Dancing with the Stars, Season 23, Week 10, Semi-Finals

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All five couples get perfect scores in trio round to remember; two couples end the night with perfect 60s.

Two weeks left to go in the season, and that means the Semi-Finals. So that means a dramatic opening montage before the couples come out.

This year is also means trio dances in the second round, and fluff pieces that are partially biographical in the first round. Also, we’re leading off with a happily reunited couple:

James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess

Argentine Tango; “Santa Maria (del Buen Ayre) – Gotan Project

Sharna really is confident about James’ ability to do anything. There was once a routine where current co-host Erin Andrews was blindfolded for part of it. But Sharna does something much crazier: she blindfolds herself, the pro, for the entire thing! But this, too, is something James has no problem handling. He leads her through a sharp and passionate routine. The judges love it, and Bruno and Julianne break out the 10s. But Carrie Ann calls them on wobbles she saw in the beginning, and she only gives them a 9, so they take 29.

Terra Jolé & Sasha Farber

Rumba; “Scars to Your Beautiful” – Alessia Cara

Her biography talks much about being different and trying to find a place in LA when it was hard for her to get any oppotunities. The routine is therefore appropriate: it has a bunch of people refusing to dance with her, before Sasha does. Then she rocks it on the floor. She’s technically perfect and full of a lot of joy. The judges are moved. Carrie Ann is crying too much to talk properly. Julianne says this is the best dance of her season. It’s not too surprising when they break out the straight 10s.

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko

Quickstep; “Go Mama” – Wayne Beckford

This routine has a silly story where Jana comes in looking for baby shoes, and steals Gleb away from another woman to quickstep with him. It ends up causing trouble with more than just corniness when they don’t quite get into sync right away. They manage to fix that as they get into the main part of the dance, which is pure quickstepping. The judges are impressed by that, and note Jana’s the celebrity that’s come the furthest. The trouble with the opening keeps two of the paddles down to 9, but Bruno breaks out the 10 anyway for 28.

Calvin Johnson, Jr. & Lindsay Arnold

Tango; “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes

This routine, too, starts with some theatricals, but this time it’s an impressive setup of hands coming out of the wall and grabbing Calvin & Lindsay. Then they too go onto the floor and it’s pure ballroom dancing from there on in. Except that Calvin ends up making his mistake in the middle of the pure tangoing part and it’s a much more visible one. The judges are left to lament that one big time. It even keeps Carrie Ann’s score down to an 8, and the other two down to a 9, so they take 25.

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy

Foxtrot; “Hollow” – Tori Kelly

This was filmed as an ordinary biographical fluff, as we get interviews with her family, including her ailing grandmother. Except things took a devastating turn: her grandmother died the day after they filmed it. We get shorts of Laurie grieving and a last clip of her late grandmother. Then she comes out and dances with her usual technical brilliance. But she also performs this melancholy number with a level and depth of emotion beyond what we’ve seen from her before. This blows everything else we’ve seen tonight away. Not only do the judges rave, but Tom declares it the bravest thing he’s seen in all 23 seasons. Naturally they get a perfect 30.

Two perfect scores. One wants more out of the trio round, since these are supposed to be memorable…

James Hinchcliffe, Sharna Burgess, & Jenna Johnson

Jive; “Gimme Some Loving” – The Spencer Davis Group

At least their choice for second pro was an easy one. They also get a song from his younger years, and then also the car he was in during the crash to sit on the dance floor! He even jumps over it at one point, though for the most part the three of them just dance in front of it. But any number involving the three of these together is more than worth watching. With the spotlight firmly on him, James successfully kills it, and those weeks dancing with Jenna helps him absolutely nail the sync with both of them, to the point the judges all emphasize it. “You’re still in top great, my dear!” Bruno exclaims before they break out straight 10s, and he goes up to 59.

Terra Jolé, Sasha Farber, & Artem Chingvintsev

Tango; “Hideaway” – Kiesza

Three is company, the three of them declare, until the fluff ends with the three of them aping that old show’s opening. The routine, on the other hand, is a case of dance noir, with Terra shedding a trench coat to lead around two men in black. She’s so compelling in this it’s hard to take your eyes off of her, even with these two men being their sexiest on either side of her. This may not be as emotional as he last routine, but it may be her best objectively speaking. It gets Julianne literally singing: “This girl is on fire!” and the straight 10s rising once again; it’s a perfect 60.

Jana Kramer, Gleb Savchenko, & Alan Bersten

Paso doble; “Kill of the Night” – Gin Wigmore

They two go with a pro who helped out when Gleb was injured. They take a concept of Jana as a queen dancing with two men taken into her thrall. Out of it they devise a routine that makes brilliant use of silhouettes at the beginning and end, and is well choreographed in the middle too. Jana then absolutely nails dancing and character both. Carrie Ann calls the whole thing “artistry in motion,” while Julianne simply calls Jana the Queen of the dance floor. Once again the judges all raise their 10 paddles. Jana ends the night with 58.

Calvin Johnson, Jr., Lindsay Arnold, & Witney Carson

Salsa; “Limbo” Daddy Yankee

Lindsay getting Witney in for another trio round together means much giggling and craziness. And with Calvin and a rhythm where lifts are allowed, that means the most insane lifts and tricks they can think of. The climax of the routine involves an absolutely absurd moment where he had both of them spinning through the air at once! But wisely, they don’t skimp on the content either. There’s plenty of well-done salsa amid the tricks and the stripping down of his shirt. in stages. “Pure fun,” says Julianne, and it’s Bruno’s turn to do some singing. Straight 10s redux, and Calvin ends the night with 56.

Laurie Hernandez, Val Chmerkovskiy, & Maksim Chmerkovksiy

Samba; “Magalenha” Sergio Mendes feat. Carlinhos Brown

Not the first time the brothers have done a trio together, but this time, they come up with an idea of Maks teaching him & Laurie how to dance, since he taught him how to dance in real life. We’ve reached the point where it’ll be real disappointment if it isn’t sensational. Thankfully is it: the choreography fills up the ballroom with its charm, and all three of them fill the choreography up with their personality and brilliant dancing. By the end, everyone simply has to have a grin on their face. Carrie Ann calls it “by far your best dance ever,” when for Laurie, that’s saying a *lot.* One last set of straight 10s later, we have our second perfect 60 of the night.

After that, you almost want them to give a five-couple finale a try. But we must get that field down to four, so the couples line up. They call the two couples who have ruled the roost first: Laure & Val and James & Sharna are both in the final. Jana & Gleb’s perfect score from last week gets them in too. So that leaves Calvin & Lindsay and Terra & Sasha. They both got 74 last week. Clavin & Lindsay have been a bit stronger over the season but doesn’t really mean much at this point. There is simply no telling at this point which one’s leaving…

It’s Terra & Sasha. Tom calls her one of his favorites of those he’s had on the show, but there’s disappointingly little time for her to talk. She only really gets the chance to praise Sasha and take her final bow. Really, you wish there’d been thirty seconds more to hear from her.

Next: RIP Gwen Ifill: PBS NewsHour Anchor Has Died at 61

And next week, it all comes to a close. We’ve got two couples slightly favored to win over two other couples, but it’ll come down to the nights. It all begins next Monday at 8.