Dancing With the Stars Week 8 recap: Which couples are in the semifinals?

There must have been something in the water at the Dancing With the Stars ballroom on Monday night — and it wasn’t very good.

Even though the ABC reality series has reached its eighth week of competition, when every couple should be making a convincing case for the Mirrorball, most duos seemed to go backwards when it came to technique and attention to detail.

Here’s why it was especially disheartening to see so few couples rise to the occasion on Monday: Even though every season of DWTS is a fun, feel-good affair, it’s more enjoyable when it’s actually competitive. Jordan Fisher and Lindsey Stirling proved back in Week 1 that they’d be worthy of winning the title — but now, barring a dark-horse triumph from Frankie Muniz, it doesn’t seem like any of the remaining couples are legitimately threatening a win for Jordan or Lindsey. (Vanessa Lachey was making a persuasive argument for the Mirrorball, but was of course cut in last week’s surprise double elimination.)

That said, even though Season 25 hasn’t exactly been the series’ most unpredictable cycle, it’s still wholly entertaining. Before we go to the results, let’s revisit some highlights from Monday’s broadcast, which featured the traditional trio dances — this time with a former Dancing contestant serving as third wheel, instead of a troupe member.

See photos of all of this season's contenders:

13 PHOTOS
'Dancing With the Stars' season 25 cast
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'Dancing With the Stars' season 25 cast

Sasha Pieterse

(Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)

Terrell Owens

(Photo by J. Countess/WireImage)

Barbara Corcoran

(Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for T.J. Maxx)

Vanessa Lachey and Nick Lachey

(Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Debbie Gibson

(Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)

Drew Scott

(Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

Frankie Muniz

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Foundation)

Jordan Fisher

(Photo by Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Nikki Bella

(Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Derek Fisher

(Photo by Gabriel Olsen/WireImage)

Lindsey Sterling

(Photo by Josh Brasted/FilmMagic)

Victoria Arlen

(Photo by Phillip Faraone/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

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BEST OF THE NIGHT
Jordan Fisher and pro Lindsay Arnold (Salsa with Season 17 runner-up Corbin Bleu) — I almost didn’t finish this recap at all, because I wanted to rewind my DVR over and over until this salsa no longer left my jaw hanging on the floor. From the moment Jordan and Corbin jumped down that staircase, the routine was unbelievably speedy — and not once did either of these ballroom amateurs fall out of step, miss a combination or leave Lindsay to carry them through the number. Even more impressive? Although they were surely exhausted by the time this routine reached its halfway point, neither Jordan nor Corbin ever let on that they were feeling drained. This salsa, from start to finish, was pure electricity. Judges’ Score: 30/30

BEST OF THE NIGHT (RUNNER-UP)
Frankie Muniz and pro Witney Carson (Jive with Season 19 winner Alfonso Ribeiro) — Score-wise, the other best routine of the night was really Jordan and Lindsay’s quickstep duet — but they’ve earned enough kudos in the last eight weeks. Frankie’s performance with Witney was equally fun, with a cheekiness that made Alfonso the perfect trio companion. Sure, Frankie’s still got to work on that scowling thing he does, but his command of the choreography — even in a style that terrified him — was majorly commendable. Judges’ Score: 27/30

MOST CREATIVE CONCEPT
Victoria Arlen and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Jive with Season 23 winner Laurie Hernandez) — All told, this jive was a bit of a mess in parts; the staging of the routine, in which the studio audience was brought on to the ballroom floor, made it hard to see the trio’s fast footwork — and the parts we could see highlighted Victoria’s half-step lag behind Laurie. But technique aside, this jive told a heartwarming, nostalgic story chronicling Laurie’s Season 23 win and the subsequent bond she and Val developed with Victoria. It wasn’t a perfect dance, but it likely had you grinning from ear to ear by the time it was done. Judges’ Score: 24/30

WORST OF THE NIGHT
Drew Scott and pro Emma Slater (Cha-Cha with Season 24 winner Rashad Jennings) — Hoo boy, this was a strange grouping. Drew’s dancing has undoubtedly improved since Week 1, but when you put him next to Rashad — the reigning DWTS champion, who has insane chemistry with Emma — it’s hard to look past Drew’s shortcomings in the ballroom. On more than one occasion, it looked like Drew and Rashad were about to crash into each other during this fast-paced cha-cha, and all the fun of watching this routine was replaced by a fear that someone would go tumbling to the floor before it was over. Judges’ Score: 25/30

