Dancing with the Stars Season 25, Week 4 Recap: Most Memorable Year
Jordan & Lindsay take the lead on a night of emotional hard-hitting; Derek & Sharna prove the ones to say goodbye.
After I had to miss last week’s Dancing with the Stars because my local affiliate decided to show a football game instead, this week is thankfully a more normal one for DC’s ABC station. Also, it’s Personal Stories/Most Memorable Year night, which is certainly one episode no one wants to miss.
We get a good opening montage, with years and other details outlined in chalk. Then five seconds of an opening number, and intro to the couples, including Vanessa & Maks, with him back after missing last week.
Let’s get to the dances.
Frankie Muniz & Witney Carson: Quickstep; “Adventure of a Lifetime,” Coldplay
He surprises everyone by saying his year is this one. But then he explains why, and this fluff isn’t about what we expected. Instead, he discloses publically for the first time he has a lot of trouble remembering things, to the point his girlfriend keeps a careful account of events for him to refer to. But he insists he’s happy in his life as it is, and living largely in the present. These are sentiments hard to express in choreography, so Witney makes some use of sparks added to our TV screens, but this is mostly them doing a lot of hard quickstepping and Frankie being very joyful while doing it. It’s good to watch, and fairly well done. Though Len does have a quibble about the footwork. The judges liked it in general, and give it straight Eights for 24.
Terrell Owens & Cheryl Burke: Viennese Waltz; “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston
His dance is all about his grandmother, who raised him. She was diagnosed with dementia his rookie season in 1996, and died of it in 2012. The fluff has him talking about her, how much she’s inspired him, and Cheryl telling him to dance everything upward towards heaven. He takes that to heart; you can tell his mind’s heavily on her while dancing. Not that it hinders him at all. Instead, he becomes an elegant, finely dancing, loving gentleman any grandmother would be proud of. He breaks down at the end. The judges are equally moved, and impressed. Bruno even calls it his “most accomplished performance to date.” Just before the scores come out Cheryl notes he wants Eights, and he gets three of them, for another 24.
Nikki Bella & Artem Chigvintsev: Contemporary; “Fight Song” Rachel Platten
Her year is 2016, the year she came back from a potentially career-ending neck injury. The dance depicts her battle with it, even putting her into the pen to express a fight with an internal opponent. Except she’s certainly never showed so much vulnerability between the ropes before. Or, really, anywhere ever. The choreography and her even suspending herself from silks is impressive; this is choreographically the best number so far. But her letting herself be exposed feels even more incredible. The judges all praise her heavily for that, although Bruno’s remarks are really unnecessarily sexual. It’s a night of Eights, Tom quips, as another trio of them come up.
Nick Lachey & Peta Murgatroyd: Contemporary; “Falling Slowly” Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
His year was 2010, the year he married Vanessa. The fluff’s all about that, and included footage from first the engagement party, and then the wedding. The latter’s made sweet by how clearly in love with her he really is. So when for the dance they recreate the wedding, the same thing happens. It’s kind of unfortunate Peta’s choreography had to follow Artem, and it doesn’t quite match that masterpiece. But Nick’s pure emotion sells it, so much you don’t care at all. The audience certainly doesn’t; they’re all standing by the end. Carrie Ann calls it by far his best dance ever, and raises her Eight paddle again. But while Len and Bruno also praise the emotion, they have reservations about a bit of his stability/balance, and only give him Sevens, so he totals 22.
Lindsey Stirling & Mark Ballas: Viennese Waltz; “Anchor” Mindy Gledhill
Her year in 2016, the year her father died of cancer. The fluff is all about their relationship, how dedicated he was to her, and the difficulties of watching him die. For the dance, Mark actually dons his old hat and scarf, makes himself look like him. Lindsey makes herself look kidlike too, and they do a magical little number involving a balloon and an odd intangible quality. It raises a painful amount of nostalgia and sadness (or maybe that’s just because my own father died of cancer four years ago today?), and is unforgettable. It ends with her in tears and the audience standing again. All three judges rave, but then Len reluctantly notes a lack of Viennese Waltz to it. That keeps his score an Eight, but the other two break out the Nines for 26.
Derek Fisher & Sharna Burgess: Jazz; “Move On Up” Curtis Mayfield
His year is 2007, when his ten-month old daughter Tatum was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer, and he walked away from a contract to take care of her. The fluff tells a harrowing story of her undergoing experimental surgery that could’ve killed her. But the dance is a joyful one, meant to inspire her to keep going through the hard times. It has Derek presenting Sharna with a sunflower and leading her around the floor and showing himself to be wonderfully light on his feet. He goes to Tatum and gives her the flower afterwards. “You’ve got the flower power,” Bruno tells him as Len calls it his best dance, and they both break out their Eights once more. But Carrie Ann cites sync issues and only gives them a Seven, so they total 23.
