nancy Grace scored higher than two of her rivals despite lugging 26 lbs. of false eyelashes around the floor. And as for J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff, the couple the judges typically treat with all the respect you’d reserve for a Ziploc bag full of moldy casserole that’s fallen behind the vegetable drawer, you’ll be shocked to discover that A) they ended the evening atop the leaderboard, and B) they still managed to get dissed by Len and Carrie Ann.
Let’s review how it all played out:
Dance of the Night: J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff (Samba)
It was clear we were in for a treat when their intro package featured concert footage of the legendary Sheila E, and the fun factor soared even higher when J.R. kicked off the routine on the bongos as Karina shook her maracas (not a euphemism). The booty bouncin’, the samba rolls, the hip action was so fast and furious, I expected cameos from Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. With bonus points for Karina’s flirty, orange tulle tiger-flower skirt and the use of Gloria Estefan’s “Conga,” I’m not sure how they didn’t wind up with 10s across the board. (Maybe because it the judges don’t seem to want Karina to get her mitts on the mirrorball?)
Runner-Up: Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya (Jive)
“You are the heart and entertainment” of Season 13, Anna told Carson, and it’s true: If the Queer Eye star goes home Tuesday (cue me, biting my tongue), who’s going to embody the turquoise-and-pink sequined spirit that everyone (except for the judges) knows is half the reason DWTS is appointment television. (Okay, maybe Bruno gets it, seeing how he called the routine “a crowning achievement in madness.”) And while it’s true Carson’s technique is dubious — his kicks and flicks looked more like flails and stumbles, to be honest — it’s also clear he’s truly and enthusiastically trying to get his steps right. Just like that yellow, pink, and aqua checked floor, Carson and Anna are the treat you didn’t even realize you wanted, but now you can’t imagine living without.
Should Go Home: Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus (Rumba)
At this point in the season, it seems as though Nancy is so singularly ready for a weekly drubbing from the judges, that her performances end up having a decidedly joyless vibe to them. This week, though, the dourness extended to her rehearsal package and all the way through to Brooke’s post-dance interview. Word of warning to the justice-minded TV host: If you want to wrangle viewer votes, don’t be abusive to Tristan and His Carefully Groomed Chest Hair.
Most Likely to Go Home: Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Tango)
The pre-season anticipation that Maks might have a real chance at the mirrorball trophy has faded with each week of his joyless partnership with Hope. Yes, she’s athletic and competitive. Yes he’s Maks and he bared his chest in a buttonless black tapestry jacket. But their tango had all the sex appeal of two orangutans riding the teacups at the county fair: The whole thing was nothing more than flying limbs and hair and grimaces around a red vinyl obstacle course. Factor in Hope and Maks’ extremely generous scores from the judges, and it’s possible their fanbase will get complacent, leading to another “shock boot” that doesn’t go to Chaz or Nancy.
Biggest Scoring Discepancy: Carrie Ann giving the same score (9) to J.R. and Rob Kardashian; Len giving the same score (9) to J.R. and David
Hang on, Carrie Ann. You actually thought Rob and Cheryl’s competent Rumba was equal to J.R. and Karina’s scintillating samba? Maybe on Planet Karina-phobia. Yes, Rob was more fluid this week than ever before, and yes he captured some of the dance’s sensuality — especially when he dragged a swooning Cheryl the entire length of the floor — but that “blows out candle/takes off shades” maneuver at the start of the routine actually made me guffaw, and he still managed to grab his partner’s thigh like he was checking the ripeness of a supermarket canteloupe. And don’t even get me started on his stalled split. If that was a nine, Karina and J.R. earned at least an 11, no?
As for Len putting David’s stuttery, unprecise tango on the same level as J.R.’s routine, I’m a little less perturbed. After all, the judges have underscored Mr. Arquette for two or three weeks running now, so one swerve in the opposite direction merely balances out the past injustices, as far as I’m concerned.
Most Disappointing: Ricki Lake and Derek Hough
The couple’s Fox Trot was so lacking in fire and finesse, I half-wondered if the season-long front-runnres decided to throw in a clunker this week just to avoid a “peaked too soon” viewer backlash. The judges, not surprisingly, took the bait, harping on Ricki’s botched Roger Rabbit dance with such relentlessness, you’d have thought it was a required move for a technically sound Fox Trot.
Most Improved: Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer (Samba)
The last two weeks, I’ve argued Chaz should’ve been the one submitting to Brooke’s non-interview exit Q&A before dancing off into that good night of Jimmy Kimmel. But this week, he showed a heretofore unseen sense of joy and vigor that was actually kind of fun to watch. From the waist down, Chaz was like a paint-mixing machine at your local hardware store — all shake and bounce and unstoppable energy. At least partial credit must also go to Chaz’s sparkly turquoise tuxedo shirt, which managed to bring out a playfulness that he’s never quite achieved during his rather listless pre-performance interviews. Now, question of the month: Hasn’t Chaz (or Lacey) realized a Cher in the rehearsal room is worth two in the audience? Make it happen, ABC!
Most Startling Image
Kym’s sheer black negligee over lacey black undies was one samba roll away from an FCC violation. Thank heavens she and David were tackling the tango! (Or not, depending on where you’re sitting, cosmically and sexually speaking.)
Lines of the Night
3) This doozy of an exchange that revealed Chaz may not have actually figured out what show he’s signed up for.
Chaz: I feel nervous to get up and make a spectacle.
Lacey (incredulously): Good job of doing Dancing With the Stars!
2) “You’re totally in control of the woman, Cheryl,” said Carrie Ann to Rob, adding that invisible comma to her statement to clarify which of the partners was a woman, and which was in control.
1) Len: (starting his critique): I like you. You know I like you…
Carson: I’ve been getting your letters.
And now, for this week’s scores
Judges’ Leaderboard (Carrie Ann, Len, Bruno: Total)
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: 9, 9, 10: 28
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: 9, 8, 8: 25
David Arquette and Kym Johnson: 8, 9, 8: 25
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: 8, 8, 8: 24
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 8, 8, 8: 24
Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus: 7, 7, 8: 22
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer: 7, 7, 7: 21
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya: 6, 6, 7: 19
What did you think of this week’s DWTS? Who was your favorite couple? Who do you think will and should go home? Sound off below!