Dancing with the Stars, Season 23, Week 8: Halloween


Halloween Night includes appearances from multiple movie characters, and James trying to deal with losing a partner possibly for good.

Halloween Night on Dancing with the Stars this year starts with a number to “Dead Man’s Party,” with a segment with chalk outlines that is truly impressive. Unfortunately, we’ve lost even more people than expected this week. Not only is Len back out, but so is Sharna Burgess with a knee injury. Jenna Johnson steps in to dance with James Hinchcliffe instead. It’s also immunity/dance-off night. Whoever scores the highest in the first round gets immunity, and also five points, so they don’t suffer next week from not being able to compete for points in the dance-off. The other six couples will square off against each other for three.

Terra Jolé & Sasha Farber

Cha Cha Cha; “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” – Harry Belafonte

This is a Beetlejuice dance, and Terra’s a longtime fan of the movie. The fluff starts with serious talk about the trouble her legs have staying straight, before degenerating into weirdness with head-shrinking fairy dust. The dance itself is centered around the table, with Terra & Sasha rocking it on top. Although they only really get into the cha cha once they get down onto the floor. But this is superbly entertaining throughout, and they end with the audience on their feet. The judges are as entertained as everybody else. But they are urging Terra to go further. “It was a really good performance,” says Carrie Ann. “But we want to see something great.” They give her straight 8s for 24.

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy

Viennese Waltz; “Pure Imagination” – Jane Monheit

Poor Val has an emotional crisis over their dropping scores. But he comes through big time with this number. Unusually for this song, he actually looks into the emotional story of this extremely poor kid getting into the chocolate factory. The dance he gets out of that takes artistic license with the original story but preserves that emotion. Then Laurie steps in, and radiates that feeling of awe and delight around the floor. She nails the dance too. All in all, it’s a moment of pure magic. The audience remains standing and gets louder. Carrie Ann is reduced to tears, Burno calls it a “Viennese wonder waltz,” and Julianne simply calls it her best. Naturally this requires straight 10s, and that’s exactly what ensues.

Marilu Henner & Derek Hough

Argentine Tango; “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Emily Browning

Being a couple that both might need immunity to survive the night and knows during the week it’s not impossible to get it causes a good deal of stress. The fluff shows it. It’s actually impossible for them to win it after Laurie & Val, since the tiebreaker is cumulative scores. But Marilu goes for it best she can, trying to attack this dance of the spider’s lair. Unfortunately, that goes wrong, or rather, her limbs do. Arms and legs both, and at one point one of the former nearly hits Derek in the face. The judges all praise her intensity, and tell her to stop hesitating and doubting herself. Julianne and Bruno are a little lenient with 8s, but Carrie Ann less so with a 7, so they take 23.

Calvin Johnson, Jr. & Lindsay Arnold

Quickstep; “Dr. Bones” – Cherry Poppin’ Daddies

The fluff of this one is ridiculously sentimental, even before his two year old son shows up. For the dance, they’re portraying skeletons, with a band of them performing up on the stage. However, when they hit the floor just after the opening, they discard all trappings in favor of pure quickstepping. It’s the right move, since Calvin is brilliant at tripping the light fantastic. He’s good and light and energetic and right on the steps, and once again the audience gives them a standing ovation. Julianne thanks them for a routine that made no compromise on the content. Bruno calls Calvin the Voodoo Master. Carrie Ann compares him to Emmett Smith. Then out come the straight 10s for the second perfect score of the night.

Ryan Lochte & Cheryl Burke

Tango; “Howling for You” – The Black Keys

Ryan wants his breakthrough performance. Cheryl pushes him and drills him with ropes and other things that force him to move the right way. As the song would suggest, he plays a werewolf, but she plays Maleficent! Dancing with a werewolf isn’t that lady’s usual gig, but Cheryl makes it work with her sexiness. Ryan helps by getting into character pretty well. This is a dance that suits him, at least when it comes to mood. Technically, however, he’s still not very good. Bruno calls him a Prince of Darkness, but the judges mostly tell him how he could improve in the actual dancing. Once again Julianne and Bruno dole out 8s, but Bruno gives only a 7, so they too take 23.

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko

Jazz; “Little Shop of Horrors” – Little Shop of Horrors

This is Gleb’s first time choreographing jazz, and he admits to being anxious. He also acts as a hard Russian taskmaster, only to get called “my little Russian bear.” The routine is very bright and bouncy, vaguely reflecting the story of the movie it’s from. Gleb is smart enough to put Jana in the center of both the interior and exterior of the shop as they dance all around the place, and she shines in most of what she does. When they throw a little bit of jive into the routine, however, Carrie Ann and Julianne get into a debate as to whether that was a good idea. Ultimately all three judges give the same score again: 9s this time, so Jana & Gleb take 27.

