Splish, splash, Val was taking a bath, long about a Monday night.... It's taken 15 seasons, but Dancing With the Stars has finally erected a makeshift swimming pool high above the ballroom floor -- a wading area that may as well be filled with lube, in which contestants may work through their sexual tension and costume-less shock as they so choose, provided these actions somewhat fit under an ambiguous dance-fusion umbrella ("Surfer Flamenco") and look sexy. I'm not sure where this pool has been all my life, but thank the Lord Mirrorballus it is here now. And now, it's time for an Adult Swim breakdown.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 30/30 "Knight Rider Bhangra" + 29/30 Argentine Tango to Michael Jackson's "Bad" = 59 out of possible 60 "Everything I've been taught in ballroom so far -- put that aside," Shawn announced during their training for the Knight Rider (because Derek was wearing sunglasses?) Bhangra. That's just what you want to hear in a ballroom dancing competition. Derek compared their bizarre dance combo (Knight Rider is a dance now) to "mustard on ice cream," which sent me down a shame spiral of having been to a hipsterry restaurant in the recent past that actually served mustard-infused ice cream. I did not order it, and now I'm sad because it might have meant I'd have ended the night in a perfect, pointed-toe handstand supported only by my date's sturdy left knee. Livin' the dream!
This bhangra (an Indian folk dance/the hardest thing ever) was basically a chance for Shawn to re-prove her Olympians-Only stamina and impressive retention of difficult choreography. It worked, because DANCMSTR Len Goodman ended up saying, "Close the door and call me Mary" -- and there is simply no way that does not constitute a win for everyone involved. ("Tehhhhhhhhhn!" --Bruno)
Shawn continued to step up her season-long foray into revealing costumes during their Argentine tango with a dramatic "three strips of sparkles" motif in lieu of the left side of her dress. Like Melissa and Tony, Shawn and Derek executed some fabulous lifts -- one of theirs was almost figure skating-esque in that Derek just kept her up there for so long and it was up to Shawn to change positions and thus the look of the entire dance in mid-air. I love that.
We haven't gotten many chances this season to compare the couples directly, and I did think Melissa and Tony's A.T. showed a bit more passion and mirrorballust. But Shawn's moves were extremely snappy and I liked the near-final pose, when she kicked both legs up to Derek's arm as if she were re-mounting the uneven parallel bars after a fall. (She did not fall.) I also really dug Derek's pep talk to Shawn about owning her steps during rehearsal. It's all about believing you have the right to do something. Like in Apolo's case: the right to bear arms! (#sparklebarf)
NEXT: Tony the CGI dinosaur remembers doing the Hustle himself