All eyes were on Sean Spicer and Lamar Odom as they tried to climb out of the "DWTS" basement before the results ... no one wants to be the first to go!
In an effort to stop the likes of a Bobby Bones from winning again, "Dancing with the Stars" just disenfranchised half of the country with its new voting and elimination methods.
This isn't a knock on Bobby Bones the person, as he genuinely seems to be a decent and likable guy, but rather a knock on his sub-par dancing skills still allowing him to emerge the "DWTS" champ -- the first champion who arguably cannot dance.
Now, voting happens live during the East Coast broadcast (which includes the Central Time Zone) and then the bottom two are put before the judges. Then, stealing a note from the "America's Got Talent" handbook, the judges vote to save one of the couples.
So did it work? Well, we'll say that America proved itself more than willing to throw up some wonky votes again this season, leading to some genuinely shocking results. But it's early in the season, so we're not completely mad about it. Come check on us when good dancers are going over some of these not-so-good hoofers.
Almost across the board, the stars improved over their week one performances, with one shocking leap in improvement from one of the most unexpected performers.
Check out all the dancers, judges scores and our takes below.
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.
(Cha Cha) What an incredibly charismatic performer James is. He really brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the stage each time he dances. And who knew he was so acrobatic and flexible as well. No wonder he's just sailing through the early part of this competition. This was confident and competent, with nice lines, a commanding presence, great posture. Any missteps were incredibly minor as he seemed really confident in this style.
Judges Scores: 7, 6, 7
My Score: 8
Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Val Chmerkovskiy
(Rumba) Sailor faltered a bit this week, looking more noticeably uncomfortable and failing to hit her holds and positions as sharply as she should; she's not even matching Val's intensity. This is a sensual dance and there was a lack of chemistry between the two, not to mention she kept too much distance between their bodies at times they were supposed to be connected. She was just a bit too timid.
Judges Scores: 6, 6, 6
My Score: 6
Ray Lewis & Cheryl Burke
(Foxtrot) Wow, that was terrible. Cheryl said she struggled teaching Ray how to glide and look light on his feet, and it looks like she ultimately failed. Not only was he lumbering around, he seemed to be remembering steps at the last second, he committed about 15 percent into each movement and seemed so unsure of himself, it was as if he was being told the steps in his ear as they went along. This just didn't work on any level. His line were terrible, his footwork sloppy, his timing a mess, his extensions didn't extend. It just didn't work. At all.
(Viennese Waltz) There really wasn't enough waltz content in there to judge it properly, but she launched her head back into that hold with cartoonish exaggeration and speed, taking away some of the elegance of the style. Her feet missed their mark at one point, creating a bobble throughout her body, but the fog obscured a lot of that. There's a graceful elegance and timeless beauty to Viennese waltz as it moves across the floor and we didn't really get that here.
Judges Scores: 7, 6, 7
My Score: 5
Mary Wilson & Brandon Armstrong
(Cha Cha) Mary did not move like someone who confidently knew what she was supposed to be doing at any given time. This cha cha just ate her alive and swallowed her up. She was completely off early on, hitting the opposite foot to what she needed. Her pivots were awkward and looked unsteady at times. Honestly, it almost looked like she had vertigo a few times, which is either concerning from a medical standpoint or indicative of just how unsure she was throughout. Her movements were small and timid and she looked scared even in the face a lot. This was not easy to watch, if we're being honest.
Judges Scores: 5, 5, 5
My Score: 3
Lauren Alaina & Gleb Savchenko
(Paso Doble) There were a few too many stutter-steps along the way, and she even lost the timing at one point trying to get the right foot under her for her weight. This piece, as mistakes piled up, lost its confidence and its strength, which is a shame because she was killing the attitude early on and her upper body confidence was covering her slight missteps. By the time Gleb tore off her skirt/cape, though, she was almost standing there like a lost little girl, rather than the confident one (herself at ten) she was channeling.
