PureDWTS Season 22, Week 7 – Power Rankings

VOOOOONNNNNNNN! Not my human redwood/teddy bear/chicken man! 🙁 I think Von was the first elim this season that really stung for me – while I liked Doug & Marla, I recognized that they had probably peaked already and weren’t going to improve much; Von, on the other hand, I thought was just starting to realize his potential. I don’t think a lot of folks realized just how hard he was working – or how much fun he was having. Did I see him as finale material? Nah, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing him at least entertain us till week 9.  Oh well – guess TPTB determined that there was more money to be had in backing Antonio than Von, and engineered ways to make the former look better while just kinda letting the latter do whatever on his own. If I had it my way – it would have been Antonio sent packing instead of Von. At least Von was actually trying, and came across as a down-to-earth human being, rather than a narcissistic robot.

As for Kim – can’t say I was terribly surprised or disappointed, as I had been saying for weeks that she had been playing it a bit too safe this season.  Kim’s dances were never bad – she was always on time, and seemed to be having a lot of fun; but they were never really particularly memorable, either – and with a season like this, where you’ve got so many powerhouses, you’ve really gotta pack a punch. I find it interesting that Kim seemed so blindsided by her elim – I had heard from a source that they overheard Kim say a few weeks back that she was “fairly sure” she was going to make the finals. Not sure if Sasha is just THAT positive a teacher that he convinced her of this, or Kim just didn’t quite see the writing on the wall, but denial is not just a river in Egypt, Kim…he’s also Peta’s partner, and the guy that’s probably going to win this season 🙂

Which brings me to my next point: what does it mean that we’ve now seen Jodie, Paige, & Wanya in jeopardy, while Nyle, Antonio, & Ginger have yet to land there? I saw a lot of folks asking me to make sense of this on Twitter, and while I myself am not by any means sure of what to make of it, my best theory is this: they’re using jeopardy as a warning for some, but just as a way to boost votes for others. At this point, I still think this season is Nyle’s to lose; however, I don’t think TPTB want it to appear obvious that Nyle is running away with the trophy already.  They gotta make it a horse race, so it benefits them to give a bit of a boost to the couples that stand the best chance of giving Nyle a run for his money in the finale (Wanya & Paige).  Paige lands in jeopardy last week; Wanya this week.  I don’t by any means think that either is a low vote-getter, but I do think TPTB may be rallying the troops to ensure those two land in the finale with Nyle. As for Jodie – I think her being in jeopardy two weeks in a row was an effort to keep a better dancer around over a less-skilled one (part of me thinks that Doug may have actually been beating Jodie in votes during those first few rough weeks she had), and now that she’s one of the weaker dancers left – there’s no need to protect her anymore. Somebody’s gotta go home, and I don’t see them keeping Jodie over Paige or Ginger. I don’t think Kim just suddenly fell into the bottom 2 in the past week – she’s probably been there before, and perhaps TPTB just didn’t see fit to try and save her. As for Ginger & Antonio? TPTB may be starting to see the writing on the wall there – Ginger is not nearly the dancer that Paige is, and Antonio has been a colossal disappointment. They probably owe it to the ABC fam to at least make sure Ginger makes it to week 9, and with 2 of the 3 NFL’ers already gone, I guess they maybe want to enjoy Antonio as long as they can…but I think it will be a complete joke if the latter in particular makes the finale over Wanya or Paige.  Big credibility killer there. I think it’s getting to the point that it may be painfully obvious to just about everyone that a Nyle, Wanya, & Paige finale is the most logical scenario…so I don’t know that it really behooves TPTB to try and shake that up too much. But hey, what do I know…I’m just a lowly blogger 😛

1.) Nyle & Peta – Pattern is still holding, guys – Nyle gets praised in the odd-numbered weeks, and nitpicked in the even-numbered ones.  Last night was a definite improvement over last week, though, and Nyle was much more in the groove – it was a lovely dance (though I can’t say it was terribly memorable or special) and he did look very good on the turns.  My only gripe is the same one I have whenever I mentally compare Nyle to Wanya: Nyle seems to dance adjacent to the beat, while Wanya gets on top & inside of it, and really lives & breathes it. Yes, I know – Nyle cannot help it, as he can’t hear the music.  But at this point, I don’t think we can write off any shortcomings that Nyle has simply because he can’t hear – he’s proven that he’s a good dancer, period, and not just “a good dancer…for being deaf”. Therefore, it’s inevitable that he’s going to be compared, favorably or unfavorably, to other good dancers this season – and the fact that he doesn’t have the musicality that Wanya has is what tips the scales in Wanya’s favor, in my eyes.  I still think Nyle is the frontrunner this season – still seeing folks marvel at the fact that he can dance so well, despite not hearing the music – but each week, I just kinda further appreciate Wanya, and find Nyle paling in comparison.

