PureDWTS Season 21, Week 8 – Power Rankings

I know I can’t be the only one that was over themes a couple weeks ago – and I have to wonder if others share the other sentiment I have: that a lot of the theme weeks this season have started to feel a bit…redundant. “Hometown Glory” week, “Most Memorable Year” week, and now “Personal Icons” week – anyone else feel like these themes have churned out kinda the same dances over and over? I feel like I’ve seen so many crying dances this season – more than I care to. How ’bout we just ditch the themes from here on out and just…y’know, DANCE.

As predicted, the immunity and dance-off was about as farcical as it could possibly be – clear agendas, and some eyebrow-raising rulings by the judges. Felt more like whoever got the louder reaction from the crowd got the points, rather than whoever was dancing more competently or actually even trying to portray the dance style they were given. In the end, I doubt 2 points is going to help anyone a TON if they aren’t already getting the votes, and really the only one who got a serious boost was Nick, who has a nifty little 4-point cushion over the next highest-scorer and and now is within one cumulative point of Bindi – I’m just waiting for that to somehow come into play in these next few weeks, when Nick suddenly inches ahead of Bindi and suddenly by virtue of his cumulative point total, he gets an edge – maybe first pick in some cockamamie dance they’ve cooked up, maybe first pick of songs, who knows. It all just feels verrry convenient.

Sad to see Andy go, but I can’t help but think that Allison’s chaotic choreography is partially to blame for their departure – for the second time this season, she kinda got subtly called out by the judges again for having too much going on in Andy’s Viennese waltz…which, by the wait, just kinda felt to me like a retooling of Hayes’ switch week Viennese waltz which was met with equal criticism by the judges. His paso last week was pretty chaotic as well – and poor Andy just couldn’t keep up in either one, I’m afraid, and it made the critique from the judges feel like they were calling out his sloppy technique…but the subtext was “your technique was sloppy because the dance had way too much going on.” Part of me hopes that during her maternity leave next season, Allison gets a bit more introspective and maybe figures out a way to still honor her own style while focusing more on being true to the ballroom style that this show focuses on…

*DISCLAIMER: I had to watch the show on a very grainy feed that froze several times, due to the Colts getting their asses handed to them on Monday Night Football…again. So I plead the fifth if I missed anything/didn’t see something clearly – the show didn’t even air until 3 AM in my area, and I wasn’t exactly gung ho to stay up and watch it. 😛

1.) Nick & Sharna – I’m still a bit unclear as to whether the immunity from elimination was just for last night or if Nick is safe next Monday – I found the wording to be murky and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they decided to change the rules a bit in order to keep Nick safe. I think what I predicted earlier in the season is starting to happen – the judges are starting to really nitpick Bindi and really heap praise on Nick. Yes, this dance was lovely – but I don’t agree that it was perfect (saw some thrown-away arm lines, some weird feet, and he just looked HEAVY on his feet at times – and sorry, but if we’re nitpicking one of Bindi’s shoulders, this is a valid critique), and I think the judges got carried away by the emotion of the dance that they were so bound & determined NOT to get carried away with in Alek’s routine…how convenient. Found it kind of appropriate that Twitch tweeted out after the dance “So…no critiques on technique on that one?” And as for the big announcement? UGH. Tacky, tacky, tacky – not only was it not really news (we’ve heard murmurings about it for weeks now), but the whole gender reveal after??? Is Nick that desperate for votes? Thing was, neither he nor his wife looked terribly surprised by the reveal – which makes me wonder if they already knew and the whole thing was just even more of a stunt. Alfonso announcing his wife’s pregnancy on the show in season 19? Eh, not really what I would have done, but at least it was a very short blurb and didn’t have a lot of fanfare. Noah proposing to his girlfriend in season 20? Errr…didn’t particularly care for it, but I guess I could see why an average guy like him would do it – it’s not like he gets a whole lot of opportunities to do something big like that. But this? Just felt extraordinarily manufactured for votes – to the point where it’s making it hard for me to appreciate the routine because the whole thing just felt like one big, desperate ploy for votes.