(Tango) This dance was basically Lindsay telling Sean where to march across the floor and she would dance along the way as he did. He lacked all finesse and grace. He walked hard on his heels, had no rhythm to it, nor any air in his feet at all. But he was where he needed to be. Lindsay did what she could to hide the fact that he basically wasn't dancing. Props for pulling off the drop spin at the end, but that was about the only thing he did that was remotely close to dance.
Judges Scores: 6, 5, 5
My Score: 2
Karamo Brown & Jenna Johson
(Quickstep) Karamo only lost his place in the footwork once in a very quick routine that had him and Jenna hopping all around the stage. This is a terrifying format to get so early in the season, but he attacked it with aplomb and came out mostly unscathed. They weren't as tight together throughout as they could have been, and he was way too bouncy overall (the chaos is supposed to stay at the feet). That said, there was real potential in what he put on that floor for impressive growth as the season progresses..
Judges Scores: 7, 5, 7
My Score: 5
Kate Flannery & Pasha Pashkov
(Foxtrot) There was a little bit of a Stepford Wives vibe in the character of her performance, but she really did a good job with the gentle elegance and flow of the style throughout. We would have liked bigger footwork out of her in the tandem portion to match what Pasha was doing, but this proved a pleasant surprise and a genuine sense of grace and beauty in Kate's movements (aside from the weird stiffness of her face at times). She really impressed here, though.
(Samba) We're not sure what happened with that ending, but it seemed to go all wrong. There was also a lot of hip-hop flair, which can be fun, but Kel didn't shift perfectly into samba mode when it came time for that. He had a little too much slide in his feet at one point, quite literally, and could use more hip action, but Kel proved he has great musicality and brought a great energy to the piece.
Judges Scores: 7, 6, 7
My Score: 6
Lamar Odom & Peta Murgatroyd
(Salsa) Peta may need to come up with a system where she can tell him the steps on the fly, because Lamar still struggled to remember the choreography of this piece, and it only got worse as it went along. He actually started out not too awful, though it still wasn't good, but things deteriorated quickly as he forgot the steps over and over again. When he did do them, it was still too stiff and uncertain. At one point, it looked like he was so wrong in his position, Pete had to improvise a weird hop instead of whatever they were going to try. After all that, though, it did show improvement over last week.
Judges Scores: 4, 4, 4
My Score: 3
Hannah Brown & Alan Bersten
(Viennese Waltz) That was genuinely moving and so elegantly dance by both Hannah and Alan. She really has a remarkable way of moving that draws you in and you believe the passion and every bit of it. On top of that, her technique was impressive throughout, with a beautiful rise and fall, wonderful connection with her partner and the perfect sensual innocence in her character. There was a dreamlike quality to it we didn't want to end.
As soon as Lamar got to Erin Andrews after his performance, he looked defeated and even said he felt like he'd lost. He did have the lowest score on both nights, and the lowest combined by quite a high margin, but audience votes still count for a lot
He may have earned some sympathy votes with his sincerity and effort, and if the Kardashian force is behind him at all, he could have a long run in him yet. That said, it would be hard to emerge not in the bottom two, and if he is down there, it is likely the judges would go ahead and pull the plug on his journey.
The only hope he might have in that case is the fact that Sean Spicer was next lowest, and he's even more polarizing of a figure. We could see the judges wanting to encourage Lamar's growth on this journey and keeping him at least another week.
But then, it came down to the moment of truth and Tom wasted no time shocking both Lamar and Pete by declaring them safe. Yes, we're a little stunned, too. If his following is that big, he could be another Bobby Bones in the making.
And then, the insanity continued as he also declared Sean and Lindsay safe and what world are we living in? By the time the dust had settled, the three oldest competitors were the three people left standing, with Kate and Pasha marked safe last.
Now, an argument could be made that both Ray and Mary had the third- and fourth-lowest score of the night, so lacking that pop culture buzz of Lamar and Sean may well have doomed them to this position. Or we could all cry ageism, but it's not like either of them were super strong, so we're not ready to go there.
Carrie-Ann threw her support behind Mary and Brandon, while Bruno tossed his to Ray and Cheryl. That left Len to be the tie-breaker and he sent Ray and Cheryl off to safety, leaving Mary & Brandon as the first couple eliminated from the competition.
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.