Dancing With the Stars sashayed through history during week 7 with Eras Night. All seven remaining couples performed routines to songs from different time periods, ranging from the roaring '20s to "the future" (that one was a little tricky). The powers-that-be shook things up tonight too, yanking the double-elimination and adding in a dance-off that enabled pairs to battle each other for bonus points. What's more, it was decided that the couple who earned tonight's highest score received immunity from elimination — and that couple was Nastia Liukin and stand-in partner Sasha Farber.
So the new partners, thrust together last week after Derek Hough injured himself rehearsing for the 10th anniversary special, chilled on the balcony while the remaining six couples broke into three pairs to fight it out for two extra points to add to their judges' scores.
Technical details aside, the dance-off was pretty much as awesome as it sounds. Ultimately, Willow Shields and Mark Ballas, Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess, and Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy nabbed the score bumps over Riker Lynch and Allison Holker, Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson, and Chris Soules and Witney Carson, respectively.
But then it was time for the elimination, and unlike the last few weeks, this was one that pretty much no one saw coming. In a shocking turn, leaderboard champs Willow Shields and Mark Ballas were booted from the ballroom. The judges were clearly shocked and poor Shields couldn't stop her tears.
"You know, it is what it is. I just want to, first of all, say a big thank you to Willow for being the most incredible partner," a stunned Ballas said. "She's only 14, guys. She's out there dancing, keeping up with everybody. Thank you again for everything. It's been a hell of a ride. I couldn't be more proud."
Host Tom Bergeron jumped in, asking "Could I not be a TV host for one minute? Could I just be a dad?" as he gave the devastated young actress a hug.
Here's how the rest of the couples fared:
Riker Lynch and Allison Holker
How they did: Working off the logic that baseball stars were the pop stars of the 1920s, Riker Lynch and Allison Holker performed a sports-inspired routine (but Holker was outfitted as a flapper). Though their practice video showed the R5 frontman uncharacteristically stressed out — because he desperately wanted to get the first perfect 10 from Len of the season — when it was game time, he hit a home run. Oh, and it's probably worth mentioning that midway through the dance, he and Holker broke out in an insane tap session, which sealed the deal.
Naturally, the baseball references were coming from all sides. "A long ball into the outfield and off you went!" Len began. "All the way home!" Bruno echoed Len's assessment. "Twinkletoes on the field of dreams!" he cheered before adding, "That tap section came out of nowhere. It was absolutely brilliant!
Score: 37 out of 40 (with that desired 10 from Len!)
Chris Soules and Witney Carson
How they did: It seems last week's comeback put Chris Soules and Witney Carson into a much happier place during rehearsal. The engaged reality star was goofy rather than grumpy in practice and Carson threw herself into crafting the ultimate, creative presentation for their dance. Both of their approaches, it seems, paid off.
"Last week was your comeback week and this week you don’t have to worry: That's not going to be your last dance. That was awesome," Julianne gushed before complimenting Whitney for the production she put together. Carrie Ann coined Soules as the "under dog," but Bruno declared that this underdog is "turning into a dancer!"
Score: 31 out of 40
Rumer Willis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
How they did: Their week started off on a high note, when the actress' dad, Bruce Willis, and his wife, Emma Heming, dropped by the studio to show some support. The actor praised his daughter, even admitting that seeing her this happy makes him cry, and Heming noted that people are coming up to them on the street now, not for her husband's autograph, but to tell them that they're Team Rumer and Val! Citing her father as one of the hardest workers she knows, Willis explained, "To have him look at me and say, 'Wow, I am so impressed by the amount of work that you are putting in,' is very validating." (FYI, when asked if he would ever consider being on the show, Bruce Willis quipped, "I don't think so." Come on, Bruce!)
Things took a turn, however, when Willis started to suffer from fatigue and tweaked her neck during a dip. While she and Val got it together for the most part, their performance failed to deliver the magic of some of the previous weeks. Demi Moore was in the audience, though, and looked quite pleased with her daughter's showing.
"I'm really torn up about this dance because I thought it was great that you came back with something so pristine and so lighthearted, but in this process I felt like you lost a little something that makes you so spectacular," Carrie Ann lamented. "It just felt a little bit safe." Julianne assured Willis she did an "awesome job tonight," but encouraged the budding actress not to "forget who you are and why did this competition."
Score: 35 out of 40
Grade: B+ (Get some sleep, girl!)
Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess
How they did: Like Allison Holker and Riker Lynch, Sharna Burgess and Noah Galloway went all-out embracing their decade. The short version of their performance is that the war hero transformed into a pimp. During their video package, Galloway explained that his mission this week was to show personality. It's safe to say, that mission was accomplished.
Carrie Ann was basically jumping up and down on the judges' table by the time the music stopped. "That was insane!" she cheered. "Sharna you created a world. Noah you came out in that world. You gave it all. You gave the attitude!" Julianne was equally excited. "That was the most fun I think I've ever had sitting at this table," she declared before giving a shout out to Galloway's remarkable "pelvic thrust."
Score: 36 out of 40
Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson
Dance: Argentine Tango
How they did: Look, it's no secret these two may be doing more than dancing, so when they took on a dance known for its passion, we knew what to expect. "This is my favorite dance so far," Herjavec giggled while briefly peeling his hands from Johnson's body. "I think we're going to need a lot of practice." They definitely went for the sex-appeal side of this dance, but at times Herjavec's, umm, appreciation for Johnson seemed to get away from him. At one point, Johnson propped herself on a table and the Shark Tank tycoon looked like he might explode.
"I've got this funny feeling, Kym, that he knows exactly what he wants out of you. He wants everything!" Bruno chimed. Len kept it short and sweet saying that Herjavec and Johnson have weeks when they're up, and weeks when they're down, and "This week you're up!"
Score: 31 out of 40
Grade: B (Robert, put your eyes back in your head.)
Nastia Liukin and Sasha Farber
Era: Modern Day
How they did: Thanks to an ankle injury, Derek Hough had to sit this one out (literally) and let Sasha Farber take over. Liukin admitted that even though Farber is a great dancer, he's "different" than Hough, making her task this week that much more challenging. But the game of musical chairs didn't throw the Olympic gold medalist, who nailed the performance (and Hough did find a clever way to incorporate himself into the dance from a seated position).
Julianne didn't miss a beat, declaring, "You guys killed that dance!" For his part, Bruno said, "It was unexpected, a completely re-imagined and repackaged Charleston" and called the performance "a revelation of a dance." Carrie Ann — who was particularly emotive tonight — got up and gave Liukin a hug because she was so proud.
Score: 38 out of 40
Willow Shields and Mark Ballas
Era: The Future
How they did: Let's just start by saying that this week, Mark Ballas invented something called Ninjazz. "I've wanted to do a ninja routine for a while," he revealed during their video. Willow Shields had her reservations about the whole ninja-themed routine, but she trusted that Ballas knew what he was doing, and it turned out he did, even though it didn't keep them in the game.
"You have a really fertile and creative mind and to come up with a number like that to that music was excellent," Len noted while Bruno declared, "My little crouching tiger is now a master of the martial arts!" Carrie Ann had some critique about the Hunger Games star's arm movements, but Julianne came to her defense. "I actually disagree," she said. "I thought it was fantastic."
Score: 37 out of 40
Grade: A- (We'll miss you! Ninjazz 4eva!)
Tell Us: Were you shocked that Shields went home? How was Liukin in her first week without Hough?