'DWTS' dance duel almost sent one star home who wasn't near the bottom of the leaderboard

CLEVELAND - Latin week ended with a duel.

The judges began the fifth week's elimination episode of the 14th season of "Dancing with the Stars" by asking for an encore performance from TV host Maria Menounos and Derek Hough.

Instead of kissing each other in their sultry salsa, Maria mooched on judge Bruno Tonioli, while Derek kissed Carrie Ann Inaba. Len Goodman just got to watch.

The show unveiled the first three safe couples. Besides Maria and Derek, the other two couples were actress Melissa Gilbert and Maks, and singer Gladys Knight and Tristan.

That's a surprise, because both Melissa and Gladys were two of the three lowest-scoring couples Monday night. But viewers must have liked them enough to give them a bump to next week.

This week's elimination would come down to a so-called "Dance Duel" between the two lowest couples. Then the judges get to decide right there which couple to keep. That way, they can keep their favorites without having to be bothered by those pesky viewer votes.

The show eventually announced the other safe couples, and somehow managed to push back the Dance Duel to the last five minutes.

It came down to the couple that got the lowest scores Monday – singer Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff – and a couple that got decent marks – actor Jaleel White and Kym Johnson.

Clearly, Jaleel may be losing favor with viewers. He'd better step up his game. Or calm down, if reports of his on-set theatrics are true.

Both couples had to dance the cha cha at the same time to the same song in front of the judges.

Then the show did something it had not done prior: a split screen. Instead of a wide camera angle to show both couples on the dance floor at the same time, we watched them cha cha as if they were in a Brian DePalma movie from 1976.

As for the dances, Gavin looked like he was having one of his better nights out of the whole competition so far. But Kym clearly planned a more demanding cha cha for Jaleel and he did a great job selling it.

Unsurprisingly, the judges picked Jaleel. Gavin was going home.

Gavin tweeted, "To my friends at DWTS. Love you guys and I had the BEST time!!!! Go get em! Free tickets for you ALL to my shows this summer! Love Gavin."

Motown week begins Monday night at 7 p.m. on ABC15.

Click here for more on "Dancing with the Stars."

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