PureDWTS Season 24, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Wow…I’m honestly not even sure where to begin. I feel like last night’s show was just 2 hours of the judges/PTB spanking the viewers for not voting how they (the judges/PTB) feel they SHOULD be voting. And the judges reached new lows – between Len telling Bonner “you should have gone home already!” and Carrie Ann deciding that David’s critique was a great time to shade Rashad (disrespectful to both men, really), to every judge giving vague, rambling, directionless critiques based on absolutely nothing, my head was spinning by the end. And my blood was boiling, because I think last night things legitimately got a bit sexist, too – between the judges giving Simone a hard time about smiling too much/not enough, Val & Alan doffing their shirts and shifting focus away from Normani, Sharna & Britt begrudgingly selling their souls in that trio, and watching female pros bite their tongues and try not to show they were upset by the critiques they were getting (while a certain male pro basically acts like a mouthy teenager every week and talks back to Len), I honestly felt sickened. Heidi & I are still gonna write that sexism post I promised you guys – but at this point, I think I need a cooling off period before I’m able to discuss it without absolutely losing my sh*t.

So Bonner went home, to the surprise of basically no one – but I will say that, for awhile there, I was seriously wondering if he was safe, with as cruel as they were being to him. Two unflattering packages, a sleazy trio dance to a terrible song, getting mocked by Val & Alan, two bad scores, and Len basically calling him out to his face on live national television – it seemed to point more to “he’s sticking around, but we want to make sure that he ain’t gonna survive next week’s elim!” But thankfully, he did end up going home – especially since they decided to share a sleazy clip of him during the trio rehearsal.  Yes, he might have gotten a bad edit – but they can’t actually edit you in such a way that you say “maybe I could spank you both on the butt!” if you didn’t actually say it. Or gesture it. Anywho – bye-bye, Bonner. You hopefully freed up Sharna’s schedule so she can fly to Indy and watch Hinch in the Indy Grand Prix this weekend 🙂

And then there were four – and next week’s elim is probably gonna hurt. I think everyone left deserves to be in the finale for different reasons, and would be fine if they ended up deciding to take all four to the finale; but my initial guess that they’re aiming for a Rashad-Simone-Normani finale doesn’t feel so concrete anymore – part of me wonders if they’ve grown accustomed to the new viewers and votes that David has brought to the show, and don’t want that gravy train to end…so I still think there’s at least a slight chance he could edge out one of the three above and make it to the finals. I’m also not entirely positive who he might displace – my gut says Normani, because her voting fanbase is still untested and she seems to be the one that gets the most help in term of gushing critiques and inflated scores; but they seemed to nitpick the life out of Simone & Rashad last night – will America buy it? If some of the comments I’ve been seeing are any indicator, the answer is no – people seem especially pissed about how Simone was treated. So I guess I’m still leaning towards a Simone-Rashad-Normani finale, with David potentially playing spoiler to Normani.

1.) Rashad & Emma – And the award for “most broken record of the evening” goes to the judges, who couldn’t seem to come up with any critique about Rashad that didn’t involve his feet somehow.  Y’all got a fetish? If all the judges can come up with is the same nitpick, just said with slightly different wording from each of them, then maybe it’s time to start questioning what exactly is going on with their agenda. Sure, Shad’s feet could be better – but they certainly aren’t completely ruining his dances, despite what the judges would have you believe. He didn’t miss a single step of his jive, Emma gave him a TON of content, and they both looked like they were having the time of their lives – if their face-off jive last week was an amuse-bouche, this was the main course. And I daresay his trio was the strongest of the night, both in terms of content and execution – the lifts and tricks were flawless, he managed to stay in control of both Emma AND Witney, it had a good story, and his feet actually did look better (though from the way the judges kept harping on them, you’d think he’d worn scuba flippers out there or something). Just something to keep in mind with regards to feet: it actually is quite a bit tougher for men with big feet to keep them under control – ex-bf wore a size 13, and had been teaching/competing for over 15 years and still got pulled aside by judges at comps from time to time and told “Hey man, you really need to work on your feet!” The more foot you have, the harder it is to keep them under control – and not every guy trying to dance is blessed with the petite build & stature of someone like Louis Van Amstel…and thankfully, they all don’t have short man syndrome like him, either 😉 But anyway – I just adore the bond Shad & Emma have, and after 6 seasons of Emma dealing with some reeeealllly challenging partners (when she wasn’t being shunned completely by the show), it would be SO NICE to see her finally win her first MBT with a truly worthy partner. And a complete non-ringer that’s just got a lot of natural talent, no less 🙂

