PureDWTS Season 20, Week 7 – Power Rankings

Before I start in on everything else, I have to get this off my chest: poor Willow 🙁 Say what you will about “this is what happens when you put a 14-year-old on an adult show!” or “she should have prepared herself!”, but I think back to what a naive, insecure girl I was at 14, and I just cannot help but feel for her – she had done so well and seemed so excited to be there, only to be told “Sorry, not enough people like you enough to vote for you.  Bye-bye!” We knew a shocking elim was probably going to come at some point, what with the overlapping fanbases of some of the couples this season…I guess I had just hoped that it wouldn’t be HER. So please, if you have an ounce of compassion in you – please go tweet (or Instagram) some encouraging words to Willow – it’s tough enough to be a teenage girl in this world, let alone one who just got the rug pulled out from under her on national television.

As for the rest of the night – maybe I just got spoiled in previous seasons, with fun decade-themed dances like Nicole’s 50’s paso and Erin’s 80’s rumba (I still giggle at Maks in the Don Johnson costume!), but tonight felt like an “Eras Night” only in name: so many of the songs (and sets, and costumes) didn’t really seem to reflect the era they were meant to, so I guess I kinda said “Why even bother?” to some of it.  Oh well – probably yet another hastily-thrown-together theme to cover their asses when plans changed.  As for the judges – they’re still doing some fishy sh*t.  They’re just taking turns on who gets to play good cop, bad cop each week.

1.) Nastia & Sasha (Derek) – I hereby dub this “modern Charleston” this season’s “accidental Emmy bait” – because the concept ended up being so entertaining and well-staged that I could see Derek getting a nod for this one,  even if he didn’t intend for it to come out as cool as it did.  It actually felt more like a pro number to me – all of the troupe members blended nicely together in the background while Nastia & Sasha did their thing, and I enjoyed how the dance was choreographed to really use the space of the subway well.  Add to that the blurring special effect they added in (but only briefly) and Derek just kinda jamming with Andy Grammar, and I think this could be one of the standout routines of the season.  Plus, Nastia just looked like she was having a blast, and Sasha does seem to partner her really well.  I’m beyond pleased by how things worked out for this trio tonight 🙂

2.) Riker & Allison – When the pickiest judge on the panel seems to conveniently overlook significant frame issues and connection problems and whip out a “10” paddle – rest assured something is a tad rotten in the state of Denmark.  There was just wayyyy too much set-up with this one, what with Riker mentioning it in the package that he wanted “a 10 from Len”, and the way Len just GUSHED in a way that is very uncharacteristic of his usual judging behavior.  It was by no means a terrible quickstep – but I also don’t think it was 10-worthy, especially from the pickiest technician on the panel.  Riker’s frame seemed wobbly to me at times, and I’m not sure if height was an issue or what, but he and Allison seemed to lose body connection a few times, which resulted in some slack-looking movements while in hold. And once again, ee gad – Allison was doing that awkward thing with her neck.  Someone puh-lease enroll her in one of Heather Smith’s masterclasses and she will emerge with the most gorgeous, swan-like carriage to her frame.  But overall – not a bad quickstep, but far from perfect, too…they need some work on their ballroom dances, overall.

3.) Noah & Sharna – Ugh…I’m really struggling with what to say here, and I think the judges were last night as well.  Let me just put this out there as a preface: I think every dance Noah does is inherently amazing simply because of how he’s still able to get out there and handle it despite his extensive limitations.  That being said – I don’t think this jazz (it was a jazz, right?) was as amazing as the judges gushed about it being, and it was kinda overscored.  Noah handled it well enough, but I don’t feel like he was really enjoying himself (if I had to guess, I think he probably felt a bit silly), and the choreography got a tad repetitive – can’t really blame Sharna too much, though, as she’s likely trying to make sure Noah can keep up.  I think we’ve unfortunately just reached the end of what Noah can safely & effectively do, choreography-wise – and that’s fine.  I think we all knew we’d reach this point eventually. If Noah can survive the double elim next week (and I think he can), I will be shocked if he’s not eliminated in week 9 – although with Rumer getting a dubious amount of votes (and the judges’ tinkering possibly failing), I wonder if he really COULD make the finale.  These next few elims will definitely be interesting.