James Hinchcliffe & Jenna Johnson

Viennese Waltz; “You Don’t Own Me” – Grace feat. G-Eazy

We learn more about Sharna’s injury, and just how serious it is. She got it during the dress rehearsal for the group number last week. She danced through it that night, but after that the doctor advised her to stay out three to six weeks, which could keep her out the entire rest of the show. So James & Jenna start what could possibly be the show’s first ever permanent partner switch by portraying the Joker and Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad. And James plunges into the scary world of the Joker, and with Jenna twirls to the depths of a twisted evil love affair, portraying both perfectly. The judges cite this as further proof that James can do absolutely anything. Tom tells him they’ll win the immunity if they get the perfect score right before they do so, and they walk off to next week with 35 points.

The dance-offs are going to be a little more formatted this time: now the couples dance together at the beginning and end, and each has a solo in the middle. As usual, the live audience vote will be shown behind them. The rules of selection are unchanged: the highest ranked pick first, and the picked couples choose the rhythm. Surprisingly, first Laurie & Val decide to choose a couple that can match them, so Calvin & Lindsay, and then Jana & Gleb do the same, choosing Terra & Sasha. Calvin & Lindsay choose the jive, and Terra & Sasha the salsa. So Marilu & Derek and Ryan & Cheryl will do the cha cha cha.

Laurie & Val vs. Calvin & Lindsay

Jive; “The Purple People Eater” – Sheb Wooley

Calvin & Lindsay chose the rhythm that’s their strength. That’s no problem for Laurie & Val though, since it’s their strength too. This certainly makes for good watching, as they both do excellently. Julianne, however, spots a error by Calvin near the end. They praise Laurie for her bravery, choosing the one guy she really couldn’t be sure she’d beat. But after making vague comments about how one of the couples definitely seemed a little better, all three judges raise their paddles for Laurie & Val. They get the night’s biggest winning margin in the audience vote as well on their way up to 33.

Jana & Gleb vs. Terra & Sasha

Salsa; “Magic” – Robin Thicke

During their solo, Jana & Gleb rely mostly on steps, even their tricks just being woven into the salsa; it’s a good, strong whole. Terra & Sasha are showier, starting with an extended lift and taking advantage of his ability to jump over her. Although they have plenty of salsa conetnt too. That leads Gleb to up the ante by pulling off his shirt near the end. Sasha ultimately pulls his off too while the judges talk about how close this one is. Bruno promptly has to be talked out of stripping down himself. Carrie Ann votes for Terra & Sasha, the other two for Jana & Gleb. Tom announces the audience vote as able to break a tie to draw the suspense out, but Jana & Gleb ultimately win that too. They go up to 30.

Marilu & Derek vs. Ryan & Cheryl

Cha Cha Cha; “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

Like Jana & Gleb, Marilu & Derek keep it conventional, relying on trying to just do steps well. Ryan & Cheryl go for character and sex appeal, surging about the floor enough that at one point they nearly run into Tom! Ryan actually seems to be developing a bit of sexiness even apart from Cheryl. Carrie Ann and Julianne both speak of a couple they couldn’t take their eyes off of, and though they don’t name it, there was only one couple that were bold enough for that. Sure enough, they raise their paddles for Ryan & Cheryl. Bruno votes for Marilu & Derek, but the audience vote goes to Ryan & Cheryl. They get the points and go up to 26.

The six couples without immunity line up, and the first couple safe is a surprise: Marilu & Derek have survived being the lowest scored! They bask in relief as more obvious couples Laure & Val and Calvin & Lindsay are called, followed by Jana & Gleb.

That leaves Ryan & Cheryl and Terra & Sasha. Terra & Sasha had a three point advantage from last week, but you know both couples could be getting a lot of votes. It really should be Ryan & Cheryl that are going. They simply haven’t gotten good enough to justify their staying on the show, especially not at Terra & Sasha’s expense. But will the audience actually acknowledge that?

They do: Ryan & Cheryl are out. “No matter how hard I get knocked down I can keep fighting,” he says, as he speaks of the difference the show’s made for him. He’s right to. The audience stands up one last time tonight, and the message is clear: he’s gotten his redemption.

Next: New Fantastic Beasts Clips Revealed At EW Pop Festival

Next week Broadway star Idina Menzel is going to make an appearance as a guest judge! That should be a treat, as we close in on the finals.

Check back tomorrow morning for videos of all performances.