PureDWTS Season 25, The Finale Power Rankings – Who Will Win?

And just like that, there’s only one show left this season – and then we have to wait a whole 9 months for a regular season of DWTS to kick back up again.  Lord knows what this spinoff, mini-season we’re getting in the spring is going to be like.

In what has become a regular struggle for me these days, I found myself not really wowed by the freestyles as a whole – it’s been several seasons since I last felt truly “blown away” by a freestyle, and the last time they really felt “special” or potentially game-changing was probably way back in season 11, prior to the days when you could include all manner of props/extra dancers/set pieces/etc in your regular weekly dances. I think at this point, a lot of the couples simply struggle to find a theme/tone for their freestyle that sets them apart from the other freestyles on a particular season – and I think each of the four couples last night achieved that distinction, to some degree, even if they maybe didn’t do it perfectly.  The trend seemed to be upbeat vs. edgy – I think upbeat maybe had a slight leg up on edgy, as viewers seem to always enjoy a happy freestyle, while they only sometimes like an edgy or dark one.

As predicted, Drew came out in 4th place – probably quite a bit better than most of us predicted initially, and an admirable effort by both he & Emma this season.  As has been the case pretty much all season long, they couldn’t really compete with the other three remaining couples on skill level, so they went with their usual brand of quirk – thought the pause in the middle of their freestyle was totally in-character, and I’ll credit Emma with throwing in something that has truly never been done before in a freestyle 😛 Paso was only marginally better than their first one (which I still maintain was not as bad as it was scored) – shaping got a bit better, but there were still bungled steps, and I didn’t see all this “vast improvement” the judges were gushing about.  It was about that time that I got the feeling that Drew was for sure getting the goodbye kiss last night, so I didn’t fret too much over the scores with which he was being gifted.

3rd place: Frankie & Witney

My god, it’s sure been nice seeing a sparkle back in Witney’s eye that we haven’t really seen since Alfonso’s season.  She seems like she’s genuinely having a great time with Frankie, and it’s even inspiring her choreographically. That foxtrot was some Bindi & Derek-esque magic – loved the theme, loved Frankie’s solo, loved the costumes, and loved how well they both sold it. Frankie really has come a long way since the premiere, and has become a confident, fully-realized version of his earlier-in-the-season self – and I adore how much he has enjoyed this experience, so I’m lightweight hoping he ends up being the tour celeb…guess we’ll find out tonight. As for their freestyle – as with all of the others, I appreciated what they were trying to do, even if it maybe missed the mark a bit.  For those that didn’t get the backstory from me on Twitter – Frankie & Witney actually lost a full day of rehearsal time for their freestyle, because they were waffling back & forth over the music (“Run Boy Run” vs. “Yeah 3X” by Chris Brown).  Production was really pressuring them to go with the latter, and Frankie thought that it might resonate better with fans – but Witney felt strongly that “Run Boy Run” inspired her more, so Frankie opted to defer to her (as we saw in the rehearsal package). I think the risk paid off, to a degree – it was definitely different than the other freestyles we saw, and there was some pretty cool choreo in there that I applaud Witney for. Part of me thinks it might have read better if it were treated as a paso doble/tango fusion, as opposed to a freestyle, but generally, I think it was enjoyable.  It didn’t really get me out of my seat and clapping like Jordan’s did, but I appreciated it.  I think that these two are probably resigned to taking 3rd, though, especially since the two powerhouse couples managed to get perfect scores for the evening, while Frankie came up 4 points short. But I’m happy that they got to make it to the finals, and have had a fun journey together 🙂

