It's only week 3, but according to the giant gem donkey wheel that lies deep below Planet Mirrorballus' crust, it was already time to dig into the personal tragedies of Our Stars. Why not? Why wait? The 10 remaining contestants chose the most memorable years in their lives to somehow recreate in the Latin or Standard dances of their choice. We've got some real tearjerkers in this bunch! The spectrum of humanity we witnessed was huge and generally heroic (hello, J.R. Martinez), tragic, serious, and even uplifting -- you know, like Kristin Cavallari's decision to choose Hollywood over college.
Perhaps due to the personal nature of the dances, the judges seemed to go easy on a bunch of couples. I've never seen so many 8 paddles on week 3. "Eight for emotion!" I guess? (You know I'm just bitter about DANCMSTR giving out only two 7s, and only one jaunty "Seh-vehhhhn! at that.)
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhh-ber!
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: 27 out of possible 30 When I saw Ricki's crimped hair, I thought the most memorable year of her life would turn out to be "all of the '80s," but nope, it was 2010, the year she ran out of her burning house and then let herself love again. I loved how she rattled off "I thought I would never get married again; I thought I would never do Dancing With the Stars" as if those were two life options that just happen to casually present themselves to people. Stars: They're not just like us, after all. I was surprised by the three 9s for this rumba based on Ricki's performance, but she did look really hot -- and thin! -- and the scores seemed to be as much for Derek's choreography as they were for her technical prowess. Her bed sheet costume made the couple look ultra-fast as they twirled together, and the DEADLY SMOKE MACHINE as a representation of mental fogginess, or maybe actual fire, was a nice touch.
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: 26/30 This rumba -- dedicated to the families of soldiers who didn't get the second chance J.R. did -- will definitely rank among the top routines in DWTS history because of its emotional impact. I'm a total sobby wreck right now writing this because I just made the mistake of watching it again! J.R. did great and his feet "skimmed the sand" like Bruno has always wanted -- but I think MVP of the night was actually Karina for her careful and not too schmaltzy orchestration of such a beautiful routine. It was all very Ghost-like -- well, maybe not as sexy as Ghost, but I don't think the point of this rumba was to be sexy.
I loved the way she reached out for him at the end and we were brutally reminded that he hadn't truly been present (in the dramatization of Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This") all along. Off he strode, up to ballroom heaven to be swallowed up by the DEADLY SMOKE MONSTER. The judges couldn't even say anything for about a minute because the on-their-feet crowd just wouldn't let up. The impact of this dance was huge, and both Karina and J.R. puffed out their cheeks on the way up to Brookebot Mountain -- almost in unison -- as an unspoken "Whoa."
NEXT: Chynna and Tony break free, break from the chains