After being sidelined by a calf injury for the last four weeks, Chmerkovskiy rejoined partner Heather Morris for a jaw-dropping rumba set to TLC’s “Waterfalls,” and the super sensual performance blew the entire audience away and ended up earning them the season’s first perfect score of 40 out of 40!
And then, in a twist literally no one could have expected, the pair were eliminated, leaving the audience booing and hosts Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron — as well as every other contestant — totally stunned.
At the end of the night, the two stars who found themselves in jeopardy — despite consistently high scores and impressive dances — were Morris and Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. But Morris’ perfect routine somehow just couldn’t save her.
Speaking with Andrews and Bergeron after their shocking elimination, Morris remained positive and optimistic.
“I’m OK. It’s a hard competition, and I’m really happy that I got to do what I got to do. It was really fun.”
“In 24 seasons, that is probably the most vocally unhappy reaction we’ve gotten about an [elimination],” said Bergeron of the crowd. He also asked Chmerkovskiy if he was disappointed about getting the axe after working so hard to get back in top shape.
“I’m good,” Chmerkovskiy said. “I put in a lot of work to come back and give her the chance… I think Heather is my inspiration moving forward. What we’ve gone through together is unmatchable in my past seasons.”
Their elimination came after the pair delivered one of the most impressive dances of the whole season.
The routine, which gave off seriously sexy 1940s film noir vibes, was set in a bar, and involved Morris’ substitute partner Alan Bersten, who filled in for Chmerkovskiy on the dance floor while he recovered.
As the dance began, Morris — decked out in a fiery red gown — walked into a bar with Bersten by her side. But, as Bersten’s attention was captured by a woman in a black gown, Morris walked away in anger, only to be wooed by Chmerkovskiy.
“We’re going to set up a storyline in which I win her back from Alan by virtue of a very sexy dance,” Chmerkovskiy explained in a pre-taped package before the performance.
Morris, who has been a stellar dancer this entire season, upped her game even more and the pair delivered one of the best rumbas in recent DWTS memories.
When the dust settled, the judges could barely contain themselves.
“It was like Kim Basinger in Dancing With the Stars Confidential,” Bruno Tonioli marveled. “[You] played like a star [and] danced like a champion.”
Even Len Goodman — who, earlier in the night, snubbed Normani Kordei with an eight for her salsa, despite every other judge giving her 10s — had nothing but effusive praise for the performance, and the reunited couple ended up with the season’s first perfect score of 40 out of 40.
Ultimately, flawless scores didn’t make up for the couple not getting enough votes. However, their elimination will likely go down as one of the most surprising upsets in the history of the show.
Check out the video below for more on Chmerkovskiy and Morris’ DWTS journey.