Call me your Ishamel, for I will be your guide as we navigate the rough seas of this one hour and forty five minute whale of a show, and as I try to save you all from drowning by keeping you awake and away from terrifying nightmares of doom. I hope you'll all be very grateful. However, “blubber is blubber, you know” and there's lots of it tonight. Now that every lucky contestant is forced to dance twice, one Ballroom and one Latin dance, you all may just grow old with this recap as I'll probably still be putting the finishing touches on this thing from my retirement home even as you'll be holding your fifth great-grandchild. Either that or we'll all end up being swallowed whole by the giant whale. Take your pick. “Yet I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this.” Or something like it.
Last week we were left barely shaken and not even a little bit stirred as Heather got the boot and we finally arrived at that magical number of six, as in six couples left, which gave me a glimmer of hope that an end may finally be in sight. Samantha, the hostess who only speaks when Tom runs out of breath, announces that this will be the defining show of the season. As opposed to last week when she said – and I'm going purely on my completely faulty memory here - it was the most important show of the season, or the week before when it was the most crucial show of the entire season. She's so inventive, this Samantha. Len is called upon to summarize expectations and it basically boils down to 'ye must do better, or ye will be eliminated'. Fair enough. Our couples are all lined up, dressed in their best cleavage baring outfits and tightest pants possible, and we're ready for our first dance of the night.
Part Time Lovers in Ballroom Heaven
Faced with both the Samba and the Quickstep this week, Laila and Maks feel the pressure, especially since she is the last female star left in the competition. Since Maks has never gotten this far into the show, Laila thinks he might need advice on how to deal with two dances in one week. Wrong thing to say to a pro Laila! After this, things during rehearsal go a bit downhill, or so we're led to believe. Maks is snippy and Laila retaliates by mispronouncing Shmershkmomwwwsky. It's all in good fun and you know that by the end these two have their dances down cold. First up is their Quickstep, set to “Part Time Lover”. Laila dressed in a flowing white gown and Maks wearing a weird suit which looks like an odd cross between a tuxedo and a marching band uniform, do real justice to the Quickstep. This is not an easy dance but Laila is quite light on her feet and with Maks leading her they both make it look like it's a walk in the park. Len, who always has at least one negative to impart, thinks it was really good minus some posture problems, while Bruno proclaims it fantastic and says they opened the door to ballroom heaven. Carrie says that despite little inconsistencies with her arms here and there, Laila knocked it out. It's not quite a knock out, but close enough: 29 points.
Trotting away from the bottom
Saved from elimination last week by all those fans who finally got tired for voting for Heather, John needs to pick himself up, dust himself off and put a good Foxtrot and a passable Rumba between himself and elimination. Edyta, aware of the age difference between them, wants to focus on technique and not on the sexiness of the Rumba. I'm so grateful for that! It will make these four and a half hours more bearable if I don't have to watch them trying to be sexy and not succeeding. Their Foxtrot is respectable, nothing earth shattering yet Bruno thinks John got the character right, he acted it and sold himself well. Carrie agrees and says this was his best dance and advises John not to give up. Len, sporting a polka dot tie, says he appreciates the great job they did and the challenge that John faces given his age. They get a fairly foxy, for them at least, 23 points and they both seem quite happy with that result.
