"DWTS" Week 10: The Semi-Finals

It's semi-finals week, y'all! Last night's episode of "Dancing with the Stars" was supposed to feature the five remaining star-pro teams—but thanks to Tamar Braxton's early exit over health issues, it ended up being a four-couple, guys-versus-girl (singular) showdown, with Bindi Irwin trying to outdance Carlos PenaVega, Alek Skarlatos and Nick Carter. (Pour a little out for Alexa PenaVega, whom the producers apparently considered bringing back into the "DWTS" fold after Tamar's announcement. Miss you, lady.)

Four finalists + two hours to fill = three different routines for each celebrity. Which, OOF. I was exhausted just watching our valiant finalists, and the overall quality of the performances suffered a bit from their obvious exhaustion. But that doesn't mean there weren't highlights. (There are always highlights.)

Seeing more of the fantastic pro dancers is inevitably a good thing—which is why it's no surprise that the trio routines, in which each star was flanked by two pros, featured the best dancing of the night. I was especially into Bindi, Derek Hough and Mark Ballas' high-caliber jazz routine, which looked straight out of Travis Wall's playbook:

Carlos, Witney Carson and Karina Smirnoff all tried out the Charleston for the first time ever and more than pulled it off; Bruno even compared Carlos to the great Ben Vereen. (Chicago last week, Ben Vereen references this week: Bob Fosse, you'll never cease to be relevant.)

Nick pretty much choked during his tango earlier in the evening, but once he teamed up with Sharna Burgess and Peta Murgatroyd for a fiery-hot salsa, he seemed back in his element:

And even though Alek is the weakest dancer of the remaining bunch, he managed to bring the sexy in a steamy Argentine tango trio with Emma Slater and Lindsay Arnold:

Alek actually had an all-around great showing last night. His waltz to "America the Beautiful" was a poignant choice in light of Friday's attacks in Paris, and it brought out the best in a guy known for his patriotic heroism:

The happiest news of the episode came in its very last moments: Nobody went home! All four remaining contestants will go on to perform in the finals, since Tamar dropped out. EVERYBODY DANCE NOW. As if it needs to be said, you should probably tune in next Monday and Tuesday nights to see how that all goes down.

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(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

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