It was switch-up night on “Dancing with the Stars,” as the celebrities teamed up with a different partner to show off their moves in the ballroom.
And, despite the one-week partner change, Meryl Davis, who swapped one Chmerkovskiy (Maks) for the other (Val), rose to the top.
The Olympic ice dancing gold medalist put out a powerful performance, demonstrating an intense Argentine tango with Val that even had guest judge (and two-time mirrorball champ) Julianne Hough heaping on the praise.
“I would love to dance like you,” Julianne said. “You are so beautiful. And Val, the choreography was amazing.”
“You two are in a class of your own,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba raved. “You are untouchable.”
Len Goodman had one critique – that the performance was too “staccato” — but he summed up their tango by calling it, “the dance of the night.”
Their score reflected those critiques, as Meryl and Val took home 39 out of 40 (Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann and Julianne offered 10s; Len gave them a 9).
Val’s regular Season 18 partner, Danica McKellar, actually found herself paired up with Maks, and Julianne wasn’t as kind on their jive.
Despite winning over Carrie Ann, who said it was the “most confident dance” Danica performed so far this season, Julianne thought Maks let his part-time partner down.
She suggested he “just had to phone it in,” so he could get past this week and “be back with Meryl.”
“I dance, at my age – with all due respect – you never know when it’s going to be the last dance, so I take every dance as my last,” Maks said, when show co-host Erin Andrews asked for his thoughts on Julianne’s comments. “This week was very special to me. She’s an amazing person.
“I took care of her, bro,” Maks said to his brother, Val. “I tried my best.”
Val patted his brother on the stomach and told him, “you did good.”
Last time Julianne served as a guest judge on the show, in October 2013, she made a comment about Mark Ballas (she told his then partner Christina Milian, “you have to stand in front [of Mark] to make sure you are seen”), a remark that caused controversy. On Monday, she praised Mark for his chemistry with Derek Hough’s usual Season 18 partner Amy Purdy – after making a joke.
“You are incredible. You do such an amazing [job]. Now for Mark… I’m just kidding,” Julianne said. “Honestly, you guys made it through a huge hurdle and I’m so proud of you.”
Amy and Mark’s salsa earned them 34 points.
Hunky James Maslow proved to be another high scorer on the night, earning 35 points for a tango that ended in a near kiss with his one-week partner, Cheryl Burke.
James’ Season 18 partner was clearly enjoying watching the ab-tastic James tango, and she seemed to cheer the loudest as their sexy dance ended.
“You are the total package,” Julianne commented. “You’re so amazing. Every season there’s always like the hot guy that takes off his shirt, and they can only go so far, that lasts so long. And for you, you have dedication, you have technique, you have passion, you have everything. For me, you’re the total package.”
One celeb and their regular Season 18 partner will be eliminated next Monday nighton “DWTS.”