PureDWTS Season 20, Week 4 – Power Rankings

Well, after shedding more tears than I intended to last night, I’m left feeling a tad uncertain about how things are shaking out these season.  Though Michael left on a high note with his best dance yet, he still seemed to get underscored relative to some of the other couples, and it just kinda makes me resent the fact that the judges nitpicked him to death week after week.  Though he seemed like he was at peace with getting eliminated, I still can think of at least 3 other celebs that should have gotten sent him before he did.  But moving right along…

…Len seemed unusually disgruntled last night, and the only people he seemed to really gush about were Robert & Willow.  He’s still not too fond of Riker or Nastia, but he seems like he turned on Rumer a bit this week, too.  Julianne seemed to love just about everyone, but did kinda surprise me when she told Robert he had the best technique of the men this season – perhaps trying to draw attention away from #RikerNotADancer and his suspiciously good technique? Tuned out when Carrie Ann & Bruno spoke, so I can’t really say anything about them.  The big announcement that the cast is touring again this summer? Meh.  If they think Melissa’s gonna be as big a draw as Alfonso, god love them. Oh, and if you didn’t hear already – the switch-up is cancelled, and we don’t know why.  *shrug* No skin off my back.  Is it Disney week yet??? 😀

1.) Noah & Sharna – Noah may not have gotten the high score of the night, but after that contemporary? He and Sharna won the night for me – because that wasn’t just “a good dance – for an amputee”; that was a good dance, PERIOD.  Still in awe of what this man can do without an arm – you’d think it would be the leg that would really hold him back, but I think so many of us forget how much arm work then men have to do when leading/lifting/getting up off the floor, etc.  And Noah did all of it – without an arm, and without really breaking a sweat.  And a big around of applause for Sharna, who yet again worked up some clever choreography to really show what he’s able to do.  Loved the mirror at the beginning – and this may just be the nerdy “a-ha, I see what you did there!” side of me, but I loved that it was almost a bit of a nod to other amputees going through treatment: a friend from high school lost his right leg to an IED in Fallujah about 8 years ago, and he really struggled with phantom limb pain…the treatment? A mirror that tricked his brain into thinking he still had two legs, by reflecting the image of the remaining one.  So I appreciated that little homage, whether it was intentional or not 🙂 Doubt these two are going anywhere anytime soon – and I’m glad.

2.) Willow & Mark – I’m left with a few mixed feelings about this dance tonight, as well as the score.  I’ll put this out there first: I think Willow did a great job with what she was given.  That said – I’m not sure I think it warranted three 10’s and one 9.  I thought the troupe, while essential to the story of the dance, kinda distracted from Willow – and when they’re all wearing the same outfits, it makes it even harder to pick her out of the group.  Also would have liked a little less reliance on the sticks and a little more open choreo, as the sticks got a tad repetitive after a bit.  And on top of all that – I’m a little bit over The Hunger Games references.  Glad they got this one dance to get it out of their system, but now I’m ready to see other facets of what Willow can do.  It was a dramatic, interesting dance – but I probably would have given it two 8’s and two 9’s, and I saw several other people remarking that they thought she was overscored.  So I guess it begs the question: what exactly is the angle here? Is she not getting the votes? Are they just trying to shake things up and keep it from being Rumer, Riker, or Nastia at the top every week? I’m just…puzzled. Will be interested to see how she fares during Disney week.

3.) Nastia & Derek – First off – anyone else think Nastia looked like Carole Lombard tonight? Go Google her, if that reference is too dated for you 😉 I thought she looked gorgeous tonight.  But anyway! I actually thought this was Nastia’s strongest dance yet – once again, she nailed the technique, and for the first time, I felt her really connect with the dance and with Derek…she was in the zone on this one. And Derek outdid himself with some of the creativity of the lifts this time – it was as if he was like “Y’know what? I’ve got a partner with the chops to carry these off…let’s play with this!” I think the only two factors that may have made Nastia take backseat to Noah & Willow tonight were that she had to dance first, and she didn’t really have a “sob story” – and I think that’s also one of the things Shawn & Ali had to deal with during their personal story weeks, too: their stories were about triumph, rather than tragedy.  Oh well – onto the next.  And for those of you asking what dance “Love is An Open Door” is? I’m gonna go with quickstep – but that’s kind of a guess.

