DWTS 5th Judge: Terrifying Costuming, Incredible Dancing, and a Truly Shocking Perfect Score

One of the most unlikely couples surprises their way to a perfect score with one of the best choreographed and conceived routines in the history of the show.

Tonight’s Halloween-themed “Dancing with the Stars” was definitely more treat than trick as we got another pair of perfect scores — including one from the most unlikely source.

We also saw that channeling such creepy horror classics as “It,” “Us,” “The Purge” and “Saw” really brought out a whole new side of the stars. It also brought some of the best dances of the season.

One stunned us by moving us to tears, while another just defied our expectations in every way with incredibly intricate and unexpected choreography and pure artistry. Both demanded immediate rewatches — and we may yet dip back into them again. These are the moments you watch this show; to see a celebrity overcome their hesitation on the dance floor to create true art. It’s a magical thing, and we got it twice tonight.

We also got to see dance at its absolute best, as Derek Hough — who won an Emmy for the special dance he brought to this dance floor last season — spooked it up with his girlfriend Hayley Ebert. We hope he won’t be made, but she absolutely stole the show and overshadowed him at every turn. Not a knock on his work at all, she was just that good.

The night also featured some incredible costume work, including a terrifying JoJo Siwa as “It’s” Pennywise and The Miz and Witney Carson bringing “Hellraiser’s” Pinhead to startling life with costumes that had to be safety hazards!

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.


Unsolved Dance Mysteries

A cute little acting vignette, which proved who’s got the chops and who doesn’t. Let’s just say there’s a reason Melora Hardin was given the heavy lifting on this one. Even if the “horror” twist was painfully obvious, it was still pretty cute.

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Another weird comedy bit, but at least this one had a cute twist ending. We also got a kick out of the different reactions from the various members of this season’s cast, from Jimmie Allen’s indifference to Kenya Moore laying a wallop down.

Derek Hough & Hayley Erbert

(“Tango of the Dead”) As great as Derek was in this powerful piece, we couldn’t take our eyes off of girlfriend Hayley Erbert. She is absolutely breathtaking. Her movements were so sharp and hit so fast you could barely keep up with it. Derek is a world-class dancer and he certainly choreographed a world-class piece, but Hayley was incredible in it. The visuals of this piece were gorgeous and even though they made it look effortless, it was also clear just how demanding this piece was.

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Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin & Witney Carson

(Paso Doble – “Hellraiser”) What a wickedly delicious performance from The Miz on the style he said has always been his favorite to watch. This was ferocity in action. Last week we said he was making himself a contender, and this week he came out of the gate so strong. If we had to criticize, it might be that he came on so strong and fierce and hard that we lost some of the light sharpness of the style and his hands were a little Franekstein’s monsters at time. With the attitude of the piece, though, we were into the artistic choices they made.

Judges Scores: 9, 8, 9, 8

My Score: 9

Kenya Moore & Brandon Armstrong

(Argentine Tango – “Arachnaphobia”) Kenya is really coming into her own on this dance floor, following up last week’s strong performance with an equally committed Argentine tango. She was perfectly in character for the style with lovely lines and arms. She did falter at one point with her feet between two lifts in quick succession, stumbling a bit on her way out of it, and then again later across the floor, but she covered them well in the moment and was able to get back into it quickly.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8

My Score: 7

JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson

(Jazz – “It”) After JoJo talked about how kids show up at her house dressed as her, Jenna wondered openly if anyone has ever dressed as her. And thus, we got those pictures that circulated online of JoJo dressed as Jenna. It was just a fun little thing she did for rehearsals, but we loved how committed to it she was, and how adorable they looked side by side.

We wanted a more consistent flow throughout this piece. There were a couple places the choreography stalled out, and when Jenna was coming up onto JoJo’s back the whole dance … waited. But when it was moving, it was moving brilliantly, with excellent tandem dances, surprising shifts between styles and a lot of quality movement. It’s not that JoJo did anything poorly, we just weren’t as sold on the piece itself.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 9

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Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke

(Cha Cha Cha – “American Psycho”) This was Cody’s best performance by a mile, though he still has a way to go to really compete at the level of some of his competitors. We saw some real dance character in his movements, and we definitely saw some great in-character moments as well. His hips weren’t quite all the way there throughout, but the chemistry between him and Cheryl was palpable. They were in sync throughout the piece with some real musicality in his movement — he wasn’t just being where he needed to be, he was dancing to be there.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 8

Jimmie Allen & Emma Slater

(Contemporary – “A Quiet Place”) What a stunningly powerful and emotional piece of choreography. Emma is to be commended for capturing the film in dance with such stunning grace. It was absolutely everything to us. Jimmie’s execution of the piece was pretty solid, as well, though he needs to work on a more lyrical quality to his movement. He was absolutely on point with those lifts, which is hard in itself, but the transitions and the movements as he’s got her up are as important. Our eyes are drawn to Emma, but in order to disappear into the music, he needs to just have a slightly stronger flow in his movements. But overall, this was a fantastic piece.

