PureDWTS Season 27, Week 2, Night 2 – Power Rankings

As usual, I apologize for the tardiness 😛 This has been a rather rough season for my asthma, as the constantly vacillating temperatures here in the Midwest have created the perfect storm of mold, pollen, and other allergens – I’ve been medicating pretty heavily and not always super sharp and able to write.  Let us all pray that it gets cool and stays cool soon, for the sake of my lungs AND brain!

Seems like many of you have some strong feelings and a lot of questions about Tuesday night’s show. One question that seems to be on everyone’s lips: what the hell happened with the phone votes??? For those that missed it, Tom mentioned (rather in passing, as the show was ending) that the phone votes from Monday night “were not available” and thus only the online votes and scores from Monday night were counted towards Tuesday’s elimination. I was too busy on Monday evening to even carve out time to vote, so I can’t personally vouch for anything hinky happening with the phone voting; but I vaguely remember maybe one person tweeting me to say they were getting a weird message on the online voting number…? Anyway, for whatever reason, phone votes either weren’t available (or weren’t counted), so only online votes and scores determined Tuesday night’s eliminee – which happened to be Danelle.  I’ve said this on Twitter, but I’ll repeat it again here: I tend to think Danelle was headed home regardless, and I really doubt the phone votes could have saved her. I’ve heard all manner of outrage on Twitter and IG about how “unfair” the vote was to Danelle, and how people think she was screwed over by the phone votes getting thrown out, how she would still be here if they had included the phone votes, etc. – but those same people also seem to be the ones answering “Well, no, but” when I ask if they actually voted for her. Danelle was in the bottom 5 last week in votes and scores, and was consistently one of the lowest scorers in her two dances last week and the two she did this week.  Is it really that much of a stretch to assume she was probably a goner no matter what??? Both Heidi & I called it, and this was before we even heard about the voting issues.  “But Court, her story is so inspirational – surely she was getting a ton of votes!” Was she, though? Again, bottom 5 last week, and then I go back to my inspirational story fatigue theory from the pre-season.  Additionally, the one difference I noticed between Danelle’s journey on the show and other “inspirational” celebs? Amy, Noah, Nyle, and Victoria all seemed to have these triumphant moments after their dances where they felt like they really persevered – I never really got that vibe from Danelle, and she always seemed to have a certain air of uncertainty and fear about her after she was done dancing.  She was more “Well, I got through it, but it was scary” than “I killed that dance and I feel so proud of myself!” And who can blame her? She really had to be completely reliant on other people to maintain her safety, and probably felt pretty lost and alone at times when she was out on the floor.  It had to be incredibly frightening to her, and I don’t feel like her experience on DWTS was always fun or rewarding for her.  And I feel like the viewers can sense that – I’ll admit, it was hard to watch her sometimes, because it seemed like she was trying so hard but was really frustrated and anxious. Sometimes, seeing those celebs having a hard time get sent home is almost a relief – unless it’s one of the Bachelors (or Nick Lachey), who can act completely miserable, and yet seem to linger week after week 😛

However, I will say that I think that the double elim we had heard about was originally supposed to be Tuesday night – but given the phone vote debacle, I think they opted to just do a single…especially if the other individual in the bottom 2 with Danelle was an aberration.  TPTB can see who the votes were going to last week – if someone that was quite safe and was getting oodles of votes last week suddenly landed in the bottom 2, owing to the absence of phone votes, I’d say that would be a good case for opting out of eliminating them this week. If this is indeed a case of TPTB trying to prevent an otherwise-popular contestant from going home, my guess is that it’s someone that appeals to the older demographic of the show, as they’re more likely to be voting via phone, rather than online – my guess is Mary Lou, although I’ve heard a few others thinking it’s Nancy (simply because TPTB “want to keep Val around longer”). By the same logic, it could also be John, although I get the feeling he may actually be getting more mainstream votes than we probably think; I doubt it’s DeMarcus, as he seems to have enough broad-spectrum appeal that he’s likely getting plenty of both online AND phone votes.  Tinashe, Milo, Evanna, & Alexis seem like they’re more likely to be getting online votes than phone ones; no idea what to think about Juan Pablo & Joe. I’ve heard some asking “Why eliminate anyone at all, if the votes were messed up?” And my one guess is this: we’re already dealing with a shortened season (9 weeks instead of 10 or 11), and with as much bitching and moaning as I hear from fans about how much they HATE double elims, I’m guessing TPTB were trying to avoid having to do another one.  Right now, we’ve got 11 couples left, and 6 weeks to whittle them down to at least 4 – which means we’re already going to have to have at least one double elim somewhere in the mix (if they’re aiming for a 3-couple final, we’ve gotta have TWO double elims).  Had they not eliminated anyone Tuesday night, we’d be on the hook for TWO double elims, possibly three. Additionally, the “extras” we see from week to week on the shows (guest performances, special segments, the length of dances, the length of rehearsal packages, etc.) vastly depend on having x number of couples to fit in the show.  If they’ve suddenly got to fit (12) couples into Monday night’s show again, we may be dealing with another week of shortened dances, or maybe a musical guest that was originally booked to perform gets bumped. It’s a bit of a logistical nightmare, I think – so I can understand why they opted to do at least a single elim this week.

