‘Dancing with the Stars 21’ review: Bindi Irwin, Andy Grammer, Alek Skarlatos tell their stories

Alexa -There were so many reasons why Monday night’s new episode of “Dancing with the Stars” was particularly emotional. Tom Bergeron was off caring for his ailing father, Alek Skarlatos has had a particularly hard week, and the Stars are all performing routines that remind them of the most memorable year of their lives. Gary Busey’s looking back at Buddy Holly, while Bindi Irwin will provide an emotional tribute to her father Steve.

As we have a tendency to do during many of these episodes, we’re going to be giving you quick-takes on the scores and the stories as the episode progresses.

Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas – The year this time was 2006, which was when she first landed her role in “Spy Kids.” This was reasonably fun, but a bit sloppy on the technique. Maybe the emotions of the night got to her? The talent is there, but the content was off. 21.

Garey Busey and Anna Trebunskaya – We are heading back to 1979, a time where Gary’s life changed in so many ways. This was a tribute to Buddy Holly, and while it was fun, the content’s just not there. Anna has really done the best with him that she can, since he’s not really improving. 16.

Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy – This was powerful, given that it told Tamar’s story of how in 2012 she went on a personal rollercoaster that included her husband being in a coma. The dance was sensational, passionate, and proof that she is only getting better with each passing week. 27.

Hayes Grier and Emma Slater – Where did this come from? This was Hayes’ breakout dance, inspired by the beginning of his surge to stardom in 2014. The choreography was great, but above all else he nailed the technique and allowed his personality to shine. 27.

Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold – This routine was especially emotional for him given that he is still recovering from what happened at his community college in Oregon, and there was a certain element to this that made us think that after watching his full package before the performance, he got a little bit distracted. 24.

Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess – To the surprise of no one, Nick continues to be really good at this! Would you expect anything different at this point? This was all about 1992 and the formation of the Backstreet Boys, and also how taking part in this helped to fundamentally change his life. 27.

Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson – Carlos picked 2012 because that is when he first started to turn his life around after facing some hardship and getting into bad stuff. This routine was put together nicely, but we don’t exactly know how it fit into any particular style. It’s a step in the right direction, but fittingly below some of the favorites. 24.

Paula Deen and Louis van Amstel – There were glimmers of hope in here that Paula could someday score at least a 21. She’s just not all there yet when it comes to the confidence. Sure, she is the oldest woman left, but she’s in an interesting position where it still seems like the biggest issues she is facing are mental ones. 18.

Andy Grammer and Allison Holker – Andy performed the cha-cha, and for the most part did a decent job with what was an unorthodox routine after talking about the death of his mother back when he was a street performer in 2009. He was sloppy, but still continues to be in the middle of the pack. 23.

Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough – There is that first official 10 of the season! We’re not surprised to see it come after an emotional dance, but more than that a stunning one. We loved her father as much as everyone else. He’d be proud of this and we’re sure he is. 28.

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