Dancing with the Stars is just one week away from the finale of season 21, but there’s been plenty of drama in the past week. Following the elimination of Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas, Tamar Braxton had to withdraw from the competition due to health concerns. As a result, only four couples remain and they will all have to dance three routines in the Semifinals instead of two.

'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: The Final 4 Perform in the Semifinals

Tonight everyone will do an individual routine, a Trio dance with another pro, and compete in another head-to-head Dance-Off for extra points. And since Tamar and Val had to leave, odds are there won’t be an elimination.

LIVE…from Hollywood…this is Dancing with the Stars!

The show will start with the individual routines, then the Dance-Offs, ending with the Trio dances. As usual, they’re unclear on the rules as to whether last week’s scores and votes will actually count.

Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough: Salsa

It’s a very shiny, happy Salsa and the dancing is lacking some Latin flair, but I’m hopelessly in love with Bindi’s facial expressions. She has a megawatt smile and it rains confetti at the end. Julianne Hough wanted a more “down and dirty” Salsa, but seeing as how she’s 17, I’m not sure that would be appropriate. The judges thought it was too clean and lacked edge.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9=27

I could do without Erin Andrews talking to Bindi’s little brother about how the judges wanted her to be dirtier.

Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold: Waltz

They dance to “America the Beautiful” and it starts with him saluting a giant American flag waving in the background. It’s an explosion of patriotism and his dancing his good. Traditional ballroom fits his strengths and serves him very well. The judges love that this routine focused on how he’s steadfast and noble.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

Wow, his first perfect score of the season. Welcome to the Final 3, Alek. He’s the sixth star this season to get a perfect score, which is the biggest number of stars to get perfect scores in any season.

Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson: Contemporary

He’s shirtless and there’s a giant rope that he swings and spins from. It’s raw, powerful, animalistic and crazy cool. I love all of the tricks. Carrie Ann Inaba didn’t get it and wishes it had more straight dancing. Julianne didn’t like their chemistry together. At least Bruno Tonioli loved the muscle power, comparing it to Tarzan doing Cirque du Soleil mixed with the male strip revue Thunder from Down Under. That’s somehow a spot-on description.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+10=28

Bruno is right.

Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess: Tango

The song, “Scars,” is great, but the dancing is problematic. Early on they stop and have a pep talk because of some missed steps at the start. Honestly, it’s a hot mess. The judges look for the positive in his attitude and look, but point out the many mistakes that got into his head. Ouch, this is rough and it’s disappointing.

Judges’ Scores: 8+8+8=24

The audience boos, but 8s are generous for that mess.

An Update on Tamar Braxton

We get to see the timeline of Tamar last Monday, with Tom Bergeron promising that it was all real and not staged at all. In an interview, Val Chmerkovskiy explains that if they knew how serious it was, they wouldn’t have let her come back. She has blood clots in her lungs, with her constant flying as a possible contributing factor. For the show, the other couples learned Tuesday night after Tamar left that they would have to also do Dance-Offs.

Carlos vs. Alek: Cha-Cha-Cha Dance-Off

This is a much better Dance-Off, with the couples going one at a time to the same song. Alek is expectedly wooden and with no Latin flavor while Carlos rocks it. Alek ripped open his shirt at the end, but that’s not enough to save him.

Carrie votes for…Alek and Lindsay!
Julianne votes for…Carlos and Witney!
Bruno votes for…Carlos and Witney!

Carlos and Witney win!

Carrie tossed Alek a pity vote.

Bindi vs. Nick: Samba Dance-Off

This one is much closer, but Nick still seems a bit shaken from his individual routine. Where did his cool swagger go? He used to be much smoother. Bindi is on point and the obvious winner.

Carrie votes for…Bindi and Derek!
Julianne votes for…Bindi and Derek!
Bruno votes for…Bindi and Derek!

Bindi and Derek win!

Poor Nick. Now he’s way behind on the leaderboard.

Bindi and Derek with Mark Ballas: Jazz

Derek and Mark love goofing off and bring in a bunch of props like a wire-frame box and a rope with a light. It feels like a dress rehearsal for their Freestyle next week. It’s ridiculously cool, but too much like weird, experimental theater for my taste. Also, I would say that it’s Contemporary, not Jazz. Where was the Jazz? The judges praise the concept more than the actual dancing, which is always my problem with this kind of thing.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

That routine was great as a work of art, but it was not a perfect Jazz routine because it wasn’t Jazz.

Alek and Lindsay with Emma Slater: Argentine Tango

The whole rehearsal is all about how much Alek loves Emma after their sexy Switch-Up performance. Aww, he’s so bumbling from being lovestruck. The choreography is incredibly creative by making it a threesome. However, Alek’s acting isn’t up to the challenge, and the two women kind of overpowered him. The judges thought it lost some steam towards the end.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9=27

Meh, I would’ve thrown an 8 in there.

Carlos and Witney with Karina Smirnoff: Charleston

Witney chose Karina because Karina chose her for the Trio Challenge with Corbin Bleu and they got a perfect score. The only problem is that Witney and Karina have never done a Charleston. That doesn’t hold them back as its full of fun, entertaining moves. It moves a little slowly for me, but it has an excellent vibe. The judges all agree that Carlos stole the show from the girls. Bruno once again gets the right comparison by citing Charlie Chaplin.

Judges’ Scores: 9+10+10=29

Seriously, why does Carrie HATE Carlos? He’s the only star from the Top 7 this season who hasn’t received a perfect score. Even Tom calls her out on it, and she blames them for not being in sync.

Nick and Sharna with Peta Murgatroyd: Salsa

Peta is back despite suffering an injury before the season began that prevented her from being Andy Grammer’s pro partner. Now Nick has two Aussies who had crushes on him back in the ’90s. Finally, Nick got his groove back, This dance is fun, sexy, fast, and cool. He’s got Pitbull levels of swagger. The judges loved the pop influences in the Salsa.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

That’s a nice comeback after a bad start. But will it be enough to get him into the Final 3?


So we’re still doing this?

The first couple in the FINALE is…Alek and Lindsay!
The second couple in the FINALE is…Carlos and Witney!

Allegedly one of them had the lowest combined scores and votes from last week, probably Nick.


Of course not, so that was a waste of our time. I guess this means last week’s scores and votes don’t actually matter at all and won’t be carried over into next week. But if Nick really did have the lowest combined total from last week despite earning more judges’ points than Carlos or Alek, then he’s doomed next week.


60: Bindi Irwin, Carlos PenaVega
57: Alek Skarlatos
54: Nick Carter

(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.