Being the butt of a running argument
It's field trip time again because Apolo is being inducted in the Asian-American Hall of Fame, and naturally he takes Julianne on the road with him. I always travel with my personal dance pro too. This means more rehearsal in strange studios but Julianne knows that they need to step it up or be knocked off the top. No more playing it safe, they want to go for it big time. Was that what they were doing before? Were the leopard print short-short outfit and the “Pulp fiction” dance too safe for them? Hard to believe, but Apolo doesn't want to let go of first place. Shocking! Their first dance is the staid Foxtrot set to “Stepping Out With My Baby” which reminds me that Sanjaya squeaked this out on AI, which in turn reminds me of is his damn faux-hawk. Now that I've thoroughly lost my concentration and I'm a bit annoyed too, Apolo's Foxtrot just doesn't impress me too much. Frankly, it's a bit boring, although, as always, they're exceedingly cute together, like two little dolls. Carrie terms it dream-like, solid and musical. Len wanted great, but didn't get it so he bitches. Loudly. The audience wails and moans – also loudly, because that's the way things are done around here – and Bruno's compliments bring the expected loud clapping and cheering. Loudly. He says they sold it, but Len can't let go of an argument and they go back and forth about something. I stopped listening a couple of minutes ago, so, regrettably, I won't be bringing you their pearls of wisdom. These two seem to butt heads at least three times on each episode, usually about 20 minutes apart, right before commercials. I guess they need to justify running the show for 105 freakin' minutes with something. Anything; even judges bickering will do. Total points for Apolo: 26.
Rescue me, take me under your wing
Apparently Ian doesn't take criticism too well. He is still haunted by Carrie's advice to him to learn from Billy Ray, which is understandable since Billy is the worst dancer left in the competition. Ian, I guess, did not like being compared to him and coming up short. Cheryl, however, knows that if she's to defrost Ian's frozen spine, she needs all the help she can get, so she summons Billy for a little special consultation. Billy, the dance master, directs Ian to slouch and lead with his heels, thereby ensuring that Ian will not only not be eliminated but will actually thrive, much like Billy himself. Their first dance is the Tango and they dance to “I Need a Hero”. How symbolic! Ian needed a hero and Billy Ray was his personal hero who saved the day. I squeeze out a crocodile tear. I'm such a sentimental fool! Len loved he passion, the fire, the drama, but says Ian's Viennese crosses were clumsy. Don't ask. More booing from the audience. I swear, it's like clockwork. Len speaks, audience moans. Len speaks again, audience wails louder. Bruno goes for even more positive reinforcement, calling their dance “the revenge of Ian”, because he went for it and Bruno thinks this was his best performance to date, despite the problem with the crosses. Carrie loved the smiles, the drama and Ian's attempt to have fun. Billy Ray helped the competition to a healthy 27 points. Bet he's kicking himself now.
What more does a Hillbilly need to do to get himself eliminated around here?
Why, he can try breaking every rule in the book, that's what. Leading with his heels was not enough. Slouching didn't do the trick. Standing in the middle of the floor doing nothing, helped not a bit. He's still in it and dammit, he'd rather be gone but these voters just can't get the message. So maybe if Billy starts breaking even more rules, things will change and he'll finally get to eat three square meals at his own table again. A country boy can dream, can't he? So a plan is hatched: Billy Ray will “showcase” Karina at the start of their Waltz and give the judges lots of reasons to be indignant and score him badly. Oh, okay, so Billy didn't quite mention wanting to be eliminated but I'm very good at reading between the lines. Karina, clad in lots of flowing pink chiffon, designed so that when she raises her arms, she completely obscures Billy Ray – no doubt, a bonus – glides around from the left to the right, while Billy gets lost amid all the chiffon, and blends into the shadows. I'm not even sure he was there. Bruno saw him though and noticed a remarkable resemblance between Billy and Vanna White, when she extends her arms dramatically and reveals another vowel. I still don't quite get how she's getting paid big bucks for basically just pointing at a board with letters with a stiff smile on her face. But I digress. So, anyway, Bruno says Billy needs to work with Karina and do something. Carrie babbles about his charisma again but also says that he needs to actually dance instead of just nodding approvingly at Karina's moves. Len recognized only one step, and it was a Samba step at that, although Len loves Billy. Does Billy love Len?, 'cause this could be a way more interesting show. I'm just sayin'. Are 17 points going to do the trick? I'm kind of starting to like Billy. By the time he leaves maybe I'll become a fan. Well, I said maybe.
