Dancing With the Stars doesn’t care how emotionally stable you are. When it comes time for Most Memorable Years Night — as it did on Monday — the ABC competition series is out to destroy you.
As is tradition on DWTS, the contestants performed routines inspired by significant years in their lives, and — Mr. T wordplay alert! — I pity the fool who didn’t bring a full box of tissues over to the couch for Monday’s episode.
Not moved by the A-Team star’s emotional battle against cancer? Well, allow Nancy Kerrigan to tell you about the gut-wrenching hurdles (six miscarriages in eight years) that she overcame in order to have kids. And if you’re still not sobbing into a pillow, prepare to curl into the fetal position and weep as you watch Rashad Jennings embrace his ailing, wheelchair-bound father on the sidelines of the ballroom.
And now that we’ve all fulfilled our emotional breakdown quotas for the month, let’s review the evening’s strongest and weakest numbers:
BEST OF THE NIGHT
Rashad Jennings and pro Emma Slater (Contemporary) — The past 23 Dancing seasons have welcomed plenty of pro football players, many of whom have been surprisingly graceful. But in his routine on Monday — which zeroed in on Rashad’s complex relationship with his father — the NFLer turned in far more than just solid choreography. From the pained expression on his face, to the tenderness with which he lifted and spun Emma around the floor, Rashad made the most of every emotional nuance in those breathtaking 90 seconds. Judges’ Score: 39/40
BEST OF THE NIGHT (RUNNER-UP)
Simone Biles and pro Sasha Farber (Viennese Waltz) — Thanks to a deep bench of Season 24 competitors, several of whom are making a great case for the Mirrorball, Simone is no longer a shoe-in for the trophy, as some may have expected. But this piece, which celebrated her relationship with her grandparents-turned-adoptive parents, was exactly what the gymnast needed to get back on voters’ radar. It’s clear that Simone can handle whatever choreography Sasha throws at her — but the tearful sincerity she brought to Monday’s performance was the crucial component that had been missing until now. Judges’ Score: 36/40
MOST DISTRACTING SOUNDTRACK
Normani Kordei and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Rumba) — It was a lovely concept to have Normani’s fellow Fifth Harmony members provide the backing vocals for her routine with Val… but it may have been better in theory than in execution. Although the duo still turned in an elegant, passionate piece, it was difficult to focus on their rumba while Fifth Harmony suffered from timing and tuning issues from start to finish. Judges’ Score: 32/40
WORST OF THE NIGHT
Erika Jayne and pro Gleb Savchenko (Cha-Cha) — Erika had the terrible misfortune of performing after Rashad, which only illuminated how emotionless the reality star’s cha-cha really was. She could have made up for that by delivering energetic, crisp choreography throughout the piece… but instead, the typically fiery dance style became lethargic and tedious to watch. (And while I totally respect a sexy dance number now and again, I think Gleb is doing his partner a major disservice by refusing to give her some emotionally weighty material.) Judges’ Score: 30/40
And now, the results:
TWO COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Mr. T and pro Kym Herjavec
Erika Jayne and pro Gleb Savchenko
Mr. T and pro Kym Herjavec
Your turn! Were Mr. T and Kym the right choice for elimination? Drop a comment below with your thoughts on Monday’s emotional episode.