Jordan Fisher & Lindsay Arnold: Contemporary; “Take Me Home” Us the Duo
His year is 2005, the year his grandparents officially adopted him and became his parents. He spends the fluff telling the story, ends it teary-eyed and saying, “They literally saved my life.” After the judges’ comments Tom reveals watching it in the ballroom made Jordan tear up. The dance starts with her coming over to him sitting and helping him up. There’s a carefreeness to it, and easy feeling. It’s only when the music picks up and the lights come up that you realize just how much it’s gotten to you. It gets to Jordan, who goes over to his parents afterwards and sobs against them. Bruno calls it exquisitely flawless. And while Len’s comment is a weird talk about seeing him perform the National Anthem yesterday and he only gives him a Nine, from Bruno and Carrie Ann he gets Tens! They ultimately top the leaderboard with 29.
Sasha Pieterse & Gleb Savchenko: Foxtrot; “Over My Head” The Fray
Her year is 2016, the year she finished Pretty Little Liars, struggled with her weight due to hormones, and then got engaged. Gleb, recognizing this as a year of transition, choreographs a number that has her going through a pair of doors, which is kind of obvious. But the real story, one of getting through trouble and finding good in life, is told much more skillfully through the choreography, and also through her expression, as she puts the acting skills to good use, going from troubled to happy. “Out of the door and back on track!” Bruno tells her afterwards. Carrie Ann praises the storytelling of the routine. Len praises the foxtrot, choreography and execution both. Out comes the night’s fourth set of straight Eights.
Vanessa Lachey & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Rumba; “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” Nick Lachey
Her year’s also 2016, or rather its end, when she gave birth to her third child at 29 weeks. The second harrowing baby story of the night is told by both her and Nick, and the song is one he wrote to help get them through it. But the number’s all about her, appropriately on the chaste side, and her emotion is absolutely what sells it. It’s a quietly wonderful moment. Except she’s not quite clean, having a little trouble in the beginning, though Carrie Ann expresses a belief that worked with the routine’s emotional arc. In the end it gets the night’s fifth set of straight Eights. Oh, and while there’s no big refutation of all those claims she and Maks aren’t getting along, he’s shown to have teared up in sympathy, and when he doesn’t tear up before dancing, which definitely says something.
Drew Scott & Emma Slater: Jive; “Don’t Stop Me Now” Queen
His year is 2007, the year he and brother Jonathan decided to try to make it on TV by selling real estate, after he gave up his dream of being an actor. He described how hard giving that up was, and how this dance is about how he can be stopped from succeeding anyway. Given some of the troubles he’s had dancing, it seems kind of daring for Emma to include as much content in this routine as she does. But turns out that’s not the big thing: rather, that’s Jonathan coming out at the end to turn this duet into a trio! And it more or less works; the sheer energy of them both is too delightful to reject. The judges don’t try, with Len even saying, “I don’t think anyone’s going to stop you now” as he calls it Drew’s best. Carrie Ann does express some concern about his hands, though, before out come straight Eights set number six.
Victoria Arlen & Val Chmerkovskiy: Foxtrot; “I Lived” OneRepublic
Victoria doesn’t really go for a specific year, just reviews the ten that passed between when she first got sick and she finally started walking again. She notes at the end of the fluff she doesn’t like sitting down much anymore. Still the dance starts with her in it, taking her through getting back on her feet. And really, once she & Val leave it behind, all they’ve got to do to win our hearts is dance. Which they do, and do brilliantly. This is one last burst of happiness and beauty on the dance floor tonight. It’s also one last case of the star breaking down at the end of the dance as they walk past the wheelchair again. The judges all call her an inspiration, and Carrie Ann says she’s honored to be part of her story. Then they break out straight Nines for 27.
It’s definitely been one of those nights where you don’t want to lose anyone, but we must lose someone, especially after we didn’t last week. The eleven couples line up, and two of them are in jeopardy: Nick & Peta and Derek & Sharna. They’ve gotten the same cumulative score over the past two weeks. You figure Nick & Peta are probably still getting more votes, but this could still go either way…
But Nick & Peta are: Derek & Sharna are out. Derek speaks of the show providing him with “Growth as a man, growth as a person,” while Sharna praises him for learning how to share his emotions after a career that had taught him not to. That’s certainly an appropriate exit comment for tonight.
And oh, yes, the Star Wars trailer dropped elsewhere, where they were still showing football. What a night…