Rounding out the Ballroom portion of the show are Joey and Kym as they're to try their his luck at the Foxtrot. Whether that will keep him from being eliminated is yet to be seen, but I already feel very “lucky” because their music is “The Way You Make Me Feel”. Only it's this foxtrotticized version of TWYMMF, the kind that if you were a singer it would only occur to you to do if you were getting paid quite a lot and nobody was looking at you while you sang. Later you could pretend it wasn't really you. I'm lucky because I have a mute button. Anyway, it's the dancing that counts here and that is not too shabby. Joey is decked out nicely in white tie, tails and top hat and Kym in a sequined vest and tuxedo pants. It sort of looks like Joey is dancing with a waiter. Carrie saw the improvement and she liked what she saw, Len was not wild about the bits of “razzle dazzle” there in the middle and Bruno thinks it was dazzling and great. They score 29 dazzling points.
So, after the first round, Laila, Joey and Ian are leading the pack while Billy Ray is again lurking at the bottom. In the Latin round, we will find out whether skimpier outfits will mean higher scores and whether hip shaking can possibly keep John from being sent back out into the cruel, cold world of barely mediocre dancers where the rest of us mere mortals reside.
I decided to bring this “feature” back because by now I'm pretty sure many of you need a bathroom break, an alcoholic drink break or a tranquilizer break. I know I probably need all three. Also, I'd like to take this time to happily announce that there are no rehearsal segments for the second dances, which is fortunate because I really, really, really don't want to be eaten by that giant whale. This also means we can move along at a faster pace. Aren't you ecstatic? I have my glass of wine and many more blank pages to fill, so “Ahoy, matey!” or whatever Captain Ahab might say.
Latin is not a dead language
First up are Laila and Maks with the Samba, and I feel I need to tell you that Maks is wearing this open, deep V-neck lime green shirt thingy. As a result of his costume choice, I am unable to follow Laila's movements because: a) I'm blinded by the, er, lime shirt and b) I can't help staring at the, er, lime shirt. There's a lot of hip shaking, lots of shimmies and rolls, enough to make you dizzy but it's all in sync, and beautifully done. I just notice that Laila has some weird lettuce-like sash going down the front of her lettuce colored dress. Add two tablespoons of dressing, a few croûtons, grated Parmesan cheese and she's a Caesar salad. Get it? Latin, Caesar... No? Oh, well, I tried. Bruno loved the salad, calling it “the pleasure principle”. Carrie thought it was sophisticated, sensual and elegant. Len says it was the best dance so far. Toss 30 points into that green salad and you get... Wait! I can't believe they're going to make me do math! This is truly an outrage and I absolutely object, however I know my duty is to save you from doing unnecessary math calculations, so their total is 59 points out of 60. Oh, and it appears Samantha is finally good for something. It turns out that she'll be doing all the math for me. Forget I complained. One down, five to go.
Next up are John and Edyta with their Rumba set to Queen's “Under Pressure”. Appropriate choice of music. John is indeed under pressure or more accurately under the executioner's ax. To save himself from a grisly fate he needs an outstanding Rumba which, I'm sad to say he's not delivering. It is all a bit clinical, a bit too careful, as if they both are mindful to exterminate any kind of sexiness from this dance. If there was any there to begin with. Carrie didn't like it either, she missed the passion but compliments John on being the best dancer among all the older dancers who previously appeared on the show. I'll have to take her word for it, because I don't remember anyone as old as John, except Jerry Springer and he doesn't count as a dancer anyway. Len liked the dance, complete with the subtext of a May-December seduction, which John and Edyta tried to avoid, but can you really keep anything from Len? Bruno thinks John's footwork has improved and he saw a “very, very, very good performance”. How many points can do justice to such a “very, very, very good performance”? It's worth 22 points and Samantha says they now have 45 points total.
