'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Head-to-head faceoffs

Lindsay Arnold, Calvin Johnson Jr., Terra Jole, Sasha Farber.
Lindsay Arnold, Calvin Johnson Jr., Terra Jole, Sasha Farber. (Eric McCandless / ABC)

Because of the presidential debate, Monday night's "Dancing With the Stars" show has to get through 12 couples in only one hour. I have no idea how they're going to manage this. It doesn't help that there's no audio at the beginning of the show and no closed captioning either. So Tom's explaining it, but I've got no clue still.

Apparently there's some sort of "faceoff" gimmick that is going to give immunity to winners of each faceoff? And then there will be more scored dancing tomorrow night followed by an elimination.


The first face off is Jana vs Babyface. In rehearsals, Allison is wearing a crop top and her ab muscles are unbelievable for a woman who had a baby this calendar year. Babyface interviews later that he's used to being in control and that letting loose for the jive is an uncomfortable proposition.

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds & Allison Holker
Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko

Babyface is a little stiff, but his face is happy and relaxed at least. A quick intro from Tom and we're right into Jana and Gleb's routine. Gleb is wearing a pink and white polka-dot shirt that reminds me a lot of RuPaul's recent suit at the Emmys. This is a much more polished routine, so I think they're going to win this round.


Tom explains that if there's a tie in the total score given to each couple, Len Goodman, as head judge, will be the tiebreaker. It's unclear to me if that means his score will be the tiebreaker or if he will, in the moment, declare a winner.

Kenneth & Allison Score: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 6; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 6 = 25

Jana & Gleb Score: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 7; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 7 = 26 (Winner)

I miss hearing the judges' comments — I want to know why Carrie Ann liked Kenneth's jive better and why Len liked Jana's better.
Back from commercial, Tom explains the part those of us on the East Coast missed due to audio issues. It's what I surmised: Winners of tonight's faceoff dances have immunity. The eliminated couple will be the one from tonight's losing couples who has the lowest combined audience and judges' score.


Rick Perry & Emma Slater
Vanilla Ice & Witney Carson

Vanilla Ice can't pronounce "paso doble" but Witney, a trained professional dancer doesn't know what language it's from. Sigh. (For the record, it's Spanish. For double-step. Which is not that hard to figure out, really.)

Rick and Emma start with a lot of poses before they go into partial hold, whereupon Rick's hands morph into giant flat-bladed shovels. They're dancing to a Rodrigo y Gabriela song. A quick search reveals this particular song hasn't been used on the show before, but Rodrigo y Gabriela songs have been used a whopping four times for paso dobles in past seasons (Alexa Penavega & Mark Ballas, Amber Riley & Derek Hough, Doug Flutie & Karina Smirnoff, Zendaya & Val Chmerkovskiy). I'm totally OK with them going back to this well so many times because it's good stuff. Maybe we could book them for a results show sometime?

Vanilla Ice and Witney didn't fare so well with music, getting a less traditional song. And Vanilla Ice is wearing a bedazzled baseball cap backward — just like the bullfighters of yore. It's all very dramatic and showy. I hate that we're not going to hear the judges on these two dances.

Rick & Emma Score: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 5; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 6 = 23
Vanilla Ice & Witney Score: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Julianne: 5; Bruno: 6 = 23

Ugh. A tie. Which just made me realize we're going to be stuck with at least one of these awful dancers for another whole week. This faceoff/immunity thing stinks.

Len being the tiebreaker should give it to Vanilla Ice, based on his already announced score. And he does.

Coming back from commercial, Tom tells us that former pro dance Kym (Johnson) Herjavec will be filling in for Erin Andrews tomorrow night. Which, hey, yeah? Where's Erin tonight? Why no Erin this week? Oh, no — it's a very sad reason: She's with her boyfriend, Jarret Stoll, following the death of his nephew.

James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess
Ryan Lochte & Cheryl Burke

They've got the cha-cha-cha. And while James is interviewed about the pressure of competing against an Olympian, we see footage of Ryan struggling to stretch and then showing off some seriously goofy dancing moves. He's also worried because he didn't see a lot of cha-cha-cha growing up in Canada. Every week, we get reminded he's from Canada. Calm down, you hoser.

James is once again really, really good. Decent hip action and has very good hands. Ryan and Cheryl start their routine in silhouette against a red background and Cheryl very quickly rips his shirt open. Cheryl, as ever, is no dummy. Although the rest of the routine does feel a lot like Cheryl dancing around Ryan more than them dancing together.

James & Sharna Score: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 7 = 29 (winner)

Ryan & Cheryl Score: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 7; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 6 = 25

The more I think about it, the more I wish they'd paired up couples bracket-style, putting the top half of last week's leaderboard against the bottom half. Let's line up the cannon fodder and start firing!

