We will say that we were absolutely stunned when one of the contestants, who’d always been consistently “eh,” really stepped up their game this week, turning in a genuinely emotional and beautiful performance.
The Super Six is inspiring some great dancing! We weren’t sure how much the emotional quality of dance could come through those silly costumes, but these performers are finding a way and we’re definitely excited to see more of them in the weeks to come.
This week also featured a first for all “Masked'' franchises, as one panelist’s guess was immediately debunked in the absolute best way possible. Was it cheating? Most probably. Was it hilarious? Most definitely!
Let’s jump right in with this week’s masks. And don’t worry, before we get to the shocking unmasking, we're going to make you power through the terrible (and occasionally good) guesses made by our illustrious panel of Paula Abdul, Ken Jeong, Ashley Tisdale and Brian Austin Greenfirst. We do this because we love ... to torture you.
Cotton Candy definitely has flexibility, musicality and grace but after this performance, we’re leaning a little more toward a gymnast, perhaps, with some skill in floor routines. Her footwork just wasn’t all that sharp, or even complex, with foreshortened lifts and flicks. It’s as if she was too busy anticipating the bigger lifts coming up to fully commit. She’s still among the best, but this wasn’t her best.
Guesses: With previous clues about how much she gave up through her young career, Olympian makes more and more sense. This week we saw seven diamond rings (twice) overlapping so their rings resemble the Olympics symbol.
We also saw a “practice, practice, practice” clue as well as her saying she’d been told she can’t dance. Add to that a “super clue” of five gold balloons, and could she have five gold medals as an Olympic gymnast or perhaps a figure skater?
This week, the panel got to ask questions, where we learned ice played a role in her life, she has a lot of tights in her house, can’t do what she’s famous for in heels, and is known for being fit.
Ashley was definitely feeling the ice skating vibe based on the ankle-lock spin move she did, so she’s thinking Tara Lipinski. But Ken, instead, is thinking the balloons could be gold records so his terrible guess for the week is Jennifer Lopez. “Oh Ken,” is right, Paula.
Whitney threw out Brian’s guess (that he still likes) of Kristi Yamaguchi, but she took it a bit further and thought maybe the aerials was cheerleading so is it Gabi Butler of “Cheer.” Paula respected the guess, but disagreed, circling back to gymnastics and Simone Biles.
Twitter was definitely feeling the gymnast or ice skater vibe, with guesses ranging from Ali Raisman and Laurie Hernandez to Meryl Davis. But there’s definitely a growing momentum behind Gabby Douglas.
The show The Masked Dancer... I have it figured out who Cotton Candy is!!! It’s member of the “Fierce Five” women’s gold medal winning gymnastics team, Ali Raisman!! #TheMaskedDancer
Exotic Bird delivered what was easily her strongest performance yet, bringing a true lyrical quality and genuine emotion through an unexpected contemporary duet. It wasn’t perhaps the most technically challenging routine, but it was one that required precision of movement and synchronicity with her partner, both of which she pulled off elegantly.
Guesses: There was an unexpected artistry to this piece that almost pushes it further away from previous athlete clues. She did drop “Rhythm Nation” as a visual clue, which obviously harkens back to Janet Jackson’s classic album.
We also saw the word “Legendary” spray-painted on a wall with a busted payphone and the Bernie Sanders meme (of all things). She said she’d been mocked for her dancing, while also revealing that she’s a mother -- oh, and her super clue was a rose tattoo.
If she is an athlete, then she has an incredible grace and musical foundation that would be a surprise in most athletes -- a secret talent? Rapid-fire questions this time taught us she’s been in a music video, a campaign ad and the word “model” means something to her.
Ashley thinks some of the clues over the weeks, including perfume and the fact she has a baby -- and has worn a million other hats -- lead to tattoo artist Kat Von D. Brian thinks maybe it’s Ashley Graham, getting her mojo back after a new baby.
Whitney hilariously shot down Ken’s Kate Upton clue by video chatting Kate live on the air … and she answered! This may be our favorite debunking of a guess we’ve ever seen! “That’s, like, cheating!” Kate chastised Whitney. But it was funny!
