It was the first ever Vegas Night on Dancing with the Stars, which surprisingly didn't feature me getting kicked out of a casino for complaining that there wasn't any free Macallan 18 included with penny slots play. Apparently there's a whole other side of Vegas, though, featuring showgirls, Elvis impersonators, and dancing, dancing and more dancing.
But the universal truth of Vegas is that the house always wins, and there will be losers. Another couple was eliminated in Week 3, and they didn't even get a free shrimp cocktail. Sad!
The dance: "Poker Face," eh? Kind of obvious, isn't it? Gaga giggity aside, we saw a little improvement from Nick this week, at least with his attitude if his eyes were any indication. You can tell Nick is really starting to feel the pressure and taking things more seriously, at least more seriously than he ever did on Bachelor in Paradise: Let's Make Nick the Next Bachelor. He had a dancing face on! He kicked his leg up high! He swept his leg out low! He was almost dancing out there. He's still not totally popping it out on the floor, as if there's something holding him back. Nick, if you didn't hold back you'd be married to Andi right now. Marginally done out there, Nick!
What the judges said: Len said it was better than last week. Hey, that's what I said, Len! Bruno said Nick had stomping feet, which doesn't work with the Tango.
The score: 26/40. You should have seen Nick's face when Len gave him a 6, it sank faster than a Scottie in a swimming pool.
The dance: Given how his previous pugilistic dances went, I wouldn't have been surprised if this routine was just Mr. T literally kicking someone in the head. But it was actually Mr. T gently caressing our hearts! T, decked out in a white sparkly tuxedo, showed an entirely different side to himself with a classy foxtrot that fit the personality that we know he has now, not the lingering air-punches of his younger fool pitying days. Sure, he botched his top hat throw by just letting it tumble to the ground (nice save, dancer), but everything else was T giving it all he's got. Including those Rockette-style kicks at the end. I'm glad he didn't crumble to the ground grabbing his hammy. He's going out on a high note.
What the judges said: Julianne called him debonair and loved it. Bruno went off on a flamboyant Vegas spiel, and Carrie Ann said the audience was behind him more than anyone else. Len thought it was charming! But really, it was all the judges saying, "It was okay! But not okay enough to keep you from getting eliminated tonight!" Still, Mr. T is so awesome and he's done this whole thing with such class. I love you, Mr. T.
The score: 24/40, and Kym loved it! But the crowd was dead silent.
The dance: Team Get a Room came out with a fun routine, but Bonner never really looked comfortable out there. Instead, he looked too casual for the energetic dance that requires jazz hands and big-band feet and a swing crotch. You can't line dance to Charleston music, it has to be all or nothing and Bonner was way too timid. That's unfortunate, because the Charleston is the most fun dance to watch if the contestants can get it right. Synch issues, not enough pop, and low energy will cost Bonner a lot of points. He'll be safe for next week though, so all you ladies out there can still work on your proposals.
What the judges said: Bruno didn't go nuts, which surprised me. He was just actually critical! Carrie Ann said he didn't do it that well, but appreciated that they went for it with the content. Julianne said, "Fake it 'til you become it." So according to her, I should continue to fake pretending like I know what I'm talking about when it comes to this show. Maybe I will become it by Season 83!
The score: 24/40, and the judges sounded like they were at a funeral in delivering the scores. Yeesh, was this a wake or Dancing with the Stars?
INTERMISSION: Julianne and Derek danced really hard!
While everyone else was smiling and have a good time, the Hough siblings sampled a part of their upcoming dance tour that was -- how do I put this -- a complete 180-degree turn from everything else we would witness tonight. They essentially danced away the pain of their parents' divorce for all of us to see, complete with Hough parent stand-ins and Hough children subs! Dance is therapy, and these two had it out fiercely. I'm bummed I never got to see Julianne dance since I'm late to the show, because she and Derek were doing things I thought only Shaolin monks could do. Now we get to watch David Ross dance. Hmmm. The dance was also surprisingly effective? It was too emotional for me so I hid under my desk. Not coincidentally, I spoke to Julianne about the dance last week and if you click this, you can totally read what she had to say.
The dance: Hubba hubba hubba! If you've ever seen Glee then you know that Heather was born to do this dance. But what really made this Tango work was that Heather took all the advice from last week and implemented it here for a dance that was much more Dancing with the Stars than Heather Morris Makes Len Goodman Gag. It was also a fantastic showcase of synchronicity and chemistry and the two never really separated once and were totally in tune. This is the Heather we all hoped to see, and this is the Heather that could win the whole thing.
What the judges said: "You brought Britney to the ballroom," said Carrie Ann. Len said Heather went "all in" and I please keep the Vegas puns coming! Julianne said they felt connected. "Hit me Heather one more time!" screamed Bruno, and yep, he was right.
The score: 33/40, Carrie Ann delivered the first 9 of the season.
The dance: Charo took it down about 50 billion notches for this dance, a sweet 'trot to a Motown classic. Technically, Charo had some issues, mostly because she dances to the beat of her own vuvuzela. But there was a lack of energy and passion -- it's good to show another side of a person, but Charo IS chaos and it works for her. Without that, things were a bit... plain?
