DWTS 5th Judge: Kourtney Cheers, Selma Blair Blindfolded, Vinny Stumbles Again

The music of James Bond took over the Ballroom as “Dancing with the Stars” helped celebrate 60 years of the screen legend created by Ian Fleming and brought to the silver screen by six stellar leading men.

The task for the men of this show was to try and embody James Bond, but that’s not always easy when the ladies are channeling their inner Bond girl! After last week’s three-way tie at the top, Charli D’Amelio, Gabby Windey and Wayne Brady were looking to break out and make their mark, while everyone else was trying to play catch-up.

It was a night filled with a lot of rumbas, as the sensual style is the perfect fit for Agent 007. Nine of the fourteen remaining acts improved on their judges’ scores from last week, while one star had a massively disappointing drop.

Cheering on the D’Amelios from the audience were Dixie D’Amelio and some representatives from reality television’s biggest show — helping to promote “The D’Amelio’s” season launch this week on Hulu. Kourtney Kardashian was spotted smiling alongside her new hubby Travis Barker and son Landon Barker — or if you’re Tyra Banks, that’s “Logan” Barker.

Yes, she’s still flubbing lines with epic consistency; she’s just not fluid on live television at all. Meanwhile, Alfonso Ribeiro is having the time of his life and has such an ease about him, he reminds us in some ways of his predecessor (on two shows now), Tom Bergeron.

We’d argue he should switch places with Tyra, but Tyra is no Erin Andrews. If we have to choose which of them should have comfortable banter with the contestants, we’ll choose Alfonso any day of the week. We remember those dark days when she tried to do both — and this show wasn’t yet shunted to a streaming network.

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 twenty years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows. I’ve got this.

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

Bruno actually has the perfect voice and accent for a classic James Bond villain. This cute opening clip started with him threatening 007 over a video monitor system before the spy breaks free in and around the set of “DWTS.” There were fun cameos from other members of the cast, including the judges, the hosts and even contestants Selma and Gabby, who seemed more than a little impressed.

Yes, it was obvious who Bond was (despite Len giving him a mask to where), but there was so much fun and camp, we enjoyed the overly dramatic entrance that set up Derek Hough and the pros dancing to a classic Bond theme with just as much drama and great fashion! With lots of action and even chair props, this was one of the most intricate and entertaining live group numbers we’ve seen in a while on this show.

(Rumba – “No Time to Die,” Billie Eilish) Younger contestants often struggle a bit to get into the sultrier side of a rumba, and Charli shared that she can’t even look people in their eyes most times, much less have any idea how to flirt or be sensual. This piece had a great story to it, and Charli certainly knows how to hit her marks. Her legs were fantastic in this, though there was a hiccup hop when she first extended her leg to Mark before that big lean toward the end. We thought she nailed the character of the piece, with a lot of attitude, and you could see her confidence grow as it went along, so that by the end she truly was embodying all the sensuality and danger of a classic Bond femme fatale.

After her performance, the camera cut to a shot of Travis Barker, Kourtney Kardashian, and Landon Barker sitting alongside Dixie D’Amelio, clearly having enjoyed the performance, and the fact that Charli proved (kind of) that she was ready to stare down anything by staring down the camera — which Tyra went on and on and on about before calling Landon “Logan Barker” while shouting out the reality royalty in the house.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 9

My Score: 8

(Rumba – “Diamonds Are Forever,” Shirley Bassey) After a rough time last week, Cheryl was determined not to be in the Bottom 2 again (and have the lowest score) this week. That said, rehearsals were looking rough, though she’s no stranger to performing sensuality. Her timing was a bit off at times, but she didn’t lead with the wrong foot this time around and this was a marked improvement. Certainly her overall performance was dramatic and sensual. There wasn’t a lot of dense rumba content, but what she delivered was pretty confident and more on point. Despite a rough start in rehearsal, this piece came together nicely.

Judges Scores: 6, 6, 6, 6

My Score: 6

(Tango – “You Know My Name,” Chris Cornell) Trevor was definitely in character, but he was also a bit too much in his head. You could see it at the start when he was fidgeting rather than just holding his opening pose. And then throughout, it kept him from gliding across the floor smoothly throughout this piece. It’s not that he was necessarily doing the wrong things at any point, but it was as if he was losing focus on technique (tight, high hold and that glide) while remembering the steps). The growth we’re seeing from him, though, as he tackled a dense tango is because of the trust he has in his partner. From the rehearsal to the stage, you can see that bond — see what we did there? — strengthening between them.

Judges Scores: 7, 6, 7, 7

My Score: 6

(Rumba – “The World Is Not Enough,” Garbage) Daniel said that on this slower song, he can’t hear the music at all. Well, however he and Britt figured it out, his timing was impeccable throughout this piece. His actions were on point, he was right where he needed to be and he had great character and presence throughout the piece. Britt did do a lot of the heavy lifting with some stunts and tricks, but she was choreographing more complexity than some of the other dancers and he was right there with her every step of the way. He used his body beautifully to fill the space in the music and shares a wonderful connection and partnership with Britt.

