The “Most Memorable Year” night makes for good video packages… but not-so-inspired dances. I mean, how do you adequately pay homage to an IED attack?
Len Goodman certainly wasn’t in the mood for sob stories: The ol’ boy was grumpy all night and didn’t seem to like anybody, least of all Rumer Willis, who performed a brilliant waltz as a snub to all her early haters. Then again, anybody can have a bad night in the ballroom. To wit: Poor Michael Sam, who poured his heart out about coming out to the world last year, only to have his homophobic dad diss him in the newspaper. The football player got the last word by sharing his world of hurt with viewers—but his national stage was short-lived as he became the third dancer to leave the dance floor.
“She was amazing, I had a great time,” was all Sam could say.
Here’s what else happened on a night of memories (as well as a few moments we’d love to forget):
Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough
The extraordinarily limber gymnast remembers her Olympic run in 2008 during this show-stopping Argentine tango-cum-lift-a-palooza. “Your back was so strong, but you nailed it in 2008 and you nailed it tonight,” said Julianne. “It was stellar. It was fill of exhilarating shapes and shades,” added Bruno.
Score: 36 out of 40
Michael Sam and Peta Murgatroyd
A teary-eyed football star danced the rumba in memory of his father, who turned against him when he came out in 2014. Song choice? “I’m not my father’s son.” D’oh! Poppa, you got served—and in a ballroom, no less. “It takes an enormous amount of guts to stand for what you believe in,” said Bruno. “Your voice is very important and I guarantee you, it’s helped a lot of people.” “Dance is so much more than movement,” added Carrie Ann. “Tonight you understood why so many of us dance. It was breathtaking.”
Score: 30 out of 40
Riker Lynch and Allison Holker
The musician who began the night in jeopardy exploded red in this “hectic” tango he dedicated to R5, his band he formed with his siblings. “You stand out like a vibrant neon light!” Bruno said. “That music was so odd to interpret to a tango.” “You seemed like you guys were fighting,” added Carrie Ann. “You’re dancing against each other.”
Score: 34 out of 40
Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson
The shark got emotional reflecting on how much his mom loved watching DWTS before she died of cancer. “I know how much it would have meant to my mom,” he said before his impressive waltz. “That was so sweet,” said Carrie Ann. “You remind me of why this show became a hit.” “Your frame was incredible,” added Julianne.
Score: 34 out of 40
NEXT: More tributes and tears…