2.) Bindi & Derek – While I also think Bindi’s dance wasn’t perfect, it was pretty darn close – and the problem I’m having these days seems to have less to do with scores and more to do with scores and critiques not aligning, or the critiques just kinda being…bullsh*t. 🙂 The routine was high-energy and beyond fun – very characteristic “Derek” foxtrot, with a strong Broadway influence.  And as always, Bindi kept up – despite her toenails FALLING OFF.  That just made me cringe, as I just lost half of one of my big toenails last weekend when I stubbed my toe on a heavy hardwood drawer, and I know how much it hurts. Bindi, sweetie, get thee to the nail salon (and take Derek with you) and have them put some acrylic overlays on your little piggies…makes a HUGE difference with the sensitivity of the underlying tissue. Hearing Julianne fumble around for something to critique just made me roll my eyes – really? Her shoulder? I didn’t see any major issues with it – but hey, they gotta give Nick a leg up somehow, right? Interesting fact: one of my local radio station morning shows, whose DJ’s usually don’t give a rip about DWTS, have been talking about Bindi on a fairly regular basis – I think it just goes to show that she has gained a pretty broad following, even amongst people that don’t really watch the show.

3.)  Tamar & Val – Again, I reiterate: if you don’t give the producers anything bad to work with from your rehearsal packages, they can’t paint you in a bad light. Which is why it is important, VAL, that you prepare your partner for these things, instead of just bitching to Adam about how Tamar is being portrayed the way she is. How dare anyone actually portray Tamar as being herself!!! Could also help if your partner would quit doing other stuff that doesn’t really paint her in a good light – like giving the stink eye to the judges and kinda being callous after Hayes was eliminated. Ok, obligatory soap box rant about the “bad edit” over. This paso wasn’t bad, but it didn’t wow me either – it actually felt like a recycled version of their Mad Men tango with a few paso steps thrown in, and Tamar seemed kinda low-energy and limp…and still seems to be staring off into space. Tamar may have a lot of natural dance skill – but where she’s lacking is in performance quality.  Would actually be kinda nice to see her look like she’s having fun, or excited to be dancing. Just feels like her attitude is more “Eh, whatever, walk in the park.” But like Carlos, I feel like the judges are gunning to have her in the finale – so she isn’t likely to get called out on much for the next few weeks…but I do wonder how she’s doing in the votes.  She was only able to get 24% of America’s vote in the dance-offs? That’s…dismal.

4.) Carlos & Witney – *shrug* Still can’t really bring myself to root for Carlos – he’s a decent dancer (but not great), and I feel like he’s still not really being himself in his packages.  I think Mama Spence put it best: “Carlos acts like he’s running for office.” And it’s true – he’s constantly reminding us how religious he is, he talks about being a reformed reefer addict, and there’s the constant displays of false modesty: “I don’t think I deserved my scores!” “Oh, I am so bad at salsa!” I guess that last one was partially true – he wasn’t BAD at the salsa, but he didn’t seem terribly comfortable doing it, either.  Saw some wacky arms, some whiffed lifts (you wanna talk to Alek about a missed catch? Carlos was far worse), and a generally pained expression.  And I have to wonder if part of the blame lies with Witney – I wonder if she got her Alan Salazar privileges suspended after Emmygate over the summer, because her choreography this season has not been as good as previous seasons…a lot more cheap tricks and Witney dancing around her partner, and a lot less of her partner actually dancing. Admittedly, I’m not real keen on her attitude these days – it feels like she’s just kinda coasting this season, and isn’t putting 100% into her partnership. But with TPTB starting to prop Carlos up a bit these past few weeks – and it not really seeming to work (he was back in jeopardy last night, and got the extra two points from the dance-off under suspicious circumstances), I wonder if she’s gonna have to put in a bit more effort in order to stick around.  We’ll see if she’s able to rise to the occasion.

5.) Alexa & Mark – Admittedly, I raised an eyebrow when I heard the theme for this one – kinda made me go “Yikes. How is that gonna work for an Argentine tango?” But I have to admit – I really enjoyed this routine. Wasn’t wild about the costumes, but I understood why they were there – actually though the music was perfect and it was nice to see shades of the same confident, in-control Alexa that we saw during switch week…even if she had a slip-up here and there. But I do find myself rooting for her more often these days – I certainly like her better than her husband, and I think she’s gotten kind of a raw deal this season.  The questions for me right now, though, are “Is she getting the votes?” and “Will they sacrifice Alexa if they think it will help them keep Carlos?” Part of me thinks that the finale does not have room for both PenaVegas…and with what we’ve seen these past few weeks, I think TPTB will fight harder to keep Carlos than they will to keep Alexa. I don’t think they intended for her to get the extra points in the dance-off, which could have thrown a bit of a wrench into things if they were counting on her heading home next week and she now has enough of a bubble to stay. I do think she’s getting more votes than Carlos at this point, though…but again, I think they’re doing more to help Carlos, while underscoring Alexa.