What the judges said: Julianne said she was getting inspiration for her wedding. Carrie Ann said she missed the coochie-coochie.
What Charo said: "What the heck is wrong with you?" to Bruno when he complimented her.
The score: 24/40. Charo was even gracious this time. Ummm, Charo, this is Vegas, you're supposed to be hanging from the chandeliers.
The dance: Sasha is one of my favorites on the show, and this was clearly his routine. The problem there? It was his routine, and Simone seemed to be hanging on for dear life as Sasha used the entire dance floor and outshone Simone. But the technical difficulty of the quickstep is huge, and Simone held her own in that aspect. I still think there's something missing from her performances, but because it has nothing to do with technical skill, it's going to be easy for her to find it. And just wait 'til Sasha gets to go wild with lifts. Also, did Simone really not know who Elvis was?
What the judges said: Carrie Ann broke out the Lift Police for the first time this season, but also said it was fantastic. Julianne wanted a little more expression, and Len liked it.
The score: 32/40, Carrie Ann deducted a point and gave a 7 but Julianne covered that with a 9.
The dance: It's a good thing Nancy wasn't on the ice because she would have fallen through it! Because it would have melted under all her hotness! Did I set that joke up okay? No? Rats. You talk about someone transforming before your eyes, Nancy went out and was sexy soccer mom, shaking her thing and having a blast. This was Nancy's best dance by far, and her breakout performance that puts her up a few rungs in terms of being a competitor. I didn't even notice Artem out there. I bet Nancy is a troublemaker in Vegas.
What the judges said: Bruno praised her Samba moves, while Carrie Ann was wondering "Who was that!?!?" "Your bon was bouncing about like a ball on a roulette wheel," said Len. Keep it up, Len! He said it was the best dance he saw this season. Julianne said it was the best Samba she's seen on the show in a really long time.
The score: 33/40, with Len dishing out the 9.
The dance: You know what's great? David's smile every time he finishes a dance. Inappropriate Uncle just goes out there and gives it all he's got, shame be damned. This Magic Mike homage was right in line with what David is good at, and it brought the house down. A little silly, a lot goofy, David's dance was notable not just for how entertaining it was, but how good he is at hitting his marks and staying right in step when he needs to. Today was opening day for baseball, and he really scored a touchdown! Way to go, David. You aren't supposed to be around for long, but you're making it awfully hard to vote you off.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann said he hit those moves with lots of "flava." Julianne said it wasn't just tongue in cheek, it was really good. Bruno said there was thunder in the underpants, a reference to Thunder From Down Under, the greatest Vegas show of all time.
The score: 31/40, with Len giving a 7. Lindsay was thrilled. Lindsay is always thrilled. I bet when Lindsay gets food poisoning she just has fun with it. She is sunshine incarnate.
The dance: Erika Jayne and Vegas go together like Erika Jayne and Erika Jayne's love of Erika Jayne! But this was a bit of a bad beat. I'm actually coming around to Erika a lot more than I was before, because I get who she is. This wasn't an awful dance for her, but it also wasn't exactly who Erika is. It was too happy! Her smiling may have accounted for some of the unsteadiness of her performance, but in this competition, you have to show multiple facets. Hopefully next week we'll get back to more sassiness.
What the judges said: Julianne and Len said she was a bit wobbly, and Bruno said she kicked out great but didn't retract as well. Carrie Ann once again killed the joy by talking about lifts again. Come on, Carrie Ann!
The score: 26/40, and Erika was totally cool with it.
The dance: Rashad has been the most consistent performer so far this season, but this may have been his bottom so far. He has great posture, form and natural ability, but lacked the bounce of Nancy's samba that made that so wonderful. Maybe the Samba isn't his thing, as his teammate Victor Cruz owned all the South American dancing on the Giants. But hey, I appreciated how they started off in a poolside cabana. It reminded me of the Vegas days when I used to watch people who could afford to rent a cabana in Vegas and then went back into the kiddie pool with my water wings and zinc on my nose while a bully stole my drink.
What the judges said: Julianne said it wasn't his best dance and that the song wasn't the right choice. Bruno said he went on the wrong foot.
The score: 28/40, but he's not in any danger for a while. A blip on his otherwise fantastic track record.
The dance: You know who is good at dancing? Normani. It could have been the best dance of the night; it was right up there with Heather and Nancy. Over the last two weeks, Normani has really come out and shown that she's not just a contender, but a front runner. She has all the style and presence that we all hope to have even an ounce of, and it's that skill that is impossible to learn. Add in incredible natural ability to all that charisma and you've got yourself one fantastic performer.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann threw out another penalty for a lift. Sigh. Julianne thought that this was as good as a Broadway show.
The score: 34/40, the highest score of the night!
Who got eliminated: It came down to Charo and Nick... not Mr. T! But in the end it was Charo was sent home. I guess America just doesn't have the same sense of style as I do. I will miss you Charo!
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.