Dancing with the Stars, Season 25, Week 9, Semifinals
Jordan & Lindsay carry a point lead into the final; Victoria & Val prove the ones to fall short.
Over the past couple of days, the reports have flown around about Lindsey Stirling or Lindsay Arnold possibly unable to dance tonight. So it’s a bit of a relief when all five couples walk out without comment. Instead, we get the details about the two rounds we’ll have tonight.
The first is the dancer’s pick, where each pro picks a song they think reflects their partner:
Drew Scott & Emma Slater: Tango; “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” The Proclaimers
Emma chooses this song to reflect Drew’s Scottish heritage, which he’s very proud of. The dance starts with Drew pulling off trousers while wearing a kilt underneath. It continues with background guys also in kilts and ends very rudely. (Nothing exposed to the cameras, though). In between, it’s very Scottish in the steps too. Which would be all well and good except it barely qualifies as a tango. And those bare legs might be pretty, but they’re off half the time. The judges, entertained as they are, have to point that all out, with Bruno even declaring, “Tango is not skippy”. They’re lenient with their scores, though: straight Eights for 24.
Victoria Arlen & Val Chmerkovskiy: Contemporary; “To Build a Home” The Cinematic Orchestra feat. Patrick Wilson
This is another one that tells her story, except this one focuses on her parents caring for her. Val plays her father and brings in Jenna Johnson to portray her mother, as they help her off the bed her parents had set up for her in the living room. Much of this routine verges on getting overly sappy, but the emotion in it is so real, it ultimately doesn’t. And there are moments, such as Victoria staggering on her legs, that are truly moving. So is Victoria running into the audience afterward to hug her real parents. The judges’ comments are strong enough you’re kind of disappointed they don’t give her any Tens, just straight Nines for 27.
Jordan Fisher & Lindsay Arnold: Argentine Tango; “Brother” NEEDTOBREATHE feat. Gavin DeGraw
Most of this fluff is about Jordan being a devoted older brother to his two younger siblings. Also, Lindsay talks about how he’s become a brother to her too. But the end was about her injury in rehearsal yesterday, and fear she wouldn’t be able to dance today. After the dance, we also hear about his eye injury today! But with her knee wrapped, they dance very well, the recent struggles just enhancing the story they tell. This is one variety of tango where the moves mean the dance isn’t lost. But it still isn’t the right mood, or even quite the right beat, things Len can’t overlook. Plus Carrie Ann calls it not his best, and he only gets Nines from them. But Bruno breaks out the Ten, so they total 28.
Lindsey Stirling & Mark Ballas: Contemporary; “Head High” Alexandra Jean
Of course, he turns to one of his wife’s songs. He talks it up, though, and about how it’s about overcoming adversity, and how Lindsey did so and ignored all the naysayers. The choreography reflects that, with her pushing Mark back and herself forward. It too is on the verge of overdoing it, except it too ultimately doesn’t. Instead, it’s some good imagery, and appropriately dramatic. We’ve heard nothing in the fluff about the knee injury she suffered from, but that doesn’t seem to be affecting her much. The judges praise it, and Carrie Ann thanks her for listening to last week’s feedback. She and Bruno break out Tens, and Len a Nine, and they ultimately win the first round with 29.
Frankie Muniz & Witney Carson: Salsa; “Shake” Ying Yang Twins feat. Pitbull
There’s a definite question as to whether this song’s appropriate for him. Witney partly chooses it because it requires him to dance with more confidence, as the judges wanted. It also requires him to not be thrown out of it when she pulls his shirt off at the end. Ultimately he manages it, wielding a basketball, showing attitude and dancing perfectly when he’s not being lifted into the air to perform a slam dunk. Except they end up missing a move, which Witney insists afterward was her fault. Len is unimpressed by the choreography, saying “too much hip hop, not enough hip action.” He and Carrie Ann only give them Eights. But Bruno liked it enough to break out a Nine, so they total 25.
