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LEN'S GONNA MAKE YOU SWEAT Val and Elizabeth struggle to decipher the head judge's comment that they were "so close" -- yet "absolutely fantastic!"
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: 24/30 Jack is trying hard and playing by the book, but I have to give most props to Cheryl for their rumba here. The dim lighting, Beauty and the Beast chandeliers, and wonderful use of Glimmerace, the smoke monster, all worked in the couple's favor more than Jack's rumba technique did. And Cheryl's head-thrashing and hair work on the lyric "People run around in circles" was Emmy-worthy in itself. Whatever bizarre thing was going on with Jack's hands was pretty much masked by that lighting.
"You have this sort of... nobility," Carrie Ann announced after also overdoing it with her comment that "When I watch you dance, I feel like I'm transported to another time." I did love how Jack perked up at the mention of Game of Thrones. I smell a Westeros-themed Argentine tango in their future! (It's blood. I must be smelling blood.)
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: 24/30 Their samba had a very good party vibe, which was enhanced by more good lighting, the festive technicolor staircase, and Tony's ever-fascinating ability to look incredible in pink and purple. Leah's hot pink feathered frock was a straight-up toilet paper cozy, but it was also seriously working -- perhaps harder than she was. I mean, that dress had beaded fringe. Heavy fringe strands sprouting all over the place! Her outfit was an entire dance routine in itself.
And then Carrie Ann basically attempted to offer up her own alternate version of the routine by getting up and head-banging, fist-pumping, and hair-whipping her way to…nowhere. She is seriously bonkers. It's like she and Bruno are both dance robots who need to reach a certain level of motion-detection in order to sustain the ability to "judge." But in doing so, they do anything but. Cuckoo birds.
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: 24/30 Amber had "set the bar" with her week 1 cha cha, but tonight she only "continued to wow us," said Carrie Ann. Hey, that's okay, they can't all be knockouts. But Derek can definitely play a convincing "knocked out by his partner's breasts" pantomime. His mime-in-crime Tom Bergeron was understandably impressed by that piece of work. #BoobConcussion.
Len wanted sharper footwork, but Bruno had been revving himself up, movement-wise, for an explosive bout of judging: "Talent and performance value flows out of you like a raging torrent!" he cried. "Resistance is futile!" No one was resisting, you nut!
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: 23/30 Carrie Ann insisted Brant was "wowing us" the whole time during their rumba. I agree that he looked great, but the notion that people were watching Peta's partner instead of Peta at any time during any dance in generally absurd. I would be very interested in some sort of empirical study on whether people can ever take their eyes off of scantily clad Peta. Bill Nye, get on that please. Really, though, I don't mean to undercut Brant here. I liked the move where he descended into the ambiguous layer of sparkle-smoke and emerged with his hands on Peta's foot -- and then kept holding onto it as she kicked! Not sure we've seen that before.
Is there an endless story underneath Brant's clothes? We'll likely have at least a few more weeks to figure that out.
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: 21/30 I'm starting to really like Bill Engvall, and not just because he used a big word on Dancing With the Stars -- "I thought their comments were great, but they didn't correlate with the scores," he told Emma during rehearsals. No, I like how into it he's getting with his dancing! Even in the preliminary steps of their jive practice, he was convincingly leaning into it, on the beat. Like Angela Chase dreamily gazing at Jordan Catalano -- I just love the way he leans. Sorry, that was maybe too weird.
I thought too much attention was focused on what I assume was a joke made by Emma that she'd just steal Derek Hough's jive moves for their routine. She was totally kidding with a straight face, right? Jive steps don't belong to anyone. The judges were way too preoccupied with that.
Anyway, Bill's got a great attitude -- he's the Ty Murray of the season and could make it far with or without the judges' support.
NEXT: Snooki's rumba is a full-on Monet