See each couple's odds heading into the season:

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'Dancing With the Stars' Season 25: Odds to win (TV Line)
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'Dancing With the Stars' Season 25: Odds to win (TV Line)

Barbara Corcoran (with pro Keo Motsepe)

Odds: 40-1

Pros and Cons: I’ve got a question for that wise owl from the Tootsie Pop commercials: How many seasons of DWTS does it take for Motsepe to get a decent partner? Aside from his sixth-place finish with Jodie Sweetin in Season 22, Motsepe has alternated between 13th and 11th place with his four other previous partners. (Perhaps one day, we’ll actually get to see his personality and choreographing prowess.) Shark Tankvet Corcoran will undoubtedly be fun to watch, and Dancing viewers have a soft spot for amateurs who give it their all, regardless of skill. But in the end, neither she nor Motsepe seem long for the Season 25 world.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Derek Fisher (with pro Sharna Burgess)

Odds: 35-1

Pros and Cons: NBA players have never had tremendous success on DWTS, which sets an unfortunate precedent for Fisher. Plus, given their difference in height and weight, Fisher and Burgess probably have a lot of clumsy routines in their future. The bright side: Burgess has yet to encounter a partner whose shortcomings she couldn’t choreograph around, from Noah Galloway to James Hinchcliffe to Bonner Bolton. Season 25 might not be a victorious one for Burgess, but her creativity and enthusiasm are always massively entertaining.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Frankie Muniz (with pro Witney Carson)

Odds: 30-1

Pros and Cons: Carson won the Mirrorball with Alfonso Ribeiro in Season 19, and has since been paired with contestants ranging from awful (sorry, Chris Soules!) to decent (Carlos PenaVega). I would love for Muniz to be a sleeper champion in Season 25, but the more likely scenario is that this actor-turned-race car driver will struggle to keep up with increasingly tricky dance styles.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Terrell Owens (with pro Cheryl Burke)

Odds: 25-1

Pros and Cons: Burke has already proven that she can confidently coach football players through their Dancing troubles: She snagged the Mirrorball with Emmitt Smith in Season 3 and placed fourth with Chad Johnson in Season 10. But even if Burke does turn T.O. into a ballroom pro, he’ll have to get the audience on his side if he wants to go far. Given the many controversies that have followed him throughout his NFL career (including that Nicollette Sheridan video), earning votes may not come so easily to him — and viewers might be even less inclined to back a pro footballer two seasons in a row, now that Rashad Jennings is the reigning Dancing champ.

(Heidi Gutman via Getty Images)

Nick Lachey (with pro Peta Murgatroyd)

Odds: 20-1

Pros and Cons: Lachey might be feeling the most pressure of any Season 25 contestant, considering brother Drew already walked away with the Mirrorball in Season 2. The good news? The elder Lachey can rely on the exact same boy-band dance experience that his sibling did, which means he probably won’t be the first (or even third) one eliminated. The bad news? After spending years in front of the camera — from reality show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica to competition series The Sing-Off — the viewing audience has likely had enough of Lachey, and he’ll have to be sensational on the dance floor to win over cynical voters.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Drew Scott (with pro Emma Slater)

Odds: 18-1

Pros and Cons: Though there’s plenty of viewers who find HGTV personalities insufferable, there’s thousands more who swoon daily over the Property Brothers — and that voting bloc will seriously help Scott’s chances in the competition. When Scott is on television, we usually see him as a straight-laced, well-dressed realtor with excellent posture; I’m not sure he’s got the flexibility or versatility to nail ballroom dancing, and that’s to say nothing of his one-foot height difference from Slater. Still, Slater was able to transform a pro football player into a Dancingchampion just last season, and it doesn’t seem likely she’d back down from this challenge, either.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Sasha Pieterse (with pro Gleb Savchenko)

