DWTS 5th Judge Halloween Shocker! New Couple Tops Leaderboard with First Perfect Score

What a week of unexpected twists, turns, spooks, and chills as “Dancing with the Stars” took on Halloween. As always, the makeup was incredible, but so were some of these routines.

Perhaps the biggest shocker of the night was that a brand-new dancer took over the top spot on the leaderboard with their first perfect score of the evening. It had been a three-way race between Charli D’Amelio, Gabby Windey, and Wayne Brady for so long, we were ready to start engraving one of those names on the Mirrorball Trophy now.

Not so fast, said this performer. And they’re not alone in making it more of a battle at the top. The leaders have been showing some cracks in their perfection, while some of those middle performers have been cleaning up their own technique week by week.

And then there’s Vinny Guadagnino. The “Jersey Shore” star pours his heart out each week and two things happen. It’s still not very good, and it just doesn’t seem to matter.

In fact, the power of his fanbase has been so big, we’d started to wonder if it mattered how hard everyone else was working around him. He could follow in the footsteps of Bobby Bones and win the show on fan support alone (or almost alone).

Covid hit the production this week, as well, with Val Chmerkovskiy testing positive and putting front-running contender Gabby Windey in the hands of Alan Bersten. The Season 28 champ is certainly no slouch, but you can’t replicate two months of chemistry and trust in less than a week, can you?

The week also offered the return of the Team Round, with the remaining contestants split into two teams that competed for a full roster of scores. In other words, it really, really mattered which team you were on as it could dramatically raise or lower your final ranking on the leaderboard. This is how shock eliminations happen, people!

Next week, it’s the 1990s all over again, with special guest stars En Vogue, Salt-N-Pepa, Kid ‘n Play, and Vanilla Ice! It also features the return of the Relay Dance Round, but we can’t worry about any of that until we get through this week’s basket of Halloween goodies first.

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 for various media publications. 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.

(Tango – “Oogie Boogie’s Song,” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”) Jordin definitely took the note about her shoulder and kept a nice frame throughout this piece. We were also impressed with how clean her footwork was moving across the floor. She really is settling into her confidence as a dancer and comes out there like she believes she can do this, which makes a huge difference. Her character was a lot of fun throughout the piece, keeping that sinister and playful tone, but there were a few moments that character did slip unintentionally, but they were brief. She continues to grow week by week, which is a remarkable feat.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 9

(Argentine Tango – “Tanguera,” Fabio Hager Sexteto) Mark was struggling with a back issue right from the jump with rehearsals, so while he was on hand to choreograph and coach, he brought in Pasha Pashkov to help get Charli up to speed with hand-to-hand help. Thankfully, Mark was back to good health and able to help Charli bring all those Argentine tango into a packed and very dramatic performance. The character of the piece was sensational and we adored the macabre elements of acrobatics from Charlie here and there. She almost appeared to be crouching too much in the beginning, but there’s no denying her technique was impeccable in this style and she continues to blow us away style after style. Carrie Ann picked up some boos for saying she wanted more intimacy and intensity from them, even docking them a point for it.

Judges Scores: 9, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 10

(Paso Doble – “bury a friend,” Billie Eilish) Daniel got sick during the week, costing them valuable rehearsal time. Would it impact the final product on the floor? The concept of them using the dance techniques to battle zombies was fun, but we’d have hoped for harder hitting marks from them to make it look more like attack moments. The paso wants attack anyway, so it’s baked into the DNA of the dance, but it wasn’t fully delivered here. There was almost a hesitancy in Daniel’s movements throughout and we found ourselves distracted by his arms and hands at times, looking for that dramatic matador pose and it wasn’t quite there (they looked more like frozen ballet hands, but not particularly elegant).

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 9, 9

My Score: 7

(Jazz – “Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor Swift) This story was fantastic with a killer ending — natch — but we’d have liked Shangela to hit a little harder in some of her moves, and look a little lighter on her feet. This was a sinister piece with a darker tone, and there was a crackle of dark energy throughout. On top of that, Shangela really nailed that killer doll vibe perfectly, while we could see Gleb trying to woo her back to his good side (and ultimately failing). Every move was executed on point and we never lost our focus or sense of narrative.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 10

(Paso Doble – “Get Ghost,” Mark Ronson, Passion Pit & A$AP Ferg) He lost the strength of his posture toward the back half of the dance, and he still walked his way through some of the steps, but this style definitely suited Vinny more and he looked and felt more confident in it. The opening moments featured some of his strongest work of the season. He always dances like if he were given one or two more weeks, he’d really be able to sell these styles. There were moments of strong paso, and he did hit every step on time, which means it’s time to start working on finesse and artistry. Slowly but surely, though, he is progressing.

Judges Scores: 7, 7, 8, 8

My Score: 6

(Tango – “I Wanna Be Your Slave,” Måneskin) Challenged by the creative choreography that her daughter has been doing, Heidi felt it was time for her and Artem to push it, as well. Now that she’s in the conversation at the top of the leaderboard, it’s time to jockey for position. Artem definitely threw in a challenge by having them perform tethered at the wrist with an elastic band. It was a great visual, glowing on its own, but also a huge risk — that they did not stick with for very long. That was a little disappointing, but the bulk of the dance was very sharp, strong and commanding. Heidi lost what to do with her hand at one point and her left shoulder tried to creep up a time or two, but mostly her frame was great, her footwork on point and that partnering was beautifully intense.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 10, 9

My Score: 9

(Argentine Tango – “Shivers,” Ed Sheeran [as performed by District 78 f. Mikayla Lynn) After losing Val after maybe one day of rehearsals, it was clear that chemistry and trust were going to have to build quickly once Alen showed up to sub in. By the big show, though, it looked as if they’d been partnering for weeks. Gabby is so good at giving her all to these performances. We do think it would have been even more intense and gorgeous with Val, as there were a few moments Gabby didn’t follow through completely. But everything she gave was stunning and, of course, Alan has never lacked for intensity in these styles. It was haunting and powerful from start to finish.

