"Dancing With the Stars" may be winding down with only five pairs still dancing, but the teams are cranking up the intensity, hoping to get the votes to send them to the semifinals next week.
Apolo Anton Ohno and his partner, Julianne Hough, took last week's harsh criticism from the judges and let it fuel their dancing fire.
"Sometimes you have to get knocked down to come back even stronger," Ohno told the cameras during rehearsals before Monday night's competition.
To the tune of Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl," Ohno and Hough's first dance, the tango, received mixed reviews. Judge Len Goodman said it was a "cacophony of noise and music," but judge Bruno Tonioli disagreed, calling it "inventive" and adding that he was finally excited.
The duo brought the house down with their follow-up.
The Olympic speed skater and his partner were shooting for a "mind-blowing" performance, and that's what they achieved in their second dance of the evening -- a bullfight-inspired Paso Doble that netted the two a 30, the only perfect score of the evening.
Tonioli said that they danced like they were champions looking at the finish line, and that they were looking for the kill. The audience roared enthusiastic approval, and judge Carrie Ann Inaba said she had chills throughout the performance.
Billy Ray Cyrus worked hard to impress the judges and said all he wanted was to score an 8.
"I've made it much further than I ever, ever expected," he said during rehearsal.
Inaba agreed, saying she "marveled at the fact that he was still in the competition."
But Cyrus and partner Karina Smirnoff failed to impress with their dances, and the tension thickened when Tonioli called Cyrus' fox trot "crap."
Both Cyrus and Smirnoff were disappointed with Tonioli's lack of constructive criticism.
"What are we supposed to do with 'crap?'" Smirnoff asked behind stage.
Cyrus added, "Calling me 'crap' is the pot calling the kettle black."
Despite his lack of technique and frequent missteps, Cyrus has repeatedly won the audience's approval with his rebellious charm. As Tonioli remarked, Cyrus is a "wild beast that cannot be tamed."
But Tonioli's words Monday night were enough to send the country star over the edge. Backstage Cyrus was in disbelief over how "rude, rude, rude" the judges were.
As "Dancing" host Tom Bergeron noted, every season has its moment, and Monday night it was the one shared between Laila Ali and her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
Ali's father, Muhammad Ali, was in the crowd, as was her mother, and the waltz she danced impressed the judges in its elegance and emotion.
"It was poignant. It had class. It had elegance and the movement across the floor was fantastic," Goodman said.
Tonioli and Inaba both agreed her posture could be better, but said she still managed to sell it.
The judges seldom critique the professional dancers, but this time Chmerkovskiy took some unusual heat after the pair's second performance.
"Why give me an appetizer when you can give me a full dish?" Tonioli said.
The judges disagreed on the authenticity in Ian Ziering's fox trot and rumba dances.
Goodman said that Ziering didn't have a "naturalness," and that it looked like he was thinking too hard, while Tonioli and Inaba said the pair were really in business with their passionate performance.