Twitter was picking up what the panel was putting down, echoing guesses for Ashley Graham, Kat Von D and even Amber Rose (Paula mentioned before the performance). There were also Jordin Sparks clues, matching height and earlier guesses, too, as well as Laura Prepon.
And there’s one person really trying to manifest Lady Gaga onto this show.
I know I’m wrong, I don’t know why I’m trying but I STILL think Exotic Bird is Lady Gaga, she opened her clue package with Bernie Sanders at the Inauguration, Lady Gaga preformed at the inauguration, she’s been in many music videos, I think the height is there! #TheMaskedDancerpic.twitter.com/MRVsePxELs
Sloth proved his skill on the dance floor yet again this week, with some whip-quick partnering and rock solid jazz moves. The fact he could add a playfulness to it all, much like some of the classic dancers like Fred Astaire, further cemented how much competence and confidence he has on that dance floor. His diversity in styles is serving him well, too.
Guesses: His super clue was a star mobile with the number “18” to go with a previous “18” visual clue. Adding to the baby sloth we saw was a picture of a dad, mom and child, suggesting he’s married with a child (or he is the child) and danced around a Yankee St. pole.
He also shared that he’s not new to the dance floor, which was becoming more and more evident anyway. Rapid-fire clues revealed that if he wasn’t a sloth, he’d be an elephant, the costume is not making him feel more at ease, and he’s struggled being away from his family.
Ken decided that the Broadway moves and elephant (for “Elephant Man”) mean that his pal Bradley Cooper deigned to show up on this show. Um, no but that’s three for three in awful guesses this week.
Brian went instead with the overall musicality and graceful humor to John C. Reilly, while Ashley is now thinking this might be Sacha Baron Cohen -- who’s done a Broadway movie and only had 18 episodes of “Da Ali G Show.”
“Glee” star Harry Shum Jr. is still a popular guess after all those “Glee” clues, and he was definitely the strongest dancer on that show. That said, there is a growing momentum for “DWTS” pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who won twice-clued Season 18 of the show.
Cotton candy is probably not Jenna Dewan after seeing the Olympic clue 😂 I’m thinking Heather Morris for the Exotic Bird.. Still thinking Harry Shum, Jr. as Sloth. #TheMaskedDancer
Hammerhead took on a paso doble and he was pretty terrible at it. He pretty much threw his arms up and walked through the basic steps, but in a lumbering way that wasn’t graceful or sharp or hard-hitting. He did have some troubles with his own cape, and it was entertaining … but almost more for what a mess it was.
Guesses: This week’s new clues included the Las Vegas sign, a “B.Y.O” reference followed by suntan lotion and an East Coast map with the shark clearly standing in New Jersey. That certainly lends weight to the panel’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino guess, or the internet’s better Vinny Guadagnino guess from last week.
Our quick questions hear revealed that he thinks he’s known for having a sense of humor, does not have stage fright, is not a solo act and has had at least one relationship in the public eye. Ken thinks the Jersey clue could lead to DJ Pauly D -- who has a residency at a club there.
Paula went younger, though, after guessing The Situation last week. She took Vegas to mean social media star David Dobrik. Brian, however, stole her Situation guess because the “Jersey” kids are definitely known for their tans.
That got Paula thinking maybe it was Vinny, which puts her more in line with the final guess. Plus, Vinny has his own Vegas connection with his Chippendale’s work. The internet was definitely feeling the “JS” vibe, but they weren’t sure which one, either … though no one is thinking Mike.
The clues for Hammerhead were clearly pointing to someone from Jersey Shore but I never watched the show so I had no idea which one it was. #TheMaskedDancer
Tulip may be the most technically proficient dancer on the show, blowing us away week after week. This time, it looked like she was doing ballet and pointe (as well as she can in that costume) before getting into a more hip-hop vibe. And every bit of it was just flawlessly executed. She really is so watchable, even through the costume.
