During the week six elimination episode of DWTS: All-Stars Tuesday night pro Derek Hough revealed that his partner Shawn Johnson will dance next week with Mark Ballas, the guy who helped her to win the mirror ball trophy during season 8.
Hough, who looked perfectly healthy during Monday night's performance, claims he injured a vertebrae that will take him out of the competition. His partner smiled meekly as host Tom Bergeron acknowledged her own recent painful knee injury.
We would have taken this sudden turn of events at face value except for a simmering feud that has been playing out between Hough and head judge Len Goodman, who has blatantly downgraded their weekly scores throughout this season while the other judges have consistently given the couple 9.5 and 10 scores.
Monday night Goodman called out the most successful dance pro in the show's history. During his critique he chided, "Derek, too much gimmick. Just get dancing."
The disparity between Len's scores and the other judges is quite telling this season: Carrie Ann Inaba 54, Bruno Tonioli 55.5 and Len Goodman 48.5.
That said, we have two competing theories. The first is that Hough is stepping aside to give Shawn Johnson a fair shot at her true potential by allowing her previous partner to come in and save the day for the former Olympic gymnast.
Another possibility is that the entire thing was a ploy by the popular ABC dance competition to shake things up. Last year Maks Chmerkovskiy played that role to perfection by verbally sparring with the panel.
Shawn Johnson will hook up once again with Ballas, who by no small coincidence just happens to be available because his other partner, Bristol Palin, got the boot last week. They say timing is everything.
We have a hunch this switcheroo may have been in the cards from the get-go. Yes? No? Maybe?
Check out the Country routine that Hough-Johnson brought to the dance floor this week. We thought the John Deere tractor was an interesting prop:
Photos: DWTS Promo Pics, WENN