The show's panel of charismatic judges -- including Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and newcomers Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough -- were joined by special guest judge, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidtstar Ellie Kemper, as they checked out more of the AGT hopefuls who made it through the auditions to take the stage again and give it another go with all-new performances.
Out of 18 acts, only seven moved on, and it was up to Kemper to decide who got honored with the coveted Golden Buzzer, saving them from any chance of getting the ax this week.
The fun kicked off at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, and ET live blogged the acts who laid it all on the line for their big shot this week. Check it out:
Here's Who's Moving On
While tonight had some really surprising cuts, four of the final six made a lot of sense -- while two others were legitimately surprising.
Here's who's moving on, along with Golden Buzzer winners Light Balance Kids:
- Comedian and vocal impressionist Greg Morton.
- Epic Guitarist Marcin Patrzałek.
- Solo songstress Carmen Carter.
- Powerhouse singer Mackenzie.
- Opera singers and bizarre side show performers Nick and Lindsay (this one actually surprised me a bit).
- Wacky tambourine player Gonzo (this one, honestly, makes no sense to me, but apparently the judges loved him more than the show even let on).
Some of the toughest cuts included the elderly acrobats Leon and Edson, as well as the flaming drums dance crew Revolution. The hardest elimination to watch had to be 12-year-old Ansley Burns, who broke down in tears before being comforted by Simon, who made her promise to practice and keep striving to get better.
Mackenzie Shows a Different Side of Himself
For the Judge Cuts, Mackenzie is moving from covering Prince to covering Journey in an effort to show a different side of himself, and his cover of "Faithfully" certainly manages to do that.
After coming so close to never being able to sing again due to a medical condition - a vocal hemorrhage - Mackenzie says that he's now going to do whatever he can to make the most of this second chance.
His performance of the Journey hit is certainly a fan favorite among those in the audience, who can't help but get on their feet during the performance and then reward Mackenzie with a massive standing ovation.
The judges like what they hear as well -- all except Julianne who says that, while his voice is brilliant, his performance felt more forced and less effortless than his audition.
However, given the attention the show is paying to his backstory and his fight, it would be a real shock if he didn't get a spot in the finals. I guess we'll see in just a matter of minutes.
Rat Circus Act Tries to Sell the Merits of Rats
"I know that people of America are going to fall in love with my rats," Melissa Arleth explains before taking the stage for her trained rat act.
Ellie super doesn't like rats -- "for some reason, they just give me the shivers" she says -- but ultimately that doesn't really matter after the act gets off on the wrong foot and has a hard time getting back on track.
Unlike the first time around in her audition, Melissa's beloved rat isn't quite as cooperative, and the performance ends up being a bit more of a mess than she likely would have wanted.
Although, to her and her rat's credit, they do make it all the way through the act, so that's nice. But it seems unlikely that it will be enough to get her into the live shows.
Elderly Acrobatic Duo Shock and Impress
There's nothing not to love about the Brazilian elderly acrobatic duo Edson and Leon.
This time around, they're embracing the jokes about their age by dressing up like the characters from Pixar's Up, but this didn't make their act any less impressive.
It's easy to understand why Ellie is absolutely shocked by their performance -- since she didn't see their audition -- but you'd be foolish to ever underestimate the longtime friends and true marvels of the universe.
While Ellie and Julianne keep looking terrified that one of them is going to fall, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't hurt them. They would break the floor before it brakes them.
It would be a real shame if they don't get to show off their inspirational routine at least one more time in the live show.
Opera and a Side Show Act? Yes please!
This is the kind of thing AGT was made for!
Nick and Lindsay have one of the strangest acts we've seen tonight. While Lindsay plays violin and Nick sings opera, that's by far the extent of their talents.
While singing a classic Broadway tune, Nick also swallows a string of razors, lays on a bed of nails, and stands against a wall of Lindsay hurls knives at him.
This is where things go off the rails for a second when Lindsay's first throw messes up and hits the board and falls to the floor. It doesn't hit Nick, which is nice, but it still didn't bode well.
Ellie explains the baffling nature of the act the best when she says it was scary because it's an act that seems like it takes a lot of precision, and they don't have any precision. It's a wildly entertaining dichotomy.
I really doubt they'll be moving on, but if they do, hopefully they'll get some knife-throwing practice in first.
Stephanie's Child Gets Some Critique
The colorful, badass drag queen singers of Stephanie's Child didn't get much love from Simon during their audition, and they've returned tonight with some fire.
Things are heated before the trio even begin their number, with the members calling out Simon for what they claim is "hypocrisy." So, things don't get off on the best foot.
As they perform, it's clear the audience is into it, as are most of the other judges, but Simon still isn't feeling it. He doesn't like their voice at all, but he's literally the only one.
Julianne threatens to attack Simon and Howie says that Stephanie's Child are likely going to be the source of one of the biggest arguments between the judges when it comes time to pick their selections at the end of the night.
Light Balance Kids Get the Golden Buzzer
When Light Balance auditioned for AGT two seasons ago, they got the Golden Buzzer. Tonight, the Ukrainian child performers that make up Light Balance Kids lived up to that legacy.
The kids -- who range in age from 11 to 14 -- mix lights, programming, coding and choreography to create a flawless dance performance in the dark.
Considering their emotional backstories, raw enthusiasm and inarguable talent, it makes a lot of sense that they'd get the golden buzzer.
Seriously, Light Balance Kids might be better than their adult counterparts, and the show they put on seems to be more complex as well.
