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It Takes Three On Dancing With The Stars

We start the show with four couples, and magically end the show with three couples, as we head into next week’s finals.

It's the semifinals! That means next week is the finals! You can't pull the wool over my eyes. I am aware of what "semi-" means! As the semifinalists take the stage, I'm trying to figure out who I want to win. I wouldn't be mad if Normani won and she is probably the best dancer, but I kind of want Rashad to win just because he seems so awesome.

This week, each couple will do two dances. The first is the Judges' Challenge, where one judge will assign each couple a dance. Then we will get each contestant's bio and learn from whence they came. I wish one of them would just make up something interesting like, "I was born fully-formed from the head of my mother, a mermaid." Surprise me. Anyway, your rankings:

8. David Ross and Lindsay: Tango

David's backstory is not quite as filled with adversity as some of the others. He was awesome at baseball in high school and college, and then he made it to the MLB where he learned that there were a lot of other awesome baseball players so he had to work hard to even be on the bottom. But then he joined the Cubs and won the World Series. For the tango, David seems to have forgotten some of the lemon lessons of his first routine (see below), because his butt is sticking out a lot and his feet are not good. I like David; if I had to hang out with one of the semifinalists for a day, I'd probably choose him. But he does not deserve to make it to the finals ahead of the other three. The judges are fairly happy with what they saw, I guess. Scores: 36/40.

7. David Ross and Lindsay: Foxtrot

Julianne wants to work with David on tucking his butt under and she brings a bag of lemons to class and David willingly tucks one in between his cheeks to learn the proper form. And wow, did that training pay off! David has the best technique he's had so far. His foxtrot is delightful, and he has a big grin on his face the whole time. It's almost like watching a different dancer. I finally feel like he deserves to be in the final four. The judges are very happy with David, although a few of them think his technique is not quite up to par, but improving. Scores: 34/40.

6. Normani and Val: Viennese Waltz

Normani is nervous to work with Len because he's the toughest judge, and flashback footage shows that even when the other judges are giving out 9s and 10s, Len is giving 7s and 8s. Anyway, Len wants them to do the Viennese Waltz, and he wants to see perfect technique. I'm still mystified as to how they do that thing where everything is in black and white except for one pop of color -- in this case, Normani's dress. The technique looks great to me, with one tiny shuffle of the feet, but more importantly, Normani makes the Viennese Waltz interesting to watch. Len is delighted with their performance. The other judges noted her tiny mistake but have nothing but praise for the rest of it. Scores: 36/40.

5. Simone Biles and Sasha: Rumba

If you watched the Olympics, you know Simone's story. She was raised by her grandparents and she always had a lot of energy. She started gymnastics at 6, but didn't take it seriously until she was 12. The amazing thing with her baby pictures is that she had the same exact face as a child that she does now. And then she became the greatest female gymnast in U.S. history.

Their rumba is a combination of new and old Simone. She starts out with perfect technique but it's very brittle and cold to me. But when she and Sasha are face-to-face, she softens a bit and some emotion comes through. It's not as good as her first dance, but it's better than she has been, emotion-wise. The judges have lots of praise and when Simone says she was a character named Sophia, who is vulnerable and lets loose, Julianna does the whitest thing possible and stands up and raises the roof. I mean, she's from Utah. I guess we can't expect better. Scores: 40/40.

4. Rashad Jennings and Emma: Rumba

Rashad gets Bruno for the rumba. Oh, Lord. I assume Bruno is going to be all kinds of inappropriate with poor Rashad, but I am shocked because Bruno doesn't get handsy for once. Instead, he works with Rashad on his arms and hands, because he says that's where he's been lacking. Rashad's movements are very fluid, which is what you want in the rumba, and he's certainly not lacking in the sex appeal department. I thought he could have had a little more hip action, but the judges may disagree. The judges all thought Rashad made beautiful pictures and shapes, although Len had some problems with his feet. Scores: 38/40.

3. Simone Biles and Sasha: Jive

You know, I want to say something about last week. Carrie Ann told Simone that she's not authentic on the dance floor, which I think is true. And then Tom asked Simone why she wasn't smiling and some outlets picked up on that, probably rightly so, as a man telling a young women how to feel or react. Tom did publicly apologize later, but in the roll-in package, Simone is crying because she feels like the judges are telling her she's not trying hard enough. It has nothing to do with her level of effort, and it's really not Simone's fault. She's been trained, like a lot of child actors or other prodigies, to suppress any authentic emotions in public, so of course now she can't call them up on demand. But in order to break through to the next level of performance, she needs to be able to do that. Carrie Ann comes into their rehearsals and spends some time getting Simone to just dance freely instead of training for the routine. Something Carrie Ann said clicked, because we see more personality from Simone in this routine than we have in all of the other weeks combined. She's not perfect -- she gets ahead of the beat a little bit -- but I'll take it if it means Simone actually looks like she's having fun out there. The judges have tons of praise and Julianne makes Simone give her dance character a name. This routine featured Zoe (really? That's the sassiest name she could come up with?) and Julianne tells her to use that to get into character, because she did that really well. Scores: 40/40.

2. Rashad Jennings and Emma: Quickstep

Rashad was a happy little boy but he had trouble keeping up in middle school when he was diagnosed with a learning disability, so he just gave up. He gained a lot of weight and his GPA dropped. He felt like he couldn't keep up with his older brothers, who were all-stars. Then one night he got into a football game and scored four touchdowns, so a scout told him he could be something if he put effort in. His family made sacrifices so that he could go to a private school, and he started putting in a ton of effort and obviously it paid off, since he made it to the NFL. For his quickstep, Rashad does a fantastic job with all of the footwork, and there is a LOT of it. His positivity is infectious and I really didn't see any mistakes. The judges love it, except for Len, who is REALLY MAD for some reason and talking about how it was good, not great. Scores: 39/40.

1. Normani Kordei and Val: Jazz

Normani's mom survived breast cancer, only for the family to lose their home in Hurricane Katrina and have to leave their hometown of New Orleans and move to Houston. But through it all, Normani and her grandmother used to watch Dancing With The Stars together every week. Well, now I really want Normani to win. I was torn at the beginning of the show, but she deserves it. Their jazz routine is a tribute to New Orleans and it is filled with content. Normani does an amazing job. Len gives her a standing ovation and the other judges are just as happy. Normani's grandma shows up to hear the scores and she can't stop kissing Val. She is amazing. Scores: 40/40.

Elimination

Normani and Rashad are quickly announced as finalists, so it's down to David or Simone going home. And then Simone gets eliminated. That is a shame. David is not a better dancer. Then again, Heather should have made the finals ahead of either one of them. I just hope people didn't keep their votes from Simone because she didn't smile, because that would be shitty.

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