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On Tuesday night, we were introduced to 12 new tributes for the 18th annual Hunger Games season of Dancing With the Stars. The game-makers set the tone for the evening by underscoring Meryl Davis.

These games aren't fair. If they were, we (the gay men, women, and reluctant husbands of women) wouldn't watch. By the 18th season, we should know how this goes. Over the years, we've seen many worthy tributes— Mel B., Sabrina Bryan— fall short of the mirrorball trophy in the past.

Obviously, the only dancer worth caring about this year is Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis (and to a lesser extent, Olympic gold medalist Charlie White). But before we get to what injustices befell Meryl this week, let's size up her competition.

The Careers

To continue an analogy, some of this season's celebs are tributes who have had their eye on the games for a long time. They've crafted personas to suit the game and have been preparing to use the games to take themselves further. They have been training their entire adult lives for this very moment, these twelve weeks. This year, they go by the names Danica McKellar and Candace Cameron-Bure. And for some reason, they can get away with murder. Murder, in this case, means sloppy posture, stiff shoulders, and flopping around on the floor. This was part of Candace Cameron's 25-point performance: 

As was this:

The other Career, Danica McKellar, was savvier but not more graceful. A self-professed long-time fan of the show, McKellar said she wanted this show to help her discover herself and undergo a second puberty. "There's always something little girl about me," the 39-year-old woman said during her segment. "They [other women on the show]  find their womanliness, that's a journey I would like to go on," she added.

She looked a little stiff in her Foxtrot:

Those point totals aren't bad on their own. But in light of Meryl's performance, there seemed to be a malpractice of judging. 

Meryl Was Exquisite

They gave Meryl Davis 24 points, the same as Career tribute Danica and a point behind Candace. But her dancing looked far more superior:

There was complexity in that opening sequence that DJ Tanner's rumpus room rough-housing couldn't approach. And this kick: 

And the spins? 

This routine is really worth the same amount of points as Danica's? 

Davis's Olympic partner, Peeta Mellark Charlie White, scored a 27 which was deserved. The public has no qualms with that score. But it would have been nice of the judges to give Davis a score she deserved. 

The Fodder

Like every season, there are older tributes. Diana Nyad, an adept swimmer from District 4, did not fare as well on land and scored an 18. Sean Avery, the monotone paladin from District 1, scored a 20 with a contemporary routine that made it feel like Karina is just in this for the paycheck. 

The worst-scoring performance of the night belonged to Billy Dee Williams, a septuagenarian who has had two hip replacements. That sentence almost feels like a parody. Williams' participation on the show was clear proof that this nation not only fails to respect its elders, but also revels in not letting them keep any of their dignity:

And if you were wondering what a 76-year-old with two hip replacements dances like, here is your answer you monster: 

Also, this happened:

That was dark.

See you next week when one of these tributes is eliminated. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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