Guesses: Our new clues this week revealed that this show is allowing her to fall back in love with dance, something she apparently has done with her mother as evidenced by a “2nd Annual Mother-Daughter Dance” picture.
On top of that, though, we saw that critics have told her she was “not good enough,” and that the style of dance we saw tonight was the first she learned. Rapid-fire questions added that she’s never thought about retiring, pro at memorizing dialogue, and she’d rather run out of gas than battery on her phone.
Ken was able to tie all the clues to Sarah Hyland, from mother-daughter on “Modern Family” to an appearance on “Lip Sync Battle.” Brian, however, was thinking it might be Simone Biles. But Whitney thinks she knows “exactly who this is.”
Whitney fell back on a previous guess for Cotton Candy, Julianne Hough, based on the dancing and the fact she’s a “pro” at memorizing dialogue. But the internet has had this one on lock for weeks now and they’re not going to change their minds now.
i know for a FACT that the Tulip on #themaskeddancer is Kenzie Ziegler. Calling it right now.
Zebra is definitely having a lot of fun up there, but you can also tell that it’s more about shaking his frills than bringing high quality dance moves. He’s definitely not a trained dancer, and doesn’t even have consistent rhythm, but he is fun to watch.
Guesses: Was that a hint of an accent we heard in his clue package, where he talked about having two left feet and revealed he was claustrophobic. He also showed a graham (“E”) cracker and a “K.O.” t-shirt, continuing the boxing hints.
Three of his dancers had 99 on the back of their shirts, while rapid-fire taught us that he’s acted, he’s known for a hook and Ken has heard his music … and that last clue just changed everything for most of them.
Whitney thinks the K.O. was a reference to LL Cool J, which ties in with a lot of the new clues, including the Graham-E. But Brian isn’t ready to let go of boxing, so he just had to add music into it and find Oscar De La Hoya, while Paula’s still thinking Floyd Mayweather.
The Twitterverse is just as confused, dropping names like Manny Pacquiao, Marc Anthony and Ricky Martin echoing the panel’s guesses. But Brian’s guess has some wheels turning and it looks like Oscar De La Hoya is picking up some steam.
First of all, LL Cool J got muscles and is taller than Zebra. The clues might give Floyd Mayweather vibes but it’s not him. This dude got a Latin vibe with the low riders. I looked it up. it’s Oscar. #TheMaskedDancer
There’s a pretty even divide between those who seem like genuine dancers (Cotton Candy, Sloth and Tulip) and those who don’t (Exotic Bird, Hammerhead and Zebra), so those latter three should go down over the next couple of weeks.
As for who should go first, it would have to be Hammerhead, simply because Zebra did have more of an entertaining quality to his movements, while Hammerhead just lumbered about. And Exotic Bird showed up in a surprising way this week for someone we’re pretty sure is not a trained dancer.
Turns out the audience and judges agreed with us, as Hammerhead was the first to fall post-merge. It was the right move, and encouraging to see that truly great dance is being rewarded … and we get to see more of it in the weeks to come.
The panel’s final questions revealed he’s a fan of working out, he’s taller than Ken, has done a little stand-up comedy, has been to New Jersey and he loves social media. So which “Jersey Shore” star is it?
Paula Abdul: David Dobrik
Ken Jeong: DJ Pauly D
Whitney Cummings: DJ Pauly D
Ashley Tisdale: Kevin Hart
Brian Austin Green: Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino
Look, it seemed pretty obvious by this point that this was one of the boys from “Jersey Shore,” so it was just a matter of nailing down which one. There’s a little too much grace out there for Mike and we just weren’t getting Pauly as much as we were Vinny, who can be the silliest of them.
Plus, the internet had our back on this one -- of those who agreed it’s a “Jersey” boy. So were were collectively right?
You bet we were, as Vinny Guadagnino emerged from the mask, clearly loving that the panel got so very, very close but not quite close enough. And poor Paula couldn’t believe she said his name earlier in the night, but then went with David Dobrik!
We can’t either, Paula. We can’t either.
“The Masked Dancer” continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.