Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy are next up for a dazzling, extra-beefy reboot of their Week 6 cha cha. The expert on being "So Excited" is like a totally different person out there now that she's not getting judges' scores. Or maybe she's just thrilled to have moved on a few weeks further from her Showgirls shadows, endured so many years ago. Whatever the case, the girl is on fire and if she'd loosened up like this sooner, she could have won this thing.
Later on, Leah Remini adopts the opposite strategy and looks more nervous than ever for her little tango snippet with Tony. At least she sneaks in a tremendous stink-eye to the judges as she saunters by the table. Still, I give their performance a….
Brant & Peta and Christina & Mark team up for a good vs. evil paso doble (I think? I'm terrible.) quartet set to Lady Gaga's "Applause" They all look fantastic but Mark and Christina get somewhat washed out in the darkness. Peta's wearing these weird, Leah Remini-esque (wait, is think going to be a footwear adjective for me for the rest of my life?) white satin ankle boots. Meanwhile, Brant is wearing the closest thing to a "tuxedo tank top" I've ever had the horrified pleasure of seeing. There were tails on that thing. It was all so deliciously absurd. Good job, guys! Way to take on a new dance for the finale.
Now Valerie and Tristan, with a boost from musical guest Colbie Caillat, are reminding us what a wonderful world it really is with just the sweetest winter-wonderland waltz you could ever imagine. At least I think it's a waltz -- I'm having trouble making out shapes on the TV because pools of glittery tears have welled up in my eyes after the couple's final Life-Affirming Gem of a rehearsal package.
I definitely start to lose it right when Tristan says "You look super," probably because I knew more tears were coming and I just wanted to settle into a deeply emotional groove. (#SPARKLEBARF.) But then Valerie had to candidly remind us that she was supposed to have died in March, and somehow it's Thanksgiving. "We should all just be living, every day!" she squeaks before editorializing for Dancing With the Stars viewers one and all: "I just love you, Tristan MacManus. You're as good as it gets." And he's choking up himself, as usual, but manages to spit out a good-natured "You're alright." Ahhhhhhh!
"Yeah," drawls the tear-monger of the century. "It's nice to come back and dance again." (!!!!!)
Throughout all of this, I can't shake the suspicion that the bottoms of Tristan's sneakers are two extra, totally benign characters in the scene.
NEXT: Snap out of it, Fringe Fairy! The "hot mess mom" is up next