Full disclosure: I went into Monday’s episode of Dancing With the Stars fully dreading the one-week-only Switch-Up twist.
After spending the last month fostering deep connections with their partners, each celebrity would be matched up with a different pro this week, all but ensuring mediocre performances of the Week 1 variety, right?
In fact, on the heels of Monday’s remarkable showing — including the first perfect score of Season 21 — I wouldn’t be surprised if the DWTS producers somehow found a loophole that kept all of the contestants with their new partners instead of their old ones. (Even Paula Deen managed her best performance of the season with Mark Ballas instead of Louis van Amstel — but if you’ve already blocked that jive from your memory because of Paula’s inexplicable need to flash her rear end to the judges, I completely understand.)
Without further ado, let’s break down the most memorable performances of the evening, in which no one was eliminated. Rather, the combined scores from last Monday and this Monday will dictate who goes home on Oct. 19.
BEST OF THE NIGHT
Alexa PenaVega and pro Derek Hough (Tango) — Though I didn’t quite understand Derek’s choice of music (Bastille’s “Pompeii”) combined with those military-esque costumes, his tango with Alexa was innovative and intricate enough to earn her the perfect score that has eluded her the last few weeks. The only low point of Alexa and Derek’s match-up? The insane amount of shade Ms. PenaVega threw her former partner, Mark Ballas. (He was just being realistic!) Judges’ Score: 40/40
BEST OF THE NIGHT (RUNNER-UP)
Carlos PenaVega and Lindsay Arnold (Quickstep) — At long last, Carlos finally had the breakout moment he so desperately needed to avoid landing in jeopardy again — even though I thought his near-elimination last week was a bunch of bull… well, you know. Even as he kept pace with Lindsay’s insanely quick choreography, Carlos still managed to look like he was having a ball on the dance floor. Judges’ Score: 39/40
Tamar Braxton and Louis van Amstel (Samba) — I don’t blame Louis for capitalizing on his lone week with a strong partner, but I do think his massively complex movements may have been a bit too much for the daytime TV personality. What the routine really seemed to lack was consistency: When Tamar was nailing the choreography, her facial expression went completely blank… but to act like she was enjoying the routine meant missing a few steps along the way. Combined with the dreaded first-of-the-night performance slot, Tamar and Louis’ samba was enthusiastic but ultimately forgettable. Judges’ Score: 29/40
Andy Grammer and pro Sharna Burgess (Argentine Tango) — As much as I enjoyed watching Alek Skarlatos and Emma Slater giggle and blush through their obvious attraction to each other, their paint-by-number rumba couldn’t hold a candle to Andy and Sharna’s sssssteamy Argentine tango. Not only did Andy finally look comfortable with tricky choreography, but his commitment to the passionate will-they-won’t-they narrative led to the night’s most enthralling performance. Judges’ Score: 36/40
Nick Carter and pro Witney Carson (Paso Doble) — The dance was average, but those Matrix-inspired costumes were magnificent, no? Judges’ Score: 35/40
OK, your turn. Which Dancing contestant deserves to get the boot next Monday? Cast your vote in our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!