Dancing with the Stars Recap: Season 25, Week 7 “Halloween Night”
Jordan & Lindsey end up with very unexpected company while reclaiming the top; shock twist at the end of the night costs the show very dearly.
Once again I had to miss a week because of football preempting. But once again, I am back, just in time to see Tom and Erin open the gates on….a bunch of zombies doing the Time Warp? Halloween Night’s a staple of the fall season, but I think that’s a new one.
As is also often the case, Halloween Night is also Team Dance night. But first, the individual routines.
Victoria Arlen & Val Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz; “The Night We Met” Lord Huron
After a low score and being left in jeopardy last week, this week was a stressful one. The fluff has them angsting and arguing, and also making up. That leads into a routine where they play a ghostly couple, rising from their graves for a romantic dance. The first dance of Halloween Night this year is surprisingly sweet and wistful, and moving at the end. Plus it’s danced well. Len calls it beautiful, Carrie Ann calls it magical, and Bruno calls it fluidly ethereal and also commends her for listening and improving her arm movements. They give them straight Nines for 27.
Jordan Fisher & Lindsey Arnold: Paso Doble; “Animals” Martin Garrix”
She talks about how odd it is for them to face off against Lindsey & Mark when Mark taught her when she was young, and how she wants to be as creative as him. She is in this routine, coming up with an imaginative one where Red Riding Hood meets a pack of werewolves and becomes one herself. The wolfpack is oddly boybandish, but this is pretty brilliant if only because as always, Jordan is flawless in his dancing. She even manages to improvise an entrance when she can’t get a door to open. Bruno calls it the “biggest, baddest Paso ever,” and Len is much nicer in his comments than last week. They break out straight Tens, with special ghostly Ten paddles!
Nikki Bella & Artem Chingvintsev: Jive; “I Put a Spell on You” Bette Midler
In contrast to the night’s first fluff, this one’s very peppy, with each insisting last week’s fall was their fault, and Nikki talking Artem up to single female viewers. It’s appropriate lead-in for the dance too, which is supposed to be surreal fun following Artem’s drinking some Spellbucks coffee. It’s set up for it, and even when her nametag falls off Nikki divas her way through it well, but…it feels like something’s missing. Carrie Ann thinks it’s connection to the music. Len thinks it’s “punch.” Bruno thinks mishaps threw her off. They give them straight Eights for 24.
Vanessa Lachey & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Paso Doble; “Game of Survival” Ruelle
This one is all about the drama. Starting with an innocuous fluff where he wants Tens, they rehearse in the ballroom, he goes backstage, and she goes looking for him…cut to now, where zombies chase her back to the floor and she finds Maks has also become one! Really, this number is all about the show, occasionally with so much fog on the floor, we lose sight of what she’s doing. It’s great storytelling, that’s for sure. For good measure, when Len brings up the relative lack of paso doble choreography, he gets interrupted by the Grim Reaper walking through the audience! Carrie Ann and Bruno enjoyed the show more, but still are worried about her balance. So this couple too gets on straight Eights.
Terrell Owens & Cheryl Burke: Tango; “Super Freak” Rick James
This is another upbeat fluff, with Terrell praising Cheryl until she tells him she’s not used to being praised. The routine has a weird story where he’d a nerdy trick or treater she lures into her home. She seems the dangerous seductive woman-except after a lot of tango content it turns out he’s the vampire! That’s kind of weird, but there’s nothing weird with how well he does the tango. The judges promptly make it a point to deluge Cheryl with praise about how well she taught him to do it, and how far she’s brought him in general. Carrie Ann and Len then give them Eights, while Bruno breaks out a Nine, so they total 25.
Lindsey Stirling & Mark Ballas: Paso Doble: “Roundtable Rival” Lindsey Stirling
The two of them might have done one of the best numbers of the season so far last week, but even then her rib was displaced. This week it got worse, until Sunday saw her in urgent care, unable to rehearse. With no rehearsal footage for the judges to judge, she was in serious danger of having to forfeit. But tonight, she makes it to the floor, and blazes through a well-choreographed routine to create a truly showstopping moment. The audience stands, but she can’t, and she, Mark, and Tom end up kneeling for the judges’ comments. They’re all impressed, even Len, despite it being a little too untraditional for his tastes. They get straight Nines and 27.
