PureDWTS Season 21, Week 7 – Power Rankings

Well…if the crew set out to hotbox theย  studio, they succeeded ๐Ÿ˜› Seriously,ย  though – what a colossal production FUBAR. I could barely see some of the dances through all that smoke, and trying to even see the judges and Tom afterwards was a struggle. I have to wonder if it negatively affected some of the couples as well – especially the ones that stuck to the main floor and didn’t hop up on any platforms. Talk about props getting in the way – and this, kids, is why themes can really screw up an otherwise decent evening. BEWARE THE SMOKE MONSTER.

And the smoke wasn’t the only monster in the ballroom last night.ย  Unfortunately, I felt like at least 2/3 members of the judges panel devolved into gossipy teenage girls when giving critiques, and came across as vindictive and childish. I’m also completely OVER the whole “Derek’s never lost!” plotline they pose in every team dance, so now that he’s actually lost – can we please come up with something more compelling to talk about? It was clear Derek didn’t give a rat’s ass, and perhaps the only ones that did were a certain other pro and his fans. It’s time to find some new material, guys.

On the upside? I actually found Leah a lot more natural and enjoyable last night, and she seemed much more at ease. Much more like the Leah I loved hosting back in season 19.ย  As for Hayes getting eliminated – he did far better than I thought he would this season, so I give him BIG props there.ย  But though I hate to say it, I think he’s partially responsible for his own elimination – as I mentioned last week, he seemed to place too much emphasis on #VoteForTeamSlayes trending on Twitter and not nearly enough on actual voting…and when your fanbase is a bunch of impressionable teenage girls that will blindly follow your every whim, I think you need to be VERY CLEAR on what it is you need from them. Remember, kids: as much emphasis as this show sometimes puts on social media, Twitter hashtags will not keep you in this competition – only votes will.ย  So you may as well forget about Twitter and just focus on the votes…something to keep in mind next week…

1.) Bindi & Derek – The funny thing about really good dancers is that I often find myself without a whole lot to say about them – and I’m running into the same struggle with Bindi ๐Ÿ™‚ When you don’t have a ton of errors to critique, you find yourself kinda repeating the same things over and over again – well-executed? Check.ย  Lots of content? Check.ย  Showmanship on point? Check and check. Bindi’s been excelling in all of the above, week after week ๐Ÿ™‚ I will say that I was actually pleasantly shocked that she was able to carry off a more menacing character – considering her trash talk skills are somewhere between that of Mr. Rogers and Barney the Dora the Explorer ๐Ÿ™‚ But overall, I could not have asked for a better tango – and I think this unfortunately really made Nick’s pale further in comparison.

2.) Carlos & Witney – Is Carlos a good dancer? Absolutely.ย  But sorry, I just cannot bring myself to like the guy because each week he manages to come across totally phony in his packages.ย  Case in point? The whole “I don’t feel like I deserved those scores” bit.ย  If you want to praise him for being humble, fine; but it read as fishing for compliments to me, and he seemed awfully happy with those scores last week.ย  I almost thought Julianne was going to call him out for being ungrateful or insulting to the judges by saying he didn’t deserve them, but it looked like she copped out at the last minute.ย  But anyway – the dance was good, and was probably technically the best paso of the night, although Carlos was doing something REALLY funky with his hands…and by funky, I mean awkward and effeminate. He also seemed to get a tad excited and ahead of the music from time to time, and I found the whole cape section to be rather messy.ย  I probably would have docked it a point just for lack of cleanliness, but overall, it was pretty good.ย  Up until switch week, I would have said that he was in danger of getting sent home, but he seems to be carrying some momentum with him in the past few weeks and it seems like he’s gaining support. *shrug* I don’t think he has a hope and a prayer of actually winning, but he’s one of about 2-3 people who could earn the last spot in the finale with Bindi & Nick.

3.) Nick & Sharna – Nick is a good dancer, but the problem I’m having with him is that he’s not a very CONSISTENT dancer. He seems to have one or two really good dances, sandwiched in between one or two not-so-good dances, and I almost feel like he can completely nail technique in one week and then completely forget the same technique the next.ย  And really, I actually felt a bit let down by *cringe* both he AND Sharna this week, although I will lay a lot of the blame for a lackluster Argentine tango on that damn song – it has only ever been used as a paso doble on DWTS, and it boggles my mind why they all of a sudden decided it needed to be an Argentine tango. The beginning was so slow that I felt like they lost out on valuable dancing time in an already-shortened routine, and then when they got moving, there was almost no attention paid to the intricate footwork characteristic of the A. tango – so Nick ended up looking a tad stompy.ย  The long lift sequence in the middle was gorgeous and well-executed, but beyond that? I just felt like the whole thing lacked content, and I felt like Nick’s bit about Carrie Ann “not kissing his ass” came off as a tad abrasive in his package.ย  Nick just has this intensity about him that is making it hard for me to see him as human and relatable – he’s got a killer work ethic, but it’s as if he forgets that he’s supposed actually be enjoying himself, too.ย  While his brother had the same intensity about him back in season 9, I never got the impression that Aaron wasn’t having fun – I really wonder about Nick sometimes. I see Carlos, Alek, and Andy working hard, too – but all of them still seem to be having a blast while they’re at it.ย  This competition is starting to feel like more of a chore for Nick – and who knows, maybe he is really having fun…just wish he’d show it more.