Judges Scores: 8, 7, 8, 8

My Score: 7

(Rumba – “Licence to Kill,” Gladys Knight) There were a lot of places this wasn’t going Jordin’s way, right from that first leg extension where her knee never quite locked. Hip swivels turned into slo-mo stops, her turns were clunky, gliding wasn’t happening and she just never looked comfortable in really anything she was doing up there. There’s a sensuality to the rumba, and other than the opening moment where she lifted herself up on the bed, this looked like a workout she was doing under protest rather than anything that moved her romantically. The partnering was also rough at times, as if she wasn’t quite where she needed to be going into moves or if she’s not quite ready to fully trust Brandon with the full weight of her body.

Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7, 8

My Score: 5

(Samba – “Los Muertos Vivos Están,”Thomas Newman f. Tambuco) You could see that Sam really wanted this to work, but then it quickly fell apart. He largely walked through the steps and didn’t have any of the carriage and frame that we were looking for. On top of that, his hips were way too tight, and when they were trying to shake it all out, he looked more like he was having a medical emergency than intentionally performing a dance move. He said in the rehearsal package that his 61-year-old body wasn’t sure how to do this, and it’s clearly still struggling. We applaud that he gets out there and gets through these dances, but this one was a bit of a mess. His “Good Morning America” colleague Robin Roberts had nothing but love and support for him from the audience, though.

Judges Scores: 6, 6, 6, 7

My Score: 4

(Rumba – “For Your Eyes Only,” Sheena Easton) What an interesting challenge to add to the dance, though we understand there was sensory overload benefit for Selma to blindfolding her. Still, she could not see visual cues from her partner and had to trust herself even more. Other than overextending her hip a few times and not quite nailing the sensuality of those hip swivels, this was a very beautifully danced rumba. Actually, we’ll say that she was a little sharp at times (wrists, hips, carriage) when she should have been smooth. She had a lot of character in the dance. Her arms and legs were lovely throughout and it really felt like she was in command of her body and her moment.

Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7, 7

My Score: 6

(Tango – “The Name’s Bond… James Bond,” David Arnold & Nicholas Dodd) A very fun dance with some great sharp tango work from Wayne. His knees might be his problem area, but they weren’t a problem at all for him in this performance. He had a great presence across the stage, with a true leading man quality. His footwork was solid, and his partnering with Witney saw him matching her posture, intensity and grace throughout. His character was perfect for this piece. If he can just continue to tighten up nailing the steps with precision every moment, he’s not going anywhere for a long time.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 9

My Score: 8

(Rumba – “Thunderball,” Tom Jones) Vinny was worried about his arms and apparently he was right to be. They were not good in this piece, with his hands pivoting at the wrist like an action figure. He lumberd around the stage lacking all the grace necessary through much of the piece, but as stiff as his legs were (and absent as his hips were), it was his arms that kept drawing our attention for all the wrong reasons. He was throwing them around like he was holding 10-pound weights in each one. It was all too fast out and staccato and stiff throughout. After a huge rebound last week, Vinny jumped right back onto the struggle bus.

Judges Scores: 6, 5, 6, 6

My Score: 4

(Argentine Tango – “Another Way to Die,” Jack White & Alicia Keys) In hold, she needs to watch that her elbow doesn’t drop from time to time, but that is one of very few real criticisms we could levy at this performance. Heidi came out with the perfect attitude to set the tone of the piece. She was ferocious in her performance and it carried through her body beautifully. She hit those moments and got those flicks in there. For all the fear she had earlier in the week, she looked completely confident in this piece. Artem did not hold back, either, dropping in really complex lifts and moves, with Heidi delivering her part with aplomb.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8

My Score: 7

(Rumba – “GoldenEye,” Tina Turner) Shangela needed to sink a little more into the floor in the opening bars, and extend that leg straight during the drag, and some other places. We found ourselves wanting a little more from her in various places throughout. At times, she was giving us everything, but it just wasn’t consistent in the piece. The sensuality was there, so she had the character of the dance, but there were times we could see her thinking about the next step, hurting the completion of this step and creating these moments of disconnect where the movement paused rather than continuously glide into the next move. It’s just too bad Len wasn’t paying attention at first during the last moment when she ran over to him to steal a kiss. Michelle Visage was on hand to celebrate her queen’s big moment, too, and she was all about it!

