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Dancing with the Stars: One Star Makes a Huge Breakthrough in an Emotional Week


Now that we've dropped the lower third of the dancers, it's time for Dancing with the Stars to go back to one night a week... and pad some of the two-hour episode with a revisit to Titanicplayed on a pan flute, apparently. Thanks, Andre Rieu.

This was the most memorable year episode, where contestants looked back on a pivotal and important year of their lives... and put it to dance! That could mean waltzes for loved ones or personal cha-chas to major accomplishments. Let's just say it was a lot more personal than dancing to The Walking Dead theme song. And you know what that means... TEARS! Lots of tears!

I'll be honest with you, I'm a cold-hearted piece of rock so I could probably do without this themed week, but I will admit that it does bring out the old emotions for a test drive. It's not necessarily fun, but things have to vary up, don't they?

Let's review the dances!

Maureen McCormick and Artem Chigvintsev - Foxtrot - "From the Ground Up" by Dan + Shay

Her most memorable year: 1985, when Maureen married her husband. She said she wasn't going to cry anymore. Hmmm, we'll see.

The dance: Maureen is still incredibly emotional out there, but now she's able to transfer that emotion into the dance rather than into the show, and this love letter to her husband worked! Yeah, this was a dance -- in full on "Just Married" attire -- for grandmothers, but it really felt like it was a lot more in Maureen's wheelhouse and represented who she is. Plus, she didn't slip on any tears! That's a win.

What the judges say: Julianne says this dance was one of her best dances. Bruno sang "Going to the Chapel" for a little too long.

Score: 24/30. Len's out again, so it was 8s across the board!

Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold - Jazz - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Her most memorable year: 2012, when Lindsay graduated high school! Well, that was a coincidence. It was also the year that Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's NFL single season record for the most receiving yards.

The dance: Aside from a late surprise football toss from the great Jerry Rice, I'm not sure what this dance had to do with Megatron's football record, but once again... wow! Calvin was smooooooth, bro, with a spectacular ode to Motown amplified by Calvin's contagious smile. Add in a few tosses of Lindsay that he made look as easy as if he was throwing around a balloon, and color me impressed. He's been great all season, and he gets better each week. Bonus points for Calvin not even knowing that Jerry would be throwing the ball to him.

What the judges say: "It looks like you just stepped out of the Motown charm school," said Bruno.

Score: 24/30, but come on, this was better than Maureen's dance. (Sorry.)

Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko - Contemporary - "In My Daughter's Eyes" by Martina McBride

Most memorable year: This year! Since Jana gave birth to her daughter.

The dance: Another pretty dance, if that's your thing. (It isn't mine.) Jana shed a lot of the sex kitten persona that she's been relying on in previous weeks and danced it out for her baby daughter, who appeared on a projection screen as Jana oozed a mother's love. You can't fake that. Plus, there was a killer trust fall in the dance that would have ended in Jana getting pancake face if Gleb didn't catch her. That's bravery and trust, something that's been a huge part of Jana's tabloid-friendly and tumultuous life.

What the judges say: Carrie Ann was stoked that Jana was really dancing out there.

Score: 26/30, with the 8 coming from Julianne.

Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke - Contemporary - "A Song for You" by Leon Russell

Most memorable year: 2008, when he drank a whole case of Smirnoff Ice in six hours! JEAHHH! Just kidding, it was when he kicked butt in the Olympics.

The dance: Contemporary dance is kind of funny, sorry. And it's even funnier when Ryan is doing it. So yeah, this dance happened and there was some undulating and gyrating and pointing, and Ryan ran and hugged his mom after. I still don't see much fluidity to Ryan, but this was Ryan's most open and honest dance.

What the judges say: Julianna said this was out of Ryan's comfort zone. Well Julianne, it was also out of my comfort zone.

Score: 24/30, the same as Maureen and Calvin. Can we bring Len back to harden up these scores?

Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy - Paso Doblé - "Rise" by Katy Perry

Most memorable year: 2016, like, just a few months ago during a little thing called the Olympics where she won a gold and silver medal.

The dance: Whoa. At one point, Val was holding a cape thing and then next thing you know Laurie was wearing it as a skirt? She also started off in a box crying in the fetal position in the corner? The thing about this dance is that it was personal and powerful. Laurie's great, but I don't think the Paso Doble and Most Memorable Year week align with her strengths since she has such a strong, bubbly hummingbird energy. However, I think we're all just looking for some criticism in Laurie's performance since she's clearly the best. This dance was still great and Laurie will win it if the universe is fair.

What the judges say: Carrie Ann didn't like the beginning, and everyone booed. Julianne liked it, and everyone cheered.

Score: 25/30, with Julianne handing out the 9.

Marilu Henner and Derek Hough - Viennese Waltz - "Surprise Yourself" by Jack Garratt

The most memorable year: Well, every year for Marilu is memorable since she has that same condition as the detective from Unforgettable, right? But she picked the year 1978, which had good and bad moments. It was the year her mom died, but also the year she landed her Taxi gig.

The dance: An uplifting number from Derek and Marilu showcased their greatest strength: their chemistry and partnership. This was another one of those "pretty" dances, but I actually liked it! By far Marilu's best performance, and again, Derek killed it with the choreography. This was Marilu's breakthrough dance, and she's now moved out of the middle of the pack.

What the judges say: Julianne was moved to tears, and everyone said this was a transformative moment for her. I agree.

Score: 27/30, her best performance yet.

Amber Rose and Maksim Chmerkovskiy - Samba - "Woman Up" by Meghan Trainor

Most memorable year: 2013, the year her son Sebastian was born.

The dance: Maks really took a backseat in this routine, allowing Amber to take up the spotlight for this appropriate tune. But man did she look like she was having fun, and her outfit -- which looked like a Lite Brite exploded into a leotard in a great way -- added a lot of excitement to the dance. But how is this dance related to her son? Is she trying to tell us something? I still don't think Amber will be around much longer, but this should help her cause.

What the judges say: Julianne wants Amber to listen to Maks and trust him, and Bruno thought he was in Vegas. Maybe a little too much sambuca, Bruno?

Score: 24/30. One of her best scores.

James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess - Tango - "The Right Time" by Yves V featuring Mike James

Most memorable year: 2015, when he sustained the most devastating crash of his life. A piece of his suspension WENT THROUGH HIS TORSO and he had to have all of his blood changed out THREE TIMES. He lived.

The dance: There was nothing fancy or tricky about this routine, but James makes the dance look so easy with his impeccable technique and lines (yes, I'm using the term "lines" now because I am a pro) that it ended up being one of the best dances of the night. If you watch his hands, his arms and his feet, you'll see what I'm talking about. And he's just so nice, even for a Canadian!

What the judges say: Carrie Ann said James has the best frame and he's the one to beat when it comes to technique.

Score: 29/30, with Julianne handing out the 9.

Terra Jolé and Sasha Farber - Contemporary - "Stand by Me" by Florence + The Machine

Most memorable year: 2013, when her father died after a liver operation and when she started her show.

The dance: This routine actually had a story, as you could see Sasha play Terra's surrogate father, and everything that he meant to her. While not quite as great as last week's awesome zebra-striped funfest, this was a vulnerable dance that really showed off a lot of Sasha and Terra's connection. And at one point, Terra stood up on Sasha's knees somehow. Neat!

What the judges say: Not a dry eye in the house, said Bruno.

Score: 27/30, they'll be safe!

Dancing with the Stars returns next Monday at 8/7c on ABC.

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