Eric McCandless / ABC

Dancing With The Stars Hops Through History

Each couple gets to represent a different era, but the rehearsals reveal that some of the participants need a history lesson.

The most important thing to know this week is that Len is back! I couldn't be happier. Too many of these couples have gotten away with faffing about for my taste. Len will set them straight.

Each of the couples has to perform two dances this week. Their solo dance will be reflective of a particular decade, and then they will participate in a team dance. That means lots of complaining about how hard it is to learn two routines in one week! But it also should separate the remaining wheat from the chaff and let us head into the finals with the best competitors. On to your rankings:

10. Ryan Lochte and Cheryl: Rumba

Quick story about their song "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" (repping the '90s). For a really embarrassingly long time, I thought the chorus went, "'Cause I miss you baby, and I don't wanna miss you baby." And I knew the title of the song! Maybe I shouldn't make fun of Ryan for being dumb anymore. No, I probably still will. With this routine, Ryan does not make me believe he wants to make out with Cheryl, he has no hip action, and he's ahead of the beat. Also his arm movements are not good. That said, it wasn't terrible! He's not terrible. He's just no good. He's extremely mediocre, and at this point in the competition, that's not going to cut it anymore. The judges urge him to go the next level with his technique and his performance. Len loves that they came out and just danced without props or a skit. I hear you, Len. Scores: 28/40.

9. Maureen McCormick and Artem: Tango

Their era is the 1980s and they're dancing to Bon Jovi, natch. During rehearsals, Artem continues to get frustrated with Maureen who, to be fair, seems pretty flaky. Maureen opens by dancing alone and she is really feeling the '80s rocker vibe. Once she goes into hold, she appears stiff and like she and Artem are fighting. It gets worse when Artem steps on her skirt and they stumble. Maureen has a grimace on her face the whole time. I think she and Artem are just a bad partnership more than she's a bad dancer. If she makes it to a switch-up week, I'll be interested to see how she does with someone else. The judges are kind to her because she's beating herself up. Scores: 28/40.

8. Marilu Henner and Derek: Charleston

Well, at least their era (1920s) fits the style of dance. Marilu is psyched to do this routine because she played Roxy Hart in Chicago so she knows the style and even some of the steps. Derek also confesses that it takes him longer to learn steps than it used to. Marilu comes out like a house on fire, and her feet are moving a mile a minute. There's a fake tap section in the middle and Marilu misses a step and you can see it on her face throughout the rest of the routine. She can't put the mistake behind her and she and Derek are a bit out of sync for the rest of the routine. The judges have mixed reviews: they liked the fun and energy but note that she missed some details. Scores: 29/40.

7. Team Future: Freestyle

This team is Marilu, Jana, Terra, and Laurie. Derek is handling a lot of choreography. Terra gets upset because they constantly have to make modifications to the moves for her and she doesn't want to hold the team back. Val, in particular, is very sweet, checking in with Terra often to ask if she's okay and giving her encouragement. Val! Who knew?

I do not get the storyline of this routine at all. It's some sort of dystopian future thing? And then there are flowers at the end? Marilu takes a big spill at the end of her solo section. I didn't feel like this was as much of a team thing as the other group. It was more a few bars of being together and then each couple took a pass. Scores: 35/40.

6. Terra Jolé and Sasha: Foxtrot

Terra and Sasha fell down the leaderboard last week, so they hope to make a comeback with their 1930s Foxtrot. Terra jokes that even though they're dancing to "Cheek To Cheek," they're more like cheek to chest. Their routine is really classic, and Terra performs it well. She seems happy and that makes such a difference. The judges think Terra is back to form, and they love the connection between this couple as well as how Terra embodies the character of her dance. Scores: 34/40.

5. Jana Kramer and Gleb: Samba

Jana broke out with her rain-drenched routine last week, which earned a perfect score. This week, they have the 1970s, and their rehearsal schedule is compromised by Jana's travel schedule. And also Jana's mental frustration. She feels like she's doing everything wrong. Their disco portions are amazing, but this is supposed to be the samba. The samba portions, done in hold, are pretty good as well, although they're missing some of the samba bounce. Her samba rolls are impressive, though. Jana has the sex appeal and charisma that Laurie lacks, but Laurie beats her in the technical arena. It will be interesting to see these two battle it out. The judges love her spark, but Len wanted more samba content and less larking about. Gleb tries to defend himself and Len lays into him, pointing out specific areas that were lacking. Don't eff with Len. Scores: 34/40.

4. Laurie Hernandez and Val: Quickstep

Their era is 1960s. Val tries to explain the vibe they are using, because he's going more prom and high school and less hippies and anti-establishment. Laurie has never been to a prom and her home-schooling curriculum really failed her on the history portion. This reminds me of how I used to read my mom's old early '60s Teen magazines. As a result, I know a whole lot about Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Boy, do I wish we hadn't tossed those out. As usual, Laurie delivers a ton of content and doesn't miss a step, but there's still something missing for me. I don't know if it's the connection with Val but there's not a ton of authenticity in her dancing. She's still head and shoulders above everyone else, technically. Len thinks she had some issues but the other judges loved it (though Carrie Ann calls out their lifts). Scores: 34/40.

3. Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay: Jive

Calvin reveals that he has had so many ankle injuries in his football career that he can't really point his toes. Lindsay comes up with other ways he can flick his feet to cover that up. Their era is the 1950s and Calvin does a great job of concealing his lack of flexibility by putting in a ton of energy. He might not be technically as good as someone like Laurie, but I like watching him dance more, because you really feel like he's enjoying himself out there. The judges are delighted with his progress. Before they reveal his scores, they show rehearsal footage where Lindsay thinks Napoleon is Napoleon Dynamite and then thinks that he sailed with Christopher Columbus. Guys. Scores: 36/40.

2. James Hinchcliffe and Sharna: Jitterbug

I wish someone would explain the difference between the jive, the jitterbug, and the Lindy Hop. I know I could look it up, but I want someone on this show to demonstrate it and make it easy for me. Sharna is stressed out in rehearsals because they did so well last week and she doesn't know how to top it. Plus they can do lifts this week, and Sharna is going nuts adding crazy diving through-the-legs junk. James is light on his feet and he hits every move in this well-choreographed routine. I almost wish they didn't do some of the lifts, because I wanted to see more dancing. It's really amazing. His best routine yet, I think. The judges noticed a few tiny things that were off, probably due to Sharna's knee injury, but overall they loved it. Scores: 36/40.

1. Team Past: Viennese Waltz

James chose this team, and he picked Calvin, Maureen, and Ryan along with their partners. They all get along well, being three athletes and…Maureen. As usual, the package makes it look like things are completely dire and that no one knows the steps. You know, this was so good that I forgot to analyze it for a minute and was just watching the pretty dancers! I am surprised. It was completely in sync and no one couple stuck out as being behind or off, which usually happens in these circumstances. It wasn't flashy, but it was pretty. The judges thought it was beautiful and a true team effort. Scores: 38/40.

Elimination

It's a bit of a rush job, but the couples in danger are Maureen and Artem along with Jana and Gleb, and Maureen and Artem are eliminated. That's the right call, as long as Ryan goes next.

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