2.) Simone & Sasha – I honestly felt so bad for Simone after last night’s show, because this week was truly an instance of her being damned if she did and damned if she didn’t – that poor girl couldn’t win with the judges last night, and the whole thing unfortunately felt like an allegory for a lot of the sexism the average woman faces on a daily basis.  She gets told she’s too smiley and light and happy and not emotional enough in her foxtrot, and that she really needs to “dig deep” and “connect on an emotional level”; then she’s stone-faced in her paso doble (as one SHOULD BE in a paso doble), and gets called out for “not smiling enough” – and I should mention that the real insult in this whole bullsh*t critique with absolutely no basis in reality is that it actually came from another woman, who should know better.  Then again, most of Carrie Ann’s critiques anymore are so vague and subjective that I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked that she’s also playing into gender stereotypes to justify her nonsense. But god bless Simone for sticking up for herself and saying “smiling doesn’t win you gold medals” when Carrie Ann was done babbling. I actually thought her foxtrot was cute, aside from a few wishy-washy turn sequences; I LIKED her paso doble, but didn’t love it – but I would blame that more on some of the choreographic choices Sasha made than anything Simone was doing. She was doing what was given to her, and doing it well – I just think there wasn’t enough in-hold, and the focus unfortunately seemed to be drawn to Sasha rather than Simone, as the paso doble is fundamentally the “man’s dance” and the steps kinda reinforce that. Having Brittany as the other part of this trio certainly didn’t help, so they were a bit screwed from the get-go, I’m afraid.  But it still doesn’t justify the critiques she was given, and it gives me life that I saw so many fans on social media absolutely furious on her behalf – so I’m going to venture a guess that she will probably make the finale without issue. And part of me still kinda wonders if the reason they’ve been so hard on her is that she’s getting tons of votes and they want to level the playing field – but who even knows with this show anymore?

3.) Normani & Val – Y’know, in another universe where Normani was paired with anyone except Val, I’d probably find myself actually rooting for her – she seems like a nice girl, she actually can dance, and the bullying she went through was abhorrent and inexcusable.  Nobody deserves that. But leave it to Val (and TPTB) to make me just dread her performances and the disproportionate gushing that comes with them. I think her contemporary was maybe a tad bit better that what we’ve seen from Val in the past, choreography-wise – he been taking notes from other, more skilled pros? But that said – it was still pretty damn flail-y, and I maintain that there are other ways to convey pain & angst in a dance other than flailing around dramatically. And it didn’t really make me feel much – I felt a much bigger emotional component in Rashad’s contemporary, which felt a lot more genuine & honest. Normani flailed well – but she can handle (and deserves!) better choreography than that.  As for her jive trio…*sigh* I would just absolutely love it if Val could resist the urge to steal the spotlight from his partner from time to time. One – the shirt removal was unnecessary and added nothing to the dance. It only served to detract from his partner. Two – there is NO REASON to have a dancer as skilled as Normani spending, as Len put it, 20 bars of the song doing basic line dancing on top of the judges’ table. Three – there’s a polite way to emulate someone, and a d*ck way – and he should be lightweight ashamed of how he was mocking Bonner in that dance, regardless of his personal feelings toward the guy. That whole dance was a wasted opportunity – sure, Normani danced it well, but I go back to “Was she really given enough content to accurately depict her skills?” As a side note, I actually think Alan might be a better dancer than Val – maybe because he hasn’t been out of pro competition as long? Anywho – I’m still feeling the push to get these two into the finals, but I’m still wondering if it’s going to be worthwhile for them to try and push a win…they aren’t doing the tour, Val already has 2 MBT’s, and seems to be hinting that he might take a season off. At the very least, I think they’d be looking to add another male champ to their stable – and Sasha’s the only one remaining that’s actually doing the tour. Will we suddenly see the hammer drop on Normani next week?

4.) David & Lindsay – I don’t know that I’ve seen a bond like these two have since Bill & Emma 🙂 David, like Bill, may not be a fantastic dancer, but I’ll be damned if I don’t just love watching him dance because he seems so grateful for the experience and has a genuine friendship with Lindsay. I lost it when Lindsay told him the song she picked for him and he was moved to tears – and then I lost it again when she danced on his feet, daddy/daughter style, during their waltz.  She kept the choreography simple & sweet, and it just was a lovely dance – not the most technically strong or with the highest level of showmanship, but just memorable & lovely to watch.  Sounded like the song was more of a Viennese waltz, but she adapted it as best she could to a regular waltz. I’ll give him props for being very dedicated in his trio – he may not have had the perfect technique, but he knew his choreography, and he sold the showmanship portion. I also liked the theme, even if we’ve seen it or variants of it for several seasons now – I think it helped David to stay in character, above all else. Felt bad that Len basically came at it full bore right out of the gate, but at least David was able to shrug it off without letting it get to him too much.  I hope he doesn’t lose that – the ability to let the judges comments roll of his back and just promise himself he’ll do better next time. That being said, I’m not exactly sure what’s going to go down next Monday – as I mentioned earlier, I initially thought they’d be trying their damndest to get David out, but now I’m wondering if he’s either just too popular to stop, or they like the extra boost in viewers/votes they get from him too much to tinker with him too much.  Or maybe both.  And if David somehow does have the juice to make the finale – who does he bump out? Does Normani have enough of a cushion? Are Rashad or Simone in danger? Who knows.  I’m tentatively saying David leaves, with an outside chance of Normani.

So how did you guys feel about last night? Who do you think makes the finale, and who falls short?