2.) Paige & Mark – THIS was the dynamite dance that Paige really needed in order to solidify her position as a contender. Super high-energy, lots of attitude, really made an impression.  I’m hoping that she made some yet-undecided viewers sit up and take notice, and was maybe able to pick up some votes from Von & Kim fans looking to throw their support elsewhere.  I’ve been saying since week 1 that the finale SHOULD be Nyle, Wanya, & Paige – but I worry that Ginger could potentially play spoiler to that, especially if the judges continue to overscore her like they did this week. I think it’s pretty obvious that Paige is the better dancer – she’s far more athletic, and has a better range of motion AND emotion out on the floor; but Paige is a UFC fighter with an iffy fanbase (although she seems to be gaining support), paired with a pro that has already won twice.  Ginger is ABC family, paired with a pro that has only won once and is supposed to be the most popular male pro.  Will TPTB be able to resist the urge to pimp, and not try to sacrifice Paige in favor of Ginger the cheerleader?

3.) Wanya & Lindsay – This is how sneaky and backhanded the editors can be: they took something positive (Wanya trying to clear his schedule in order to make more time to rehearse – something that Antonio had just gotten praised for) and spun it in the most negative light they possibly could: they made him look like an angry egomaniac throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get his way.  And they did it not once, but TWICE. First Nyle, now Wanya – they gonna try and make Paige look bad next week? Anywho…while this may not have been Wanya’s strongest dance, I thought it was adorable and entertaining nonetheless, and had some of the more creative costuming & staging of the routines we saw last night. Frame could use a bit of work, but I have yet to see anyone really nail their frame perfectly, so I don’t foresee it as deal-breaking issue in the future.  He’s still my favorite, and I’d like to see him at least take 2nd – just hoping that TPTB resist the urge to tinker.  Or at least Wanya doesn’t give them anything else to work with…

4.) Ginger & Val – This one…was a head-scratcher for me. I don’t by any means think it was perfect – I would argue that Wanya’s “Bye Bye Bye”, Nyle’s switch week dance, and even Paige’s jive this week sat closer to perfection than this Viennese waltz.  Like so many of Ginger’s other dances, there wasn’t really anything WRONG with it, per se (although she was seriously clipping her arm lines – EXTEND, GINGER!); I just didn’t feel like she ever hit a groove 100%.  It felt cheerleader-y to me again – she was grinning the whole time, and it felt like she was just going through the steps.  Just…disconnected. Everything about the package, dance, and judging just felt kind of surreal and bizarre…what DIDN’T we get to see in the package? Did Ginger & Val get in some huge fight? Did someone throw a tantrum? Did Ginger’s vote count dip since last week? There just seemed to be some underlying current of tension to their whole segment, and the critique & score from the judges felt like some sort of salve to soothe some sort of emotional burn.  At the end of the day, I think Ginger is starting to fade into the woodwork a bit – Paige has assumed the title of best female dancer this season and is thriving, and I think Jodie’s drama with injuries and Keo keeps her somewhat memorable. Ginger…is the happy-go-lucky cheerleader. Not a whole lot of gravitas…but will that stop TPTB from trying to carve out a spot for her in the finale? I doubt it. Interested to see what transpires next week.

5.) Antonio & Sharna – I’ll give Antonio props on one thing: he nailed the head snaps in this tango. Unfortunately, that was about the only thing he nailed – the rest was pretty awkward.  Stiff frame, boat feet, kind of a stilted gait – oddly enough, his tango struggles reminded me a lot of the ill-fated one Nick did last season. Perhaps if Antonio managed to eke out a bit more than 3-4 hours a day of his “super busy schedule” that he is so generously opening up to make more time for rehearsal (only took him till week 6 to figure out he needed to devote more time to this show!), then maybe Sharna would have a better chance to polish out some of these rough edges he’s showing out on the dance floor, and would have to fill the dance with “messin’ about” at the beginning & end to conceal the fact that her rehearsal time with her partner is woefully limited. Sharna’s nip slip was about the most exciting thing to come out of this performance, and this is coming from someone that ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT CARE if someone inadvertently flashes some nip on the air. Boobs are not the enemy; ISIS is.  But I digress – I didn’t get as much of an impression this week that TPTB were terribly invested in keeping Antonio around, but I don’t trust them to not make one last-ditch effort to make him “happen”. I think they’ll absolutely try to keep him over Jodie, and I’m not sure that they won’t try to swap out either Wanya or Paige to make sure he makes the finale. I’m really hoping not, but I’m just not very trusting these days…

