Grab the tissues and cue the tears! On Monday, Oct. 5, Dancing With the Stars took a trip down memory lane as the 10 remaining contestants danced to songs that commemorated a significant time in each of the celebrities' lives.
Despite the touching evening, however, one pair's quest for the Mirrorball Trophy came to an end. DWTS Season 19 champ Alfonso Ribeiro filled in as host for Tom Bergeron (who missed the taping to be with his sick father), helping Erin Andrews deliver the bad news. Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson, as well as Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya were on the chopping block, but it was the Academy Award-nominated actor and his Russian partner who packed their dancing shoes.
True to form, Gary made a hilarious, somewhat non-sequitur exit speech. "It's been a beautiful experience," he began. "I learned things I have in myself that I can emphasize on and be better with and from and in… The fact that I have been eliminated is false because my spirit lives on as a partnership and will remain in this room throughout the show, so you won't see us dancing, but we'll be there!"
Here's how the contestants performed in week four of the competition:
Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas
How they did: Alexa picked the year that she booked Spy Kids — not because she booked a major film, but because her entire family moved with her to Austin to support her career. While she clearly enjoyed honoring her loved ones with the performance, the judges thought there was room for improvement.
Julianne Hough called it "fun" and "entertaining," but noted Alexa had missed steps. Carrie Ann Inaba praised the actress for bringing in more theatricality, but her compliments were pretty lukewarm. Bruno Tonioli couldn't help but echo Julianne and point out Alexa had "missed a couple steps."
Score: 21 out of 30
Tamar Braxton and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
How they did: Tamar revisited a scary time in her life — when she almost lost her husband, Vincent Herbert. Fortunately, he recovered from several blood cots in his lungs and the couple decided to have a child together. For his part, Val was determined to find the connection with his dance partner, and he seemed to have succeeded.
"Your story touched me deeply," Carrie Ann said through tears. "You reached into my soul when you danced." Julianne praised The Real host for finally being "vulnerable," and Bruno declared, "Tonight your connection was wired to perfection!"
Score: 27 out of 30
Hayes Grier and Emma Slater
How they did: The youngest competitor in the group, Hayes honestly didn't have that many years to chose, from—but he picked the year that his Vine videos with his brother Nash took off. "My life changed in six seconds," he recalled of his overnight fame, and he's had a similar meteoric rise on the dance floor.
"I am so shocked right now!" Julianne cheered. "You have completely broken out of that shell you've been living in!" Bruno asked, "What was that?! What a breakthrough! Carrie Ann added that the social media star "finally understood the nuances of every single move."
Score: 27 out of 30
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold
Dance: Paso Doble
How they did: In his video package, Alek called 2015 the best year he'd had — but that was filmed before the deadly shooting at his Oregon college last week. Upon hearing the news of the tragedy, the hero (who helped avert a potential terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train earlier this year) headed home to help. "Even the train made more sense than this does," he lamented. Despite the emotional toll that the deadly shooting must have taken, however, he kept it together in the ballroom.
"It was very difficult and you did it very well," Bruno offered, while Carrie Ann added, "You push through everything. It wasn't the most expressive dance, but I felt that it was strong and sturdy just like you've always been."
Score: 24 out of 30
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess
How they did: Nick chose to commemorate the year that he met the Backstreet Boys, who, he admitted, "saved" him. "They loved and treated me like a real brother," he said as he recounted the dysfunction in his own biological family. It was a touching love letter to his former bandmates, but it was also… a party!
"Every girl who was a fan of the Backstreet Boys wants to be you!" Carrie Ann told Sharna. "This is what I call a megasexy, megahit!" Bruno cheered, while Julianne described it as "hot, hot, hot!"
Score: 27 out of 30
Grade: A++ (Backstreet's Back, all right!)
Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson
Dance: Viennese Waltz
How they did: 2012 was a turning point for Carlos, as he fell into a dark place after Big Time Rush's success peaked and he returned home from tour. On a whim, he attended church with his father, and at a Bible study, he met Alexa, who (as you well know) became his wife.
Julianne told Carlos he needed to get his shoulders back, but complimented him on his "genuine" connection with (newly engaged!) Witney. Bruno echoed Julianne's comment about Carlos' shoulders, but Carrie Ann had a different take. "Tonight you danced from your soul," she said. "That was mind-blowing."
Score: 25 out of 30
Paula Deen and Louis van Amstel
Dance: Cha Cha
How they did: Paula paid tribute to the year that she found the strength to walk away from a failing marriage and launch her own business. And, despite the fact that she was still clearly doubting herself during rehearsals, her performance improved over previous weeks.
"You made a step in the right direction," Bruno said, while Julianne added, "This is just a little ballroom dance! You can overcome this!" Carrie Ann said the way the celebrity chef moved was "hot and sexy," but said she was frustrated that Paula kept "losing focus."
Score: 18 out of 30
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker
How they did: In 2009, Andy lost his mother rather suddenly to breast cancer. From this tragedy, however, came his hit song "Good to Be Alive." He used that tune to honor his mom. For the most part, his dance with (four months pregnant!) Allison paid off.
Though Carrie Ann thought he needed to "watch his elbows," Julianne was impressed with his progress. "I think this is the most comfortable you've been since w eek one," she stated. Bruno added that he loved Andy's message that "you can turn everything around in life," which he thought came across in the dance.
Score: 23 out of 30
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough
How they did: "What shaped me the most would probably be when my dad passed away," the wildlife conservationist said in her video package. "For the rest of my life, I'll kind of feel like he's gonna come home." She was clearly (and understandably) emotional as she danced for her father, famed wildlife expert Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, and it's safe to say that by the time she and Derek finished, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
"That took my breath away," Julianne said. "That dance was breathtaking." Carrie Ann called Bindi "a bright light" and Bruno assured her that her late father "was dancing with you every step of the way."
Score: 28 out of 30 (with a perfect 10 from Bruno — the first of the season!)
Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya
How they did: Gary chose to pay tribute to the year he got his big break as the lead in The Buddy Holly Story (for which he received an Academy Award nomination no less).
"Your passion for the character made me almost forget your unique interpretation of the dance," Bruno said. (Almost was the key word there.) "It's week four and I'm looking for improvement and I didn't see it," Carrie Ann lamented. But Julianne left Gary with a more upbeat analysis. "There was a little mishap, but at the end of the day, you entertain!" she said with a smile.
Score: 16 out of 30
Grade: B+ (But an A+ for entertaining us!)
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