Judges Scores: 8, 7, 7, 8

My Score: 7

(Rumba – “Goldfinger,” Shirley Bassey) Huge props to Jessie for going for the gold by recreating one of the most iconic “Bond” looks of all time. That had to take forever in the makeup chair to coat herself in gold. But it paid off as she looked sensational and certainly striking in the rumba. The monochromatic tone also helped to accentuate her lines and the overall fluidity of her movements. We saw a lot of sensuality in her partnering, but getting her feet in the right places at the right times and pointing the right way hasn’t quite come together. She’s missing the fundamentals at the bottom while really growing at the top.

Judges Scores: 6, 6, 7, 7

My Score: 6

(Argentine Tango – “Writing’s on the Wall,” Sam Smith) We were told that Daniella Karagach is doing well, but having tested positive for Covid last week, troupe dancer Alexis was back not only to dance again with Joseph, but she stepped in to train him as well (what a huge opportunity for her!). They didn’t quite stick the landing at the end there, but we have to give credit to Joseph for absolutely being there for Alexis through all of those lifts — and his incredible strength on display (though we had no doubts about that). As for the tango itself, it had lots of great technique with fantastic footwork when we got it, though Alexis protected him somewhat from that with so many lifts.

We also kind of loved the moment after he got his highest scores yet when he said he was a ball of emotions and might cry. Alfonso said we weren’t going to let Arnold Schwarzenegger’s kid cry, and never losing his smile, Joseph could be heard behind him saying, “Hey. We cry.” That’s right, real men aren’t afraid to have emotion, so props to Joseph for saying it proud. He did so with his mother, Mildred, beaming from the audience — but no mention of dad Arnold’s famous “True Lies” tango? That’s one of the most famous dances in cinema history!

Judges Scores: 8, 7, 7, 7

My Score: 7

(Cha-Cha-Cha – “Die Another Day,” Madonna) A very complicated routine with a lot of fast movements, it did look as if Gabby lost her spot a couple of times. When she was on point, though, she was so strong. For someone who thinks of herself as just a reality personality, Gabby came out with an incredibly strong performance quality. When her hair fell into her eyes, that toss was everything. The attitude she displayed throughout this was so great. Her hips were pretty great, too, so she must have really been connected to her inner Halle Berry. Her footwork was at times great and at times she stumbled a bit, but this was overall another strong outing for someone who really looks like a dancer up there, despite what she seems to think.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 9

My Score: 8

For the second week in a row, we saw a three-way tie in the top spot, and it was the same three people in it: Charli D’Amelio, Gabby Windey and Wayne Brady. Are we seeing a sneak peek at this season’s finale lineup with these rankings, or can someone break this top trio up?

As for the bottom of the board, poor Vinny Guadagnino fell right back into the bottom after a redemptive performance last week. Down there with him is Cheryl Ladd, who’s found herself consistently in the bottom of the judge’s rankings this season. She was saved last week, but would they do that twice? If she’s there with Vinny, we could see it.

But that would also require the “Jersey Shore” fans to not come through like they did the first time he was in danger. So did they come through this week? Did Sam Champion or Jessie James Decker fall into the Bottom 2? Interestingly, once you got past the two-way tie for 7th place, each dancer below that was separated by one point by the judges.

That just means that the audience vote would carry even more weight with the rankings being so tight. Our prediction heading into the big reveal was that Vinny would somehow again be spared, but at the expense of Cheryl, Sam and Jessie being the last three dancers to hear their fate, and then Jessie surviving.

The first celebs sent to safety were Heidi D’Amelio, Charli D’Amelio, Wayne Brady, and Jessie James Decker, throwing our theory out of the water. Maybe Vinny’s fans were as unimpressed as we were after this week’s performance and they’re just not going to carry him anymore?

Next announced were Shangela and Gabby Windey. We were right about those “JS” fans, though, as Vinny Guadagnino followed them to safety, despite having the night’s lowest scores. Is he another Bobby Bones in the making, or will he actually get better as a dancer. Clearly his fans want to give him the time to get there, so we’ll see if he can.

Selma Blair was next to get the good news, followed by Daniel Durant, Joseph Baena, and Jordin Sparks. That left Trevor Donovan in danger, so clearly he doesn’t have as big of a fan-base outside of this show. He joined our predicted Cheryl Ladd and Sam Champion. And then, Trevor got the good news, meaning our Bottom 2 prediction panned out.

Honesetly, after considering this Bottom 2, we could see the judges again saving Cheryl. She’s at least showing some growth and technique and grace up there, while Sam was a huge mess this week. We’d vote to keep her again. Did they?

Bruno, perhaps, didn’t want to have to save the same person again, so his vote went to Sam, followed by Carrie Ann with a second vote to save Sam. It wasn’t looking good for Cheryl. Derek then explained that his vote was about who had a stronger season so far, and with a third vote for Sam, Cheryl was out of the competition. Len then confirmed he’d have done the same.

“Dancing with the Stars” continues as the first-ever live streaming reality show every Monday at 8 p.m. ET on Disney+.

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