Dancing With the Stars Recap: Alexa PenaVega and Nick Carter Tie With Nearly Perfect Scores

The theme seemed to be "go big or go home" on Dancing With the Stars' TV night. Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images

Dancing With the Stars TV Week brought with it all the drama and delight of history's most beloved shows on Monday. Guest judge and Season 19 Mirrorball champ Alfonso Ribeiro was on hand to chime in with his thoughts — and TV stars Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog dropped in as well (though they didn't offer any commentary on the actual dancing).

After suffering a mini stroke following her performance last week, Kim Zolciak was unable to make the flight to Los Angeles to dance. Kim's pro partner, Tony Dovolani, still performed the I Dream of Jeannie routine they'd worked on, but with pro Jenna Johnson in place of Kim. That would be his last turn on the dance floor this season, however, as host Tom Bergeron broke the news that they were eliminated from the competition.

"Family comes first. Health comes first," Tony said of his recovering partner. Still, he made a plea for the rules to be bent this one time, but Tom reiterated that wasn't going to happen.

Later, the two couples in jeopardy were revealed: Andy Grammer and Allison Holker, along with Paula Deen and Louis van Amstel. Fortunately for them, however, Kim and Tony's elimination allowed both pairs to stay in the game. 

Carlos PenaVega and Whitney Carson 

Dance: Jazz

Show: The Golden Girls

How they did: Carlos and Whitney clashed a bit this week during practice as the Big Time Rush alum struggled to allow his partner to be both a friend and a teacher. "I don't think he likes me laying down the law," Whitney reasoned. (From the practice video footage it seemed she was correct.) Unfortunately, their inability to sync carried into their performance. 

"It feels sometimes like you're being a little safe," Alfonso noted, while judge Julianne Hough thought they "might have gone into character a little bit too much." Judge Carrie Ann Inaba gave the most lukewarm review of all, claiming she "didn't see improvement over last week."

Score: 31 out of 40

Grade: B

Paula Deen and Louis van Amstel

Dance: Samba

Show: Gilligan's Island

How they did: Paula wanted to be Mary Ann but was relegated to the roll of Mrs. Howell. Rehearsal footage showed the celebrity chef exhausted and emotional, but determined to get it right. Ultimately, her footwork fell short, but the judges still admired her effort.

"We're proud that you're here on this dance floor giving it your all," Alfonso began. Judge Bruno Tonlioli lamented, "The samba got stranded by the shipwreck." Carrie Ann, however, was more upbeat. "I think you absolutely captured the spirit of what the show was about," she stated.

Score: 20 out of 40

Grade: C+

Tamar Braxton and Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Dance: Tango

Show: Mad Men

How they did: After the judges critiqued their chemistry last week, Tamar and Valentin had polar opposite reactions. He felt the criticism was justified. She, it was clear, did not. "I feel like you don't have fun dancing with me," Val said to Tamar, who shrugged off his concern. Fortunately, they got it together for their tango, which the judges went gaga over.

Alfonso declared them a “front-runner," but cautioned Tamar, "Val is your leader; let him lead you to the finish line." Carrie Ann said their dance was "must-see TV" and Julianne called the showing "fierce" and "strong."

Score: 33 out of 40

Grade: A (Let Val lead, Tamar!)

Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas

Dance: Jazz

Show: Breaking Bad

How they did: Though Alexa was "concerned" that Mark had "gone too far with his Breaking Bad obsession," her fears were clearly put to rest before the two entered the ballroom for their jazz routine based on the hit drama. Clad in full hazmat suits, the duo performed a nearly flawless routine that floored the judges.

"You two can win!" Alfonso declared, while Julianne complimented them on finally dancing as a team. Bruno coined it "perfection" and Carrie Ann summed it up in one word: "genius."

Score: 36 out of 40

Grade: A+

Andy Grammer and Allison Holker

Dance: Quickstep

Show: American Bandstand

How they did: Their video package highlighted the scheduling challenges posed by Andy being on tour while he was training. Somewhere in between live concerts and airports, however, Andy and Allison found time to practice their quickstep — though they may not have practiced enough.

"You need to get your posture right," Alfonso offered. "You have to work on finishing things correctly," Bruno echoed. Still, Julianne said the performance was "fun" and praised Andy for getting the footwork down better than the week before. Showing he is a true professional, Andy took their criticism in stride, promising to work on it for next time.

Score: 29 out of 40

Grade: B+ (Bad eye contact, good attitude!)

Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya

Dance: Tango

Show: The Addams Family

How they did: The Academy Award nominee was clearly saddened by his scores the week before, and in his video package, Anna could be heard promising him it was "not the end." A rejuvenated Gary then promised "perfection" in his video package — and, to his credit, he (almost) delivered.

"That was an Academy Award-winning dance," Alfonso said, while Julianne added, "You really tried hard and you have improved." Carrie Ann praised Gary for looking "exceptionally handsome," prompting him to later reveal he was going commando. (TMI, Gary!)

Score: 25 out of 40

Grade: A- (What improvement!)

Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold

Dance: Tango

Show: True Blood

How they did: Military hero Alek struggled to channel his seductive side for his True Blood-themed tango with Lindsay. After a few forced encounters trying to ask random women on set for dates (as per Lindsay's orders), he managed to dig deep and brought it when it mattered most.

"True talent runs in your blood! It was totally compelling!" Bruno declared before calling it "incredible." Alfonso said he "danced like a hero" and Carrie Ann exclaimed, "You got game!" Julianne even added that she thought he had the "best technique of anybody in this competition."

Score: 33 out of 40

Grade: A+

Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough

Dance: Quickstep

Show: The Jeffersons

How they did: Fan favorites Bindi and Derek hit a bump in the road this week when they found out that their Jetsons theme song hadn't cleared to air — which meant they had new music and a new routine, and only two days to master both. Adding to their troubles, Bindi's ankle was taking a beating from the quickstep moves and the teenage wildlife conservationist was clearly in pain. The consummate professional, however, Bindi saw it through and delivered a solid dance.

Bruno praised her energy, but cautioned her that she needed to "learn to control it." Alfonso echoed these sentiments, urging her to tuck her butt in a bit. Carrie Ann, however, focused on the positive. "You are a solid competitor and I love watching you," she mused.

Score: 32 out of 40

Grade: A

Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess

Dance: Viennese Waltz

Show: Downton Abbey

How they did: Rehearsal footage showed the Backstreet Boy getting frustrated when he wasn't getting the steps right. "When you get frustrated, you don't progress," Sharna warned. When push came to shove, however, Nick delivered a nearly flawless waltz that blew the judges away.

"Nick, you were a leading man tonight. That was beautiful," Julianne said before deeming it the best dance of the night. Bruno praised their attention to detail, and Carrie Ann said Nick went "from pop artist to classical virtuoso" with that one routine. For his part, Alfonso loved the dance, but urged Nick to relax.

Score: 36 out of 40

Grade: A (Take a chill pill, Nick!)

Hayes Grier and Emma Slater

Dance: Jive

Show: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

How they did: Clad in a full turtle costume, Hayes did his best to capture the spirit of the popular cartoon, but he lost some steam midway through the routine, and nothing Emma did could quite make up for that.

"I lost something with the masks," Carrie Ann said, adding, "It wasn't your best performance, but I appreciate how hard you worked." Alfonso asserted that halfway through the performance, Hayes' energy dipped, which Julianne seconded. Bruno, however, said the Vine star was a "fully grown and effective performer."

Score: 30 out of 40 

Grade: B+

Tell Us: Were you surprised by who was in the bottom two? Who impressed you most this week?