In a Dancing with the Stars season known for its shocking eliminations, Elizabeth Berkley expressed distress on Monday night after becoming the latest contestant to get dismissed.
"I felt a little sucker punch because I was excited about next week," Berkley, 41, told PEOPLE backstage after bidding adieu to the ballroom. "I just feel, like, cut short a little bit – not that I feel entitled by any means. I just felt excited and grateful, that's all. Don't be sad that it's over, smile because it happened."
Lowest scoring contestant Bill Engvall was once again saved from jeopardy with partner Emma Slater.
"When I heard it was me and Bill [in the bottom two], I knew I was gone," Berkley's partner Val Chmerkovskiy told reporters with a laugh. "No, I didn't think anything, to be honest. I don't think about anything during the results. I'm not nervous, I'm not anxious, I'm not super thrilled. I'm just [wondering] where my hard work has gotten [me]. I work my a– off. She works her a– off every week, every day. If it's time for us to go, then it's time for us to go. I really have nothing to say."
Reflecting on a memorable season, Berkley raved about Chmerkovskiy in between bursting into tears.
"This guy has inspired me in many ways," she said. "[I've got] this friendship and the gift of – the love affair I have with dance has returned. It's just a very deep thing that he helped me reconnect to, which I'm forever grateful. It's like a full-circle love affair. On this show, you just never know. Everyone's talented."