Dancing With the Stars Week 9 Recap: Which Two Couples Went Home?

DWTS Nyle Peta

Whittling down Dancing With the Stars‘ contestant pool from five to three couples is akin to asking a mother of quintuplets to choose her three favorite kids.

With just one week left in the competition, how do you rank Paige VanZant’s technical skill above Nyle DiMarco’s heart and passion? How do you weigh Wanyá Morris’ natural musicality over Antonio Brown’s commitment to improvement?

A few months ago, it was easy to scoff at the Season 22 roster and roll our eyes at ABC’s liberal definition of “celebrity.” But in the weeks that followed, this cycle’s crop of contestants has proven to be one of the most skilled, heartfelt and adaptable groups in recent memory, and the lack of a clear winner is both a blessing and a curse for those of watching from home.

That said, Monday’s episode did narrow down the playing field to three finalists, forcing two very deserving pairs to give up their hopes of hoisting that Mirrorball. Before we get to the results, let’s revisit the evening’s strongest and weakest (see: also strong!) performances.

Wanyá Morris and pro Lindsay Arnold (Charleston) — Even though the judges were totally right to praise Wanyá’s Round 1 paso doble, his stronger effort came later in the broadcast, as he and Lindsay fully committed to the upbeat, fast-paced, ’20s-inspired routine. Despite the fact that this was a completely new style for him (and the number required him to run up and down a staircase multiple times), Wanyá kept his energy up the entire time, matching Lindsay step for step in a performance that was utterly joyful to watch. Judges’ Score: 30/30

Nyle DiMarco and pro Peta Murgatroyd (Argentine Tango) — I’m not sure that Nyle’s blindfolded portion of the dance had quite the same gravity as last week’s partially-silent routine. Still, the ANTM champ’s ability to master choreography and forge an intimate connection with Peta — without being able to see or hear anything in the ballroom — indicates a level of skill and self-discipline that none of Nyle’s competitors possess. Judges’ Score: 30/30

Paige VanZant and pro Mark Ballas (Argentine Tango) — This routine is rated S — for “steamy,” “sensual” and, “Seriously, do you guys need to be left alone?” (I kid, I kid — Mark and his real-life fiancée, BC Jean, are an adorable pair that even the hottest of routines can’t split up.) While some Dancing rookies have trouble bringing the heat to even the spiciest of Latin dance styles, Paige doubled down on the Argentine tango’s inherent sexuality, resulting in a dance that was so intimate, I almost felt I shouldn’t be watching. Judges’ Score: 29/30

Nyle DiMarco and pro Peta Murgatroyd (Jive, performed with Jenna Johnson) — Much like Lindsay Arnold’s handkerchief snafu last week, Peta’s unfortunate stumble in the middle of the number was a major factor in the pair’s lackluster routine — but it wasn’t the only culprit. Nyle never seemed fully comfortable with the jive’s fancy footwork, resulting in kicks and flicks that looked lazy and out-of-sync with the ladies. Plus, when Peta slipped a bit on the ballroom floor, Nyle’s entire sense of timing was thrown out of whack, and the trio was unable to regain their handle on the tricky choreography. Judges’ Score: 27/30

And now, your results:

Ginger Zee and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
Nyle DiMarco and pro Peta Murgatroyd
Paige VanZant and pro Mark Ballas

Antonio Brown and pro Sharna Burgess
Wanyá Morris and pro Lindsay Arnold

With that, I pass it to you. Did the right three couples make the finale? Hit the comments with your thoughts!