‘Dancing with the Stars’ recap: On ‘Dance Trios’ night, 4 advance to semi-finals & judges took the gloves off

No more mister nice guy! That seemed to be the message from the judges on “Dancing with the Stars” for “Dance Trios” night. The competition was down to its final five contestants after last week’s double elimination of “Bachelor” star Nick Viall and figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. The standards got even higher. The criticisms got even tougher. And, perhaps because they got a harsh reality check of early-than-expected eliminations for Kerrigan and Heather Morris, the judges put their foot down with the scores as well.

Bull rider Bonner Bolton felt the sting more than anyone. He got the lowest score on the judges leaderboard: 30 out of 40 for his initial dance, Argentine tango, and then 28 out of 40 for his trio dance with his regular pro partner Sharna Burgess and troupe member Britt Stewart. That included six 7s, which is significant in and of itself. The judges generally get more generous and encouraging as the season goes along, so to get 7s in week eight of the competition is downright damning.

We predicted that Bolton would get the lowest score of the night — he had odds of 9/10, which translated to a 56% chance of landing at the bottom — but I doubt many expected the harsh comments from head judge Len Goodman. In response to Bolton’s dance as well as his clip package that showed him struggle while training, Goodman said, “If you’re frustrated, please don’t blame the judges, blame the viewers because you’ve gone a bridge too far.” It’s not uncommon for the judges to play favorites, but it was genuinely surprising to hear Goodman essentially tell a contestant that he should have been eliminated by now and that viewers voting from home were wrong to keep him around.

And for that matter, a case can be made for blaming the judges too. Bolton has been scored generously in weeks past, so his supportive fans were able to keep him in the competition for longer than more accomplished performers like Kerrigan and Morris, who were evaluated more meticulously. For instance, on “Disney Night,” Goodman gave 8s to both Bolton and Morris. The scores from that night were combined with viewer votes to send Morris home the following week. And on “Boy Bands vs. Girl Groups” night, Goodman gave 8s to both Bolton and Kerrigan, and the combination of judges’ scores and viewer votes resulted in Kerrigan’s elimination the following week. So if Goodman thought Bolton was really out of his league, he probably should have scored him accordingly when it counted.

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It was an unfortunate way for Bolton to end his “DWTS” run as he was eliminated at the end of the night. We predicted that outcome as well: he had even odds of 1/1, or a 52% chance of elimination. Though he probably did last longer than his dance quality merited, Goodman’s comments felt like kicking him while he’s down.

On a happier note, singer Normani Kordei continued her dominance, delivering a contemporary dance that earned her another perfect score: 10s across the board for a total of 40 out of 40. She followed that with a sexy cowgirl jive with her partner Val Chmerkovskiy and additional dancer Alan Bersten that was just short of perfection: she received three 10s, but was given a 9 by — you guessed it — Len Goodman, who didn’t like the moment when Kordei performed a portion of the dance on top of the judges’ table.

Nevertheless, those two scores gave Kordei the highest total of the night. That made this her fifth week on top of the judges’ leaderboard. She’s been on a role, so it’s no surprise that most of our users predicted that outcome too. She had leading odds of 8/13, or a 62% chance of winning the night yet again. And considering that the judges fawned over her while they continued to find fault with gymnast Simone Biles and Rashad Jennings, it looks like Kordei’s momentum may be unstoppable.

Biles and Jennings are going to need to pull out all the stops to beat Kordei at this point. For Biles, the judges want to see more emotional expression and personal connection to her dances and to her partner Sasha Farber. But Jennings has the opposite problem: he has nailed the interpretation of his dances, but needs to clean up his footwork.

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That’s assuming Biles and Jennings both make it to the finals. Since they scored lower than Kordei, the judges left the door open for one of them to be eliminated, as we’ve seen how powerful baseball player David Ross‘s fan base has been, consistently keeping him in the competition against higher-scoring celebs.

Our collective odds only missed one predictions question this week: how many 10s will the judges give out? Most of us thought there would be four to nine perfect 10s (4/9 odds, 70% chance), but the judges gave out exactly 10 of them: four for Kordei’s first dance, three for her trio dance, and three for Jennings’s trio dance. The possibility of 10 or more perfect scores had 5/1 odds (14% chance), so that took many of us by surprise.

In our weekly predictions contest, four users scored 100% by correctly answering all four of our prediction questions: who would get the high score (Kordei), who would get the low score (Bolton), who would be eliminated (Bolton), and how many 10s the judges would give out (10 or more). Those users were Caroline Schneider, Cordell Martin, Youtuber101 and myself.

Caroline Schneider takes first place on our predictions leaderboard because she took advantage of the odds to score the maximum payout. She predicted that there would be 10 or more perfect 10s given out by the judges at a time when that outcome had 100/1 odds, which by itself resulted in 10,000 points added to her score.

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Check out the top 10 users in our predictions chart below. Click on the chart to see the complete predictions leaderboard so you can find out how well you did.

dancing with the stars dwts week 8 predictions leaderboard

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What did you think of “Dance Trios” night on “Dancing with the Stars”? Next week are the semifinals, so the competition will be more demanding than ever. You can already make your predictions for next week here. You get to answer the following questions before each episode airs on ABC every Monday at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET.:

Who will win “Dancing with the Stars”?

Who will be eliminated?

Who will get the HIGHEST judges’ score?

Who will get the LOWEST judges’ score?

How many 10s will the judges give out?

Top 10 BEST ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Contestants Ever

Before you make your predictions, make sure to consult the judges’ scores from tonight’s episode, which along with viewer votes will determine who if anyone is sent home next week:

Normani Kordei — 40 + 39 = 79
Rashad Jennings — 36 + 39 = 75
Simone Biles — 36 + 36 = 72
David Ross — 36 + 29 = 65
Bonner Bolton — 30 + 28 = 58 (ELIMINATED)

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