Terra Jolé & Sasha Farber
Calvin Johnson & Lindsay Arnold

I kind of enjoy this pairing, though, because it's the two couples with the biggest height differences in a dance that's very much in hold. Lindsay is coaching Calvin to be delicate instead of rough and tough. Terra is connecting to their song ("Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls) and its lyric, " I don't want the world to see me / because I don't think that they'd understand."

I admire Terra for going for the head-tipped-back posture in hold. It makes her even shorter and yet she looks great doing it. Sasha's modified the hold somewhat, holding both her hands instead of having one hand on her back. Were he to keep a hand on her back, he'd be stooped over and it would throw off his frame something awful.

Boy, Megatron has a megawatt smile. And looks sharp in a pink dinner jacket with black lapels. He should keep that jacket. However, very little of their dance is in traditional ballroom hold and I bet if Len were getting to talk tonight he'd have loads to say about that. It's a swoony, dramatic dance, though, and they sell it well as a performance.

Terra & Sasha Score: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 7; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 7 = 30
Calvin & Lindsay Score: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8 = 32 (winner)

Wow! I'm kind of shocked by that! I really, really hope we get to hear the judges extended commentary on tomorrow night's show.

Amber Rose & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Maureen McCormick & Artem Chigvintsev

Maureen says in an interview, "We're going up against Amber & Maks. Holy crap." Maureen confesses that at age 60, her body is hurting already. Amber & Maks are dancing to Jennifer Lopez's "Booty" and Maks tells Amber that clearly it's so that he can show off his "assets."

Amber's wearing a brown wig and it's really throwing me off. This also doesn't feel like much of a salsa, more like a freestyle. Maureen and Artem's salsa is much more traditional in costume, music and choreography. It's hard to judge these two salsas against each other. Maureen looks uncomfortable at times, like you can see her trying to remember the steps, but it's not terrible. Until one semi-botched turn/pull through the leg move right at the end. Eeesh.

Amber & Maks Score: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 6; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 6 = 25
Maureen & Artem Score: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 7 = 28 (winner)


Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy vs.


Marilu Henner & Derek Hough

Marilu says that being four times Laurie's age, what she'll bring to the tango that's different is "experience." During the costume consult, the wardrobe department talks about making Laurie's costume "lingerie inspired." Val looks concerned and says, "Lingerie — that's French for trouble." Ha! Laurie has a look on her face like she's just swallowed a frog.

During rehearsal, Val directs Laurie to put her hand on his face in a caress of sorts. She can't do it without giggling. Then she confesses that she's never had a boyfriend and still sleeps with a teddy bear.
They've straightened Laurie's hair and it does make her look more mature. She almost has a Rihanna vibe going on. And despite the word lingerie, Laurie's dress is still fairly modest, not revealing more than what her gymnastics leotards would.

Their routine is very much a dance performance as opposed to a love story or seduction told in dance. That's not a bad thing and is totally appropriate given her age.

Marilu and Derek however, come out joined at the pelvis and stay that way through pretty much the whole dance. She even does that lean-almost-all-the-way to the floor thing, which means Marilu has some killer core strength. I really love the vibe of this routine. Since Bruno isn't allowed to talk tonight, let me sub in for him: "DARLING. You are a countess! With your boy toy! And you will not be TRIFLED WITH! Grr! [makes cat clawing the air hand motion.]"

I liked both those routines a lot! I want them both to get immunity.

Laurie & Val Score: Carrie Ann: 7 (and an admonition about a lift); Len: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8 = 31 (winner)
Marilu & Derek Score: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 7 = 28

They're filling a little time, so Tom's chatting with these contestants. When Val asks Laurie about summoning the emotion she displayed during her routine she says, "It's like I'm smelling a really good quesadilla" and then pulls exactly that face. Hahahah! I had no idea the kid was funny!

So, winners tonight, who have immunity and therefore cannot be eliminated are:

Jana & Gleb
Vanilla Ice & Witney
James & Sharna
Calvin & Lindsay
Maureen & Artem
Laurie & Val

Terra & Sasha: 30
Marilu & Derek: 28
Kenneth (Babyface) & Allison: 25
Amber & Maks: 25
Ryan & Cheryl: 25
Rick & Emma: 23


If I was any one of the three couples with a score of 25, I'd be real nervous about what kind of fanbase Rick Perry has. Of those three, I don't know who should be most worried. I don't feel like Amber's really found a way to connect with the audience yet, nor has Kenneth. Ryan seems to provoke a love him or hate him response in many viewers, but I can't gauge which of those groups is more likely to go to the effort of voting. Probably the "love him" crowd. But I still really hope it's Rick gone because of those bottom four, he seems the least likely to make any significant improvement as the season progresses.