Here’s hoping you bought Kleenex in bulk ahead of Monday’s Dancing With the Stars episode.
Just when you think the ABC series will keep things light — after all, last week’s installments were both dedicated to fun, glamorous U.S. cities — it takes a sharp turn and throws you straight into ugly-cry territory, as it did this week with its “Most Memorable Years” episode. (This theme comes around every season, and yet my tear ducts are never prepared.)
As is usually the case with Dancing‘s “Most Memorable Years” episode, many contestants turned in their best performances of the season thus far, thanks to the vulnerability and raw emotion they’re able to showcase for the first time. Or, in the case of Milo Manheim, just some really cool backflips.
Let’s break down the highlights of the broadcast:
BEST OF THE NIGHT
Juan Pablo Di Pace and pro Cheryl Burke (Samba) — I’m not saying we should hand the Mirrorball to Juan Pablo and Cheryl right now… but I’m also not not saying that. As lovely as the evening’s more emotional routines were, it was equally as captivating to watch Juan Pablo attack this samba with tons of heat and energy. Not only did he nail the fast-paced partner work with Cheryl, but he carried out those solo sequences with incredible precision and confidence, paving the way for a richly deserved perfect score. (The first of the season!) Judges’ Score: 30/30
BEST OF THE NIGHT (RUNNER-UP)
DeMarcus Ware and pro Lindsay Arnold (Argentine Tango) — DeMarcus’ Argentine tango had everything you might want from a “Most Memorable Years” routine. Emotional intensity? Check. Crazy lifts? Check. Adorable children coming in for a hug at the end? Check and check. There were a few moments in this piece where DeMarcus’ footwork looked a bit wobbly, and Lindsay could be seen guiding him through the steps (which was surprising to me, given that DeMarcus is a frontrunner and a naturally talented dancer). But on the whole, the routine was exceptionally entertaining, and those sky-high lifts should be reason enough for them to stay in the competition. Judges’ Score: 26/30
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE
Bobby Bones and pro Sharna Burgess (Contemporary) — Bobby has showcased tons of diamond-in-the-rough potential since Season 27 began; to quote the infinite wisdom of Legally Blonde‘s Elle Woods, he’s got all the equipment, but just needs to read the manual. But Monday’s routine — in which Bobby reflected on his impoverished childhood and honored his late mother — finally offered him the chance to take a deep breath and infuse his movements with real sincerity. The result was a heartfelt, authentic performance — and Sharna gets major kudos for her creative choreography, which still gave Bobby an outlet for his insane energy levels. Judges’ Score: 23/30
Tinashe and pro Brandon Armstrong (Rumba) — There’s no denying that Tinashe is a fabulous dancer; from the start, she’s displayed a super-impressive range and technical proficiency. But even on “Most Memorable Years” night, where contestants are all but guaranteed to show off some vulnerability, I still felt that Tinashe’s performance lacked any real emotion. Sure, she had the unenviable task of following Bobby Bones, whose poignant dance had everyone in the ballroom reaching for the tissues. But I was hoping that, on this particular broadcast, Tinashe would break through as a contestant who does more than nail her steps — and she fell just short of accomplishing that. Judges’ Score: 27/30
And now, the results:
COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Nancy McKeon and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
Tinashe and pro Brandon Armstrong
Nancy McKeon and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
With that, I hand it over to you. Do you agree with Nancy and Val’s elimination? Hit the comments below!