“Dancing with the Stars” season 21 continued Oct. 26 from Hollywood with Halloween Night, an evening of spine-tingling revelry in the ballroom. Who earned a perfect score? Who did an impressive impression of a famed Johnny Depp character? And whose unexpected elimination marred the whole shebang?
Week seven opened with a spooktacular “Monster Mash” routine featuring the show’s talented pros and seven remaining celebrity contestants, and then it was go-time as host Tom Bergeron and his stand-in cohort Leah Remini summoned Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess to get their scare on.
The pair’s “Bring Me to Life” Argentine tango was okay. Nick is a great dancer. Sharna is amazing. But it lacked that special thing that says “I am special! Adore me. Play me on repeat.” Julianne Hough praised Nick’s “attitude and commitment” but called the dance “a little bit clunky and a little bit booty-out.” Bruno Tonioli said it was “like watching a silent movie” but thought it “lost the flavor” of the style. Carrie Ann Inaba, finally, found his center stage action “frankensexy.” Nick and Sharna earned 24 of 30 possible points.
Up second in the ballroom were a wolf-ified Hayes Grier and Emma Slater with a haunting “Once Upon a Dream” waltz. It had a nice flow to it and the storytelling was well-crafted. Afterward, Bruno praised Hayes for listening to the judges’ critiques and fawned over his “beautifully placed” lines. Carrie Ann reiterated for the hundredth time that he has “potential” and praised their chemistry, but dinged Hayes for his chin placement. Julianne, finally, said she’d gotten “chills” from his maturity and called him “a leading man.” Hayes and Emma scored a 26.
Third in the evening’s running order were actress Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas, who delivered an “Hora Zero” paso doble inspired by “Edward Scissorhands.” As usual, their dance was a work of art and both were very convincing in their respective roles. But seriously, Mark is an arteeeest, and someone needs to call Johnny Depp stat because he has a doppleganger. Carrie Ann was happy that Alexa “cut off [her] head and just danced.” Julianne rambled on about working out and core strength. Bruno loved that they did a real paso doble that felt like a Tim Burton film. Alexa and Mark notched a 27.
Week six co-leaderboard toppers Tamar Braxton and Valentin Chmerkovskiy kept things moving along with a “People are Strange” foxtrot. So once again, Tamar killed it when dancing alone, but once again, she and Val looked awkward in hold. Eventually, they’ll have to fix that little problem. Julianne encouraged her to believe in herself, but still felt “a disconnect” between them. Uh, yes. Bruno appreciated her determination and likened her to “a solo artist” but called her out for missing “a few passes.” He thought she was “almost over driven.” Carrie Ann, finally, called her “the most natural mover by far” but agreed that they were out of sync. Tamar and Val posted a 24.
But the very best part of the segment was seeing Leah hit the ground when she was unexpectedly accosted by Sasha Farber in a clown suit. Comedy gold.
Singer Andy Grammer and Allison Holker, who also earned a perfect score for their week six routine, hoofed it next. The duo were charged with performing a paso doble to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People.” Okay, so, it was okay. But it’s very hard to buy Andy as a legit, black leather-clad badass. The guy is puppies and kittens, not whips and chains. But the eyes were creepy. Bruno thought he went at it “like a bat out of hell” but thought he’d lost the “Spanish flavor.” Carrie Ann agreed, but thought the “weird lines” worked, and Julianne admitted to being really “turned on.” Uh, okay. Andy and Allison posted a 26.
Competition darling Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough followed with an Argentine tango to “Cry Little Sister.” Well, Bindi succeeded in showing her inner vampire queen. She entered like a boss and performed like a boss. Carrie Ann declared “all hail the queen of darkness” and called the routine “exquisitely danced.” Julianne loved seeing the intensity Bindi “unleashed.” Bruno called it an “Argentine tango master class” and said it was “spellbinding.” Bindi and Derek scored a perfect 30.
With just two couples still left to dance, train hero Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold took their turn in the spotlight with a Viennese waltz. Their “Haunted” dance was appropriately moody and Alek played his part with intensity. (And it didn’t hurt that he looked hot in the suit.) Julianne appreciated the use of facial expressions and praised his “passion and aggression.” Bruno praised him for “giving me a character” but noted that he couldn’t really see his feet thanks to the epic amount of fog in the ballroom. Carrie Ann declared “the hero has returned” and praised him for not “half-assing it.” Alek and Lindsay earned a 25.
Finally, Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson closed out Halloween Night’s first round with a paso doble to “O Fortuna.” The set for their routine was awesome: red lights, fog, candles. A-plus for mood. And on top of that Carlos really nailed the mood. Bruno loved “the epic scale” and called the cape work “masterful” and said it was “almost perfect” save a small balance issue. Carrie Ann loved how well he danced wearing a mask but told him not to “anticipate” the music too much. Julianne thought he “nailed it.” Carlos and Witney scored a 28.
With round one finito, Bindi and Derek topped the ranks with a perfect 30, while Tamar and Val and Nick and Sharna were tied for the bottom with twin scores of 24. Up next: the team dances. Yes, Derek had never lost. That angle is overplayed.
Up first: Team Nightmare, captained by Nick and Sharna and also featuring Tamar and Val (hmm, both of the evening’s low-scorers –who are usually high-scorers– on the same squad?), Andy and Allison, and Hayes and Emma. The octet freestyle’d it to “This is Halloween” in what Val described as a “spooky-ass dinner.” It was really, really good. They put together a fun, appropriately weird routine that screamed “it’s Halloween!” from start to finish. The judges loved it, and rewarded them with a perfect 30.
Moments later, Team Who You Gonna Call?, captained by Bindi and Derek, and also including Carlos and Witney, Alexa and Mark, and Alek and Lindsay, hit the ballroom to close out the night’s performances. It wasn’t as flashy at the first dance, but it was still fun, and they did an excellent job of incorporating ballroom dance. Bruno immediately killed the chance of continuing Derek’s streak by noting that one of the girls was out of sync at the beginning. Phooey. They scored a still very respectable 28, breaking Derek’s streak (boohoo), but giving them all a decent point bump for the week.
But that wasn’t all: an elimination still loomed, and Tom lickety-split told three couples –Hayes and Emma, Tamar and Val, and Alexa and Mark– that they were in jeopardy. With the usual dramatic beats playing, Tom paused before revealing the night’s big shocker: the elimination of Hayes and Emma. Tom praised Hayes for going out on a high note and a teary-eyed Hayes said being on the show had changed his life. Aw. He’s like the Willow Shields of season 21.
With Hayes out of the mix and just six couples still in the mix, “Dancing with the Stars” will continue Nov. 2 with season 21’s eighth week of competition. Tune in to see who shines, who falters, and who goes home.