“Dancing with the Stars” season 21 roared to life once again Nov. 16 on ABC as the four remaining couples –wildlife conservationist Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough, Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess, Big Time Rush star Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson, and train hero Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold– performed three dances apiece during the semifinals: individual routines, dance-off battles, and the always popular trio performances. How did it all go down and who has the advantage heading into the season finale?
Team Crikey opened with a salsa set to Sia’s version of “You’re Not Fully Dressed Without a Smile” that left Bruno wanting more side to side hip action and drew criticism from Carrie Ann for being too “clean.” Despite the critique, Bindi and Derek scored 27 points. They won the dance battle against Nick and Sharna, which added three points to their score, and then earned a perfect 30 for an absolutely incredible trio round jazz piece with Mark Ballas that Bruno called “a work of genius” and left Carrie Ann spewing nonsense.
Alek and Lindsay began their evening with a waltz set appropriately to “America the Beautiful” that drew a doubleshot of excellence from the panelists: enthusiastic raves followed by the pair’s first perfect 30 of the season. They lost the cha cha cha dance-off to Carlos and Witney, but came back strong with a trio Argentine tango alongside Alek’s crush Emma Slater that earned a 27.
Carlos and Witney’s round one dance, a contemporary piece to One Direction’s “Drag Me Down,” featured a shirtless Carlos, God as a rope, and Wit in a barely-there leotard. Although Carrie Ann thought Carlos “overdanced” with his face, Team Baega still snagged 28 points. After winning their dance-off, they scored near-perfection –a 29– for their “Booty Swing” trio Charleston with Karina Smirnoff.
The aptly named Team SharNick closed out round one with an oopsie-marked “Scars” tango that landed them at the bottom of the leaderboard with just 24 points. Nick and Sharna went on to lose their dance-off to Bindi’s mind-blowing hip action, but once again returned to their usual excellence with a super sexy, spot-on trio salsa alongside former “DWTS” champ Peta Murgatroyd that earned a perfect score and glowing judges’ remarks.
Before the episode closed, Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews staged a faux elimination, but of course, with the withdrawal of Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy last week, no one was actually sent home. Meanies.
With Bindi and Carlos tied for the top of the leaderboard with 60 points each, Alek in third with 57, and Nick bringing up the rear with 54, the mirror ball trophy could go home with any one of them. “Dancing with the Stars” season 21 will come to an electrifying close during the two-night season finale. Tune in to ABC Nov. 23 and again on Nov. 24 to see how it plays out.