Judges Scores: 10, 9, 10, 9

My Score: 9

Olivia Jade & Valentin Chmerkovskiy

(Paso Doble – “The Purge”) Barely spared from elimination, Olivia mused, “I don’t know why we were in the Bottom 2, unless it was a personal issue. With some of the highest scores of the night, it has to be America’s votes — or lack thereof. She and Val thus decided they need to make their performances so strong that America has no choice but to support them out of respect, even if they don’t like them. Will it work?

Val came up with a great paso doble to fit the movie and Olivia certainly brought her best to it, she’s just not quite all the way there. In a few places, it looked like Val’s fierce strength in the style was tossing her about like a ragdoll, and she never quite matched his sharp flicks, even in stance. She was always almost there, but just not fully committed, or not confident enough to own her strength. It was very close, but just a bit underneath Val’s level.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 8

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Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev

(Jive – “Cujo”) Melora actually seemed to get a little tired toward the end of this character-driven jive, but even that didn’t slow her down too much. She always brings such performance to these routines and her character work here was impeccable. It was a light piece for such a dark subject matter, and we loved how the fearfulness of the characters was a part of the choreography. She could have had a little more bounce in her step and been a little lighter overall, but she remains among the most watchable this season on the show regardless.

Judges Scores: 8, 9, 8, 9

My Score: 7

Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach

(Iman Shumpert – “Us”) That may be one of the strongest pieces of choreography we’ve seen in years. Leaning into the incredible lift work they’ve been showcasing, and the quirky movements of the characters inspiring the piece, Daniella brought one of the most unique dances we’ve ever seen on this ballroom. It was perfectly suited to where Iman is as a dancer, and he danced it beautifully. For what she was asking, he gave everything right.

The lifts were incredible — a few mind-blowing — and they were perfectly in sync with how they moved. Plus, it was pretty damned terrifying. They way they slowed down that last moment coming out of a lift to match the music was everything. Iman wasn’t a prop, either, as we’ve seen with a lot of athletes. His musicality was on point and he was there dancing with Daniella every step of the way.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 10

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Suni Lee & Sasha Farber

(Tango – “The Vampire Diaries”) Sasha came up with a great opening visual to get us into what turned out to be plenty of great tango content delivered with panache and proper attack. Suni’s discipline gave her sharp lines and great frame — the only thing off was her timing a bit early on. This may be the most confident we’ve seen her as a dancer, and she’s really grown as a performer, as well. This was her most commanding performance yet as she just keeps growing and finding herself more and more each week as a dancer and overall artist.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 8

Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten

(Argentine Tango – “Saw”) Amanda was worried about this one and it’s easy to see why. This was incredibly intricate choreography with a ton of tango tricks. If pulled off, it could be magical, and Amanda pulled it off. The makeup was scary, but her movements were beautiful to behold. The judges were right that she hit everything hard, but we felt it worked. She had great hold and her legs went on for days. There was so much for them to do, and she handled it all incredibly well. Alan challenged her on this one, but she rose to the occasion and should definitely be proud of what just happened.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 10, 10

My Score: 9

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In a Halloween shocker, the guys really stepped up their games this week and suddenly they were not all piled up at the bottom of the Leader Board at the end of the night. Instead, Kenya slipped down there again — she’s been toward the bottom a lot this season.

Iman and Jimmie, in particular, stunned everyone by rising to the top. That leaves Mike and Melora also hovering toward the bottom with judges’ scores, but as we saw last week, those scores can mean very little when America’s vote is factored in.

Last week, Olivia was in the bottom, and while she’s tied for fifth this week, there are only the above three dancers with lower scores. That may not be enough to carry her forward if America continues to not support her.

But we saw Kenya bounce back in America’s vote, so anything is possible. If it were up to us, we’d probably narrow it down to Cody and Kenya, and then we’d send Cody home as Kenya is growing at this point faster and further than he is, despite what her scores might show and despite how strong he was tonight.

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We were thrilled when Oliva was the second declared safe, after a deserving Iman, because she really didn’t deserve that Bottom 2 position last week, so we’re glad to see America support her at least enough to continue her journey a bit farther.

Knocking our speculation out of the water, though, Cody followed the obvious JoJo to safety, followed by Mike, Amanda, Jimmie and Melora. That means Kenya was indeed in the Bottom 2, which fits with her judges’ score, but she was joined by Suni, who was in that middle pack of performers.

With this Bottom 2, there’s no choice but to send Kenya home because though she’s had a lot of growth in this show, she’s still not quite at the caliber of the other dancers, and Suni is really finding her confidence to go with solid technique and discipline.

This time, there was a consensus from the first three judges — and Len chimed in that he would have agreed — ending Kenya Moore’s journey after her third time in the Bottom 2. At this point, America has spoken and spoken again and again, so there was nothing more to do. Kenya had the lowest scores, and this was Suni’s first time in danger like this.

As Bruno said, there is so much more inside of Suni yet to come and it will be exciting to see if this galvanizes her the way being in the Bottom 2 quickly started bringing out the best in Kenya.

“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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