PureDWTS Season 22, Week 9 – Power Rankings

Five years ago, I sat on my couch, slack-jawed and speechless over the fact that TPTB had managed to oust a season-long fan favorite and great dancer from the finale in favor of a member of the ABC family advancing.   I didn’t think it was possible that anyone on this show could have gotten more screwed-over than Ralph Macchio was in season 12, in order to allow Chelsea Kane into the finals. I’ll be damned if history didn’t repeat itself last night with Wanya Morris, quite possibly one of the most hard-working, consistent, passionate, and entertaining contestants this show has ever seen, being sacrificed in favor of the decent-but-unmemorable ABC family member, Ginger Zee. And it seems to sting even more this time, because I feel like it all came down to the “hanky slip heard ’round the world” – a relatively minor snafu that the judges decided to make a molehill of, and brutally underscored Wanya last week, while sheltering Ginger with some very cushy scores on some pretty ho-hum dances. Had that underscoring (and overscoring) not happened last week, I have decent reason to believe we’d be looking at a different finale lineup.  But when it comes down to it, I guess it’s more important to ensure the company gal advances over the popular guy that isn’t part of the family, no matter how talented he may be. Good luck defending this decision, ABC – judging from the shock and dismay I saw on Twitter, you may get quite a bit of backlash for this one.

As for the good news about last night – I did manage to get 2/3 of my dream finale, with Nyle & Paige advancing, and with Antonio, the weak link in this competition since Doug left, finally getting ousted. To the Steelers Nation – guess y’all aren’t as mighty as you claimed to be, huh? I daresay with all the outrage about Wanya getting ousted, I barely heard a peep from those disappointed about Antonio going home. And FWIW, Wanya put on one helluva show – dude was 100% in the zone last night, and didn’t have a single stumble.  Just makes it all the more of a glaring omission for him to not make the finale.

So for the first time, this week’s scores are being rolled into the totals for the finale – I invite you all to contemplate why that might be.  Given that we’ll see the freestyles next Monday before the final set of votes, these power rankings are somewhat moot, as I’ll do another set next Monday. But given that they’ll actually be using the judges’ scores from this week, I do think it’s possible to predict who might have the advantage headed into the finale…and who might struggle a bit more.  So take these rankings as who I think would win/be the runner-up/come in 3rd if the winner were to be decided tomorrow.

1.) Nyle & Peta – Ok, minor rant here, and I’m sure it’s gonna piss some people off, but I feel like I need to say it. I feel like the constant reminders of Nyle being deaf are getting a tad tiresome – the dancing in silence was kind of cool, but the blindfolded bit this week just felt a tad desperate and unnecessary to me. As I’ve said in previous weeks – Nyle has already proven that he’s a great dancer for being deaf.  Now I just want him to show us he’s a great dancer, period.  So for them to throw in the blindfolded bit last night (ostensibly to show us that he can dance with out hearing OR eyesight) – I just found it kinda pointless and gimmicky, like I did when Erin did it in season 10 and Bindi did it last season. I just want good dancing from these two from now on.  Ok, rant over. Aside from the bit with the blindfold that felt kinda irrelevant, I thought the dance was lovely – Nyle handled it with ease, which is all I really want from him, anyway. His jive trio could have gone better, and I had to kinda cringe that they gave him a dance like jive (which would already be pretty tricky for him, since timing is such an issue) and then made him do it as a trio.  On top of that, I think Peta may have tried to cram a bit too much content into it, which just further complicated matters – Nyle went off-time at least 3-4 different times during the course of the dance, and yet somehow ended up with straight 9’s, while Wanya went off-time once last week and ended up with two 8’s and a 9. This is why I’m calling bull, kids – got a lot of folks on Twitter trying to tell me “Well Wanya went off-time, that’s why he went home!” If those simple-minded folks would actually take the time to think about this show on more than a superficial level, they’d understand that something seriously stunk about those scores. But I digress – the jive concept was cute and Nyle handled it decently well, but I wish Peta had maybe taken a few things out so that they didn’t discombobulate Nyle quite so much. That being said – I still think Nyle is the one probably getting the most attention, just due to his backstory.  If Paige has a really strong showing in the finale, though – watch out.

2.) Paige & Mark – Of the three finalists, I really feel like Paige is the only one that knocked both of her dances outta the park last night. Trio was tons of fun, and felt like a quirky mashup of Shawn’s all-star samba trio and Sadie’s Duck Dynasty-themed samba in season 19 –  I maybe would have liked a little more hip action from Paige, just because I know she’s capable, but overall I was happy with how she handled it…although I don’t know that I’ll ever NOT find 3-person samba rolls totally awkward 😛 Her Argentine tango blew me away – that may actually be my favorite dance of season 22, and this is coming from someone that was enamored of Wanya’s Lion King samba. For real – that dance was SEXY. Gotta tip my hat to Mark for stepping out of his comfort zone a bit – I feel like he gave us some unique lifts that we haven’t seen in Argentine tango on this show, and I just loved the steamy little details he threw in: the sliding on the table, Paige pushing him away with her leg on the couch, the disrobing at the end…I don’t think we’ve seen a tango with that much heat since…well, a long time. Len’s bitching about the “steaminess” of it notwithstanding, she should have gotten a perfect score. I think she’s got a decent shot at winning – but I think she’s gotta get past the emotional backstory factor that Nyle brings to the table.

3.) Ginger & Val – Not sure if TPTB just set out to ensure Ginger simply advance to the finals or were trying to secure her the MBT, but she paled in comparison to both Nyle & Paige last night in terms of performance, even if she was only a point behind Nyle in scores. That trio was positively unremarkable, which is odd given that they got probably the most dramatic song to work with – more worthless time-wasting at the beginning, and it seemed to take forever to actually get going.  Once it did, I felt like Ginger wasn’t actually moving a whole lot – she was futzing with her skirt quite a bit and was doing a lot of dramatic gazing at Artem & Val, but it was all pretty simple & repetitive, especially when you compare it to Wanya’s trio, which was filled to the brim with content. Probably the weakest of the 5 trios last night, simply due to lack of content – looking at YOU, Val. As for her quickstep – I actually found that one to just be kinda odd. Her topline was bouncing a bit too much, and the cheerleader faces and head bobbing were back. Plus it seemed really stop-and-go, which is a constant issue I have with Val’s choreography.  Blame the song? Maybe.  But it just felt like Ginger maybe came on too strong after looking like she was in tears after her paso, and thus tried a bit too hard to sell the quickstep and just came across weird. Granted, I heard a lot of rage from upset Wanya fans last night, and probably less than 5 Ginger fans tweeted me trying to defend her, so I may have a skewed perception – but I would guess that if the results were determined tonight, Ginger couldn’t hope for better than 3rd. She just did not impress as much as Nyle & Paige did.

So what are your thoughts headed into the finale? Are the right couples there? Who has the edge?