The stars recall their most memorable years, and luckily for the audience, Alfonso's involves doing The Carlton Dance.
The nebulous theme this week is "Most Memorable Year Of My Life," which always cracks me up when some of the contestants are like twenty years old. I mean, what? "The most memorable year of my life was when I got my braces off! It was totally rad." Meanwhile, some of the older contestants talk about losing loved ones or overcoming real obstacles. Also, they aren't dancing to songs from their most memorable year, because I guess that would be too thematic. Instead, their dances are just "inspired by" the events of that year, I guess? The whole theme thing is horseshit. I don't know why I bother trying to figure it out.
This week, there are only three judges, and then America gets to vote, which is frankly preferable to having guest judges like Kevin Hart. Here are your rankings from worst to first.
10. Michael Waltrip and Emma: Quickstep
Michael talks about winning the Daytona 500, the same race that killed his friend and mentor Dale Earnhardt. He's dancing to a song that was one of their favorites. Michael is clearly counting his steps at first, but then he kind of gives in to the music and the moment, and it's actually really nice! Until he misses a step and can't quite get back on track. I mean, he's not a good dancer. But I don't mind watching him try. The judges are sad that Michael didn't do better, because they're really rooting for him. Score: 25/40.
9. Jonathan Bennett and Allison: Samba
His sad roll-in package is about how supportive both his parents were, and how they both died this year. But luckily, he knows his dad wouldn't want something sad, so he's out to entertain. His samba (which starts with a Mean Girls homage) is...really lacking in the samba department. He is stiff and has pancake arms. It seems like he had trouble making the transition from the opening schtick into the actual routine. There's a hip hop break in the middle, and he does well there, but I don't see any bounce in his samba, and that's the trademark for that dance. The judges praise his attitude and attack, but want to see him work more on technique. Score: 24/40.
8. Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl: Samba
His most memorable year was when he booked the job in the "Love Will Never Do Without You" video with Janet Jackson. God I remember him in that video. I had such a crush on him. I also love this song. He looks so happy when he's dancing, but as with other sambas tonight, I didn't see much bounce. The judges give him a lot of tips to get better. Score: 29/40.
7. Tommy Chong and Peta: Jive
Tommy went to prison in 2003, which I totally remember, mostly because it seemed like some bullshit and evidence of our country's messed-up drug policy. I mean, really? Is Tommy Chong a dangerous criminal that we need to keep off the streets? Anyway, he's dancing to "Jailhouse Rock," of course. Well, as you might expect from such a fast dance, he's pretty terrible. And I think at one point he motorboats Peta? But he's game and he tries, and he looks like he's having a ball, so there's that. The judges love his attitude but can't overlook his lack of technique. Score: 28/40.
6. Bethany Mota and Derek: Rumba
Bethany was bullied, and making YouTube videos helped give her confidence, so her memorable year is when she uploaded her first video. Her rumba is really beautiful, and they dance to a live Colbie Caillat performance. They have a neat effect where negative words appear on a screen behind them and Bethany and Derek wipe them away until the end when Bethany wipes them all away and writes "I love who I am." It's a great concept, and inspiring, and needed, but as Julianne points out during judging, there wasn't a ton of rumba content. But that's Derek's fault. Score: 33/40.
5. Betsey Johnson and Tony: Jive
Betsey's memorable year is when her daughter was born, and her daughter accompanies her out on the dance floor. Betsey's jive is a little slow, but she kicks and flicks well and it's just a joy to watch her. She misses maybe one pass but covers and recovers well. The judges are so happy for her, but they did notice her misstep. Betsey was not my favorite at the beginning of the season, but I've come around on her. Score: 29/40.
4. Janel Parrish and Val: Rumba
Janel's roll-in package is all about the year she moved to L.A., which was also the year her vocal coach and "second grandmother" (shouldn't that be third?) died, so it's pretty sad. Janel is beautiful and graceful, and she and Val definitely have the chemistry to pull off a rumba. Her only weakness is that she's still a little wobbly on her turns and just needs to polish certain moves a bit more. The judges praise her emotion and technique, although Bruno does point out her wobbly turns. Score: 36/40.
3. Lea Thompson and Artem: Contemporary
Lea talks about her father's passing and how his courage taught her how to live her life. Lea is a beautiful dancer and there are photos of her father projected behind her as she dances, so she's just straight-up sobbing by the end. I don't doubt that her emotions are genuine, but it's a little too tear-jerking for me. But the dancing was good. The judges agree with the quality of the dancing, but America keeps it from being a perfect score by giving Lea a 9. Score: 39/40.
2. Sadie Robertson and Mark: Samba
Sadie's whole life changed when her family's reality TV show began, but she admits it was hard when her grandfather "said some stuff" that got people upset. I'm not even going to get into the whole controversy because I don't give a shit what someone says on a show I don't watch, and the people who do watch it don't give a shit what I think. But I do wonder how Sadie's faith, assuming it's the same as her grandfather's, reconciles with her spending so much time around the gays and godless liberals that make up this show. Anyway, I'm prepared to hate their whole routine because it's Gimmicky Ballas again with him dressed as a Duck Dynasty guy and Sadie dressed as a duck, I think. But...I kind of love it? It's the only samba with some actual bounce, and though it's a complicated routine, Sadie doesn't miss a beat. The judges love it too, but somehow don't think it's perfect? I don't know what they found wrong. Score: 37/40.
1. Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney: Jazz
Alfonso will focus on his years on Fresh Prince and decides to give the people what they want and do the Carlton Dance. And when he hits it in the middle of the routine, the crowd goes nuts. I hope they don't overlook the rest of the routine, which was really good. Alfonso is so natural that he makes the whole thing look easy. The judges kind of have an attitude like, "Sigh! Finally! We can give you the perfect score you deserve." Score: 40/40.
It comes down to Betsey and Tony versus Michael and Emma (although they are not necessarily the bottom two), and ultimately Betsey and Tony go home. Betsey is stunned but takes it well.