PureDWTS Season 21, Week 9 – Power Rankings

So I thought the show had hit a new low with the whole Nick baby shower mess last week – but as it seems lately, the  universe has a funny way of calling my bluff when I say “It can’t possibly get any worse.” Enter what I like to call “The DWTS Drama Porn 2-Hour Extravaganza” – will Tamar dance??? Will half of the married couple leave us tonight??? Are Bindi & Derek at odds??! OH THE HUMANITY!!! Seriously, tonight felt exploitative and disgusting. I don’t think TPTB had any clue what was going on with Tamar (and neither did Val – he seemed genuinely unsure of what was happening), but the minute they thought they could run with the drama on it??? My god, it turned into the Tamar show. “Tamar’s on the phone, she’s in a race against time to make it back here!” “We’ve just received word that Tamar is in the building!” “Tamar, darling, just sit down, we wouldn’t want you to swoon like Aunt Pittypat when getting your scores!” I rolled my eyes at how they were milking that footage for all its worth. And then there was Bindi & Derek’s rehearsal package – I just love (and by love I mean “rolled my eyes emphatically”) that they decided that this was the week to hone in Derek’s struggles as a choreographer and teacher. Gotta keep things interesting, eh? Sure, we never get to see packages from the pros that outsource their choreography to Alan and then have these easy, breezy rehearsals because they don’t have to worry about actually choreographing, but let’s really harp on Derek getting choreography block, and fabricate some drama between he & Bindi. And then there was the nonsense with Carlos & Alexa – if there’s one thing Carlos said this season that I actually agreed with, it was that having he & Alexa up there in jeopardy together was “what they wanted”…”they” being TPTB, who were also slick enough to turn the audio on when Alexa & Carlos were hugging and trying to calm down. Tacky, guys  – BEYOND tacky.

As for Tamar, I’ll just say this: I do believe she is really and truly sick, and has been for several weeks now – her voice sounds awful.  But I do find the timing of the hospital trip very convenient – she’s been sick all week and then suddenly needs a doctor midway through dress rehearsal, but manages to return with only moments to spare before she would have been disqualified for not dancing in the duet? Part of me wonders if she was intending to quit, but changed her mind – and if she really and truly does have pneumonia, quitting would have been the prudent course of action here, to look out for her health and to allow someone else who is able-bodied (read: Alexa) to continue in the competition another week.  Pneumonia is nothing to mess with – my manager came down with it earlier this year, and was in the hospital for two weeks and out of work for a month. At one point, his breathing became so laborious (he suffers from COPD) that they put him on a ventilator. You can DIE from pneumonia, if you don’t treat it promptly and properly.  It is serious business, and should be treated as such – so while I commend Tamar’s commitment to dancing, I also think she’s kind of a moron for not saying “I need to slow down and rest.” A $40 trophy cobbled together with parts from the craft store is not worth dying over – go home and rest with your family. I will say this, though: I don’t think we’ve gotten the full story, and I would be interested to see what TMZ is able to dig up in the coming days. I’m keeping my eyes peeled…

As for Alexa – my heart broke for her tonight, and it doesn’t do that for very many people these days. After such a heartfelt and personal performance like her contemporary, and then such a fun number with Bindi, it seemed like such a waste to send her home. She finally found her groove, and she got sent packing…while her husband got to stay.  Please, DWTS – never, ever have a married couple on the show again.  Or if you do, make sure they’re secure enough that the husband doesn’t say sh*t like *cringe* “I want to beat my wife” in one breath, then claim he wishes he could trade places with her and go home instead. Cry me a river of Jaleel White tears, Carlos.

1.) Bindi & Derek – Bindi is the most consistent dancer this season, and last night was no different – like Julianne, who looks for flaws and can’t find them, I’m left without a whole lot to say about Bindi’s dances other than “they were great!” Thought any potential issues she may have had with her shoulders are now gone, and she looked lovely and at ease during her Viennese waltz.  If I have one complaint, it’s with the blindfold – I just didn’t get it.  Sorry Derek 😛 Maybe I got distracted and missed the explanation, but it didn’t really fit in with the dance for me. But if that’s my biggest gripe about her dance – I’m happy. She’s a lock for the finale.

2.) Nick & Sharna – Nick was a tad underwhelming tonight and seemed to fade into the woodwork for me, and part of me wonders if it was simply due to his individual dance being right before Tamar’s, and then having the focus of the duet shift almost entirely to her. His quickstep was good, but not great – and part of the blame for that lies with Sharna, who should have known better than to waste so much time at the beginning and in the middle doing open work. Seemed like there really wasn’t a ton of in-hold quickstep, and the little he did do felt a tad clunky and his feet were…floppy. He was great in the individual portions, but the quickstep is a partner dance – so I don’t really put a ton of stock in what they’re doing separately. Hoping that the judges’ critique reminded Sharna that sometimes it’s better to go for solid basics than a bunch of flashy nonsense – something to keep in mind headed into the finals, for which I also think Nick is a lock.

