Dancing With the Stars giveth, and Dancing With the Stars taketh away.
For an unscripted reality competition that finds celebrities dressing in sparkly outfits and shimmying their way across a Los Angeles ballroom set, the ABC series can cook up some pretty dramatic plot twists.
Take, for example, the surprising elimination that capped this week’s installment. After turning in some of the season’s most emotionally poignant routines, Fuller House star Jodie Sweetin delivered her all-time best performance on Monday night, which earned her a perfect score… but couldn’t stop her from getting the boot, along with professional partner Keo Motsepe, at the end of the broadcast.
Exhibit B: The unexpected trajectory of Boyz II Men member Wanyá Morris, an early Season 22 frontrunner who has since stumbled on the dance floor, both literally and figuratively. (Curse you, prop department!)
With only six couples left in the competition, Dancing has reached that inevitable point in the season where Mirrorball shoe-ins begin to falter, and dark horses (I see you, Antonio Brown) start to make legitimate cases for the championship. That said, Monday’s episode may have been the most entertaining so far, while also managing to bring the gasp-worthy drama that fits right in during May Sweeps.
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But enough of my blathering. Let’s break down the evening’s strongest and weakest routines:
BEST OF THE NIGHT
Ginger Zee and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Argentine Tango) — Sure, Ginger’s Week 6 jazz routine, set to Janet Jackson’s “Nasty,” may not have been her strongest showing. The silver lining? The GMA meteorologist clearly learned an important lesson in how to look like a badass when the dance requires it. Whereas the Janet number found Ginger grinning and smirking at moments when she needed to put her game face on, Monday’s Argentine tango was the definition of intensity from start to finish. Ginger has also developed a sizzling chemistry with Val — something I’m sure her husband loves to watch from the audience — and rather than shy away from the dance’s most sultry movements, she completely committed to making her routine the evening’s sexiest. (And that technique? Insert the iPhone’s fire emoji here.] Judges’ Score: 30/30
BEST OF THE NIGHT (Runner-Up)
Jodie Sweetin and pro Keo Motsepe (Jive) — Jodie’s time on Dancing may have been cut short by the end of Monday’s broadcast, but I sincerely hope the elimination doesn’t devastate her. Looking back at Week 1 of the competition, when Jodie performed with a clenched jaw and a nervous expression, it’s clear just how much she’s improved in less than two months — and the proof was in this gospel-inspired jive, which was fast, fun and a complete joy to watch from beginning to end. Plus, if Jodie’s emotional exclamation after receiving her first perfect score — “Mommy, I did it!” — didn’t melt and/or break your heart, then I don’t know what will. Judges’ Score: 30/30
Nyle DiMarco and pro Peta Murgatroyd (Paso Doble) — As Grumpy Len Goodman might say, get your boos ready: On the whole, I didn’t think Nyle and Peta’s performance was as sharp and electric as it needed to be; if the ANTM champ wants to remain a front-runner, he and Peta need to zero in on perfecting his frame and resisting the urge to get frantic during the peak of each dance. But their decision to perform part of the number in complete silence — thus giving the audience a glimpse at what Nyle experiences as a deaf contestant — was profoundly moving and insightful. I’m not so sure that Nyle still is running away with the competition the way he once was, but when you’ve brought Carrie Ann Inaba and Erin Andrews to tears in the first 15 minutes of the show, you’ve done something right. Judges’ Score: 29/30
WORST OF THE NIGHT
Wanyá Morris and pro Lindsay Arnold (Jive) — Immediately after writing this recap, I’m headed over to YouTube to rewatch Wanyá and Lindsay’s insanely good ‘N Sync-inspired jazz, in an effort to forget the heartbreaking stumbles the pair encountered on Monday. Though Lindsay blamed herself for dropping her handkerchief on the ballroom floor, thus causing Wanyá to fall out of step for several bars, the issue went deeper than that. Perhaps I was spoiled by Jodie and Keo’s phenomenal jive, but Wanyá and Lindsay’s Wild West-themed number fell flat in other areas, from the Western-esque set pieces to choreography that didn’t seem to enthuse either dancer. Judges’ Score: 25/30
And now, Monday’s full results:
THREE COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Jodie Sweetin and pro Keo Motsepe
Antonio Brown and pro Sharna Burgess
Wanyá Morris and pro Lindsay Arnold
Jodie Sweetin and pro Keo Motsepe
With that, I hand it to you. Were Jodie and Keo the right choice for elimination? Hit the comments with your thoughts!