'Dancing With The Stars' recap, Eras Night sends a fan favorite home

At the end of the night, Willow Shields and Mark Ballas were sent home on "Dancing with the Stars."
At the end of the night, Willow Shields and Mark Ballas were sent home on "Dancing with the Stars." (Adam Taylor / ABC)

"Dancing With The Stars" was pre-empted for some viewers by live coverage of rioting in Baltimore. The episode can be seen on abc.com

Tonight is "Eras" night, not that I have any idea what that means. I do know the opening number has the women dancers in evening gowns and the men in black tie. This works for me.


My thoughts as the competing couples enter: Chris Soules as a sailor works for me, Nastia Liukin is dancing with Sasha Farber instead of Derek Hough, and Mark Ballas has been sharing his drugs with the costuming department again.

Some quick news from Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron: Tonight's highest scoring couple will get immunity from tonight's elimination, the rest will have a "dance-off." The reason Sasha is filling in for Derek is that Derek was injured during rehearsals last week. And last but not least, due to a scheduling change, the network asked the show to move the double elimination week to next week, instead of tonight. Got all that?


Riker Lynch & Allison Holker

Quickstep, 1920s

They're going for a baseball theme. I really hope Riker nails this because with his body shape he could really ace a quickstep. Allison tells him pretty much the same thing, "The quickstep is the perfect dance for you." Aw, man, they get a little off-sync during a leap in hold. This song is totally nutty - it's Jason Derulo's "Wiggle" re-imagined as ragtime jazz. The lyrics are being sung by a woman, too, and it's melting my brain. Maybe in a good way. I can't decide.

Len Goodman is shouting a baseball metaphor and I think he's been invaded by the spirit of Bruno Tonioli. Julianne Hough thinks they might need to work on issues related to the height difference. Bruno liked the fancy footwork and the faux-tap dance near the end. He does want Riker to watch his shoulders in hold. Carrie Ann Inaba thinks it was fantastic but not as great as last week.


Scores: Carrie Ann: 9, Len: 10, Julianne: 9, Bruno: 9

Len is clearly damaged in the head tonight.

Chris Soules & Witney Carson

Foxtrot, 1940s

Witney thinks that Chris really got into the story last week, so she's got a story this week of a sailor who asks a girl at the train station for one last dance before shipping out. Makes sense, given their song is "Five Minutes More."

Ooh, Chris starts with a "kick your heels together mid-air" move. I'm such a sucker for that move. It's a charming dance and I hope the judges like it as much as it made me happy.

Julianne thinks tonight's not going to be Chris's last week. She commends Witney for the production of the whole number. Bruno says what I've been thinking, "Hello, sailor." He praises Chris' fluidity and general improvement. Carrie Ann thinks Chris is the underdog and that he's in the right place at the right time, with the right momentum. Len's only criticism is that Chris can look a little unpolished when in hold.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 7, Julianne: 8, Bruno: 8

Same score as last week. So much for all of Carrie Ann's comments about Chris going "up, up, up."

Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy

Jive, 1960s

You know, when you hear "the 60s" you often think of the whole counter-culture movement and hippies and Woodstock, but that was really on the last 3-4 years of the decade. Based on costumes alone, I'm guessing Rumer & Val are going for the first half of the decade.

I can't tell if Rumer is wearing extensions or a wig during rehearsal. Her dad Bruce Willis stops by since they're rehearsing in New York this week. Bruce says he's very proud of his daughter.

Back from commercial we see more footage from the stage rehearsal yesterday and from studio rehearsal last night, when Val dips her pretty fast and she has to call a halt to dancing for the night.

It's a super cute number and almost surprising from the woman who ASKED to be a villain on Disney night. She's versatile!

Bruno calls her the "All-American girl as wholesome as apple pie" and then asks for a slice. He has a "tiny, tiny" criticism of her arm movement. Carrie Ann thinks tonight's routine was a little bit safe and has some specific criticisms about her spotting. Len likes the content of the dance but thought it could've used a little more bounce. Julianne explains that the reason they're nitpicking them is because Rumer is such a good dancer.

