The end is near on Dancing with the Stars season 21. Just six couples remain and, in 15 days, one of them will win the Mirror Ball Trophy. This week the couples will all perform an individual routine, then get paired up for a trio of dance duets inspired by popular theatrical shows across the country like Chicago and Cirque du Soleil. And as always, one pair will be eliminated at the end of the night.

'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: The Top 6 Perform Dance Duets

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Tamar Braxton is nowhere to be found in the introduction. She was taken to the hospital during dress rehearsal and she may or may not return to dance. Welcome to live TV.

Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold: Salsa

Lindsay admits that Alek isn’t the best dancer. He’s not quite comfortable with taking his shirt off. And since he’s a hairy dude, they waxed his chest. He seems to hit the moves for the most part, though it gets a bit bumbled at the end. However, he has almost no flavor. It’s a supremely robotic Salsa. The judges like him and his sexiness, but the hip action was sorely lacking. Carrie Ann Inaba is the most critical about everything.

Judges’ Scores: 8+8+8=24

In what universe does that routine NOT get a 7? That was definitely overscored.

Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas: Contemporary

Mark’s concept about escaping your own doubts and demons brings up Alexa’s struggle with bulimia when a producer on a movie told her she was too fat. It’s very evocative and symbolic, with Alexa doing a fantastic job with the emotion. But it’s mostly just Mark manhandling and tormenting her the whole time and I didn’t see a whole lot of dance movement from her. Still, the judges loved the choreography and how terrifying it was, which I can’t blame them for doing. It was definitely powerful and brilliant.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

Alexa gets her second perfect score of the season while it’s Mark’s first perfect score since season 19. It’s also Mark’s 21st perfect routine overall, moving him ahead of Cheryl Burke for second on the all-time list for the pros.

Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson: Argentine Tango

A Bieber Tango? Witney loses her confidence because she was eliminated in week 9 with Chris Soules last season, but Carlos supports her. But the line “I want to beat my wife” from Carlos is awkward, especially if taken out of context. The dancing is OK, but it seems a tad clunky in parts. There’s a bit with the dancers on either side of a door that is a distraction. Carrie Ann is right (GASP!) when she says it was well-danced, but the routine didn’t really do anything for her and it just lacked the passion they want from an Argentine Tango.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9=27

After all of that criticism, they still get solid scores.

Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough: Viennese Waltz

They both get overly analytical during rehearsals because they’ve set the bar so high for themselves. Derek overthinks the choreography because he doesn’t want to let Bindi down (in part due to the fact that he thinks he let Nastia down last season). It starts and ends with Bindi being blindfolded and everything in between is stellar. Bindi seems more mature, emotionally and technically, than I’ve ever seen her. It’s quite astonishing and the judges agree that she definitely grew a lot in this performance.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

It’s interesting that Alexa and Bindi both got perfect scores since they’re teamed up for the duet later.

Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy: Contemporary

She’s supposed to dance next, but she’s not back from the hospital. We still get to see their rehearsal where they’re finally on the same page. She was all over the place during the week, making it hard to find time to rehearse.

According to the rules, the judges can score her dress rehearsal, so we get to watch the tape. It’s a weird experience and the routine could be beautiful, but it’s understandably rough and the last lift is messed up. Val points out that it wasn’t good because she wasn’t at her best, sick with pneumonia, and only showing up 15 minutes before the performance. The judges aren’t even sure how to handle this situation and neither does Val.

Judges’ Scores: 8+7+7=22

Those would’ve been 9s and 10s had she been healthy and performed live.

Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess: Quickstep

Sharna feels the pressure of being the only pro left (other than Lindsay) who hasn’t won yet while Nick’s body starts to feel the pressure and breaks down a bit. Nick is great at embodying the character of a cool cat and as good as they are together, the solo bits he does with two of the male pros at the start and finish are my favorite parts. Carrie Ann liked it, except for being a quarter of a second out of sync and the judges critique his performance in hold.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+10=28

Even better, all four of the other Backstreet Boys are in the house.

Carlos and Alek: Paso Doble

The season’s hunks team up with their BFF pro partners for a Queen-inspired Paso. Alek is getting his money’s worth from the chest-waxing by going bare-chested again. They got to see “We Will Rock You,” a Queen musical on a cruise ship for inspiration. The boys got distracted by all of the fun activities to do on the ship. The rock ‘n’ roll Paso theme is cool, but the two pairs aren’t really in sync that much, with Carlos delivering a lot more rocker attitude than Alek. The judges thought the 30 seconds with Carlos and Alek was stale and dull and they were really out of sync.

Judges’ Scores: 8+8+8=24

Not great. They could both be in trouble next week, if not tonight.

UPDATE: Tamar is on her way back to the studio. Will she make it?

Bindi and Alexa: Charleston

The two younger girls get to take on Chicago as Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. Bindi thought they were doing the Carlton, not the Charleston. Thankfully, Mark is used to Derek’s overly critical way of choreographing so he can deal with him KTV (killing the vibe). It’s a fun little Broadway number, but for me, it just kind of shows that Bindi and Alexa are much better with their pro partners than without them. But the judges loved their teamwork.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

Wow, a completely perfect night for both of them.

Nick and Tamar: Rumba

Right before the commercial break, Tamar apparently arrived at the studio. This is crazy. Then we see footage of Tamar arriving from the hospital. Damn, this woman is like a Terminator, refusing to give up. The two oldest stars left get inspiration from Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles revue. The routine has umbrellas, an aerialist and confetti. Tamar is actually back and in costume for the performance, which is amazing. It’s a huge production that is quite beautiful and while Tamar seems to mess up a bit, it’s totally understandable. The production values and Nick are enough to make it cool.

It also turns out that if Tamar didn’t make it back, she would’ve been eliminated like Kim Zolciak since they didn’t do this routine during the dress rehearsal. The judges are insanely impressed with Tamar and the whole performance, including Nick as a leading man.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9=27

That’s great considering the fact that Tamar was in the hospital 30 minutes ago.


The first couple SAFE is…Bindi and Derek!
The second couple SAFE is…Nick and Sharna!
The third couple SAFE is…Alek and Lindsay!
The fourth couple SAFE is…Tamar and Val!

Oh no, it comes down to the married couple. Now I wish Tamar didn’t make it back from the hospital. Also, it’s insane that Alek is still here. Neither Alexa nor Carlos deserve to go home in sixth place.

We see some footage from the break with Alexa and Carlos crying.

Related: Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas ARE ELIMINATED!

So much for my faith in the statistic that Mark had never finished in sixth or fifth place. It’s even harder because she went out with a perfect score, 9 points ahead of her husband. It’s officially time to change my winner prediction.


60: Bindi Irwin
55: Nick Carter
51: Carlos PenaVega
49: Tamar Braxton
48: Alek Skarlatos

(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.