We have an interlude where the professionals give us a preview of their upcoming tour. It’s described as showcasing Mandy Moore’s choreography, and it does that very well. Then we start the second round, where each couple will do their take on an iconic, perfect-scoring dance from a Dancing with the Stars history:
Drew Scott & Emma Slater: Jazz; “Yeah!” Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris
This was originally Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff’s trio number with Witney Carson in Season 17. Drew’s all too aware of how much better a dancer Corbin is. Emma declares he has to make it iconic in his way and includes a risky move where he swings her around upside down. Drew pulls it off without dropping her and substitutes his personality quirks and moves for those moves of Corbin he couldn’t do. He’s got a lot of those now, and that makes this a lot of fun to watch. The judges admit they were entertained. But they can’t ignore the lingering technical deficiencies, and Carrie Ann asks them to never do that lift again. They get a second set of straight Eights and end the night with 48.
Victoria Arlen & Val Chmerkovskiy: Charleston; “Bang Bang” will.i.am
This is another one from Season 17, originally done by winners Amber Reilly & Derek Hough. That was a dance noted for its cartoonishness, and Val goes with that. He comes up with his own setting for it, putting them in a train car with appropriate props and companions, and choreographs a routine with all the energy and silliness requires. Victoria then manages to nail character and moves both. Carrie Ann tells them afterward she actually forgot about Amber & Derek completely, so much did the two of them transcend that routine. But after she gives them a Nine, what really makes them go crazy is what they get from Len and Bruno: Tens at last! With 29, finish the night with 56.
Jordan Fisher & Lindsay Arnold: Jive; “Proud Mary” Tina Turner
This is based on Paige van Zant & Mark Ballas’ jive from Season 22, a routine of high energy. Lindsay decides they also need to include the double cartwheel Paige & Mark did. They start off in red, like them, but then do a costume change into gold. Which is appropriate, because they burn as bright as the sun in their jiving, possibly even as bright as a supernova. It’s technically perfect and impressive of course, even before the perfect cartwheel. Bruno’s saying it transcended the original is the tamest comment, as Len goes so far as to call it the yardstick all future DWTS jives will be measured against. As Tom notes, the raising of the paddles is a formality; they get 30 to total 58 which will ultimately win the night.
Lindsey Stirling & Mark Ballas: Tango; “Feel So Close” Calvin Harris
This was done by Meryl Davis & Maks Chmerkovskiy back in Season 18, and in the fluff we see them Skyping with Meryl, who gives them encouragement. Mark talks about the sexual chemistry Meryl & Maks had they can’t match, but the two focus on bringing out the connection they do have. And they do display it well on the floor tonight. Combined with familiar moves and a familiar pair of pants, and this definitely takes Maksyl fans back. It doesn’t transcend the original like the last two did, but it’s still very well done. The judges all agree on that, except Len and Carrie Ann have some minor technical quibbles that keep their scores down to Nines. Bruno doesn’t and gives them a Ten. The 28 gets them up to 57.
Frankie Muniz & Witney Carson: Paso Doble; “Carnaval de Paris” Dario G
Their iconic dance is by far the oldest one, done by Apolo Ohno & Julianne Hough all the way back in Season 4. Because of its fame, they decide to recreate it exactly and spend the fluff worrying about pulling off various aspects of the opening. Those they all nail. But when it comes down to it, he’s not good enough to do an exact redo of this dance without coming off as a shadow of the real thing. It does not help that he struggles technically after the opening. He infuses enough personality in for the audience to love it, and Bruno to call him “Francisco el torerro,” but none of them can ignore his technique. Len especially hits him for it, and only gives him and Eight. The other two give him Nines, and he adds 26 to total 51.
With that, it’s time to see which four couples made it into the final. All five line up, and they start by naming Lindsey & Mark. The Drew & Emma! With us contemplating how they really shouldn’t get in at the expense of a better couple, there’s a moment of terror as Jordan & Lindsay’s names are called-but that’s okay, they’re in too. Instead, we’re losing either Frankie & Witney or Victoria & Val. The former has a three-point advantage over the latter from next week, but will Victoria’s story and Val’s fans save them?
No, Victoria & Val are out. She puts on no gracious face but is openly fighting back tears, and Val takes the time out to hug her and try to say some comforting words. Tom tries to help too, by reminding her of what an inspiration she is, and her parents come out onto the floor. Still, you can hardly blame her for being upset. She should’ve made it to the final.
But at least we did get the best two couples of the season in. But will they be the top two?