Welcome to the quarterfinals of Dancing with the Stars season 20. That’s right, we’re two short weeks away from seeing who wins the Golden Mirror Ball, and tonight, the competition shifts into high gear.

'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: America's Choice and the Trio Challenge

To start, the couples will all dance twice, including the Trio Challenge where they’re joined by another pro. Even better, no one is going home tonight. The bad news is that TWO couples will be eliminated tomorrow night based on the combined scores and votes from last week and this week.

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Even the opening shows Nastia with both Sasha and Derek. Seriously, it’s like she has two partners for the rest of the season. And it looks like Derek might be back to full-time partner. America’s Choice is up first.

Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess: Tango

America wanted a military theme, but Noah refused because he won’t wear it as a costume. Instead, he’s in a white suit. It’s an OK routine, but his stilted movements are becoming more annoying to me as he just walks around. Len Goodman points out that he can’t really judge him on bent knees and staccato movements because of his disabilities, even though that’s how he typically would critique a Tango. Even Carrie Ann Inaba didn’t like the “blockiness.”

Judges’ Scores: 8+7+8+8=31

At least Len gave them an appropriate score.

Chris Soules and Witney Carson: Contemporary

They were even more shocked to be safe last week than I was. One Twitter user wants a dark room with candles and they visit her to tell her that’s what they’re doing. It’s your standard Contemporary routine with lots of emotional movement and lifts. Comparing it to other Contemporary routines I’ve seen on this show, it’s not that impressive, but it’s good for him. The judges are once again impressed with how much he’s improved. They point out a few problems he needs to work on, but Carrie Ann and Len call it his best dance yet.

Judges’ Scores: 9+8+9+8=34

And Chris gets his first 9s of the season.

Riker Lynch and Allison Holker: Viennese Waltz

In rehearsals, they literally dance in penguin suits in front of cacti. It’s awesome, but instead, America wants to see Riker’s vulnerable side. I just hope Pixar sees this and makes a Desert Penguin movie. The dance is epic, dramatic, and intense, which I love. I also love their ability to speed up classical ballroom routines while still maintaining their elegance. Another home run and the judges love that he can have power combined with precision. Len wanted a little more technique and less Contemporary flavor, which gets him booed.

Judges’ Scores: 10+9+10+10=39

Ha! Last week Len was the only one to give them a 10, now he’s the only one who doesn’t.

Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson: Contemporary

People on the street want them to kiss. It’s a lot like Chris and Witney’s routine, only with a wind machine. I know it’s all about them kissing, but I actually find it one of their least romantic routines. There’s too much running around and frantic energy. The judges liked it and thought they upped their game. Ugh, if this night keeps Chris and/or Robert in this competition, I’m going to be upset, especially since they both got Contemporary.

Judges’ Scores: 8+8+9+8=33

Also, Erin Andrews got a birthday cake and Robert almost kissed her.

Nastia Liukin and Sasha Farber: Paso Doble

They’re doing a Roman gladiator theme. Once again, Derek shows up on stage as the king watching over the dueling gladiators. It’s an interesting concept, but I feel like it takes away from the Paso. And Nastia seems too elegant and graceful and beautiful, not powerful enough. She’s too much Margaery Tyrell and not enough Cersei Lannister for me. Len wanted more technique while Julianne Hough and the other judges thought they were out-of-sync a bit. I really hate that Derek is there once again. We’re not at the Trio dances yet!

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9+9=36

Honestly, that deserved at least one 8.

Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy: Rumba

Val feels like he ruined this experience for Rumer and dragged the fun out of it. America wants a classic Rumba, probably so they can finally get a 10 from Len. It’s a slow, teasing Rumba that perfectly captures the classy and elegant sensuality of the routine. It seems pretty flawless to me. The judges LOVE it, especially Len because it was simple and didn’t have any of those annoying bells and whistles he hates so much.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

The first perfect score of the season! Huzzah! Now we’re moving on to the Trio Challenge.

