Usually in the "grab bag" episodes, every couple dances a different style; this one had a lot of waltzes. And they were all fast waltzes. And two of them were pretty good.
The standout routine was definitely Melissa & Tony's Argentine tango. There was plenty good to say about that. One thing that stood out to me was Melissa's stiffness. Part of this is doubtless because she is not used to doing those kinds of moves, and you have to really turn your body into a single, still piece in order to do lifts like that; the problem was that her body stayed a single piece throughout the routine. Authentic Argentine tango is low and slinky, with a fluid and sinuous quality. This dance was very sharp and hard-edged, which looked great but ... well, when she landed on those stiff legs, you could see her foot stutter on the floor.
Shawn & Mark's cha-cha was also good, but not great. With an extra day of rehearsal she could probably have really blown that one up. Shawn had, as usual, the footwork almost perfect, but aside from a couple of choreographed moments, there was not much dancing happening between the hips and the head.
Chuck & Julianne's samba was distinguished chiefly by his total boob grab. It was certainly his best dance so far - got to give the guy credit for improving - but I was so distracted by his inward-turned feet (and Julianne's killer dress) that I couldn't love it.
Kim & Derek ... I didn't get the whole "tone it down" thing. This rumba's choreography was obscured by her dreadful dress. It did not have the extemporaneous quality of her best dances, but she pulled off that braced arabesque pretty darn well. She has also improved her foot and leg action in the swivels, and the upper body grace she shows continues to impress.
Ty & Chelsie, in a waltz or Viennese waltz or whatever, I wish the producers would take five minutes to look at what the tempos are supposed to be. Ty really does well in these "ballroom" dances. Chelsie has worked wonders with him.
LT & Edtya, another sort of waltz. Ha ha, very funny with the coat dress, not. The "real" dress's drape malfunction was something I've seen many times ... would be happy for that fashion to die. This number had so many missed connections, out-of-synch moments, and wobbly steps, I was amazed. It showed no improvement at all from his first two routines.
And the final waltz, with Gilles & Cheryl. Though Gilles sometimes leans into the center, he still moves his body so well that he creates plenty of space for Cheryl. He has dynamic movement, the foot placement (if not the footwork) was consistently good, and the performance was well-modulated. There was a sequence of turns when Gilles' rise and fall was not quite right, but he is still my fave.
The group dance? Ridiculous. But I liked the black & white theme.
I was obviously wrong about voters being able to save Steve-O, so I'm not making any predictions here, but the alert reader can probably guess who I'd like to see in the bottom two.
Next week - two dances apiece, and we will really see the pack break apart.