When the lights come back on revealing the cadre of enthusiastic children, Simon, Howie and Gabrielle are wowed, and couldn't love it more.
As for Ellie, she calls it a real spectacle, and jokes that she wishes there was "a sure-fire way" to make sure they make it to the finals.
"Oh wait, there is," she adds with a smile as she slams the Golden Buzzer, showering the performers with shimmering confetti and bringing them to tears.
It's absolutely great to see how happy these kids are, and they definitely have what it takes to make a run for the championship.
Also, there's also now only six available spots, so that's gotta be scary for everyone else.
Ansley Burns Pulls Off Another A Capella Act
After Ansley's rocky audition, she's back tonight to see if she can recapture the hearts of the judges. If it was based on her adorably, charming personality, it wouldn't even be a question, but the expectations are high in terms of her vocal skills this time around.
This time, her backing track is AGAIN too loud, and Simon AGAIN asks her to perform the track a capella. Only this time, she's not singing Aretha Franklin, but rather Carrie Underwood, and she somehow kills it with even more talent than the first time this happened.
Ansley's incredible vocal cover of "Good Girl" is absolutely amazing, and it's so great to see Simon embrace his potential as a mentor for the young songstress.
It seems almost inevitable that she'll be moving on, if for no other reason that her age and the drama around her performances makes for pretty great TV.
A Man and His Guitar
Marcin Patrzalek is a creative, brilliantly talented guitar player who is taking the stage with nothing more than his trusty musical instrument in an attempt to get a coveted spot in the live shows.
If you ask me, he nails it, undeniably. His flamenco-inspired performance is next-level amazing and Gabrielle is on the money when she describes him with one word: "Rockstar."
Simon points out that his ability to captivate with nothing more than his guitar is a testament to his artistry, and he calls him one of the greatest musicians he's ever heard. So, that's fairly high praise.
It's a sentiment shared by Julianne who tells Marcin that she feels he's got a real shot to win the whole competition. And it's easy to see how that's possible.
Revolution Steps Things Up With Fire
When you take the stage with a performance involving massive drums, bolo tricks, dancing and acrobatics, it's hard to step things up from there.
For the Argentinian dance group Revolution, they pull it off through the clever use of adding fire! Fire really kicks things up a notch and all the judges recognize it.
It's hard to tell if it's going to be enough, but they certainly managed to elevate things, and that's always important for contestants' chances.
Gonzo Is Here Again
After somehow impressing the judges by playing tambourines against his own body during the auditions, Gonzo, is back tonight, and he certainly doesn't seem like he's any less confident.
His translator, because he allegedly doesn't speak English, explains that this time around he's going to be adding some karate movies, so that's new.
When he hits the stage, it seems like the act is going to be boring. Of course, because we've seen Gonzo before, this is just a buildup to his admittedly charming lunacy.
When you set anything to Bonny Tyler's "I Need A Hero," it almost feels like a cheat because the song is so catchy, but Gonzo does bring some real fun to the episode.
Howie gives Gonzo a standing ovation - because he loves all the wackiest, craziest comedy bits. However, the other judges, while appreciative of his energy, don't seem sold.
Despite the fact that the audience loves him, I can't imagine Gonzo gets a spot in the next round, but I wish him all the luck.
This Illusionist Fails to Amaze
Once again, we're burning through acts that aren't going to make it through, so there's no point into getting too invested.
This "some acts are boring" montage seems a little unnecessary. I mean, Simon even gives a bad review to an act involving a dog! That's almost unheard of.
Carmen Carter Surprised the Judges
Carmen takes things to a new, unexpected level when the backing track kicks in and then she delivers an unbelievable, rocking cover of Aerosmith's beloved "Come Together."
It really takes the audience and the judges by surprise, and it just keeps building as it goes. When she belts out the last lines, all five of the judges take to their feet.
Ellie gushes over the performance, as does Howie. The only judge with a criticism is Simon, who admits that her voice is amazing, but says that she can't expect to keep getting by just by covering already beloved songs.
If she moves on at the end, this gentle nudge might encourage Carmen to create something original, or possibly choose a more esoteric tune to cover. We'll see what happens, if she gets a spot on the final seven of the night.
Greg Morton Kicks the Night Off With Some Goofy Comedy
For his auditions, Greg took fans through the entirety of the Star Wars universe with a brilliant vocal impressions of each and every character from the film franchise.
This time around, Greg says he "created a whole new thing" and something "he's never done before."
In reality, it's very similar to what he did in his audition, only this time, instead of limiting himself to Star Wars impressions, Morton is showing off his true film love by vocally recreating moments and line from every movie he's ever loved.
He impersonates everyone from Gandalf to Doc Brown to Scarface, throwing in some dinosaur noises and gremlin chirping (including an impression of Gizmo, a character voiced by Howie himself).
While it might be similar to his audition, it's also an undeniable step-up in scope and talent and each of the judges are impressed by his bravery and talent. Hopefully, we'll see him move on and get a whole new cinematic tour next round.
Is Simon Going to Be Real Tough Tonight?
Tonight is the third week of the Judge Cuts Round, and it feels like, off the bat, they are setting us up from some real drama from Simon. In that montage, Simon gives some harsh feedback, and it'll be interesting to see how that plays out in reality later in the evening.
Ellie Kemper, however, seems like she's super excited to be here, and I hope she keeps that over-the-top energy up throughout a long night of inevitably unique performances.