Noah and Sharna with Emma Slater: Salsa

They love that Emma is up for anything. They have fun trying to figure out how to dance with only five arms. Basically, Sharna views Emma as some extra limbs. The routine is kind of all over the place for me. It’s just too much going on around Noah, who is stiff as usual. He does some more hip-shaking, but honestly, his sexiness isn’t dependent on gyration. The judges, however, seem to like it much more than I did. Bruno Tonioli even falls off his chair.

Judges’ Scores: 8+8+8+8=32

Carrie Ann says she regrets her score, wishing it was higher.

Chris and Witney with Lindsay Arnold: Paso Doble

Witney and Lindsay are BFFs and they always pick each other for the Trio Challenge. To fire him up, they say they burned all of his crops to bring out the beast. Sadly for him, the beast doesn’t show up. It’s a big mess and it feels like they messed up a few times. The judges try to be nice about his emotion and attitude, but the steps weren’t there and they can’t deny how bad it was. Easily the worst of the night.

Judges’ Scores: 7+7+8+8=30

What the heck are Julianne and Bruno smoking? Because somehow Bruno gave that the same score as their Contemporary routine from earlier.

Riker and Allison with Brittany Cherry: Jazz

Brittany is a newbie, but she and Allison are both So You Think You Can Dance alums. She can keep up with these two for a party. OH, HELLS YEAH! This is Riker in his element, dancing up a storm in a perfect Trio dance that makes him the center of attention while the two women dance around him. All of his energy and smooth moves are spot-on for a Jazz routine. Carrie Ann gives him 18 snaps.

Judges’ Scores: 10+9+10+10=39

Stupid, grumpy Len.

Robert and Kym with Jenna Johnson: Samba

Robert is playing the role of the horny older man. He’s just excited to dance with two pretty ladies. I want Joan Harris to show up and put him in his damn place. They play three models and the routine is pretty rough for a while, and then it just falls completely off the rails by the end. Robert is a total mess, screwing up a lot of his choreography and the judges all say so, though they try to be polite about it.

Judges’ Scores: 7+7+8+7=29

These Trio dances make it very clear that Chris and Robert simply do NOT belong in this competition anymore.

Nastia and Sasha with Derek Hough: Jive

Technically this is the THIRD routine these three have done together, but it’s the first time where it actually makes sense. They say they’re choosing Sasha as their Trio partner. But isn’t he the REAL partner now and Derek is the third wheel? They’re doing a love triangle, with Derek taking on the slow parts while Sasha does the faster parts. During rehearsals, Nastia gets really frustrated.

The concept is cool with two different rooms next to each other. She dances with Derek (mostly on a couch), then she goes next door to dance with Sasha. Julianne calls it the most creative Trio dance, but I disagree. It’s NOT a Trio dance. It’s two separate duets with a tiny bit of trio work at the very end. The judges are in love with it, but I feel like it was all about the concept and execution and it distracted from the actual dancing, so I’m not sure if it was good. In fact, the judges don’t really talk much about the actual technical dancing.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

A perfect score for Derek’s brilliant choreography.

Rumer and Val with Artem Chigvintsev: Paso Doble

Three Pasos in one night? Is it Erin’s birthday or mine? Rumer likes how much man is on stage with her. Val and Artem feel objectified. Now, THIS is a Paso. No frills, no random crap, just pure power, and Spanish-flavored dancing. This week Rumer and Val are really focusing on pure dance without gimmicks and the judges eat it up, especially Len.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

Double perfection. That’s what happens when you just dance the dance.

Tomorrow is a double elimination. If Nastia, Rumer, or Riker get eliminated, this season will be a total joke.


117: Nastia Liukin, Rumer Willis
115: Riker Lynch
101: Noah Galloway
95: Chris Soules
93: Robert Herjavec

(Image courtesy of ABC)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.