Dancing Recap: Melissa's Perfect Comeback!

Photo: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Performing two dances brought double the nerves and pressure for the final five on Monday night. Lil’ Kim‘s waltz disappointed, Ty stiffened up, Shawn broke a rule and, yes, even Gilles got some constructive criticism. But Melissa … – who sat out last week because of a rib fracture -… came back with a vengeance and samba’d her way from the bottom of the pack to the top.

Shawn Johnson came out “like Sporty Spice” to kick off the night with a quickstep that the judges said finally showed her personality. She earned props for her footwork and delivery but got docked for breaking the hold, which partner Mark Ballas explained was a “calculated move” to put on a show. The duo bounced back with an almost flawless paso doble in the second half. “Gilrfriend, you delivered the drama, you nailed it!” Carrie Ann Inaba told the gymnast. “You were focused and powerful like a guided missile going for the score,” added Bruno Tonioli.

Ty Murray brought the charm but it wasn’t enough for the judges. Tonioli said his Argentine tango needed more subtlety since it was “like watching a Power Ranger,” and Inaba told him he lacked breadth in his motions. His rumba didn’t impress either. “You’re one of the most likable contestants we’ve ever had,” Tonioli said, “but I think we cannot at this stage, the quarterfinals, confuse likeability with ability. The rumba, think Mario Lopez. What I’m seeing is Kenny Mayne.” Head judge Len Goodman was pleasantly surprised, but the small missteps in Lil’ Kim’s waltz didn’t go unnoticed by his fellow judges. “You try to be a lady but you’re more comfortable being a tramp,” Tonioli commented, as a shocked audience laughed. “What I’m trying to say is… you didn’t feel for me as comfortable performer as you normally are.” The rapper listened and brought the Bionic Booty for a sizzlin’ samba that got the judges excited (save for her solo that most agreed was too over the top). “It got a little out of control,” said Inaba.

A gliding Gilles Marini — with a smooth foxtrot and romantic rumba — once again showed why he’s consistently stayed at the top of the leader’s board. “Sophisticated, elegant, with a great sense of theater, you reached everyone in this audience,” Tonioli told the SATC actor, who got the audience on its feet after dancing to “Fever.” Goodman pointed out his posture and how he needs to keep his legs straight. But his second performance? “I think women would agree that was the most highly anticipated rumba we’ve ever had,” said Inaba. “I don’t know how it looked at home in high-definition but it certainly looked good here in the studio!” added Goodman.

Recovering from her injury last week, Melissa Rycroft returned to the dancefloor … – to a tiny tidbit of criticism thrown in with a whole lot of praise. “I’m still not a big fan of your feet,” Goodman said after her Viennese waltz, though Tonioli said she was “an ethereal vision, lighter than air. You really use your arms like an angel.” But the really good news didn’t come until after her “party dance” samba. Goodman said she “100 percent should be here next week” and Inaba couldn’t agree more. “I have to point out the flaws because the flaws are what’s going to set you apart next week. I say take the week off — flawless!” –Eunice Oh

Here’s how the remaining five contestants stacked up after Monday’s performance: Shawn & Mark: 27 out of 30 for their quickstep, 29 out of 30 for their paso doble. 56 out of 60 total Ty & Chelsie: 25 out of 30 for their Argentine tango, 21 out of 30 for their rumba. 46 out of 60 total Lil’ Kim & Derek: 25 out of 30 for their waltz, 27 out of 30 for their salsa. 52 out of 60 total Gilles & Cheryl: 29 out of 30 for their fox trot, 27 out of 30 for their rumba. 56 out of 60 total Melissa & Tony: 27 out of 30 for their Viennese waltz, 30 out of 30 for their samba. 57 out of 60 total

Tell us: Do you think this is the end of the line for Ty & Chelsie? Were you impressed with Melissa’s comeback?

MORE: Dancing POLL: Whose Solo Soared?Kelsey McNeal/ABC

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