Dancing With The Stars
Season 11 Performance 9

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Begging You for Mercy (And Votes)

It's the semifinals! That is exactly half of the finals! Or would that be the demifinals? And why don't we have demifinals, anyway? And why didn't they promote last week's episode as the quarterfinals? None of these questions will be answered tonight, live.

Other questions that won't be answered: Did Tom get a haircut? Why is Brooke dressed like an awards statuette? Why is Brooke so bad at reading from the teleprompter? Is that Lacey's real hair? Does Mark show more skin since Bristol is showing less? How many pain pills is Jennifer Grey taking exactly? How many spangled epaulets do the costumers have at their disposal? Who thought crimping Brandy's hair would be a good idea? Is Kyle's tie made of leather? Why?

Brandy and Maks are up first. We have to revisit Maks and Carrie Ann's argument, even though it has been reported that they hugged and made up after the show. Instead, we get to see it as an opportunity for Maks and Brandy to bond. In rehearsals, Brandy is wearing silver boots. Is she auditioning to be Wonder Woman?

Brandy and Maks will be performing their paso doble first, and in this round, the celebrity has to do a solo. So the beginning of their routine makes me really uncomfortable, despite some excellent dancing, because the storyline seems to be that Maks is an abusive husband and Brandy is the frightened wife who visibly cringes as he threatens her. I think they oversold that because it seriously skeeved me out. But then Maks walks away and Brandy does her solo where she reclaims her power and tells Maks what for. I enjoyed that part, although the rest of the routine seemed to kind of lose the plot. It didn't help that the singer was really horrible and couldn't hit the high notes. That was distracting.

Len compliments them for giving it their all and coming out on attack. Bruno loved the attack too, but warns Brandy not to lose her finesse. Carrie Ann loved Brandy's connection to her character, and also compliments Brandy's upper body shapes. Backstage, Brandy explains that their paso doble was about bullying, and having the bullied person taking power back. Okay, that makes a little more sense. I guess I was too into the marriage scenario. Scores: Carrie Ann 9, Len 9, and Bruno 9.

Jennifer and Derek are the next couple to dance. Tom reminds us that they got the season's first perfect score last week. And now Jennifer says that she's rejuvenated. She probably also got the message that people were kind of sick of her whining about her injuries. I mean, I get that they are serious, but either quit or suck it up, you know?

So how is the routine? Well, they get a great song, "Mercy" by Duffy. That helps a lot. The solo at the beginning features Jennifer dancing around the judges at their table, and I kind of hate that, because it's not really dancing. A solo is a person standing out on the dance floor, alone, doing choreographed movements. This felt improvised and didn't require a whole lot of rhythm. It felt like they were hiding something, perhaps her injuries? When she finally does start dancing with Derek, it's good, but I expected something flashier from them. It's kind of pedestrian. Great hip action, quick feet, and beautiful arms, but the solo in the middle, again, is just them doing pelvic thrusts towards the judges' table. I don't know. It didn't grab me.

Bruno calls it luminous, vibrant, and sexy, and compliments Jennifer's technique as well. Carrie Ann says she's been waiting for this all season, except she wasn't disappointed. Len loved the technique and the performance, and thought it was fun and entertaining. No one is going to mention that her solo was a copout? Just me? Scores: Carrie Ann 10, Len 10, and Bruno 10. So I guess it was just me.

When introducing Bristol, Tom emphasizes that she's only in the competition still because of the voting public. In rehearsals, Bristol and Mark talk about how people think she's only staying in it due to her mom and the Tea Party, but they think it's because she's relatable. She's a non-performer who never danced before and that's what the show is about. Eh. I don't know about that. I'm sure there are some people who vote for her for that reason, some who vote because of who her mom is, some who vote as a gag, and who knows why else? I don't think you can characterize people's voting fanbases that way. It takes a lot of different types of people voting for you to keep you on the show. And I kind of hope that the people who WERE voting for her because of her mother stop now, since she disavowed them and all. Also, Bristol mentions how she's real, not like those fake Hollywood types. She doesn't mention names, but you know she's talking about Brandy and Jennifer, at least. ME-OW! Anyway, Bristol is really worried about learning two routines this week, and from the looks of things, she's right to be worried.

Their paso doble is first. Here's the thing: every nervous celebrity has Kate Gosselin to thank. No paso doble could be worse than her abortion of a routine last season. And you know what? It's actually...good. Like not good for Bristol, but good. Her solo is about a thousand percent better than I expected. It helps that she has a dramatic cape to swirl around, but she does it well, and gracefully. And she doesn't seem to forget any steps, which is kind of damning with faint praise, but there you have it. She keeps a level of intensity throughout. There's one spot where Mark is dancing and she has to pick up her cape and she kind of fumbles, but other than that, it's not bad. Way better than I was expecting, anyway.

Carrie Ann gives her a hug first, and says that Bristol nailed it, and was sharp with her movements. Len points out that Bristol has been in the bottom two six times, and come back amazingly, and this was her best dance. Bruno never thought he was going to see this, and compliments her Spanish lines. Scores: Carrie Ann 9, Len 9, and Bruno 9. I have to laugh when Mark says he's really proud that he's taken Bristol from "a real non-dancer" to the semifinals. So he's proud of...himself? For being an awesome teacher?

The first round of dances ends with Kyle and Lacey. Kyle explains that he may joke around and laugh a lot, but he knows that this competition is no joke. He hopes that he's peaking at the right time and wants to go to the finals. Blah blah blah. Boring.

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