Living in the past is never a good idea—unless you're on one of these dance shows, apparently.
Dancing With the Stars tasked its 11 remaining all-stars with reinterpreting so-called iconic routines from seasons past, meaning dances harkening as far back as season one, a Carson Kressly cha-cha, a Magic Mike comparison and a battle between the brothers Chmerkovskiy were all on the menu for tonight.
And while ballroom redos sound like risky business, guess what? The scores soared—and the season's first 9.5 was given!
Or, at least the soars scored for the competitors who didn't kick off their rehearsals by accusing their partners of being disappointed to be dancing with them.
"I know you're bummed that you don't have Sabrina or Shawn," a dejected-sounding Bristol Palin told Mark Ballas as they rehashed last week's low score. (Maybe she doesn't remember that, though Mark won with Shawn Johnson, he got further with Bristol than he did with Sabrina Bryan.)
"What does Sabrina or Shawn have to do with this?" Mark wondered. "Why would you say that? What have I done to make you feel that way?"
According to Bristol, Mark didn't show up for rehearsal the other day, and the remembrance of that left her in tears as she accused him of being "not there."
"Can you not be like that? Come on, don't be like that," he tried to comfort her, but she got up and walked out of the rehearsal room before they at some point got it together and rehearsed for tonight's paso doble.
Which, good news for Bristol, Len Goodman called "easily [her] best dance." (She still finished up in last place, but her numbers did improve.)
Drew Lachey paid homage to fellow boy-bander Joey McIntyre's cha-cha and ended up being praised for his "power drill"-reminiscent booty.
"It worked for Channing Tatum, it's going to work for you," purred Bruno Tonioli.
After respectable showing (he should've done the worm!), the numbers started ticking upward, starting with Gilles Marini's three-8.5 twist on a tango Maks Chmerkovskiy (ultimately the most borrowed choreographer of the night) did with Erin Andrews.
"Fifty Shades of Gilles," growled Bruno (ultimately, as always, the most quotable judge of the night).
Melissa Rycroft returned to front-runner form, earning a season-high 27 on her J.R. Martinez-originated samba, only to be joined at the top a little later by none other than Kelly Monaco, whose partner Val Chmerkovskiy couldn't pass up the opportunity to put his own stamp on brother Maks' paso doble wtih Laila Ali.
Sabrina also borrowed a page from Maks' paso doble playbook, the chapter titled "Mel B," but—and get this—the judges found her dancing exceptional, but Carrie Ann Inaba said Sabrina and Louis van Amstel "didn't bring anything new" to the routine.
So. was Sabrina a little miffed perhaps when she earned the same score as Hélio Castroneves, who stumbled over Chelsie Hightower's dress during his Apolo Anton Ohno-inspired quickstep? (She'll never say, now will she?)
Apolo, meanwhile, earned himself one 9 with an homage to Gilles' "Fever" fox-trot, and fellow past champ Emmitt Smith earned his best marks yet with a pounding paso doble first danced by the guy he beat for the season-three mirror ball, Mario Lopez.
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough closed the show with Hélio's famous banana-man quickstep—but with a trampoline! "One of the best dances I've seen, if not the best dance, in 15 seasons," Bruno raved of their rule-flouting (lifts, ya know?) routine.
Here's how the leaderboard stacked up tonight:
Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 27
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 27
Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 26.5
Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 25.5
Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd: 25.5
Hélio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower: 25.5
Sabrina Bryan & Louis van Amstel: 25.5
Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 25
Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya: 24
Kirstie Alley & Maks Chmerkovskiy: 24
Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas: 22.5
There's a double elimination tomorrow, so this could spell the end for Bristol thinking Mark is bummed, but...you never know! Also, Paula Abdul will be a guest judge next Monday, when the all-stars pick out styles for each other.