Several new phrases define this week on "Dancing With The Stars": "Latin Week," "immunity," and "rule book." Are they making these twists up as we go along this season? Apparently (according to co-host Brooke Burke anyway), there is a "DWTS" rulebook somewhere. It needed to be referred to a couple times during this week's show, and while those of us watching had several eye-rubbing moments, we also saw puzzled looks on several contestants faces as this night played out.
The night started off fine. The remaining seven couples performed their assigned Latin dance, and whoever earned the highest scores from the judges was set to get "immunity." That meant one lucky couple would be getting a good night's sleep because they will be safe from elimination Tuesday night.
But of course, nothing goes as planned. Kellie Pickler and Aly Raisman TIE. What to do? Back to the rulebook! Apparently, it says that the couple with the highest CUMULATIVE score for the season gets immunity. Of course.
The six couples left standing in places two through seven on the judge's scoreboard then took part in a "dance-off" to earn extra points. Figuring out who danced against whom and which dance they would be doing was as confusing as anything else this night. Again, to the rulebook!
The hows and whys and wherefores don't really matter. Basically, there are three dance-offs and the three winners of each round get an extra three points. Topping the dance-off challenge: Aly Raisman, Zendaya, and Ingo Rademacher.
Here's a rundown of the night, starting with the high-scoring immunity couple:
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough -- 29 out of 30
Two weeks in a row of a ten from Len (and Bruno)! They had us thinking that Kellie might be having an off week because she had a really tough real-life work schedule. Derek accompanied her to the Midwest for a trio of one-night concerts and they squeezed in dance rehearsals wherever they could. They must have danced on airplanes, on buses, and in hotel lobbies because these two did a snappy Samba.
Len Goodman said it had booty, bounce, and bongos and was hot, spicy and brilliant. Bruno Tonioli called it the perfect balance of technique and performance. Carrie Ann Inaba was the wet blanket on the scoreboard, saying she wished Kellie could have more of an emotional connection to her dances. Still: IMMUNITY!
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas - 29 out of 30 (plus 3 points for dance-off)
Aly has to rally her Olympic spirit this week when her partner Mark Ballas injures his back. For a few days it's questionable that he'll even be able to continue with the show. He recruits troupe member Henry to fill in with the actual rehearsal, but pulls it together for the competition.
Carrie Ann said they nailed the Salsa; Bruno called it a tutti fruitti delicious cocktail, perfectly shaken. In keeping with the drink theme, Len likened the dance to a tequila sunrise, sharp and fruity. Aly and Mark challenged Andy and Sharna for the Cha Cha Cha dance-off and not surprisingly, won the extra points.
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy - 27 out of 30 (plus 3 points for dance off)
Zendaya had a bit of a head start on the Paso Doble because she learned it (briefly) for last week's group dance. Val Chmerkovskiy kept reminding her this dance was all about intensity, intensity, intensity! She promises to try her best to match his intensity and energy.Len was all in, saying he felt like he was at the bullfight; but Carrie Ann thought the dance lacked depth. Zendaya and Val beat Jacoby and Karina in a very close match-up for the Jive dance-off.
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff - 27 out of 30
Jacoby earned his best score of the season so far for his sexy, shake it all, Salsa. He has no trouble when he needs to be loose in a dance; he also has no trouble tossing Karina Smirnoff around like a ragdoll. He had us worried for a moment when he ditched a day of dance rehearsal for massage and ice packs (but he says even after a tough football game, they all get a day off to recuperate). He throws himself into the rest of the rehearsal time, and even manages to execute another jump over Karina's head.
Even though Len gave Jacoby a nine, he told them he would have liked a few less lifts; that causes a faux-rift between Len and Jacoby's Mom in the audience. When it came time for Carrie Ann's comments, she had the very ladylike analogy that Jacoby could "fart the Salsa." What?
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd - 24 out of 30
Once again Peta Murgatroyd is worried about Sean getting a real connection to the dance. They have the Rumba and he needs to feel, and show off, some sex appeal. Peta drags fiancee Catherine into rehearsal again to try to stir up some feelings. Carrie Ann appreciated the extra effort he seemed to put in this week, and Bruno called the heat from the dance "50 Shades of Sean." Len was annoyed with his "flapping hands."
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson - 22 out of 30 (plus 3 points for dance off)
It's a dance step back for Ingo this week. The eights he was able to earn last week were brought back down to sevens for his Rumba. Blame those hips. Or really, blame the lack of hips. Len complimented the amount of content in the dance but said he lacked musicality. Carrie Ann also felt the dance lacked sensuality, which is a must for the Rumba. Bruno had the line of the night: "Your hips don't lie but in your case I wish they could." Ingo and Kym battle Sean and Peta in the dance-off and Ingo takes the coveted 3 points.
Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess - 17 out of 30
Once again Andy leaves his heart out on the dance floor. Sharna choreographs a very fun Rumba, one that paid tribute to her favorite movie, "Singin' in the Rain." That made judging tough for Bruno, who said he would always remember the classic routine of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse? until now, because Andy's dance made him want to forget. Ouch. Len and Carrie Ann were kinder with their words, once again praising Andy's heart, his enthusiasm and his entertainment value.
Who goes home Tuesday night? We might have to check the rulebook again to see if there's anything else we missed this week!