The double-elimination comes on the heels of five girls in a row getting eliminated, as "Country Night" brings a Southern style and group dances to the ballroom.
It was a wild honky-tonk in the ballroom on "Dancing with the Stars" Monday night as the stars had to perform in a group dance round and then say goodbye to two of their own.
Things are moving quickly now as the guys were looking to make a clean sweep of the girls this season. Coming into this "Country Week," not a single guy has been eliminated despite offering some of the worst dancers of the season.
On the flipside, five ladies in a row have been eliminated with Alexis Ren coming close seemingly every week, and Evanna Lynch seeing danger as well. And that's happening with Alexis consistently one of the strongest dancers each week, while Evanna is growing by leaps and bounds.
Meanwhile, John Schneider, Bobby Bones and "Grocery Store Joe" Amabile just aren't cutting it and neither are they improving enough to justify this disparity. While it looks like blatant sexism, it's harder to quantify than that. "DWTS" skews female in viewership, so maybe women just like rooting for men more? Would the guy-power streak continue?
Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I've spent the last sixteen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
John opened up with the gut-wrenching reveal that his divorce has driven a wedge between his children and him, and that he spends each Monday looking in the audience in hopes of catching a glimpse of them. And then he came out and gave on of his strongest performances yet in a very fun country-infused jazz routine. There were hints of square and line dance and a lot of country swagger, which John embodies so well. He does still need to loosen up and rock on his knees a little better to add more punch to his steps.
Judges Scores: 8, 9, 8
My Score: 8
Evanna Lynch & Keo Motsepe
So last week's near-perfect performance wasn't a fluke and Evanna has emerged as a full-fledged forced to be reckoned with. This rumba was sensual, stunning and beautifully performed. She needs to work on fully extending her arms even in the quicker movements, and the same for her feet, which was more of a problem for the first half as if she was shaking off the nerves and insecurity of being so intimate publicly. But wow did she pull it out by the end, having us eating out of the palm of her perfectly positioned hand.
There's a certain grit and swagger that wasn't completely there in country dancing, almost like the Duke himself is just moseying across the floor, but the technique was outstanding as usual. This was a bizarre hybrid of country and Charleston but everything he was give he executed beautifully. Juan Pablo has built a huge case for that Mirrorball Trophy and this was just another strong piece of evidence.
Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10
My Score: 10
Joe Amabile & Jenna Johnson
Joe came in with some well-earned confidence and it showed in his most polished Latin dance yet. This was totally a tango and recognizable in every way. He's still a bit robotic at times, and especially with his arms and carriage, and he looked at Jenna too much in frame, and his footwork was a little flimsy, but this was the best he's looked in a technically stringent style. Joe is finally growing into a rudimentary dancer, which should only serve to frustrate better dancers with smaller fanbases.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7
My Score: 7
Milo Manheim & Witney Carson
There is no reason Milo should be this damned good at almost every style. He's so young and yet he commanded this foxtrot like he'd been dancing for more than a decade. His frame, his head, his arms, his hold, his extensions. He dances to his full height and it actually makes the difference in height between him and Witney disappear. All that's left is beautiful, elegant dancing. The leaders this season are really stepping up tonight, so here's hoping they all advance.
This is what we've been waiting for DeMarcuis to do for weeks now. He always had that kernel of a dancer in him, but it really came out in a stunning waltz that actually created the third emotional performance of the night. He was such a gentle lead throughout this dance, and his technique was rock solid throughout. He did get a little ahead of the music from time to time, but Lindsay choreographed a stunning piece and they absolutely sold great chemistry and character throughout. And we could feel the affection between them.
Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9
My Score: 9
Alexis Ren & Alan Bersten
There was a sweetness to this samba that was everything about Alan and Alexis finally opening up about their feelings for one another. They also expressed interest in each other in a video before the dance, with Alan telling her, "I am falling for you" before a kiss. This is a very busy dance that demands a lot from a performer, and she was there for every second of it. Alexis has long been one of the season's most polished and confident dancers, just lacking support from America. Here's hoping they get it together, because she deserves to continue her journey.
Judges Scores: 9, 10, 10
My Score: 10
Bobby Bones & Sharna Burgess
He came at it with gusto, but it was not a very good waltz. Bobby completely lacked in the fluidity and grace across the floor that the style demands, instead stuttering and bouncing as he tried to remember the footwork. His heart is in the right place, but dancing just is not coming to him as the weeks pass. This week, he even missed the romantic character of the piece, creating a bizarre disconnect in performance between him and Sharna.
Bobby was team captain, choosing Milo, John and Evanna. And while Bobby and John might be the weakest dancers on the team, this routine was beautifully choreographed to hide that. Easily the most joyous and entertaining piece of the night to this point, Team Hay Now really brought a lot of energy and fun, while at the same time creating wonderful pictures. Props to Evanna for hanging with the pro girls as the only female star in the line and she only stood out a few times as she slipped ahead of the timing. Still, she was on fire, and the whole routine was pretty damned hot.
Judges Scores: 10, 9, 10
My Score: 9
Team Joe Down
Joe was team captain, choosing DeMarcus, Juan Pablo and Alexis. While this wasn't as full of fun as Team Hay Now, these guys actually brought more technical grit to the dance floor. That final fourway tandem lift sequences was handled beautifully, which means Joe stepped up and did what needed to be done. Another shout-out for Alexis as the only female star with three pros holding her own and even getting a moment to shine. Joe was sidelined briefly on a riding bull, but it was probably for the best, but when he was in there, he was giving it his all and did a great job of not letting his team down.
At this point, the competition can be clearly cut in half, and both women left standing are in that top half. It's Evanna, Alexis, Milo and Juan Pablo as the best dancers in the competition by a clear mile.
That leaves DeMarcus, John, Bobby and Joe and that is their order of quality dancing from best to still struggling. The real question going into this double elimination was if America has been paying proper attention to the quality of the dancers. This is usually the time of the season when someone really good gets the shaft.
First, we had to sweat it out with John & Emma, DeMarcus & Lindsay and Evanna & Keo, which means that America continues to love and support the underdogs, Bobby and Joe. Of this threesome, though, only Evanna would be a real tragedy to lose.
John is a charming and delightful man, but someone who seems to have peaked as a dancer, while DeMarcus is growing by leaps and bounds every week. He just may have hit a Bobby/Joe brick wall this week that hopefully won't carry them both into the finale.
Tom Bergeron mixed it up and decided to declare Evanna & Keo safe, meaning this is the first week that a woman did not go home and it was the end of the road for DeMarcus & Lindsay and John & Emma.
In all honesty, we're fine with these results, but we're totally sweating next week's semifinals. There are four very good dancers left in the competition and then the very likable duo of Joe and Bobby. How far will their fans carry them?
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET, and check out new companion show, "Dancing With the Stars: Juniors," Sundays at 8 p.m .ET on ABC.