‘Dancing with the Stars’ Most Memorable Year recap: Stars danced to commemorate tragedies & triumphs

Last week’s episode of “Dancing with the Stars,” “Guilty Pleasures Night” focused on celebration in the wake of a national tragedy, but this week’s “Most Memorable Year” brought emotions to the forefront as the 11 remaining celebrities performed routines inspired by a year that was especially meaningful to them, including 2005, when Jordan Fisher was adopted by his grandparents, and 2011, when Nick Lachey married his wife and co-competitor Vanessa Lachey. So who blew away the judges, who was a disappointment, and who was sent home at the end of the night? Read on to find out.

Going into this “Most Memorable” theme night, Lindsey Stirling had taken back the lead in our predictions for who will win the Mirror Ball Trophy. She’s been neck-and-neck with Jordan Fisher, trading the lead back and forth since the cast was announced. She got the highest score of the season for her jive last week, which undoubtedly helped her odds, and on “Most Memorable Year Night” she delivered another showstopper, this one with a heartbreaking inspiration. Her Viennese waltz with pro partner Mark Ballas was dedicated to the year 2017, when her father died of cancer. “I feel like I got to thank my dad in a way I’ve never been able to before,” she said.

But Stirling didn’t quite make it back to the top of the judges’ leaderboard. Instead, she scored an 8 and two 9s for a total of 26 out of 30, one point shy of her week-three total and good enough for third place in this week’s standings. True to the back-and-forth nature of their rivalry, it was Jordan Fisher who won the night yet again with his emotional contemporary dance that paid tribute to his grandparents. It not only set the standard for the night but set the standard for the season so far, receiving the first perfect 10s of this competition — from Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, the latter of who described the dance as “exquisitely flawless.” Len Goodman was the sole holdout who gave Fisher a 9, but that grand total of 29 out of 30 was more than enough to secure the night’s top spot.

One other dancer outscored Stirling: Paralympian Victoria Arlen, who also performed a routine inspired by the year 2017, but while Stirling’s performance mourned a loss, Arlen’s celebrated a personal triumph. After years of struggling through an illness that for a time left her in a vegetative state, she miraculously recovered. She only relearned how to walk about a year ago, and now she’s posting high scores on “Dancing with the Stars.” “That was just a joyful, lovely experience and you should inspire the whole of America,” said judge Goodman. The panel gave her straight 9s for a total of 27 out of 30.

But then came the nasty business of elimination. Sasha Pieterse finished last on the judges’ leaderboard last week, making her vulnerable, but the bottom six contestants were grouped closely together so there were no guarantees. And indeed Pieterse got a reprieve when the judges scores were combined with viewer votes. In fact, she wasn’t even one of the celebs who were in jeopardy. Instead, singer Nick Lachey and basketball player Derek Fisher were the contestants at risk after tying for second-to-last on the leaderboard last week. Ultimately it was Fisher who was sent home.

Could Lachey be in trouble next week? He has been in jeopardy twice this season already, though the contestant announced as “in jeopardy” who ends up safe isn’t necessarily the star who was actually in the bottom two; “DWTS” chooses the real lowest scorer and another contestant or two to generate suspense regardless of whether the other contestants really were close to being eliminated. Nevertheless, the psychological effects of being in jeopardy are real, both for the celeb and for their fans voting at home. So this might even be good news, as it may inspire his supporters to vote doubly hard for him to keep him out of harm’s way. He’ll need it: his contemporary routine received the lowest score of the night (22 out of 30), which could put him in some real jeopardy.

Complete Judges’ Leaderboard

1. Jordan Fisher — 29
2. Victoria Arlen — 27
3. Lindsey Stirling — 26
4. Nikki Bella — 24
4. Vanessa Lachey — 24
4. Frankie Muniz — 24
4. Terrell Owen — 24
4. Sasha Pieterse — 24
4. Drew Scott — 24
10. Derek Fisher — 23 (ELIMINATED)
11. Nick Lachey — 22

Final Predictions Contest Results

Who was eliminated? Derek Fisher

Who got the judges’ HIGHEST score? Jordan Fisher (29 out of 30)

Who got the judges’ LOWEST score? Nick Lachey (22 out of 30)

How many 10s did the judges give out? 1 to 4 (two to be exact)

Which judge gave the MOST overall points? Carrie Ann Inaba AND Bruno Tonioli (91)

Which judge gave the FEWEST overall points? Len Goodman (89)

Did Carrie Ann Inaba comment on an unauthorized lift? No

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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