6.) Jodie & Keo – I’ll be honest: with the kid-glove treatment the judges seemed to be giving Jodie after a pretty mediocre quickstep, I thought for sure she’d be a goner this week – but I guess between her and Keo, she managed to pull in enough votes to outlast Kim & Von, who I guess were the closest thing to low-hanging fruit after last week.  But after the two dances we got out of her this week, I will be really & truly shocked if she’s somehow able to survive to week 9.  That quickstep…was just weird.  Even Mama Spence, who is by no means a dance expert, turned to me and said “That was weird, right? That dance jut felt really off.” The frame was weird, the choreography was weird, the whole thing felt kinda fumbly & disjointed…I’m not really sure what else to say.  There wasn’t anything blatantly wrong with it – but it never seemed to really be right, either. Also interesting to see Carrie Ann throw Keo under the bus a little bit – not quite sure what to make of that one. Jodie’s been nice to watch, and it’s been good to see Keo grow – but I just don’t think they can hang anymore. Would love to see her outlast Antonio, but I know that’s wishful thinking.

Thoughts on the Team Dances: Y’know, after talking to Deep Throat over the weekend, I really thought the girls had this one in the bag – DT didn’t think either dance was particularly great or special, but thought the girls would take it based on content alone.  Even in camera blocking, the guys looked like a hot mess, and the girls were the ones that were slaying. They had an ambitious concept: ditch the traditional “dance as a group, each do a solo, then finish as a group” formula we’ve seen for the team dances for the last 16 seasons, and do most of the dance with everyone on the floor at the same time, as well as throw in a partner switch.  I commend them on mixing things up; unfortunately, what I feared could happen, happened: all that time spent out on the floor together meant a lot more opportunities to get out of sync.  Admittedly, they kinda picked a sh*tty medley of Beyonce songs to make the girls dance to, but I felt like the costume changes were an issue (I was cringing and waiting for someone to slip on Kim’s errant skirt; thank god one of them picked it up), and none of the dances flowed very smoothly into the other.  And I think this is what I found the most upsetting: none of them really looked like they were having much fun.  The only one who seemed fairly confident was Paige (and she gets my MVP for the girls’ team), and the other three muddled through with varying degrees of bewilderment (with Kim averaging the most frequent “deer in the headlights” expressions). Overall, I think Team Beyonce just suffered from being too ambitious – a lot of moving parts that would have looked great if they had gotten them to flow together, but unfortunately they kinda fell apart…and I’m afraid the fault for that lies more with the pros than the celebs. As for Team James Brown – yes, their choreo was simpler, and they relied a lot more on personality and showmanship than actual dance skill; but in the end, they were cleaner, more in-sync, and more entertaining than the girls. And as we’ve often said of the team dance in previous seasons, you’re better off going with simple choreography that you can do cleanly than complex choreography that you might f*ck up royally. Every guy on Team James Brown looked like he was having a great time – and FWIW, I just loved the sense of solidarity they seemed to have.  Loved that when Nyle was a bit off-time, they all just mimicked him so they stayed in-sync. Loved the little interactions they had on the floor – Wanya beating out the rhythm on Nyle’s chest; Nyle, Wanya, & Antonio doing the wiggle move together. I actually have to pick Von as my MVP, though – even though they seemed to shove him in the back a lot (the dude is just so freakin’ big!), I felt like he was the morale leader of Team James Brown: he was the one that took the initiative to looks up James Brown videos so the guys could work on their moves while the pros choreographed, he was the one making an effort to make Nyle feel included, and he was the one that seemed the most stoked to be dancing to James Brown.  Plus, he was holding down the lifts – my big ol’ teddy bear just throws Witney around like a toddler and it’s freaking awesome. In the end, I’m not sure either of these team dances will be particularly memorable in the annals of DWTS history, but FWIW, both were good efforts.

So what did everyone think of the team dances? Did the right person go home? Who are your picks for the finale right now?