4.) Rumer & Val – One thing I really enjoyed about Rumer tonight: we got to see her be HUMAN. She finally showed some real vulnerability – and my god, do I feel bad for that girl and the ridicule that was dumped on her not only by social media, but actual media outlets, too – the latter is particularly inexcusable. I would hardly call her ugly – in fact, I think she’s got a very interesting, unique look to her face.  Kinda refreshing, actually – the world could use a few less Victoria’s Secret angels and a few more Rumer’s.  As for the dance – once again, I’m left kinda going “Well, was that really a good [insert dance here]?” because, like her disco salsa and angsty non-foxtrot, this seemed to be a waltz only in name…kinda wonder why they didn’t just call it contemporary and let them really own it.  Not sure that Val was thrilled at the prospect of choreographing a waltz to that song, either – because he almost seemed like he was expecting it when Len was laying into him about there not being enough waltz in it.  Once again, I’m kinda of left going “Well, she danced what she was given well…but was what she was given a good example of the dance, or no?” I’ll just leave it at this: I hope to god Rumer gets the song she wants for Disney week…because I think it’s exactly the kind of routine we need to see from her: no angst or sexpot – just fun-loving, goofy Rumer.  Because I’m afraid she’s becoming a bit one-note…

5.) Riker & Allison – Riker looked great. Great frame, great footwork, great performance.  Unfortunately, this critique is going to focus more on Allison (again), who I feel was the real problem with their tango.  Choreography was just so FRANTIC – as if Allison tried to load every single tango step in her vocabulary into one dance.  Broken hold – big no-no, and she should probably know better by now.  And then there’s what really stuck out to me: her posture.  She had a really stiff frame, which I think was making it harder for Riker to maneuver her around the floor (you want a firm frame, but one that still allows you to be led – not one that is rigid); and she was unfortunately suffering from “tango head” – what I call the weird, kinda creepy upturned glance that inexperienced ladies tend to get when doing the tango.  It all resulted in a rather awkward juxtaposition between the two: he looked calm, organic, and in control; she looked stiff, uncomfortable, and uncertain.  And I felt like the judges were very delicately trying to dance around the fact that they would rather be critiquing Allison than Riker – vague comments about choreography, frame, etc. that felt more directed at her than him.  If Rumer’s biggest issue is one-note Val and his penchant for repeated edgy/angsty routines, then Riker’s biggest issue is Allison’s inexperience – and I think both couples could fall short of the MBT as a result.

6.) Robert & Kym – As weird as it sounds, I tend not to have a whole lot to say about these two each week – and it’s not because they’re bad: it’s because they’re good…or rather, they seem to have the right strategy: steady, continuous improvement each week, and a stress-free partnership.  I do notice Robert improving week to week – frame was quite a bit better this week, although I did think he tended to rush ahead of the beat a bit.  Thing I noticed the most: he never takes his eyes off Kym – he’s 100% devoted to her in each and every dance.  Now for romantic dances, this is perfect – but I wonder if it could become a hindrance in dances like the jive that require a lot of crowd engagement.  But I just love these two – both just seem so freakin’ NICE.

7.) Suzanne & Tony – Was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did – the theme could have turned out to be a hot mess (kinda like Suzanne’s costume…eek!), but I actually found myself smiling as it came across light-hearted, fun, and a sweet tribute to John Ritter.  Sure, Suzanne’s still a bit tentative in her movement, but I think she did loosen up a bit this week, and I think ballroom is going to be more of her strength this season, as opposed to Latin.  I don’t know that she’s going to end up being a contender, but I do think she’s improving gradually and is still fun to watch.

8.) Patti & Artem – Gotta give Miss Patti props for telling us the story of how she got knocked up with her son Zori after a wild, sake-soaked night in Japan 😛 And I gotta give Zori props, too, because he seemed to recognize Patti’s biggest problem: so few steps in her dances.  This jazz/Charleston/whatever (I actually had to ask someone after she finished what dance it was supposed to be, because I was so confused) was a SLIGHT improvement over the last few weeks – Patti did seem to do a few more steps – but now we’ve got a new problem: she does more steps, but each step still moves SMALL.  She barely seemed to move outside of a little 2’X2′ square around her body.  And I guess it’s made me come to this conclusion about Patti: she’s a good “singing dancer” – somebody who performs as a singer, but can do some basic, low-energy choreography while she’s singing.  A more sedate Bruno Mars, if you will.  Great for a singer – not very impressive for a dancer.  And I think I said it last week, but I think we’ve seen the best we’re going to get out of her this season – it’s time for her to go.  I doubt she’s suddenly going to have this breakthrough and suddenly become a contender in the coming weeks…she’s fun to watch, but it’s becoming a tad repetitive. And for the love of god, judges, give her relevant scores – a 30 when Suzanne moved about quite a bit more and got a 28???! Noooooo.

9.) Chris & Witney – First off, the positive: Witney looked stunning last night.  Ok, that’s about it – because for the second week in a row, Witney danced around Chris while he remained pretty stationary.  I think the only difference between their Argentine tango last week and their rumba this week was lifts – I think it made the former look slightly more impressive, but take them out and you’ve got this week’s rather ho-hum rumba.  Chris just seemed petrified to move – as a result, he seemed to throw away a lot of arm lines, and just looked clipped in his movement.  Sorry, but I think we’ve reached the apex of what Chris can do – and it’s time for him to go.  In all honesty, I think Michael had more potential than the bottom 3 of my rankings this week, combined – and yet he’s gone, while they’re still here.  No more messing around and giving  cushy critiques about people “giving it their best shot” – sorry Chris, but you just ain’t cutting the mustard anymore, sir.  Giddyup back to the farm.

So let’s hear your thoughts.  Who did well? Who crashed and burned? And do you agree with who went home?