2nd place: Lindsey & Mark

Unpopular opinion: I’m not sure what’s happened to Mark these past two weeks, but the choreography we’ve seen is not up-to-snuff with the renaissance he gave us for the bulk of this season – I heard someone on Twitter mention “being on tour”? Not sure if they meant Lindsey’s tour (or Alexander Jean’s?), but both of Lindsey’s dances last night struck me as odd and out of character for different reasons.  I actually thought their quickstep was uncharacteristically stiff – not actually all that bouncy, compared to their first quickstep, and the bit at the beginning with Lindsey talking was just odd. The dance wasn’t bad, on the whole, and Lindsey didn’t mess up, but it just felt…low-energy. And like neither one of them really wanted to be doing that dance. Especially following Jordan’s Charleston. As for the freestyle – here’s the thing: if you’re gonna go edgy, go full-on edgy, like Frankie & Witney did. The weirdest part about it for me was that it seemed to dance with being edgy, while at the same time being kind of…goofy? I know they were going for the whole “mad conductor” theme, but I think some of the steps bordered on silly/cheesy – Mark playing Lindsey’s leg like a violin? Lifting Lindsey up to the heavens for what seemed like forever, and her grinning the whole time? I may have audibly groaned and said “Mark, you’re better than this.” There were good parts – good reuse of their jive choreo, and incorporating her violin playing worked for the most part (there were a few spots where it looked a bit strained). I appreciate the fact that they were trying to go for a unique theme that still fit Lindsey – but I’m not sure all the pieces came together perfectly. I think Mark may have spoiled us in the front half of the season, what with the robot Argentine tango, the gorgeous Disney foxtrot, that jive…so many genius dances, and this one just felt…decent, but not fully-realized. And then there were a few more troubling things said during their packages – and I know I’m gonna catch flak for this, but it needs to be said. Once again, Lindsey brought up the fact that she’s the only female left that’s “not a professional dancer” – whether she meant it to shade Jordan, or just meant she’s the only female left in the competition that’s not one of the pros, or whether she even said it of her own volition, I don’t care – it just came across as desperate & unnecessary…like it did the few times it got said last week. And the whole “Mark’s been on this show 19 seasons and only won twice!” read to me as equating seniority with entitlement, on a show that already heavily favors male pros over female ones from the jump – so to basically hear “Mark needs a 3rd MBT because he’s been here a long time!” while some of the female pros (like Lindsay) have been busting their ass and doing amazing work and are always coming up just short of the MBT, doesn’t exactly make me sympathetic towards his plight. And that was really the tipping point for me with regards to who I voted for last night – don’t know if Lindsey herself said it, was baited into saying it, or said it without thinking, but it shed a light on one of my biggest issues with this show: despite what some of you think, the male and female pros are not afforded the same opportunities on this show.

Winners: Jordan & Lindsay

Unfounded claims of Jordan “being cocky” or “needing humble pie” notwithstanding, he won the night for me with both of his routines, and I think he’s been consistently fantastic all season – and Lindsay’s been consistently giving him great choreography (WHICH SHE HAS BEEN DOING HERSELF FOR THE PAST THREE SEASONS…the fact that I have to repeat this and still get people sticking their noses in the air and saying “Nuh-uh, she used Alan for their contemporary!” is just another way this show and its fandom sh*ts on female pros). That Charleston was proof that Lindsay is the go-to pro for fantastic Charleston choreography – it was chock full of content, was high-energy, and made good use of the floor.  And as always – Jordan was flawless.  Their freestyle was my favorite of the night – it fit Jordan’s journey well, and he and Lindsay both seemed to be having the time of their life out there. The flips and falls and catches actually reminded me a lot of the minstrel number from White Christmas – one of my favorites; and there were nice little homages to his jive, his salsa, his Charleston, and a few other dances. And when it comes to fully completing each movement and getting as much out of it as you can – Jordan can’t be beat. And I’m hoping that’s the case with the MBT, because my mind keeps going back to last season’s finale, with Emma tearfully confessing in a finale rehearsal package “I may never get this chance again!” with regards to having a shot at the MBT.  And it’s a sad truth on this show: any given male pro will likely get at least 3-4 partners in his tenure as a pro that stand a decent shot of making the finals, right off the bat (unless you’re Keo, which is another problematic discussion); the average female pro is lucky to get 1-2 in her tenure that she could potentially make it to the finals with. Why? Because you’re more likely to find female celebs with previous dance experience to do the show than male ones, and the bulk of the predominantly-female audience of DWTS tends to fiercely support their favorite male pros (think about who the “big fanbases” have been the past 7 or so years – Derek, Mark, Maks, Val) while being passively-supportive to indifferent to most of the current female pros (until last season, the predominant opinion of Emma seemed to be “Awww, yeah, Emma’s great…with the old, bad dancers”.) And when the agenda of the season requires giving a certain pro (usually male) a boost, it’s often a female pro and her partner paying the price: in season 12, it was Ralph & Karina getting screwed to ensure Chelsea & Mark advanced; in season 18, it was Charlie & Sharna getting screwed to ensure that Meryl & Maks won without issue; in season 22, it was Wanya & Lindsay getting bumped out of the finale to make room for Ginger & Val.  So with all that in mind – sorry, but I don’t feel as gung-ho about Mark getting a 3rd MBT as I do about Lindsay getting her first; and I’m not saying she only deserves it because she hasn’t won – because she has been nothing short of phenomenal this season (and so has Jordan!), and she’s been phenomenal ever since her return as a pro 2 years ago. “But Mark hasn’t won in a while!!!” is the excuse I keep hearing – to which I say “But he’s already won twice, which is better than most of the female pros can hope for during their time on this show.” I don’t know that the stars are ever going to align in this way again for Lindsay – so yeah, I’m hoping she & Jordan pull this off.  Not sorry.

So how do you think things will shake out tonight? What do you think about the live voting? What returning couples are you excited to see?