Frankie Muniz & Witney Carson: Contemporary; “Every Breath You Take” Chase Holfelder
Despite feeling terrible about last week’s disaster, Frankie decides to stretch his creative wings this week. The choreography of this one is shown as very much a joint effort between him and Witney. He wants to be the bad guy, so he plays a creep who invades Witney’s home, or possibly just her mind. In a night of movie spooks and campy monsters, this number is truly terrifying and powerful beyond any of that. It’s pretty much the best thing tonight. The second standing ovation in a row is followed by raves from the judges, Carrie Ann awarding them the DWTS Emmy, and, of course, the judges the rewarding them straight Tens.
Drew Scott & Emma Slater: Charleston; “Remains of the Day” The Corpse Bride
They, too, are trying to come back from last week. It does not help their preparation that he and his brother were filming this week, so they spent much of it on the road. At one point Emma says they’re running on fumes. But tonight when she trots down to him for an undead wedding, they pull off a fun, high-energy routine. At one point when he falls, we’re not even sure it wasn’t part of the routine. It’s only after the judges have praised them and put their numbers in that they admit during the interview it wasn’t supposed to happen, at least not there. They still walk off with straight Nines and 27.
We heard earlier in the night that there would be a twist to next week’s trio dances. Now season one winner Kelly Monaco, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Corbin Bleu appear on the floor, and we learn what it is: this season, the third dancers will be past celebrities! Including the three of them, of course. We’ll have to wait to learn who the other four are, though.
First, we need to learn which seven couples will be doing those trios, and before each team dance, we get some results. First for Team Monster. This team somehow ended up including both Jordan & Lindsay and Lindsey & Mark, both of whom are safe. But Terrell & Cheryl and Nikki & Artem are both in jeopardy.
Team Monster: Freestyle; “Monster Mash” Bobby “Boris” Pickett
This team has a lot of trouble putting their dance together. We see late last night the two of them struggling in a last-minute rehearsal, and Lindsey’s condition doesn’t help. Their basic premise has the celebrities getting lost in a corn maze and the pros being the monsters that ambush them. What they come up with isn’t much more than running amok in the maze, with some creative solos from the couples, but not much joint dancing. And the judges are quick to point out the lack of sync when there is. And how underwhelming the routine was in general; Len calls it messy. There was just enough entertainment, perhaps to get Eights out of all three. Jordan & Lindsay are left with 54 points, Lindsey & Mark with 51, Terrell & Cheryl with 49, and Nikki & Artem with 48.
Team Phantom of the Ballroom, too, have their results announced beforehand. The first couple declared safe is a surprise: Frankie & Witney! Drew & Emma, meanwhile, are in jeopardy. Victoria & Val are also safe, and you wonder if maybe only Drew & Emma will be in jeopardy from this group…but no, Vanessa & Maks are too.
Team Phantom of the Ballroom: Freestyle; “The Phantom of the Opera” The Phantom of the Opera
With both the top two couples on the other team, of course, they see themselves as the underdogs. But tonight, with that team having already flopped, it turns out they have the properly put-together routine, with the theme, the elegance and sophistication, and the sync. And they really push it; the entire routine is all of them dancing together, with no solo segments for each team to take the spotlight. It pays off tremendously, though. They’re the ones that impress everyone, and they’re the ones with the judges rave about. Carrie Ann goes so far to call it the best team dance ever, and Len calls it the most polished. Out come straight Tens, and Frankie & Witney are your unlikely leaders with 60! Drew & Emma and Victoria & Val go up to 57, and Vanessa & Maks to 54.
The four couples in jeopardy line up as the Grim Reaper returns to deliver Tom and Erin their cue cards. With Drew & Emma some way behind the other three couples, they would seem the most likely-so surprise, surprise, they’re next to be declared safe! There is a very long moment when Terrell & Cheryl’s names are called…but as the highest scoring of the four, they’re safe too. So we’re losing either Vanessa & Maks or Nikki & Artem. Either’s a terrible loss. Perhaps we can try to tell ourselves it could be worse…
Except it is: IT’S BOTH OF THEM! It’s a surprise double elimination! They ballroom is filled with boos because this is just painful. Vanessa & Nikki take a twirl together around the ballroom as we contemplate how we could’ve let this happen, and how the producers could be so cruel to go forward with this surprise after they discovered what it would cost the season. (Unless you believe the show is rigged, but this move on their part would make absolutely no sense whatsoever.) Honestly, if I miss next week because of another football preemption, I’m not sure how much I’ll mind!