Dancing with the Stars put a creative spin on Halloween night in which all the remaining contestants channeled different villains from horror movies of yesteryear. I really liked that the producers decided to do something a little different with this week’s theme to liven up some of the tired themes of past seasons. While the producers did a great job with the theme, they fell flat on the opening and the skits in between commercial breaks before each of the contestants danced. The amount of corniness with them is overwhelming and frankly slightly annoying. I did like Tyra and the judges’ costumes though. The makeup team did a great job, and I must commend Derek for staying in character with his costume (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).
The performances didn’t disappoint either. Let’s get to them:
Jeannie Mai (partner: Brandon Armstrong)
Dance: Paso Doble to “Maneater” by Nelly Furtado
Thoughts: I’m glad that Jeannie was able to work through her fear of Hannibal Lector through channeling him in the dance. I thought the dance didn’t have much paso content, but I thought her movements that were recognizably paso doble were good. She also picked her energy up as the dance progressed.
Johnny Weir (partner: Britt Stewart)
Dance: Viennese Waltz to “Creep” by Vincent and Kimberly Nichole (originally by Radiohead)
Thoughts: I think Johnny was on the money when he said being in the bottom two last week was like a “dumpster fire”. You could tell he wanted to do well in this dance. Johnny talked about how Dracula and vampires are always wanting to be accepted, which was something he experienced while trying to break out in the ice-skating industry. This was one of the only segues from the villain to a personal story that made sense in the video packages throughout the episode. His dance was a comeback dance and a middle finger to the judges and those that didn’t vote for him last week. I had no complaints about this dance at all.
Chrishell Stause (partner: Gleb Savchenko)
Dance: Paso Doble to “In the Air Tonight” by Helmut Vonlichten (originally by Phil Collins)
Thoughts: Chrishell channeled Maleficent during her paso doble (I can never pronounce this character’s name correctly). I have no complaints about this dance whatsoever. The movements with which her and Gleb were in hold were executed beautifully. I didn’t notice whether she lost balance at all like the judges had pointed out. I do think Chrishell is one of the most improved dancers of this season. She scored a 4 in her first dance and has really come up the ranks to be one of the better dancers of the season. Could she be a potential dark horse? Who knows?
Monica Aldama (partner: Val Chmerkovskiy)
Dance: “Fever” by Beyonce (originally by Peggy Lee)
Thoughts: I liked seeing the admiration she had for her kids during her video package. Her dance had some good and bad parts in which she was emulating Nurse Ratched. Monica’s leg kicks, cartwheel and the lift were amazing, and I commend Val’s choreography. However, it felt like Monica was trying too hard to be overly sexy and I do agree with the judges that she needed intention in her movements. She could have been scored a little higher though.
AJ McLean (partner: Cheryl Burke)
Dance: Tango to “Psycho” by Intermezzo Orchestra (from Psycho)
Thoughts: I love how much AJ is comfortable with his masculinity, even admitting he would wear a skirt for the dance. I felt bad for Cheryl with her fall onto the ballroom floor and was glad she was able to dance this week. I thought his footwork was good and he stayed in character well (he was Norman Bates). However, I don’t think ballroom dances are his best considering his shoulders raised throughout the dance. He’s much smoother in the Latin dances.
Nelly (partner: Daniella Karagach)
Dance: Argentine Tango to “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd
Thoughts: Nelly was slated to imitate Freddy Kreuger and described him as a funny guy. O…kay. His video package had a weird transition from Freddy Kreuger to how much he loved his girlfriend. I’m floored that the judges gave him the scores that they did because it didn’t seem like he danced all that much. I agree he was sturdy enough for his partner to do the moves she did, which was something Derek pointed out, but I wasn’t impressed.
Justina Machado (partner: Sasha Farber)
Dance: Tango to “Take Me to Church” by MILCK (originally by Hozier)
Thoughts: I was surprised to hear that she did not like Halloween, but I understood why after she explained what used to happen in her neighborhood. Again, the producers’ transition from Carrie, who she was channeling, to talking about her teacher that helped her get into acting, was weird. Justina really committed to the screaming throughout the dance. There were times that I wanted her and Sasha’s hold to be tighter. I’m hoping to see her get a 10 soon though. I think she is a frontrunner and a possibility to win.
Nev Schulmann (partner: Jenna Johnson)
Dance: Paso Doble to “Swan Lake Remix” by District 78
Score: 30 (the first perfect score!)
Thoughts: I liked how Nev talked about how the ballet brought him and his dad together and are a source of bonding between them. Nev and Jenna were trying to emulate the characters from Black Swan, which was a movie he very much enjoyed. His paso doble was his best dance so far. Every move he made had an intention and he used the space with his arms well. His perfect score was well deserved. I must point out that I’m so impressed with how Jenna has been doing with him and I think her choreography is one of the best on the show.
Skai Jackson (partner: Alan Bersten)
Dance: Argentine Tango to “Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish
Thoughts: Skai and Alan were channeling Chucky and Tiffany (the bride of Chucky). I liked how she acknowledged she forgot her moves and blacked out in last week’s dance, but I wonder if it’s too late to get away with that given where we are in the competition. Her Argentine Tango was a great improvement from last week though. There were no movements that looked clumsy and everything was executed well.
Kaitlyn Bristowe (partner: Artem Chigvintsev)
Dance: Paso Doble to “Disturbia” by Rihanna
Thoughts: I laughed out loud when she got scared, which is kind of mean, but expected since the producers pull dropping spiders and scaring the contestants every season that they do Halloween. Kaitlyn emulated Cruella de Vil and Artem played a dalmatian (kind of a weird costume for Artem, but whatever). She played the character and hit each movement well. There is no question that she is the best technical dancer. However, it still feels like she is holding back. I also don’t agree with her scores at all. I’m not sure what was up with that 7, but I hope she brings us more next week and earns that 10.
It was the time for the villains’ journey to come to an end. I was shocked by Jeannie and Brandon and Monica and Val being in the bottom two. I may have said this before, but it starts becoming difficult to say goodbye at this point in the competition since everyone is so good and has improved so much. The judges decided to save Jeannie and Brandon, leaving Monica and Val to be eliminated. I was sad to see them go since I felt like there are other more inconsistent dancers that should have been in the bottom two and subsequently eliminated. I also thought Monica had more in her.
I know that the producers put the “Judges’ Save” into place last season to potentially prevent a win like Bobby Bones’, but I think this is starting to backfire. I’m not sure if the judges’ scores are weighted higher compared to viewers’ votes or vice versa, but I feel like something needs to change with this. I think the fact that there have been so many shocking eliminations over the last four to five seasons has been costing the show ratings in the last couple of years and if it doesn’t change, this show will be cancelled.
We don’t have a theme for next week, but there will be a double elimination. This will be double trouble, my friends. I’m calling it.
(Picture Courtesy of Malice Corp.)