‘Dancing With the Stars’ Recap: Perfection At The Semi-Finals

Dancing With the Stars is off to another shocking week with surprising standouts from unlikely contenders in the semifinal round. The ABC show requires two dances from the five remaining couples: one classic style and one viewer requested routine.

Judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli are in rare form tonight, giving out three perfect scores.

Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough dance an Argentine tango and as usual, it’s amazing. They earn the first perfect score of the night with the usually tough Len saying he “loved it.” Carrie Ann agrees it’s “perfection” and the pair are back on top after an uncharacteristically tough past week. 

Her second try at the Twitter fans’ pick for the pair, the flamenco, is good but not flawless. The judges say she tensed up halfway through the number and she lost the flow. It’s clear the competition has gotten super steep since this routine would have likely earned a “10” earlier in the season. They score a respectable 28 points.

Ingo Rademacher doesn’t impress the judges with his samba. Compared to the rest of the celebrities left in the game, the soap star just doesn’t measure up. “You’re the underdog here and you have the biggest fight to make it into the finals,” says Carrie Ann from the judges’ table. “If we’re really honest, and I think you have to step it up even just a hair more.” The other judges agree and he scores a 24.

His second turn at the dance floor is a little better. Twitter fans chose the Charleston and it seems to suit him better than the last dance. The judges think he played the 20’s character perfectly and are thoroughly entertained. This time, he and partner Kym Johnson nab a few more points with a 27.

Aly Raisman’s rumba blows the judges away and earns her and pro partner, Mark Ballas, a perfect score. The panel notes the perfect balance of sweet and sexy moves from the formerly bashful athlete and rave about her form and the “romance” of the dance.

Her fan-selected Afro-jazz dance is intense and exhilarating to watch. The gymnast is in her element with the super athletic moves and shines at the high-energy pace. Bruno is certain she’s heading to the finals, saying, “If you don’t make it to the final, I’m going to judge in Speedos!” She gets a 29 and takes the lead for the night.

Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff are on fire with their Argentinian tango. Even though the pro hurt her neck and back at rehearsals this week, she powers through the pain and dances beautifully. Len loves it, gushing, “Mood. Intensity. Great feel. Ka-ching! Right on the money, Jacoby. That was great!” Carrie Ann demands a smooch from her seat at the judges’ table and Bruno notes the pair’s sexual tension, calling it his best dance of the season. Again, the especially excitable panel awards another perfect score.

Their second stab at the viewer-selected lindy hop routine is strong as well. The crowd goes wild over the high-energy number and Len calls it “full on and fabulous!” Carrie Ann says Jacoby is a standout of the season. “Without a doubt, I vote you the number one entertainer of season 16,” she says.  They earn 29 points, tying with Aly and Mark for the lead.

In another shocking twist, Zendaya disappoints judges with her quickstep. Carrie Anne calls it “a mess” and says it looked like she and Val Chmerkovskiy were “dragging each other through the dance.” What? The judges award her a pitiful 25 points. Way harsh!

By the end of her second dance, the judges are eating their words. Her hip-hop routine is a million times better and wins back the panel’s loyalty. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Just get out of here! I mean, that was ridiculous!” exclaims Bruno. “So cool it gives me chills … you were just, ugh! Incredible … Zendaya forever!” She’s all smiles when she hears her perfect score announced. Sweet redemption.