Heavy hearts going into tonight's episode.
Dancing with the Stars returned for competition this week, and there was quite a bit to discuss before heading into the show. Host Tom Bergeron was not present tonight, as he was staying at his sick father's bedside.
However, last weeks guest judge and season 19 champ Alfonso Ribeiro would be taking up hosting duties alongside Erin Andrews.
We were also going to get an elimination, after last weeks reprieve for the remaining contestants in the wake of Kim Zolciak and Tony Dovolani having to withdraw.
Alfonso and Erin welcomed us to the show, but it was time to really get to business:
1. Alexa PenaVega and Mark - Foxtrot
The early front runners kicked things off with a highly enjoyable concept, and once again I need to praise Mark for what he delivered. The judges had to point out the few missteps, which unfortunately led to a mini-blackout for Alexa. She seemed lost for a few seconds, which hurt the dance. Still, it was a fun routine, and yours truly still enjoyed it.
The judges awarded them 3 7's.
21 out of 30
2. Gary Busey and Anna - Jazz
The Oscar nominated actor remembered 1979 as his most memorable year, which skyrocketed his career after his performance in 'The Buddy Holly Story'. Gry also remembered the year that he was critically injured from his motorcycle accident. While his and Anna's routine wasn't fantastic, and a few wrong steps were placed, one can't deny his passion for this. He's really trying but the improvement isn't showing.
Unfortunately, the judges gave them two 5's and a 6.
16 out of 30
3. Tamar Braxton and Val - Rumba
The 'Braxton Family Values' star and singer revealed 2012 as her most memorable because it was when she almost lost her husband. Vince was diagnosed with multiple blood clots. Three months after the ordeal, Tamar discovered she was pregnant.
It's refreshing to see a deeper side of Tamar, instead of her usual hilarious catchphrases.
THERE'S THE CONNECTION!!!!
Tamar and Val finally did what they needed to do, and that embrace with husband at the end sent me over. Let's get through the rest of this. Carrie Ann Inaba was in tears during her critique, and Julianne and Bruno echoed her sentiments. The routine was absolutely incredible, and it's their best of the season.
Three 9's, the highest score of the night so far!!
27 out of 30
Before getting back to the competition, we had some exciting news:
Allison Holker, with partner Andy Grammer by her side, she welcomed her young daughter and husband Twitch to the panel and announced she was pregnant!!! Congratulations to the couple!!
4. Hayes Grier and Emma - Contemporary
Remembering when he got his start with Vine, our youngest competitor delivered his best dance yet. Him and Emma were completely in sync, with an added seriousness to his demeanor. It was like a completely different performer. The judges were absolutely gobsmacked with his drive and performance. It was insane from start to finish. Incredible!!
Their highest score of the season, and tied for the top of the night, three 9's!!
27 out of 30
5. Alek Skarlatos and Witney - Paso Doble
The train hero remembered the day his life changed forever, when he thwarted the train attack in France.
Unfortunately, rehearsals didn't go according to plan, once the news broke of the shooting in Oregon. Alek attends the College, and immediately flew home. He was clearly not in the proper mind frame, and Lindsay urged him to use that in the dance.
While the paso may not have been their best routine, Alek still brought an intensity to the dance. He definitely seemed distracted with everything else going on, which you can't really blame him. That is not to say it wasn't good. It was, just not compared to what they've given us.
They received three 8's.
24 out of 30
6. Nick Carter and Sharna - Jazz
The year was 1992, and a brand new boy band came together, they just weren't official yet. Nick relived and remembered joining the Backstreet Boys and meeting the guys for the first time. He also reflected on the hardships he grew up around, including a rough childhood.
As a special treat, AJ Maclean joined Nick and Sharna in rehearsals, because they would be dancing to 'Backstreet's Back'!!
The judges all raved about his jazz routine, and yours truly couldn't agree more. While it honored some of the original dance moves, Nick showed off even more impressive steps. Killer from start to finish!!
27 out of 30
7. Carlos PenaVega and Witney - Viennese Waltz
The Big Time Rush singer remembered 2012 as the year his band really took off. He recalled the downtime from the band, when he became quite down. He found religion in that time, and while attending church, is when he met Alexa.
The routine was absolutely breathtaking, and the judges truly loved how embodied they both were. However, Julianne and Bruno still picked up on some mistakes.
Carrie Ann was on the other side though, saying the routine was stunning from start to finish. They received two 8's and a 9 from Carrie Ann.
25 out of 30
8. Paula Deen and Louis - Cha Cha
The chef chose 1989 as the year she stopped being 'sick and tired'. She had just gotten a divorce, and had started her own business. It was refreshing to see Paula smile throughout the routine and there was a different vibe to this dance. She carried herself much more with ease and didn't seem to struggle as much. However, there were a few off moments still, but they truly were minor. Consider me impressed.
The judges praised the growth, but admitted frustration that she loses focus during her numbers, which makes it difficult.
Paula and Louis received three 6's.
18 out of 30
9. Andy Grammer and Allison - Cha Cha
Andy and the newly pregnant Allison relived 2009 as the year he got his big break. It was also unfortunately, when he discovered his mother had breast cancer. They hadn't caught it quick enough, and they lost her soon after. This dance was going to be in honor of his mother, because he knows she would have loved watching him do the show.
Now, we have to keep this real.
The routine was solid, but it was a tad distracting to see him mouthing along to the entire song. The judges were split on their critiques, with Carrie Ann not impressed, but Julianne and Bruno called it the most comfortable since week 1.
They received two 8's and a 7.
As most expected, Bindi's dance tonight was in remembrance of her father, the late Steve Irwin. It's been 9 years since Steve's untimely death at 44 years old.
I'm crying at the start of the routine, so this is going to get worse.
There's no real way to critique this, so I'm not. It was beautiful, and Bindi was exquisite.
Two 9's.......AND A 10 from Bruno!!!
28 out of 30, highest score of the night.
Now, it was unfortunately time for someone to go home.
The couples in jeopardy were, shockingly, Carlos and Witney, & Gary and Anna.
The couple going home, in the 5th week of competition was....
Gary and Anna.
Next week is the switch up, and our pros are paired with different celebs!!
Who gets whom?
Find out NEXT WEEK!