When Erin asks Rumer about the physical demands of the competition, Rumer says, "I never really worked out before the show." And when the camera shows her mom Demi Moore in the audience nodding her head and saying, "It's true." A ripple runs around the ballroom. Hee. Moms will sell you out like that.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 9; Julianne: 9, Bruno: 9

Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess

Jazz, 1970s

Noah's STILL complaining about last week's rehearsal package. Let it go, man. This week in rehearsal, Amy Purdy stops by to visit Noah. She says that Noah not having a knee makes it harder.

Noah's supposed to be the head of a gang pulling off a heist. There are so many backup dancers and with Sharna in a crazy curly wig, I'm having a hard time remembering who Noah's actually partnering. This may also be the first time we're seeing Noah in a long-sleeve shirt/jacket and it's weird to me how they've hemmed up the left sleeve to make it match the length of his arm. Although what else would you do? I dunno.

Carrie Ann is completely gobsmacked by the whole thing. Len says it was strong and it was clean. Len says some of the dances are becoming like group numbers, and as good as that may be to watch on TV, he doesn't like it. Julianne says it was so fun and the isolations and pelvic thrusts were great. Bruno calls them both hot and cool.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 8, Julianne: 9, Bruno: 9

They were hurrying the judges after Carrie Ann took so long to get her words out but I think Len's low score might have been due to the group number feel of it.

Robert Herjavec & Kym Johnson

Argentine Tango, 1980s

After Kym says it's a sexy, sexy dance, Robert says he thinks he's going to need A LOT of rehearsal this week. They said they were dancing to "Word Up" by Cameo, but this is not the version I remember. Hee. I'm thinking the band had fun this week, with all these creative re-arrangements.

Tom calls it "Our get-a-room dance of the night" and he's not wrong. Len says this was an "up" week in Robert's up and down performance on the show. Carrie Ann says their chemistry is incredible but that sometimes Kym was a little too much woman for Robert and he got distracted. Tom makes a "Squirrel!" joke and I hope my mom was watching that! We tease her all the time about her getting distracted and we do it by saying "Squirrel!" (That's a joke from Up, if you haven't seen it. Which she hasn't. But we got her to pay attention long enough for us to tell her about it.)

Scores: Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 8, Julianne: 8, Bruno: 8

Coming back from commercial, two of the troupe couples are dancing a "90s tango" to Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It." I've seen it all now.


Nastia Liukin & Sasha Farber


Charleston, Modern

After the show Monday night, during rehearsals, Derek accidentally kicked a light and broke his toe. On the way to getting ice for the toe, Derek rolled his ankle, so now he's on a crutch. Derek is still choreographing the routine, even if he can't dance.

The gimmick is that everybody is on a subway car together, including Derek, sitting on a chair in the background. I don't know what fresh hell this song is, but it reminds me of that rancid earworm from the 80s/90s "Cotton Eyed Joe." Make it stop. There's also a slow motion part and they do something with the camera that makes me afraid something's gone wrong with my glasses. Y'all this is one of my least favorite routines on this show in a long, long time. I'm not saying it's bad - I'm just saying I don't like it.

Julianne praises Sasha for stepping in at the last minute and tells them they killed that dance. Bruno says it was the best subway ride ever. Carrie Ann hugs Nastia and says she's proud of her. She also tells her tonight was the first time the dancer really came out. Tom tells Len that Carrie Ann ate up all his time. BOO.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 9, Julianne: 9, Bruno: 10

Willow Shields & Mark Ballas

Jazz, Futuristic

They're doing ninjas to jazz causing Mark to jokingly coin the term "ninjazz." Hee. Their rehearsal package has a dumb gimmick in it. Is that in Mark's contract now?

Funny, I never realized ninjas wore knee-high reflective boots. Doesn't seem terribly practical to me. You know, one thing that makes their full ninja gear a little off-putting is that it covers most of their faces. We get so much off the dancer's faces that it's a shame to lose that. And then there's the part where they're hanging onto cords that are being wenched up. And at the very end, they're standing underneath a swirling shower of faux cherry blossoms, so it's pretty much an anime cliche. Sure, fine, whatever.

