By People Staff
Updated December 01, 2020 03:55 PM
Credit: Adam Larkey/ABC(2)

Monday’s episode marked the first time in Dancing With the Stars history that every couple in the semifinals has at one point in the competition received the greatest number of audience votes, making it nearly impossible to predict who will land in the bottom two during Tuesday’s results show.

After the final four went head to head in front of an audience that included former contestants Kate Gosselin and Jake Pavelka with fianc e Vienna Girardi, The Blind Side star Quinton Aaron and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the judges selected two front-runners: Nicole Scherzinger and Evan Lysacek. They both earned a perfect score for one of their two dances: Nicole for her Argentine tango with partner Derek Hough during the ballroom round and Evan for his paso doble with Anna Trebunskaya during the Latin round.

Despite suffering a neck injury during practice this week, Derek was able to lead Nicole through a stunning tango that riled the audience to the evening’s longest and most enthusiastic standing ovation — and brought judge Carrie Ann Inaba to tears. “You are so amazing,” she said. “You are dynamic when you need to be dynamic, explosive when you need to be explosive. You’re incredible.” Len Goodman agreed, conceding Nicole’s performance deserved “the best compliment I can ever give: it was more delicious than my grandmother’s apple pie.” Later, Nicole earned a near-perfect score for her “sexylicious” Latin solo.

Evan and Anna earned a 29 for their ballroom routine, during which Evan finally broke out of his shell and showed some personality. Anna encouraged the Olympian in rehearsal to think about the things that make him happiest: coffee, cars and his baby nephew. The tip paid off — the judges praised Evan for showing his fun side and called the performance “wonderful.” But the couple’s paso doble during the Latin round, for which they earned a perfect score, truly blew away the crowd. Len praised Evan for his ability to dominate his pro-partner in the “man’s dance.”

Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy came in third Monday night after scoring straight nines for their Viennese waltz despite Erin’s nervousness. They almost earned an extra point when judge Bruno Tonioli, in a case of “premature paddling,” accidentally flashed a 10 instead of a nine. Although the pair scored two points higher in their Latin routine, Len’s criticism still drew hisses and boos from the audience.

Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke landed in the bottom two for the first time last week, and it looks like they could end up in a similar position Tuesday night after their routines earned mediocre scores from the judges. Len praised Chad for being the only competitor in the semifinals without any previous dance experience, and Carrie Ann even called the wide receiver “a new Chad,” describing him as “phenomenal” and saying his “charisma lights up the room.” But the couple received the lowest scores of the evening with straight nines for their ballroom routine and eights for the Latin round. –Jessica Wedemeyer

Tell us: Which couple were your favorite of the night? Who is heading home?Adam Larkey/ABC(2)