6.) Alek & Lindsay – I’ve pretty much given up on the judges being able to give Alek a critique that is both fair and pertinent – I don’t disagree with the scores he got this week, but I do wish they would find a way to point out that hey, he did good, even if he wasn’t perfect. The minute Tom started the whole bit about Alek’s experiences and how amazing they are, I knew it was all downhill from there – the judges got all hung up on qualifying all of their comments with “We have to judge the dance!!!” and then just picked things to harp on. How the hell does it help Alek that they all harped on the same lift that he didn’t catch perfectly, which was actually caused by Lindsay’s foot getting caught on his shirt? The comment about the side-by-side work was valid – there could have been more.  That is a HELPFUL comment. You know what could have also been helpful? The judges looking at him after and saying “Y’know what? You did good.  You HAVE improved, and you’re great a doing lifts. There’s room for improvement, but you’re doing well.” Really and truly, aside from that one landing that was a bit off (and it wasn’t nearly as off as the similar trick from Carlos’ salsa), I thought he handled all of the lifts really, really well. I think Alek could really benefit from actually hearing that he did something well, rather than hearing Julianne hem, haw, and generally stammer over all the stuff that she didn’t like. She’s quickly becoming my LEAST favorite judge. But I do wonder if all the machinations over the past few weeks to really come down hard on Alek are finally going to work – part of me thinks both of the PenaVegas getting a few extra points may have given them just enough padding to keep them out of the bottom. Part of me thinks that Carlos and/or Alexa is probably still doomed and Alek is SLAYING in the votes.  I just don’t know – but the pessimist in me is saying that they’re gonna try their damndest to make sure he DOESN’T make the finale.


The Dance-Offs:

Bindi  vs. Carlos: Bindi should have won this one EASILY – she was cleaner, did more actual jive steps, was more in-sync with her partner, and didn’t spend half the time she was out there d*cking around doing flash & trash, crowd-pleasing tricks. But I guess Carlos needed the points, so the judges threw him a bone – funny how 67% the viewers voting disagreed with the judges.  Not suspicious AT ALL.

Tamar vs. Alexa: Again, another one that was kinda obvious – Alexa had more content, didn’t stall, and moved BIGGER than Tamar – I saw a slip-up in one spot, but at least she went for it.  Tamar, on the other hand, took forever to start moving, and then moved small – didn’t even look like she was putting in a whole lot of effort.  As for the use of clothing as a prop? Wasn’t terribly fond of Val doffing his shirt of Mark ripping off part of Alexa’s skirt, but if I had to pick one, I feel like Alexa’s skirt rip was more impactful…and was at least done when most of the dancing was already over. Once again, funny how two of the judges conveniently gave it to Tamar – but 76% of those voting completely disagreed, and Alexa won.  I don’t think that was part of the plan…but I think it goes to show that, while the judges/PTB may think Tamar is just the bee’s knees…America isn’t nearly as keen on her. Hmmmm…

Alek vs. Andy: The two weakest dancers left ending up with the hardest of the three dances, which neither of them have done yet? This was a recipe for disaster from the get-go, and it makes me wonder why the hell TPTB opted to include it as one of the dances when only two of the remaining couples have actually done it (and one of them conveniently got immunity).  So the bar was set pretty damn low for me – and yet, I was left shocked at how BAD it went.  Granted, neither one really knew what the hell they were doing, but for f*ck’s sake, at least Lindsay tried to have Alek do actual SAMBA STEPS – it was as if Allison just said “Well this is dumb, I don’t like this dance – Andy, just go do some flips and the worm and I’ll groove in the background!” And once again, Allison spitting in the face of the rules gets rewarded – both the judges and America fell for the flash & trash, and Andy got the two points…not like it mattered, though, because he got sent packing. But it just felt like it was rewarding bad behavior…

What about you guys? What say you?