Judges Scores: 10, 9, 9, 10

My Score: 9

(Contemporary – “Halloween Theme,” from “Halloween” [as performed by District 78]) With the usual ballroom rulebook thrown out the window this week, Wayne took a much more creative role in the concept and choreography of this piece, making it a much more collaborative vision. While this was a fun concept, of cyborgs breaking free when the system malfunctions, we didn’t see Wayne hitting quite as hard or committing to this as much as Witney. He also seemed to run out of steam by the end. This was his idea, but it didn’t feel like he really had any sort of emotional story to it. The steps were interesting, but nothing overly challenging. So it was well executed and interesting enough, but we found ourselves waiting for something that never really came.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 10

My Score: 8

(Contemporary – “Ghost (Acoustic),” Justin Bieber) Out of nowhere, Trevor channels his acting skills to bring his most moving performance of the entire season. Add to that some clever lifts and tricks executed perfectly and Emma killing it as his — ahem — dead wife, and everything about this piece landed. This is how you come back from a judges’ save to tell them they did the right thing in bringing you back. It was a piece driven by heart and performance and Trevor had both on full display.

Judges Scores: 10, 9, 10, 10

My Score: 10

To empower them a bit, the stars with the lowest-combined totals of the season so far were pointed Team captains. That gave Vinny Guadagnino and Trevor Donovan the chance to build the teams that can hopefully lift them up. After all, a team is only as strong as its weakest member, and per the scores, it’s these two guys.

With the lowest score, Vinny was first, and he chose Gabby Windey, which came as a bit of a surprise. That made the logical choice, Charli D’Amelio, available for Trevor. Vinny then did it again by choosing Shangela, leaving Wayne available to join Trevor’s team. Jordin Sparks joined Vinny, while Trevor picked Daniel Durant, leaving Heidi D’Amelio last and thus on Vinny’s team.

(Freestyle – “The Witches Are Back,” from “Hocus Pocus 2”) The solo lifts were not smooth from anyone, with Gabby looking like she weighed twice what she does, Jordin’s legs not even getting all the way over, Vinny missing his hand placement to hoist Koko, and Shangela not even getting hers in. At least Heidi came through for them and their group portions were well-timed. Overall, though, there were definitely some obvious and visible weak points during their breakout moments that dragged the overall piece down.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 9, 8

My Score: 6

(Freestyle – “Heads Will Roll,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Team Scream told a story, and kept things more visually interesting during their solo portions with hand-offs from one couple to the next. The solos themselves were cleaner, too, with only Daniel slipping up ever so slightly in his positioning, and a minor slip-up from Charli (of all people). We caught Trevor missing a hold, but it was an incredibly minor moment. All in all, he not only picked this team, but he led it on the dance floor, cementing his transformation and growth in confidence this week. Everyone gave it their all on a stellar performance that was a lot of fun to watch.

Judges Scores: 10, 9, 10, 10

My Score: 9

We’re not going to take Shangela’s perfect score and lead on the leaderboard away from her because she earned and deserved that! There are so many factors that go into a group dance, and so much of it has to do with the luck of the draw. With one team getting 33 points and the other 39, that’s a huge difference in individual scores. It certainly shook up the leaderboard.

After knocking Shangela to fourth, it propelled Trevor and Charli into a tie for first place, which is a great punctuation mark on his redemption week after landing in the Bottom 2 last week. It should be impossible for it to happen again. But Trevor’s rise could mean another’s demise.

As usual, Vinny found himself in the bottom spot, but we never know what to think of that. He was down by six points tonight, but it doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to his fans. If he ever hits the Bottom 2, we really do feel the judges will cut him loose just because he’s dragged the bottom most of the season.

The race is much tighter above him, with Jordin sitting at 69 points, Heidi at 70 points and Gabby at 71. Thanks to the group dance, Daniel is a bump ahead at 73, tied with Shangela.

Of this group, only Jordin and Daniel would really be vulnerable, in our minds, no matter which of them makes up the Bottom 2. So unless they could both avoid it, one of them was likely going home. Our prediction was Heidi and Jordin in the bottom, with Jordin getting cut.

Daniel earned his safety first, followed by Trevor, Gabby, Wayne and Vinny — it is remarkable the size of his fan support each week. They were followed by Shangela, leaving our Bottom 2 prediction and Charli, who was tied for the top of the leaderboard, so that wasn’t much suspense as her name was called next.

Would Charli have to say goodbye to her mother? We expected a clean sweep from the judges to save her, but that’s not what happened. After Carrie Ann’s vote for Heidi, Derek struggled for quite a while, before voting to save Jordin, with Bruno doing the same.

Of course, once the others weren’t unanimous, his vote didn’t matter because it all came down to what Len wanted to do. Heidi has been the technically cleaner and stronger dancer, which made us pretty confident he’d side with Heidi, which is exactly what he did.

So we guess it didn’t matter that she appeared to spill the beans earlier with Alfonso Ribeiro that she had another tango lined up to perform next week, if she was able to stay in the competition, as we said goodbye to Jordin Sparks this week. She was never the strongest dancer, but she showed consistent growth and has an incredibly warm spirit that lit up the ballroom with each dance.

“Dancing with the Stars” returns with ‘90s Night next Monday at 8 p.m. ET on Disney+.

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