Dancing with the Stars Season 9, Episode 11: Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009 - Recap

Dancing with the Stars trims its cast to nine couples as another pair is eliminated. With tight scores and breakthrough performances from two stars, it will come down to the last vote. Plus, the pros pay tribute to Michael Jackson. Who went home, and how did the tribute pan out? Find out below!

Recap time! Melissa thinks she looked so sexy and sultry while Mark laughs in her face. Amazing. If turning your nose up and biting your lips is sexy, then I've clearly been doing something wrong in life. Aaron says the two kisses he got from Carrie Ann were worth more than three 10s. He would think that. Joanna calls the stumble a bad dream. Kelly hurt her ankle (which turns out to be a contusion). Ozzy tells her it's showbiz. Mark is happy with his score because he's sniffing Mya's tail. Donny finally feels like a contender. Really?

Not surprisingly, Donny the contendah gets the encore, mostly because his Argentine tango earned the highest score so far this season. Yes, Donny Darko has eclipsed Mya. Mostly, I'm glad the encore is not the painfully awkward group hustle, but with the huge Michael Jackson tribute coming up, I doubt they wanted to create more mayhem for everyone involved.

After a snoozy lullaby from Norah Jones (do you expect anything less?), it's time for the first round of eliminations.

First three safe couples (from the top scorers):

Mark and Lacey

Donny and Kym

Mya and Dmitry

Now it's time for some behind-the-scenes footage of the jam-packed Mondays, which starts very early, Louie tells us. This leads into alternating narrations from nearly everyone in probably the most unintentionally hilarious scripted segment ever (and they have a lot of them!). Half of the stars sound so out of it. The highlight: Natalie (rocking an adorable jacket) telling us the lucky few run into The Berge during the day... which is not exactly "running into," but more like "knocking on his door." Nonetheless, lucky, indeed.

Next safe couple (from 24-point scorers):

Kelly and Louis

That leaves Joanna and Derek (or Maks, depending on how you look at it) and Aaron and Karina in jeopardy.

Next safe couple (from lowest-scoring male and female pairs):

Michael and Anna

That means Natalie and Alec is the third pair in jeopardy. Sadly, I was expecting this. She went first, wasn't totally memorable and got lukewarm reviews.

Norah Jones returns to whisper "Come Away With Me" as Jonathan and Anna T. float across the floor. The Berge reveals afterward that this was their wedding song. Those with keen eyes would have caught Jonathan and Anna swaying in the background as The Berge relays this info. And thus, my cold, black heart is warmed.

Next safe couple:

Louie and Chelsie

Melissa and Mark are still in jeopardy. It looks like all the mighty have fallen. Three former top scorers and a second-place finisher are in danger of leaving.

Michael Jackson Tribute

There have been 17 performances done to Michael Jackson tunes in all nine seasons of Dancing - which La Toya Jackson says her brother was a fan of. The intro package includes testimonials and tributes from La Toya, Jermaine Jackson and the pros chatting about the late star's influence. Derek says he completely changed the face of choreography. Maks says we must thank MJ for all the staccato movements. Cheryl thinks every dancer has incorporated his moves. Mark dressed up as MJ for Halloween when he was 3. Karina says we lost the father of dance and choreography. La Toya, in all of her royal blue glory, does the intro honors. The first segment, choreographed by Derek and Mark, features the guys and Karina dancing to "I Want You Back." Mark is rocking his rhinestone socks yet again. That segues into the Maks-choreographed "Man in the Mirror" part with Chelsie, Dmitry, Tony, Edyta and Lacey, as Maks mentioned in his TVGuide.com blog. I like the partner-swappage in front of the reflective glass. That moves into the big "Thriller" finish, which kicks off with an awesome intro from Cheryl and Louis before everyone joins for the zombie dance break. It's kind of cool to see everyone together on the floor, as I don't believe I've ever seen them all out there before. Leave it to MJ to bring them together. Overall, it was a perfect, fitting tribute to the King of Pop with all of his iconic and flashy moves. My only grievance? It was too short for all the build-up.

Next two safe couples:

Melissa and Mark (good thing because she looked like she was about to lose it)

Joanna and Derek

That leaves Aaron and Karina, and Natalie and Alec in the bottom two. All three judges express disappointment in Aaron and Natalie being in the bottom two. Len, particularly, chews out the audience for supporting the underdog instead of good dancing. "Justice should prevail," he says. Well, you know what? It may be easier if you didn't score everyone so close together, thus, leaving it up to the fanbases to decide who leaves. On top of that, everyone knows the show's about personality and likeability, and Aaron is, uh, lacking in those departments. Natalie? She's a sweetie, but perhaps too low-key and drama-free in such a large cast. Unfortunately, justice did not prevail: Natalie and Alec are leaving.

They get a standing ovation, which is well-deserved. This was a premature elimination for someone with Natalie's potential and ability. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so gutted from being eliminated. She's struggling to hold back tears and tells us she loved the experience so much and thinks she didn't show how much she loved it. Alec tells her he's proud of her.

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