But unlike in seasons past, a usually outspoken Chmerkovskiy says he’s not upset, because he expects judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman to deliver tough critiques at this point.
“With a smile on my face and a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy heart, [I’ll say] there’s nothing we can do right by them, and it is what it is,” the professional dancer told reporters backstage after Monday night’s show. “Let’s be realistic. If we make it to the [dancing duel], we’re out. That’s a fact, no matter what we do.”
At the end of the day, Chmerkovskiy, who is injured with an ankle cyst, just wants to provide a memorable experience for his partner.
“I cater to Melissa, and the only thing I want Melissa to get out of this is five years from now, I want her to look at it and go, ‘I did that,’ ” he explains to PEOPLE. “So if I give her something obnoxious and she executes it the way she did today, that’s what her prized possession is.”
The pair will face elimination on Tuesday’s show – and if they’re in the bottom two, they’ll perform a routine for the judges, who’ll make the final decision about who will stay and who will go.