Not a dry eye in the house! Things got emotional on the Monday, April 10, episode of Dancing With the Stars. This week’s theme — most memorable year — took each celeb on a trip into the past, giving them the opportunity to tell a personal story (and to make Us tear up, to be honest). But while the theme translated to higher scores for pretty much everyone across the board, there still had to be one couple forced to exit the competition.
With Maks Chmerkovskiy out again this week due to injury, there was still a chance that Heather Morris and her stand-in partner, Alan Burston, would fall out of sync. The pair performed a cha-cha inspired by Heather's happiest moment — when she married her husband in 2015. Wearing matching white outfits, the dancing duo impressed the judges — and Maks, who was there to cheer them on — with their upbeat, technically tight routine to Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance.” Even judge Julianne Hough appreciated Heather's spot-on moves. “Like technique, it was on, girl,” she said. But let’s not forget that Heather was at one time a backup dancer for Beyoncé, so we can’t say we’re that surprised.
Normani Kordei’s dance was dedicated to the year she auditioned for The X-Factor (the rest is now Harmonizer history), and her group, Fifth Harmony, provided the vocals to take the performance to the next level. Normani dedicated her rumba to her bandmates, saying that they “make up” for all of her “weaknesses.” Julianne had high praise, telling Normani, “You are a powerhouse. You dance as if your career depends on it.” With a final score roughly in the middle of the pack, along with millions of Fifth Harmony fans, it seems like the singer's chances of making it through to the next few rounds are nowhere near impossible.
In perhaps one of the most important, and also most emotional, segments of the episode, former Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan shared her difficult journey of suffering six miscarriages. Nancy’s lyrical foxtrot with Artem Chigvintsev represented her struggle to grow her family, and it left the judges in awe and cohost Erin Andrews practically in tears. “You’ve moved from the pack into a front-runner for me,” said Len Goodman. This meant that if Nancy and her partner continue to dazzle, they could be real contenders for the top prize.
Although Mr. T’s dance moves may have left a little something to be desired during the episode (and perhaps, in general), his inspiring story of surviving cancer — through faith and family — is truly incredible. A waltz set to the song “Amazing Grace,” sung by a small gospel choir, left most of the judges choking back tears. (Uplifting stories that make everyone cry should have been the actual theme of the evening). “You are winning our hearts,” said judge Carrie Ann Inaba. On the other end of the table, fellow judge Bruno Tonioli gushed over Mr. T as both a dancer and a person. “This dance reflected who you are,” he said. “A great man.” And that’s something that just can’t be given a score.
Next up is someone that, we’ll be the first to admit it, we’ve been rooting for since the very beginning — Erika Jayne. But her performance with partner Gleb Savchenko — a cha-cha set to Madonna’s “Express Yourself”— left Us wanting the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star to express (and move) a whole lot more. “You’re at a bit of a plateau,” said Len. Julianne commented that she’d love to see the “Xxpen$ive” singer incorporate a bit “more hip action.”
He may not have had (anywhere close to) the highest score of the evening, but Nick Viall set a new personal record and thoroughly wowed the judges with his smooth moves this week. Nick's most memorable year was (obviously) 2016, during which he starred on The Bachelor and found love with fiancée Vanessa Grimaldi. Nick and his partner, Peta Murgatroyd, based their choreography off an episode of The Bachelor, meaning that Nick had his shirt off while four women vied for his attention during the routine. Ultimately, Peta — like Vanessa — stole his heart. After the performance, which Len said was Nick's “best so far,” the engaged Bachelor pair made out just long enough to make everyone in the audience uncomfortable.
The surprise standout of the evening, and the celeb to take home the highest score so far this season, was none other than Rashad Jennings. The NFL running back discussed his tough relationship as a young child with his father, and how a medical condition and a life-changing decision brought together his family for good. Rashad's vulnerable, expressive performance stunned everyone, including Carrie Ann, who said, “I think you missed your calling — you are a born dancer.” The athlete's impressive artistry earned him a score just one point shy of perfect, making him the unexpected new leader of the competition.
Eventually, the two couples at risk of being sent home were revealed: Mr. T and Kym Herjavec, joined by Erika Jayne and Gleb Savchenko. In the end, not even a rescue mission from the A-Team could save Mr. T from elimination. But the '80s star went out with a standing ovation and, of course, a little bit of humor: “I said I couldn’t dance, and I tried." With Mr. T out and Nick Viall moving toward the top of the pack, there’s no telling who might get kicked off the dance floor next week.
Tell Us: Did the right couple go home?
Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.
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