Bruno says the sync was absolutely perfect. Carrie Ann speaks Japanese at them and I'm duly impressed. (I miss having a housemate that speaks Japanese right now.) She likes the sync and the concept but wanted to see them push the moves out past their hands, like martial arts requires. Julianne likes the small movements and the control.

Tom shows us some pictures of Mark as a 6-year-old ninja. Guarantee you it was his mom that gave the show those pictures. Mom will sell you out, every time, man.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9, Len: 9, Julianne: 9, Bruno: 10

So this means after Round 1, it's Nastia and Sasha that have immunity tonight.

Dance-Off Round

How it works: The remaining couples will go head-to-head for two extra points. The higher scoring couple chooses their opponent, the lower scoring couple chooses the dance style. The three dance styles in play are foxtrot, Cha-cha, and salsa.

Riker & Allison get to choose their opponent first and they pick Willow & Mark. Mark & Willow choose salsa as the style. Riker & Allison dance first and it's pretty darn good. Mark has more pelvic gyrations than I'm really comfortable with in near proximity of a 14 year old.  A lot of their routine is taken up with an extended lift/spin but it ends with an impressive split from Willow.

Len says it was very, very close. Julianne says they were both so tight with the choreography but very, very different. Carrie Ann actually says "balls to the wall" when describing Riker & Allison. Can she say that on a family show? She calls Willow & Mark's "understated." Twitter wants Riker & Allison to win.

The judges unanimously choose Willow & Mark, giving them 2 points extra on their score tonight.

Noah & Sharna choose to dance against Robert & Kym, the latter choose the Cha-cha as the style. This feels like a slow tempo for a Cha-cha. Noah & Sharna's routine feels standard but well executed. Robert's still got pancake hand, this time flattened against his waistband for long stretches of the dance.

Julianne says they both did very well. Bruno echoes that and says the Cha-cha is harder for the man. Carrie Ann says one was clean, but without much content, the other was content-rich, but also loaded with mistakes. She declines to specify which was which. Len is uncharacteristically tongue-tied.

Carrie Ann: Robert & Kym, Len: Noah & Sharna, Julianne: Noah & Sharna, Bruno: Robert & Kym.

As Tom was briefly explaining before, in the case of a tie, Len's vote is the tie-breaker, so the extra points go to Noah & Sharna.

By process of elimination, the final dance-off is Rumer & Val against Chris & Witney for the foxtrot. Rumer & Val look great, with Rumer really getting that crazy lean-back frame the female dancers do for this dance. Chris & Witney have a nice spring to their routine, even if I think Chris takes a wrong step or two.

Bruno is effusive in his praise of both couples. Carrie Ann says one of the couples killed it. Len says to Chris, "If you didn't have bad luck, you wouldn't have any luck at all." Julianne tells Chris he held his own against Rumer.

Although, unsurprisingly, all the judges choose Rumer & Val. Tough break, Chris.


Noah & Sharna are announced safe first. Then Robert & Kym, who seem as shocked about it as anybody. Chris & Witney are also safe and also surprised about it. Oh, hang on a sec. None of the remaining couples deserve to go home before Robert or Chris.

Riker & Allison are announced safe, which means it's either Rumer & Val or Willow & Mark. You can tell from the look on Val's face that he's pretty sure it's them going home and if he's right, I'm ticked off. This is a surprising elimination, either way.

It's Willow & Mark! I feel bad for Willow - I'm wondering if Mark's super-out-there routines aren't alienating viewers. Erin interviews Mark because Willow is clearly upset. Tom says he's going to stop being a TV host for a minute and just be a dad and gives Willow a big hug. Awwww.


Noah & Sharna: 36 + 2= 38

Nastia & Sasha: 38

Riker & Allison: 37

Rumer & Val: 35 + 2 = 37

Chris & Witney: 31

Robert & Kym: 31


So next week is the big double elimination - it's gotta be Chris & Witney and Robert & Kym, right? They're so far behind everyone else on the scoreboard, right? I don't know anymore with this show, though.