updated 03/25/2014 AT 7:00 AM ET
•originally published 03/24/2014 AT 10:25 PM ET
Monday night’s Dancing with the Stars kicked off with a selection of surprises.
Not only did contestants learn right at the beginning that there was a double elimination to take place during the show, but the leader board’s lowest scorer Billy Dee Williams – whose face expressed fear of being sent home – was saved almost immediately, and went on to dance a 15-point tango with Emma Slater that judge Len Goodman said “didn’t have enough attack.”
Before getting to the unfortunate two who were forced to bid adieu, here’s a recap of how the night went overall:
Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke were the first couple declared safe, and continued to woo judges and the audience with a lovable 21-point jive that was critiqued for footwork and posture, but praised by critic Bruno Tonioli for getting the “crowd going beautifully.”
The next couple saved was Danica McKellar and birthday boy Valentin Chmerkovskiy, who danced a 24-point samba that was praised overall by judges, with just a little transition critique from Tonioli.
Also seeing the light of another week is Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The duo danced a high-intensity, 25-point swing routine that Tonioli raved was a “swinging acrobatic extravaganza.” Fellow judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Goodman also enjoyed the number, but said there were a few mistakes.
Former Full House star Candace Cameron Bure and partner Mark Ballas, who will also continue in the competition, didn’t get the same positive reaction from the judges this week as they did prior. Inaba critiqued the 21-point rumba for looking too much like a contemporary, while Goodman said, “I know you were trying to make it into a romance, but it didn’t come off like that, unfortunately.”
Paralympian Amy Purdy, also moving ahead in the contest, performed yet another jaw-dropping routine with partner Derek Hough. Despite missing an arm pass in the 24-point swing dance, both Goodman and Inaba praised the pair for a job “well done.”
While each dance up to this point brought its own original flare, it was James Maslow’s salsa with Peta Murgatroyd that brought on the sexy, and landed themselves a spot in next week’s competition. The former Nickelodeon star bared his picture-perfect abs that got an especially big stamp of approval from Inaba, who put the young musician in the same category as legendary DWTS contestants, including Gilles Marini.
The couple ended up with 25 points for their routine that was overall praised, but slightly critiqued by Goodman for losing “a little quality of the dance” based on lack of hip action.
Next up was last week’s top scorer Charlie White, who, once again, didn’t fail to impress the critics with a 25-point tango, alongside partner Sharna Burgess. “You looked like Baryshnikov out there tonight,” hailed Inaba.
Following White’s dance, NeNe Leakes, Cody Simpson and Sean Avery were each forced to dance before learning their fate.
Leakes brought her usual upbeat self to the ballroom with partner Tony Dovolani, where the duo danced a 21-point jive that Tonioli critiqued for lacking sharpness, but praised for being “great entertainment.”
Avery and Karina Smirnoff did a 21-point salsa that judges commended for being an improvement from last week’s routine.
Tween heartthrob Simpson and partner Witney Carson tangoed their way onto the stage and landed 22 points for a number that Goodman wished had been “more compact and tight,” and Inaba insulted for a height difference that seemingly caused Simpson to be “struggling.”
Of the three pairs, it was Avery and Smirnoff who were sent packing.
“Sean was amazing,” the veteran dance pro, who praised her partner’s “determination and hard work,” said after hearing the hard news. “I wish we had an opportunity to see more of his personality.”
But they weren’t the only ones sent away. Earlier in the telecast, swimming sensation Diana Nyad was eliminated with partner Henry Byalikov.
“For nine years I wanted to be on the show,” Nyad told the crowd after learning her fate. “It’s joy, it’s freedom. I only wish this superlative, handsome young man – He’s elegant and he’s brilliant and I wish I could have given him a couple more weeks.”