Ashley is conspicuously absent from the opening roll call, and Cat (eventually .. after she says "jidges" again) tells us why: Ashley injured her ribs and is in the hospital. Once again, she'll be automatically in the Bottom 3, and if she can't dance next week, she's automatically out. While the audience deals with their Alex Wong PTSD, Cat directs us to a message from a post-surgical Alex, who is as adorable as ever.
First up is Lauren and Mark, who will be tackling a Tahitian tribal dance. Lauren assures us this will be the best Tahitian whatever we've ever seen, because it's the only one. Yes, yes, and when I take my leave of people on December 31st, I say, "See you next year!" We're both very clever, Lauren and I. On stage, Mark and Lauren are dressed up very tribal, with headdresses and armbands made of palm. Lauren also has something of a wreath of leaves and feathers around her waist that really give a whole lot of motion when she shakes her hips. Which she does for about 80% of the dance. It's fun (if repetitive), and if you've ever seen a Survivor episode where the winning team gets to go to an island village where they feast and watch the locals dance for them, you've likely seen something like this. The problem, as ever with exotic dances on this show, is that we have pretty much no frame of reference with which to evaluate it. And if we're being honest, the judges probably don't either. Nigel admits as much and is reduced to raving about Lauren's hips. Which he probably would have done anyway. At least Mia gives us a decent/cracked out metaphor ("a duck in heat"), and Adam gives some props to Mark, which lets me once again admire that brand new torso of his.
Adechike pulled Anya's name for a salsa with choreographers Liz Lira and Danny Davalos. Maybe we're running out of weird ways to differentiate the ballroom routines, because the best these four can come up with is that it'll be really, really hard. Okay. On stage, Anya's electric-lime dress is the big highlight, as well as Anya herself. Has anyone except Allison really made a bigger mark on this season than Anya? She's so much better than she was in her own season, it's kind of ridiculous. Anyway, Adechike is perhaps not as smooth as he could be in the first half of the routine, and there's a complicated little sequence in the middle that just devolved into a lot of halting flips and reversals, but they finish quite strong, including a closing pose where he drops to a knee and catches Anya's dead drop right before she hits the floor. Good, but not great. Nigel compliments some of the big flips and tricks (there were quite a few, yes) and generally thought it was excellent. Mia acknowledges the "bumps" that I saw, and Cat actually calls out Anya for saying "There was." Which I loved! It doesn't help Adechike to gloss over his missteps, we all saw them. You go,
Glen Coco Anya. Adam gets him to admit that he thought this dance would sink him, but Adam says he conquered it. Adam's always going for the narrative, if you haven't already noticed.