3.) Alek & Lindsay – So before I begin, a PSA: I have zero patience for “vote shaming” – if you are ranting and raving here, on Twitter, on Facebook, etc., demanding to know “Who the hell is voting for Alek????!!! UGH STOP YOU MORONS HE NEEDS TO GO HOME!!!” I got your answer right here: me and a bunch of other people, honey, and if you’ve got a problem with it, I will tell you where you can shove it. Alexa went home because she didn’t get the votes – period. Not because Alek has some sort of unfair advantage – and if you really want to blame someone other than Alexa’s fans for her exit, I would look to the celebrity below, who despite being gravely ill managed to scramble back to the studio just in time to avoid being disqualified…and had that actually happened, Alexa would have been safe for another week, and with scores high enough to likely carry her to the finale. Rant over. I could bitch about how the judges have turned nitpicking into an artform when it comes to Alek’s dancing, but I’d rather focus on the fact that this week was the most at ease and in-the-zone we’ve seen Alek so far – and while that salsa wasn’t his strongest dance, I daresay he looked like he was having more fun than he has so far. The lifts were great, and I thought he handled some of the arm wrapping work better than Carlos did last week. Whether the judges care to admit it or not – Alek HAS improved, and I hope he knows it.  Now while up until about 10 minutes before showtime last night, I was convinced Alek was gonna get sent packing, now I actually think he might have enough momentum to make it into the finale – especially since he’s only 1 point behind Tamar and only 3 behind Carlos, and those two seem like they could be in legitimate danger. He managed to get the margins to stay over Alexa, and I’ve seen far more people voting for Alek than I have Carlos in particular.  I’m optimistic 🙂

4.) Tamar & Val – I hope Tamar realizes that coming back to dance was a very, very dangerous gamble – not only with her health, but with her fate on the show. As of this morning, I’m seeing about a 2:3 ratio of people that sympathize with Tamar and think it was “courageous” of her to return and dance, to people that think the whole thing was a tacky stunt and want her gone.  At this point, I want her gone – but really, due more to the fact that she’s endangering her health more than anything else (even though I still find the whole thing very, very fishy). Her contemporary was about as meh as one could expect, given that it was just the dress rehearsal and she was clearly not feeling well – low-energy, lots of off-balance moments, and she’s still not really connecting with Val.  Also felt like a cheap recycle of Charlie & Candace’s season 18 duet, what with the troupe members joining in, but at least the song was kind of cool. If she doesn’t withdraw due to her ill health (and I do think there’s a possibility there – if it really is pneumonia, I can’t see any doctor clearing her to dance, and I don’t see the DWTS lawyers greenlighting it, either), I do think we’ll at least see her in jeopardy – but part of me thinks there are just enough sheeple that bought into that fiasco last night to keep her around for the finals.

5.) Carlos & Witney – What a craptastic song for an Argentine tango, and craptastic choreography to go along with it. Once again, I’m left wondering if Witney lost her outside choreographer privileges, because some of her routines this year have really been bad. For that reason, I can only partially blame the song for this AT being so…unimpressive.  It was really more contemporary/jazz with a few AT steps peppered in than an actual AT, and Carlos wasn’t very convincing as a leading man. Found him to be kinda stompy and out-of-sync with Wit while in hold. Also, the door??? Wow, haven’t seen that before – except in at least 3 routines on SYTYCD, one of which was so popular (Twitch & Katy’s Mia Michaels routine to “Mercy”) that I can’t help but think that this dance was just kind of a cheap copy of it. The one thing I did like: Wit’s dress.  She looked really pretty – but this dance did not.  I probably would have given it straight 8s, simply because there wasn’t enough AT content to judge. Now here’s the thing about Carlos: he’s been in jeopardy multiple times, and I’m not sure that all the folks that were voting for Alexa (and I’m not sure there were a ton) are now going to throw their votes his way – I also think he got kinda lost in the shuffle last night, and he doesn’t have as much padding in the points as he’s had in previous weeks.  I know TPTB seem to be trying to make him a “thing”, but I’m not sure he’s getting the votes.  So for that reason…I think he may be the one on the chopping block next week.

Thoughts on the duets:

Carlos & Alek’s paso doble: Ok, I actually thought this one was pretty cool – and I have to wonder if it got a bum rap simply because Alek was in it and the judges will burst into flames if they don’t give him at least 75% negative feedback on each of his dances. Both Carlos & Alek were in sync for most of the dance, and both looked committed to the dance and like they were having fun – wish I could have said the same for Nick & Tamar’s duet. And as for that rad star lift, I’ll just say this: note who was struggling (both in rehearsal and during the performance) and who wasn’t.  Just because you have six pack abs does not necessarily mean you’re strong, and just because you don’t have them doesn’t mean you aren’t strong 😉 Loved the play with the paint drums. Thought the bitching & moaning from the judges were OTT and that this deserved at least a 25, but whatevs…

Bindi & Alexa’s jazz/Charleston (still don’t know which it was supposed to be): This was beyond fun, and I loved seeing Alexa come out of her shell a bit more and play off of Bindi’s energy.  Loved the tearaway costumes, and I don’t have a whole lot else to say other than “I liked it!” Just wish they’d stop putting Bindi in cheap wigs, though – this one was about as bad as the one they put her in for the Ghostbusters team dance.  Ack.

Nick & Tamar’s rumba: Ok, I actually felt a bit bad for Nick in this one – because not only was it just kind of a hot mess, but all the focus got shifted to Tamar when she arrived in the nick (no pun intended) of time to dance…and her dancing was about as mediocre as to be expected from a woman that was allegedly just in the hospital emergency room.  I’ll admit, I barely even watched Nick in this, just because I was half-expecting Tamar to collapse mid-dance, but the little I saw did seem like Nick was really trying.  The choreography and staging on this one were a nightmare, though – the Cirque dancers, the confetti, the umbrellas…I could barely see the dancing, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t see very much rumba.  Just seemed chaotic and aimless…definitely the weakest of the three duets, and was overscored relative to the other duets.

I would love to know everyone else’s thoughts on Pneumoniagate – did you guys think it was just a series of unfortunate events…or something more calculated? Do you think Tamar should have withdrawn? Should Alexa have been allowed to stay? What did you think of the duets?