Since old Len isn't here tonight, they have the judges dance their way onto the floor after the opening pro number, starting with Bruno and Carrie Ann and then Julianne Hough. I'm actually looking forward to having Julianne as guest judge, if she's honest. I think she could offer a lot of insight. Or she could be totally vague and useless, but I'm hoping for the former.
First up to face the new judging panel are Jack and Cheryl. They have the quickstep this week, which Jack finds taxing because you spring for the entire dance. In their rehearsals, we see that Cheryl is really short with Jack and… kind of mean! Jack doesn't seem like a slacker. I guess she's pushing him. He tries to crack jokes and she just shoots him down. But something must be working because this dance has approximately one million steps and he doesn't miss one. His frame and posture need work, as do his facial expressions, but this was a tough routine in terms of the sheer number of steps, and he nailed it. Also, Jack totally commits to the dance, which I like.
Judges? Julianne can't believe how much Jack improved since last week, and she advises that he should have fun with it now. Bruno was impressed with the footwork and the pace, but he lost his frame a little bit. Carrie Ann thought his frame was fine and he was more animated this week than last week. Scores: Carrie Ann 8, Julianne 8, and Bruno 8. Julianne seems tickled that she gets to raise up a paddle. I think that score is exactly right.
Elizabeth and Val have the Argentine tango, and in rehearsals, Elizabeth makes Val stare into her eyes. Elizabeth thinks it was a great exercise to foster connection; Val thinks she's looney tunes. She does have the crazy eyes, for sure. Anyway, their dance is very pretty but it's all so actor-y to me. I don't feel a lot of genuine connection or passion between them. It just feels like a performance. I don't know. She bugs me so her dances bug me too.
Judges? Bruno tells her that she's done it totally right. Carrie Ann loves that Elizabeth tells a story with her dance. Julianne agrees with Carrie Ann, and she compliments Val's choreography also. Scores: Carrie Ann 9, Julianne 9, and Bruno 9. I guess.
Injury update time! Brant did great last week, despite having an injured foot. This week, he and Peta have the salsa and Peta wants to do a bunch of lifts. The problem is that Brant has an old shoulder injury that prevents him from having the strength and stability to hold her up there. So just take them out? This show's about dancing, not lifts. Brant does a pretty good job with the routine, and Peta's no dummy and has him rip his shirt off as early as possible, but there's something wonky with his posture, and his feet are pigeon-toed. He can really move, and he's totally committed, but I can't pinpoint the problem. Just that it looks weird, and not as good as his first two dances.