Warning: This Dancing With the Stars recap contains spoilers.
It’s Latin Night, and the feeling’s right — unless you’re Mark Ballas, in which case you are probably never eating salsa again. Week 2 saddled the longtime pro on the sidelines with a back injury, while other couples bared it all (emotions, pieces of flair, waxed chests) for the hundreds of hungry eyes scrounging for scraps in the vicinity of Tom Bergeron’s makeshift taco stand. Monday’s spectacle was an even bigger, more beautiful mess than I’ve made it sound, so let’s dig right in.
The extremely uncoordinated Geraldo Rivera and his partner Edyta Sliwinska have been eliminated, but not before the Fox News anchor and Lady Legwarmer got to portray Donald and Melania Trump in a thought-provoking “What if the Oval Office suddenly turned into Mexico?” salsa. Judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli re-brandished their ‘4’ paddles for Geraldo — but if you really want the most succinct assessment of the newsman’s overall DWTS trajectory, please consult the palm tree on the left.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold: 24/30 It’s only Week 2, but wow, I’ve never seen an “on the road” couple show more energy and stay in better spirits than these two so far. As Wanya toured with Boyz II Men this week, he and Lindsay concocted their routine in six different cities, proving variety really is the spice of both life and the televised salsa.
But the most impressive part of their platform-based boogie was how Wanya managed to make a difficult “rest your neck on my lower body while I writhe” move look not only relatively tame, but captivating and fun. (Haunting reminders of Derek Hough’s signature mambo “crotch bob” move, anyone?) (Sorry!)
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas: 24/30 Mark had to bow out on show night after slipping a disc during camera blocking. Is it really any wonder, considering his salsa routine with the UFC fighter was chock full of freakishly demanding lifts only the strongest man in the world could pull off?
Luckily Alan Bersten is that man! The 21-year-old So You Think You Can Dance alum, now in his third season as a DWTS Trouper, swooped in with a shirtless flourish to fill in for Mark on just two hours’ notice. The new pair sparkled with undeniable chemistry as Sir Ballas watched forlornly from the Celebriquarium. Mark is waiting for results from a bunch of hospital tests, but hopes to be back next week.
Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe: 21/30 The Full House star suffered a mini-meltdown during rehearsals this week, but that’s totally okay. First of all, nothing says DWTS better than the sound of someone weeping behind a closed bathroom door. It’s practically a rite of passage. Plus, this way, Keo got the chance to drop a loaded advice bomb on his stressed-out partner early on. Basically: Don’t be desperate, honey! Just relax, understand that your partner will wear zero shirts and many shimmery body decals to distract from any mistakes, and let the river of heated feelings run!
Jodie let loose during their samba, and not in a sloppy way at all. She looked fantastic out there, “getting the taste of it” (high praise coming from the always tasteful Bruno) and “emerging from the flames like a shining golden goddess” to the delight of Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) and the rest of the audience. Len even saw some steps he recognized. It was a banner dance for everyone.
Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 21/30 Ginger worried that as a new mom and not-so-new wife, her inner swag was buried too far down under her oversize t-shirt to pull off a sexy samba. Wrong! After all, “If you need to dig deep, this is the show that gives you a shovel,” quipped host Tom Bergeron. And let’s be honest: in the light of Val’s loving choreography, you’d have to be pretty dull not to shine. No worries here.
This might be the quickest hate-to-love transition on a park bench we’ve ever seen! An outstanding effort for Week 2. Despite a few foot faults, Ginger never let her mistakes show in her face. And sometimes, aside from a partner’s bare chest, the face is all that matters. Clear eyes, full wax, can’t lose.
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess: 20/30 The fast-talking NFL star has never seen Dirty Dancing, so all of the rubbing and touching in the name of a proper rumba education was totally new to him. And whoops, he basically just told Erin Andrews he’d popped some serious erections during rehearsals. But it was all worth it, right? Behold the beauty of their half-naked extensions against Sharna’s favorite rainy window-wall!
Yep, this guy’s not going anywhere. Nor are…
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd: 20/30 Much to my dismay (and slight intrigue), it seems that Top Models ™ can get away with performing the rumba in buttoned shirts (preposterous!) while still looking mega hot. They’re pretty annoying like that.
Peta, too, draped herself in a staggering amount of fabric for the bedroom dance. I guess they were going for an elegant feel, and I’m not mad about it. In fact, I’m not sure any Giant Chandelier Moment will be able top this one for Season 22. Len thought this rumba was way too hectic and intense (“You wasted it,” he scolded Peta), and Carrie Ann thought Peta should find a way to work on Nyle’s lack of connection to the musicality. Yes, she remembers he’s deaf. “You were just too strong for the tone of the song,” she insisted. Also, called out the siren: There was a lift.
Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff: 20/30 Not content to let Alan (dancing again on the right) stake his claim on that Strongest Man in the World title, the NFL legend decided to go with one of those “drag my partner through a smoky ‘80s factory” paso doble openings Karina favors so well.
Man of Steel is a good look on Doug, who likened the bullfight of the paso doble to his family’s fight against autism (his son Dougie was diagnosed when he was 2). “So virile, so masculine!” cried Bruno. “Like watching Spartacus and the Dancing Gladiators!” Doug landed in the bottom three this week along with Mischa Barton and Geraldo, but Monday’s paso and his desire to improve could keep him around a few more weeks.
Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani: 20/30 Forget the goofy amino acid, tempeh, and collagen diet she’s on. Tony’s so happy to have a healthy and flexible partner that he’s going all tough love on her whether she’s ready for it or not.
Is this like the dancerly way of asking someone to please consider wearing anti-perspirant?
“I think you flashed me!” Bruno recalled, speaking for all of us before going rogue, as he does. “Titillating! Tantalizing! You cannot hold back, Marla. I wanna see down there, right out in your face!” They were the only couple to attempt the Argentine tango, so hopefully it’ll be enough to make them memorable for viewers. Dancing second out of 12 usually does not bode well.
Von Miller and Witney Carson: 20/30 Both current NFL stars seem fairly checked out, but Von is winning the “I don’t give a f***” competition by a landslide, breezily paying Witney $100 for each minute he’s late and farting during rehearsals as if he’s solely responsible for powering the smoke machine. Carrie Ann kindly requested that Von dance at least 30 percent bigger after their cha cha cha. To be honest, I barely noticed the lilac-jacketed Von out there in the midst of all the hullabaloo surrounding Tom’s Tacos.
As always, the host with the most mime training was the ultimate hidden gem!
Kim Fields and Sasha Farber: 19/30 After a promising first week, Kim’s confidence dipped a bit, but it was nothing an impromptu FaceTime with her personal hero Gloria Estefan couldn’t fix. Infused by the power of the Conga, the Facts of Life star and Real Housewife of Atlanta was crawling around on the salsa stage like she owned the place.
Not quite. This last move of theirs was a mess, and one look at Sasha’s outfit tells you this is his world; Kim just lives in it. But I’m still enjoying their chemistry despite these minor setbacks. Strong fringe game, too. I’m into it.
Mischa Barton and Artem Chigvintsev: 15/30 I feel for the beleaguered actress, who’s struggling to stay afloat in a sea of ever-changing live music and extroverts, extroverts everywhere as far as the shaded eyes can see! Sadly, none of the emotion from Mischa’s ongoing internal drama managed to fly out during their cha cha cha. Without a major breakthrough, she could be the next to dance on home.
If she can be bothered, that is.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, why do you look like purple paint?
See you next week for Most Memorable Year night! How strange, I was just thinking it’s high time I re-bedazzled my tissue box.
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.yaho