If you've been watching the current season of 'Dancing with the Stars,' then you've surely witnessed each of these contestants give it their all out on the dance floor. This season, of course, has seen its fair share of controversies. Following the addition of the ever self-centered new host Tyra Banks and the removal of longtime fan favorite Tom Bergeron, the show has faced more backlash than ever. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I hate the hosting change; my opinion is shared by the many fans who've been vocal online about their dislike for Tyra. She consistently removes the focus from the dancers in her search for more screen time, while somehow also flubbing most of her lines. From uncomfortable questions and unnecessary interjections to adding a full blown catwalk to the beginning of each show, Tyra adds an annoying, incessant presence that most people could do without.
To add to the controversy, Pro Dancer Gleb Savchenko and his partner, 'Selling Sunset' star Chrishell Stause, have garnered attention for their alleged affair that ended Gleb's marriage. While they've both have denied the allegations, the show certainly benefitted from the added publicity. Finally, the drama surrounding Carrie Ann Inaba's former relationship with Pro Dancer Artem Chigvintsev called into question her ability to judge his dancing with partner Kaitlyn Bristowe of 'The Bachelorette' in an objective manner. While Carrie Ann and Kaitlyn have apparently made up, the rest of the issues remained up in the air as the program reaches its semi-final stage. With a double elimination this week, the pressure was on.
After the ever-irritating Tyra show at the beginning of the episode, the remaining stars hit the floor. Skai Jackson (of Disney Channel fame) started the night off with her redemption Cha-Cha that earned some impressive scores from the judges. Justina Machado, from Netflix's 'One Day at a Time,' wowed everyone with her Tango, earning a score of 10 from judge Derek Hough. Olympic Figure Skater Johnny Weir earned a trio of 9's for his Salsa -- proving that, yes, real men wear cuban heels. The underdog of this season, the one and only Nelly, narrowly escaped Tyra's drool to perform a Paso Doble that Carrie Ann referred to as "regal." Improvements from 'Megatron' earned him a score of 26 out of 30 from the judges.
'Catfish' host Nev Schulman and his partner Jenna absolutely nailed (yes, I am biased, thank you) a classic Foxtrot to Harry Styles' 'Sign of the Times,' earning the pair a perfect score. Carrie Ann called him "a true ballroom artist" who mastered the techniques of the dance, while Nev joked that he and Jenna would enter a real professional ballroom competition. The final celebrity to compete in the redemption round, Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe, was assigned a Paso Doble by Carrie Ann, which seemingly signified the burying the hatchet between the pair. Kaitlyn and Artem's Spanish-themed Paso garnered a standing ovation from Carrie Ann herself, while Bruno called the dance "one-hundred percent authentic." They joined Nev and Jenna at the top of the leaderboard to finish out the first round.
The second round began with Justina and Sasha's stunning Contemporary Dance; the performance left me with chills, the judges nearly speechless and the couple with a well-deserved perfect score. Skai and her partner Alan Bersten performed a Viennese Waltz that, while slightly depressing, was well-loved by the judges, earning them the fourth perfect score of the night. Johnny and Brit gave a jazz performance to honor his journey on the show and the pair's friendship. The routine earned the pair yet another perfect score. Nev showcased his incredible talent through one of Jenna's specialties, Contemporary. The emotional dance gave a nod to the hell-hole of a year that has been 2020.
Naturally, this performance garnered Nev his second perfect score of the night and prompted Derek to ask for higher paddle numbers. Nelly's Jive caused him some stress with partner Daniella, but the two pulled together and put forth one of his very best performances to date. The judges gave the pair a full standing ovation, as well as their first perfect 30 of the competition. Kaitlyn performed a deeply emotional Contemporary, in honor of her late best friend, to the song 'Cowboy Take Me Away,' which had also played at her friend's funeral. I was crying during this performance and I'm pretty sure everyone else was, too. Kaitlyn and Artem earned their second perfect score of the evening as a result.
In one of the most competitive nights of dancing in the show's long history, the judges awarded contestants with a total of eight perfect scores, leaving the fate of these couples in the hands of the viewers. Tyra announced the safe couples as Nev and Jenna, Kaitlyn and Artem and, in a surprising twist, Nelly and Daniella; each of these couples have moved on to the finale as a result. The remaining pairs were then whittled down to two by eliminating the couple with the lowest combined scores from the judges and audience voting. Unfortunately, this eliminated Johnny and Brit and left the final two pairs, Justina and Sasha and Skai and Alan, up to the judges' discretion. Thankfully, it was an easy and unanimous decision for the judges, who saved Justina and Sasha. The finalist field is: Nev and Jenna, Kaitlyn and Artem, Nelly and Daniella and Justina and Sasha.
If the dancing in this most recent episode is any indication, the finale is going to be a serious fight to the finish.
Check out next week's finale on ABC!
- Jules (@JJFromMA)