4.) Rumer & Val – This was the week that Rumer could have really cut loose and shown us how fun & goofy she can be.  And instead? We got a package that focused more on Daddy Willis and drama with her neck than her learning the dance, and we were given one of the most sedate jives I think we’ve ever seen on the  show.  The music was slower than a normal jive, I’ll admit that – but it was almost as if she and Val had gone out to perform this jive after taking an Ambien or something…it just felt so SLEEPY and safe.  There was a bizarre lack of sharpness to her kicks and flicks, and a bizarre abundance of sharpness in her arms – it was as if her upper body was moving with an entirely different spirit within it than her lower body. I was just left kinda going “Huh?” and felt myself emphatically rolling my eyes at Len, who seemed to be grasping at straws to praise this dance.  Then there was the fact that Rumer was one of the last two standing up by Willow – now I’m REALLY wondering how many votes she’s actually getting.  Willow seemed to fade into the woodwork last week, and now she’s gone – makes me wonder if Rumer could be in for the same fate during next week’s double elim.

5.) Chris & Witney – Clearly I am not hip to the appeal of this guy – because it blows my mind that he is managing to outlast far more talented AND entertaining couples each week. Once again, Chris wasn’t terrible, but he was definitely overpraised and overscored for a dance that was mediocre at best (and definitely not on par with what most of the other couples are doing at this point).  The one positive of this dance: Witney looks stunning in yellow.  Everything else was “meh” – Chris really didn’t move around the floor a whole lot (again) and his steps looked really squatty to me.  He was likely trying to get rise & fall, but was going about the technique the wrong way.  And he’s STILL looking hesitant on just about every move he does.  Feel like I’m beating a dead Clydesdale here, but why is Chris not gone yet??? At this rate, I’m not even entirely certain he’ll fall in the double elim next week – it could be Rumer & Robert, and Chris lives to dance in the finale – especially if the judges continue to give him cushy scores like this one.

6.) Robert & Kym – Contrary to what the judges may have said (which seemed kinda “meh, it was alright” overall), I actually thought this was Robert’s best dance – I found him believable as a leading man, and unlike Chris, who seemed to shuffle around between lifts during his Argentine tango several weeks ago, Robert actually seemed PRESENT in the dance – he wasn’t just going through the motions, he was living them.  Plus I kinda loved that he was a bit of a kid in a candy store with Kym – you can tell that there’s some genuine chemistry there.  But I worry the judges’ habit of continuously underscoring Robert (relative to Chris, who often gets overscored) may ultimately be his undoing – I just cannot see him lasting through the double elim next week.  But we’re down to the wire, and I think it’s ultimately time for him to go – but it’s also Chris’ time to go, and I’m not as positive that the latter WILL finally go.  Grrrr.

Thoughts on the dance-offs:

Riker vs. Willow, salsa: Agreed with the judges 100% on this one – Willow’s simpler, more back-to-basics salsa was the real winner.  At times, Riker’s salsa (or rather, Allison’s choreography) was so trick-laden and just generally busy that they seemed to get off-time and it ended up barely resembling a salsa.  Perhaps a bit of a subtle “cool it with the flash ‘n’ trash, Allison” cue from the judges with the verdict on this one.

Noah vs. Robert, cha-cha: A conundrum with this one: Noah lacked a ton of content, but stayed on-time and clean; Robert had a ton of content but flubbed the timing and execution of quite a bit of it.  So who wins – the one that played it safe or the risk-taker? Just as it probably would in a real ballroom competition – the one that played it safe won.  Safe & well-executed trumps daring & sloppy every time…just feel bad for Robert, as he seemed to get a bit of Excited Puppy Syndrome and peed the rug this time.

Rumer vs. Chris, foxtrot: Also kind of a no-brainer – while Chris didn’t suck, Rumer was just a lot cleaner & more confident in her execution.

The moral of the story for the dance-offs? Keep it simple (and clean), stupid. 🙂

What are your thoughts?