Someone in the Dancing With the Stars final five could have made it easy for the judges and the voters by completely falling on their face during Monday's show. But with the last of the weaker dancers now gone, we would not be so lucky. Is it possible that a season many fans have found lackluster has finally hit its stride, with only two weeks remaining till the finale?
After a couple of weeks that featured her being knocked off her pedestal and riding in DWtS coach along with the Michael Irvins of the world, Mya was back on Monday and looking more inevitable than ever. After a season where it has looked as if the singer and her partner Dmitry Chaplin have had a less than warm relationship, the pair decided this week to unite around a common enemy: judge Len Goodman. They resolved not to change their crowd-pleasing strategy to please the gimmick-hating Goodman, and it paid off with a solid quickstep. Mya has some challengers in Latin, but in ballroom she has been far and away the queen of the floor this season. Goodman kept the pair in suspense before announcing "It was a disappointment for me ... because I couldn't find anything to criticize."
But it was their samba, done '70s style, that truly brought the hammer down, and proved that the dancer many have found remote can get down with the best of them. Mya was fortunate in getting the '70s, since that era's trademark disco was easy enough to incorporate into classic samba. The audience was into it from the start, despite the horrid period mustache Chaplin sported. Throughout, the routine had the feel of the season's first perfect score of 30, and the judges made it official with three 10s. Add that to the quickstep score of 29, and Mya easily outpaced the rest of the field, and may have truly gotten America behind her for the first time.
It's a sign of how brutal the competition has gotten that fan favorite Donny Osmond finds himself at the bottom of the leaderboard, despite two routines that were characteristically decent, if not transcendant. While he keeps telling us how exhausted the rehearsals are making him, he always sucks it up for the performance night. His Viennese waltz was tastefully nailed with a minimum of Osmond mugging, despite an interlude where he appeared to be choking Kym Johnson. But the paso doble salute to the '80s was ... weird. Osmond sported the Adam Ant jacket, Johnson wore enough hairspray to destroy the atmosphere of Jupiter, and the whole spectacle was so cheesy that the dancing seemed almost beside the point. Osmond's 24 was the lowest score anyone received in the Latin portion, and added to his waltz 26, he's sharing the bottom with the competition's saddest sack.
You almost can't watch the screen when Aaron Carter is being even mildly criticized, as he was after the so-so foxtrot he performed with Karina Smirnoff. The poor kid looks absolutely stricken to hear he's not the best little boy in the world. C'mon Aaron, top five is a good thing! Smirnoff battled the flu all week, forcing her to rehearse while wearing a jacket and requiring Carter to wear a face mask. Frankly, the more of his face is covered up, the better. The judges found Carter to be too tense on the foxtrot, but he has been using the faster dances to recover, and so it proved to be with his '90s style samba ("'90s style" meaning a Nirvana/Ricky Martin mashup, apparently). The audience tends to respond to the way his neediness translates into energy on the floor, and the judges gave him a 27 to compensate for his earlier 23. He clearly suffered, though, from having to follow the samba of Mya.
Halfway through the show, Joanna Krupa was facing her first truly dangerous moment of the season, following a score of 23 on her quickstep that left her tied with Carter and looking up at the other three. The quickstep seemed to be a rare choreography misstep from Derek Hough, who may have psyched both himself and his partner out by watching footage of Mya. Carrie Ann Inaba praised them for the difficulty of the routine, but Bruno Tonioli thought there was too much running and not enough dancing in sync.
But Krupa and Hough made a huge comeback thanks to their paso doble from "the future." Both dancers wore heavy robotic makeup and incorporated many of those jerky, aggressive-looking motions familiar from any number of Janet Jackson videos, but the routine did include lots of true paso doble content and was easily the most fun anyone had all night. What's more, the studio audience, which has seemed cool towards Krupa all year, exploded when she finished. The pair fully earned their 29, and Krupa vaulted into second place on the night, albeit a distant second. After seeming to be a beat behind the major contenders during the first half of the season, she has now put together two hugely memorable moments (the other being her dance marathon win) in the last three weeks, and just may have the partner who can give her the ultimate victory.
Unlike the other four remaining, Kelly Osbourne has never done anything this season to make anyone think she can win. But she keeps avoiding the trainwreck, and combined with her loyal fanbase, that will probably be enough to get her into the penultimate week. Partner Louis van Amstel managed to get his flighty partner to concentrate long enough in rehearsal to where Osbourne could pull off a competent foxtrot, although the judges seemed to disagree over how graceful she was (Goodman complained about her footwork, while Tonioli called her "weightless"). For her jive set in the '60s, Osbourne, who is over a decade younger than her partner, called upon her superior knowledge of the era's signature dance moves to give the routine some nice period touches. She didn't have nearly the speed that Carter brought to the jive last week and she wasted a lot of time with a doll prop, but the judges, as they have been all season, were inclined to be kind to Osbourne. Her scores of 25 and 26 left her third on the night.
Who will be going home? Given how often he's been in danger already this season, it's hard to see how Carter can possibly make it any further. And if he leaves, that would make Osmond the last male standing, as we assumed he would be back in September.