Odds: 16-1

Pros and Cons: Here are three words to put in the “pro” column for Pieterse: Pretty. Little. Liars. Even though the Freeform drama ended earlier this year, it’s still got a vocal fandom that will likely benefit Pieterse hugely where votes are concerned. But PLL fans will only take Pieterse so far if she and Savchenko don’t have genuine chemistry — and Savchenko will need to deliver innovative choreography that can take the spotlight off series vets like Mark Ballas and Val Chmerkovskiy.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Nikki Bella (with pro Artem Chigvintsev)

Odds: 12-1

Pros and Cons: Chigvintsev has been known to butt heads with his previous partners, and if rehearsals get stressful, that might lead to some friction with a big personality like Bella. But she also brings quite a few assets to the show, namely her insane strength and ability to commit to a character, as she does in the wrestling world. If she and Chigvintsev can channel all that intensity into passion on the dance floor, they could very well make a strong case for that Mirrorball. (Bonus: If Nikki gets hurt, twin sister Brie could always fill in for her.)

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Debbie Gibson (with pro Alan Bersten)

Odds: 10-1

Pros and Cons: Though Gibson is famous for her late-’80s pop music career, let’s not write her off as a has-been who will struggle in the ballroom. In the years since “Only In My Dreams,” she’s done quite a bit of musical theater, leading such Broadway shows as Les Miz, Beauty and the Beast and Cabaret — so this won’t be her first dance rodeo. If Bersten can develop a solid fanbase in his first season as a professional partner, he and Gibson could be a formidable dark-horse pair.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Vanessa Lachey (with pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy)

Odds: 8-1

Pros and Cons: After getting eliminated far too early with Heather Morris last cycle, Chmerkovskiy will certainly be looking for redemption in Season 25. Though Lachey doesn’t have much notable dance experience, Chmerkovskiy is excellent at playing to his partners’ strengths and harnessing the potential he sees in them. If only one half of the Lachey couple can go the distance this season, Vanessa’s chances seem much stronger.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Victoria Arlen (with pro Val Chmerkovskiy)

Odds: 6-1

Pros and Cons: Arlen has a deeply powerful story: After living in a vegetative state for almost four years, she has slowly regained the ability to walk and talk; in fact, it was just over a year ago that she could move her lower half again. Though Dancingvoters will no doubt support Arlen during her time on the show, this is Chmerkovskiy’s first time choreographing for a partner with a potential physical impairment. If he can patiently and compassionately navigate Arlen through their routines, their partnership will likely have us reaching for the Kleenex every week.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

Lindsey Stirling (with pro Mark Ballas)

Odds: 4-1

Pros and Cons: Even though Stirling never pursued professional dance as a career, she regularly works choreography into her violin performances — and she’s got energy in spades, which she’ll need with Ballas as her partner. Stirling’s musicality, combined with Ballas’ originality, could make them worthy winners of the Mirrorball trophy… provided Stirling makes a big enough impact on the viewing audience to stick around. (Judging by the number of views on her “Radioactive” coverwith Pentatonix, at least a couple of people know who she is.)

(Heidi Gutman via Getty Images)

Jordan Fisher (with pro Lindsay Arnold)

Odds: 2-1

Pros and Cons: Season 25 will be Arnold’s sixth go-round as a pro, and she’s reached the finale three times… with partners that no one would expect to see anywhere near the winner’s circle. (See: David Ross.) This time, Arnold is paired with Fisher, who has a far more impressive resume: Not only does he have musical theater experience — including a buzzy performance in Fox’s Grease: Live and a recent run in Broadway’s Hamilton — but his solo music is in heavy rotation on Radio Disney, which means plenty of young voters will be dialing in on his behalf. Arnold has already proven she can achieve greatness with even the most heavy-footed dancers; alongside a young, musically inclined partner like Fisher, she seems unstoppable.

(Craig Sjodin via Getty Images)

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And now, the results:

ADVANCING TO SEMIFINALS (in order they were announced)
Jordan Fisher and pro Lindsay Arnold
Lindsey Stirling and pro Mark Ballas
Victoria Arlen and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
Drew Scott and pro Emma Slater
Frankie Muniz and pro Witney Carson

ELIMINATED
Terrell Owens and pro Cheryl Burke

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