4.) Andy & Allison – First of all, hats off to Allison – she’s about 5 months pregnant and still running around like the Energizer Bunny! But this is the first week I felt like I could actually see it wearing on her a bit – she seemed to go into a bit of a brain fog while choreographing the team dance, and I saw her really get frustrated with Andy for the first time this season. Her dancing also looked a skosh more labored to me this week – which actually worries me, because I feel like she really needs to slooooow down.ย  Not only because she just jam-packs so much choreography into one dance, but because she’s got another partner on board now.ย  Lifts are risky business when you’re “in a family way” – I know some studios have a no-lifting policy when you’ve got a baby on-board. Too much liability.ย  So Allison, if you’re reading this – please, take it easy. Anywho! While I do think Andy has improved in recent weeks, I actually thought his paso was the weakest of the three we saw tonight – not a whole lot of shaping, kind of a rubbery frame, and his feet looked…stampy. He sold the mood of it well, and I really liked the Matrix-y section in the middle, but I felt like it was kind of a return to Allison doing all the dancing and kinda just dragging Andy through it.ย  I think he should probably feel lucky that Carrie Ann and Julianne both seem to have glommed onto him in the past few weeks, because I found that to be a tad overscored. Not quite sure what to make of how he’s doing, votes-wise – since Alexa seems to be the new redheaded jeopardy stepchild, we haven’t seen him fall back into jeopardy in awhile…and he does seem to be getting just slightly overscored, enough to give him a cushion…will see if he’s able to stick around after Alexa goes.

5.) Tamar & Val – As I mentioned in the comments section of Heidi’s post last night, I think Tamar may have gotten baited into saying the whole “I’m the best” line, because DT has said that they tend to ask the same “Who’s the best? Who’s your biggest competition?” line to all the contestants each season.ย  Thing is, most are smart enough not to take the bait, and Tamar…wasn’t.ย  I think she got played, and her partner should have prepared her better for situations like this. That being said – it’s more the sustained pattern of attitude I’m seeing from Tamar that has started turning me off of her in the last few weeks. Up until this week, I actually was kinda digging her – thought she may have been overscored last week, but didn’t mind her personally. But the side-eye and stank face she gives the judges during scores and critiques, and the fact that she doesn’t seem to acknowledge anyone else on the floor when she’s performing (her partner, her teammates, any auxiliary troupe members she’s supposed to interact with) just makes me wonder if she really is rather self-absorbed. I don’t think she made eye contact with Val, Alan, or Brittany once during her foxtrot, and I have to wonder if that contributed a bit to the missing of the hand contact the judges were talking about – the smoke was also out-of-control.ย  In hold, she also got those crazy “tango eyes” again. Tamar may be A natural mover (but I don’t think she’s the most natural mover this season), but the lack of connection (or even acknowledgement) with her partner is becoming a big issue in her overall performance quality. Do I think she’s headed home? Hard saying – I think the trip into jeopardy may have been a wake-up call, but part of me wonders if she’ll somehow end up with this mysterious immunity next week. And while we the internet fans seem to see the writing on the wall with regards to Tamar being baited into saying that line – will the average, non-internet fan do the same?

