'Dancing with the Stars' Live-blog: Celebrity Dance Duels!

Dueling is simply a part of the American experience, as important to our shared national history and identity as 10-gallon hats or McDonald's. We were basically kicked out of Europe for fighting; that we'd continue the tradition for hundreds of years after the fact just makes sense. And sure, dueling isn't great for the side that loses (just ask Alexander Hamilton) but it always makes for a great story that can be told at dinner parties for years to come.

All of which is a not-at-all-relevant introduction to tonight's "Celebrity Dance Duels" episode of Dancing with the Stars, which will probably not feature weapons of any kind. (Unless we're talking about some of the male dancers' "guns," which Bruno will surely comment on.) Last week's "Latin Night" effectively kicked off the final, more competitive run of this show; tonight we see just how quickly the tension and pressure are building. To the recap!

9:22pm: Enter: Dance duel

[So it's at this point that Sling crapped out entirely, after working as it should far longer than I ever would have expected. I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later, so an hour and 22 minutes — we'll take it! As always, Sling, you're a crappy and deeply unreliable service whose mediocrity doesn't surprise me, but never ceases to amaze.]

9:10pm: Amy bounces back from her hospital visit

Footage from last week shows Amy getting checked out by a doctor, who tells her she's got a rib popping out of place. And the dance they're doing this week, Argentine tango, is going to attack pretty much the exact spot that she'd injured. Are we due for a Kerri Strug moment?

Interesting — Amy's sitting on a stool for the bulk of the dance so far, with Derek using that to spin her around. Inspired choreography, honestly, that deals with Amy's injury in a way that doesn't feel like a cop-out. I really like it!

Abby praises Derek's choreography, along with the general impressiveness of Amy. Bruno follows suit. Carrie Ann says she feels like she stopped breathing. Maybe a little much, CA, but that's alright!

Scores: 40/40 Expected, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. Derek is encouraged to use stools in their routines from now on.

8:56pm: James and Peta dance a Viennese waltz

"If you can have fun and get through every week with a smile on your face? You can win" -Peta

Elegant spinning, spinning, spinning around the stage, which is covered in cherry blossoms. It's a nice, free-flowing dance. The judges note some issues with posture and lift, but you know they're going to give them 9s and 10s so what is anyone even worried about?

Scores: 36/40 (with a 10 from Abby, who like likes James)

8:45pm: Candace and Mark get their foxtrot on

Time at home with the Cameron-Bures! Her kids are very proud of her. It's sweet.

Drawing on the whole family thing, Candace and Mark emerge in 50s-inspired outfits sitting on a couch. Like Meryl and Maks, their dance takes the form of a relationship — this one maybe less tempestuous — set to music. ("It's ugly home furnishings week on Dancing with the Stars.")

Abby says something everyone assumes is mean but really isn't, such is her villainy. We'll get their scores after the break.

Scores: 36/40

8:31pm: Meryl and Maks dance out their "dysfunctional relationship"

That's how Maks describes the dance they're going to do, anyway. Meryl: "Just because his teddy bear is large doesn't make him scary."

Maks: "I think it's clear we're going to try and maintain what we have well past the show." YESSSSSSSSSSS fan fic. The audience is cheering watching this video.

And the dance does exactly what Maks described, depicting a relationship on the rocks that just needs to be danced out, lover. It's energetic and fiery and soft and passionate and come on, let's just give them the disco ball now.

"You could have heard a pin drop at the end of that," says Tom Bergeron. YUP!

"It was inspired, it was unconventional" -Bruno

"You and Maks have a chemistry that's undeniable to watch" -Carrie Ann

"I must say, the mood and the feeling of this was fantastic. I could watch it again." -Len

"Fix your feet." -Abby [Maks to her, later: "I really don't care about anything she has to say."]

Scores: 36/40 (an 8 from Abby)

8:19pm: Danica and Val do their 'Black Swan' thing

Fog! A crown! Intense Black Swan-ish pageantry! "I love to see a man down on his knees," says Abby, adding that Danica should have danced on The Wonder Years. Everyone else loved it, too.

Scores: 38/40

8pm: Charlie tries to regain his confidence with a quick-step

Six stars left! Dueling! Charlie and Sharna kick things off with a quick-step. Which is neither quick nor filled with that many elaborate steps, at least to my eye!

Abby Lee Miller, the star of Dance Moms, lays into the criticism immediately, and at length. Bruno hates and immediately corrects her with his opinion, namely that Charlie was "off the blocks like a horse at the Kentucky Derby." All of this he does, of course, out of his seat. Carrie Ann thinks it's going to be his lucky night.

Score: 40/40 Wait a second... how, based on her criticism, can Abby deliver a 10 to these guys? I maintain that the judging on this show makes no gd sense .

Image: ABC