Let's move on, shall we? Apolo and Julianne are up and their dance is the Mambo set to “Duck the Beat”? I'm pretty sure that's not what they were singing but that's what I heard and I can no longer justify a Google search. It takes about 3 seconds to do that, and that's 3 seconds longer this whole recap is going to take to write, so just use your imaginations and conjure up a lively konga-ish sounding song that's definitely not a Mambo beat but it could pass for one. The performance is really great, and won't make Apolo a sitting duck for elimination, that much I know. These two are so cute and move so well, it's like they've been dancing together for almost two months now. Len really liked it but grumbles about posture, toes not pointed and such, eliciting loud boos from the audience. So, what else is new? Bruno, disagrees, gives lots of credit to Apolo for learning difficult choreography and doing it well. Carrie says Apolo was a little off at times but Bruno interjects that she's just trying to find fault. Bruno is working for brownie points from the live audience tonight and he's getting them. They earn 28 points which gives them a grand total of 54. They now actually have more points than their combined ages.
Hey, wake up! We're almost there.
Are you still with me? We've got another Mambo, and it's coming your way courtesy of Ian and Cheryl. Ian is wearing a red satin vest, which would normally seem wrong but compared to their music it's almost fitting. I'm not a great aficionado of fake Jamaican music, so I don't recognize either the song or the performer and I'm now willing you to overlook this. Repeat after me: “I don't care about the music, MsFroggy, you don't have to tell me about it.” Thanks. What I do need to tell you about is their performance, which I quite like. It's energetic, inventive and last but not least Ian cracked a smile, actually more than one smile. It was as if he flipped some switch, loosened up his shoulders and finally danced for fun. Bruno declares that Ian finally had some fun and really danced with Cheryl, and for him it was Ian's best. Carrie liked the attitude but still wants better posture. Len picked up on their newly minted “great chemistry” and was glad to see the coldness vanish. The chemical reaction nets them 27 points for a combined total 54 points.
Time for a Samba from Billy Ray and Karina and if you're thinking that this Samba needs to be good enough to lift Billy up from the bottom of that deep well where he's fallen, you're right. Billy literally comes out swinging in a boxer's shiny silver robe and it looks like we're in for a Rocky reenactment. Their music is “Living in America” and the reenactment only last about as long as it takes Billy to shed the robe. After that it's just another so-so something that's part Samba from Karina, and part something else from Billy. Carrie thinks he pulled it off, and did some steps, somehow. Len liked it better than their Waltz. Bruno says that Billy managed to pull himself through a dance, that had no respect for the [Samba] but somehow we still watched it. Yeah, I watched it because I had to! Bruno thinks it's insane and he's never seen anything like it. The insanity is worth 21 points which brings them to 38 points.
The man formerly known as “Big Protruding Butt” dances the final dance of the night and it's a fun, accomplished version of the Jive. Joey and Kym, really dressed the part in checkered pants, shirt and vest for him and a pink polka dot dress fro her. They do a good job of keeping up with the beat and with each other but maybe I just like it so much because it's the last dance of the night and I haven't been swallowed up by Moby Dick. Hard to say. Bruno has nothing but superlatives for Joey – okay, that's not such a rare occurrence for him, but I'm in a good mood because this is my penultimate paragraph -, he says “this was an amazing showcase of talent”. Carrie is surprised that Joey is so flexible and she thinks it was sharp, energetic and fun. I didn't hear from Len but Tom says he liked it too. Or maybe they're just trying to shave off a few seconds from the show because they can't take it anymore either. Or maybe I wasn't paying attention. I refuse to rewind and check, sorry. They earn 30 points and that elevates them to 59 points.
The end deserves a shiny new heading
For those of you still reading, I thank you. For those of you who are asleep, who fell off the whaler boat, who were swallowed up by the giant white monster, or those of you who were thrown overboard by Ahab around the midpoint: I'm sorry. It's not my fault that they just had to dance twice! For your homework, I'll let you figure out the leaders all by yourselves. You're welcome.
Tune in for the results show to see Meatloaf and Rice and to find out which one of our sailors will be fed to the big ravenous sea monster. Critical will be here to dish up the dirt in great fashion, just in case you decide to skip the bloodbath.
Send me the lyrics to “Duck the beat” and any pics of Maks, without his shir.... Well, any pics will do.