6.) Alek & Lindsay – Like Tamar, I also think Alek was a bit of a victim of the dreaded “bad edit” – yes, he got frustrated and said some stuff he probably shouldn’t have.ย  The cameras are ALWAYS rolling, and they can’t use anything against you in your package if you don’t give them anything to work with – so you’re best off slapping on a smile and having rainbows shoot out of your ass all the time ๐Ÿ˜‰ That being said – I was honestly kind of gobsmacked at how fast some fans turned on him last night.ย  The guy has been nothing but chill the first six weeks of the show, and has one week of frustration – suddenly he’s “nothing but a jerk”.ย  Nevermind the fact that Nick is becoming increasingly intense and abrasive week after week, and Carlos continues to find new ways to come across as phony and insecure each week, but Alek’s isolated incident makes him public enemy #1. I guess my point is that I think it was just that – an isolated lapse in judgement – rather than a continuous pattern of bad behavior, like I’m seeing from some of the other contestants. You have to remember that Alek was the only contestant this season that not only had zero dance experience, but also had zero experience being in front of a camera or large audiences. I can understand why he’d feel frustrated that he’s not really getting any credit from the judges for improvement – I’m not saying he’s deserved 10’s, but I do think it’s awfully hard to understand why everyone around you is getting 10’s like they’re candy, while you’re working your ass off to improve (and you are improving) and can’t even get straight 8’s, or even any acknowledgement from the judges that you have, indeed, improved.ย  But anyway – enough on that, onto last night’s performances.ย  It was good to see Alek back doing what he does best – rocking a suit, looking confident, and doing well in-hold – even if the smoke monster distracted a bit from his performance.ย  I was a tad irked at how much they tried to make everything about Artem this week – the judges (when they weren’t acting childish and mocking Alek in his package – grow the f*ck up, Carrie Ann, and you’re on notice too, Julianne) acted as if Artem was some sort of miracle worker that magically turned Alek into a contender, when in reality Lindsay has done an AMAZING job with him so far this season and I think Alek returning to doing ballroom dances (after a few weeks of Latin) helped more than anything Artem may have tweaked.ย  Did not see the need to have him up there with Alek & Lindsay as they were getting their scores, although I found Alek’s impression of him to be spot-on. Do I think Alek’s in danger next week? Possibly, but I also think Alexa’s still in the hot seat and Tamar may have alienated a few folks as well.ย  Guess we’ll see.

7.) Alexa & Mark – FWIW, I actually think Alexa has done great ever since switch week, and I’m kinda stumped as to why she isn’t getting more love from the voters – assuming that her appearance in jeopardy again was not just a ruse. I actually enjoyed her paso the most out of the three we saw last night – had a good amount of paso content, while also embracing the theme and not letting it overtake the dance.ย  Admittedly, I was skeptical about the scissorhands – but they worked ๐Ÿ™‚ She may have gotten a tad stompy when she and Mark were dancing out of hold, but overall, a great effort.ย  Found it funny that Carlos ended up with just one point more – seems to be the recurring theme with these two these days.ย  Do I think she’s still in danger? Probably. But I’m not 100% sure she’s going home – I’m wondering if her back-to-back appearances in jeopardy were enough to give her enough of a boost to stay out of jeopardy next week.ย  Simply because I’m not 100% sure who ELSE would go home, though – I’m sticking with Alexa.

Thoughts on the team dances:

Team Nightmare won this one fair and square, I’m not going to debate that – the choreography was on-point, they were clean and synchronized, and the solo sections were adequate – yes, I did say just adequate, and I actually feel like the solo sections on both teams this season were not as strong as they’ve been in previous seasons.ย  Part of me thinks everyone has just gotten so caught up in doing lifts that they really only do sequences of them – often sloppily, and without a whole lot of thought given to whether they enhance the dance or not. I will point out Hayes as the overall MVP of the team dances this season, as he was really the only one that made me sit up and go “Ok, now THAT’S cool!” when he did his solo. I will also point out Tamar as the weak link on Team Nightmare, as I found it disappointing that she neither seemed to interact or acknowledge her partner or teammates, and wasn’t even facing the camera much. Again – that’s the biggest issue I’m having with her: every number feels like a solo. I credit Team Nightmare’s success primarily to Allison, who appeared to be taking the lead in the choreography during the rehearsals – and really, that choreography totally screamed “Allison!” to me. I think Sharna also played a big role in the choreography and blocking of the dance, as I saw some elements that reminded me of her as well.ย  I will say that I think they were helped significantly by the song – and I don’t know that they would have been able to churn out something as good as Derek did with “Ghostbusters” if the songs were reversed.ย  I think Team “Who You Gonna Call?” unfortunately just kinda got screwed by the song, which lent itself more to a campy, fun number than anything as cool and edgy as “This is Halloween”. Also think they were screwed by the smoke machine, which seemed to be tripping everyone up last night – and Team Nightmare didn’t have to use it. No real revelations from me – yes, synchronization issues, mainly from Alek, although I actually thought I saw Witney out of sync instead of Bindi, but I applaud Bindi for accepting the blame like an adult. Overall, I don’t know that either routine is really going to stick out in my head seasons from now as being “amazeballs”, but they did well considering the circumstances this season.

So that wraps up Halloween week for me…what did you guys think?