1.) Milo & Witney – I think Milo had a huge breakthrough on Tuesday night – he showed that he was actually able to handle more structured, serious ballroom dances, and not just high-energy, fun dances like cha-cha and Charleston.  This…is big.  Because I think it means he’s truly a contender and a force to be reckoned with this season, and could potentially oust someone that we may have previously thought was a shoo-in for the finale (my guess is Juan Pablo). Quite possibly the most impressive thing I noticed in his tango was his ability to maintain frame and not let the height difference between he and Witney throw off his posture – he was still dancing “up”, but also maintaining connection with Witney to lead her around the floor.  And he was nailing the head movements, too, which is something that seems to trip a lot of folks up while doing tango (hint: nose follows toes – whichever direction your feet are pointing in, your nose should also be pointing in). I actually ended up loving the song, too – and Milo’s reaction to Celine’s message 😛 He is precious.  Was also nice to see his mom’s reaction, as we’ve only seen Camryn maybe twice throughout the whole pre-season and season. I think he’s on a very nice trajectory, and is both dancing well and connecting well with the audience – hope it continues, cause I really like Milo.

2.) DeMarcus & Lindsay – First of all, I have to cut these two a bit of a break, just because there’s struggles inherent with having someone perform your song live – one, it tends to necessitate a bit more “messin’ about” as Len would say, because you usually have to give them a bit of an intro to get going; two, songs getting performed live by the artists are more often than not chosen because it means they can get the artist to perform it live – and less because it’s an appropriate song for the dance style it’s meant to go with. I have a feeling the conversation between the music department and Boyz II Men’s handler went something like this: “Oh, they CAN make it out to perform live for Vegas night??? GREAT! What do they want to sing? ‘Ladies Man’? Aight, we’ll make it work!” Not to say that I disliked having Boyz II Men in the ballroom again – I’ll never pass up a chance for a #TeamYayZee reunion (Wanya was still robbed, y’all). I just don’t know that I loved the song, or how suitable it was for the quickstep.  But I digress..I noticed DeMarcus was doing something a bit odd with his left arm while in hold – it wasn’t until Lindsay pointed out that her arms are too short to reach his that I realized that he was attempting to maintain contact with her through his left arm, so he cocked it out kinda funny. One of the many struggles of vast height differences, unfortunately – something they’ll just have to work around as the season progresses. Also saw a bit of body contact loss on one of the sections in promenade – also very correctable with practice. However, on the whole I thought he had great rhythm and musicality, and nailed the controlled internal bounciness of the quickstep (unlike Bobby, who was a bit manic). It was a very pleasant dance to watch, and I think the fans probably ate it up.

3.) Tinashe & Brandon – Tinashe can dance – no doubt.  And she seems yet to have met a dance that she couldn’t handle, or that Brandon couldn’t choreograph a great routine for.  My one concern at this point (and it’s one area in which I agree with the judges) is that the three dances we’ve seen from them so far do have a certain degree of “sameness” to them – an edgy jive, an edgy Argentine tango, and an edgy cha-cha.  The latter two even seemed to have similar costumes. To a degree, I think the fault for this lies a bit with TPTB, for giving them edgy songs with certain themes expected (they couldn’t NOT do a circus theme for that cha-cha). But I would maybe caution Brandon to either try to vary his choreo/their costuming a bit to avoid falling into a rut – and maybe be a bit more vocal about the songs they use; I just don’t want a great dancer to get pigeonholed into being “only edgy/sexy”.  Thankfully, it seems like they’re going to get a chance to show vulnerability and a softer side this coming week – so I’m hoping that works out for them. No complaints about the cha-cha – just a general observation this week 🙂

4.) Evanna & Keo – Another pretty good dance from Evanna – I would even go so far as to say her best dance yet. High-energy, nice flicks and kicks – there were a few moments where it looked like she may have gotten lost and looked to Keo for help, but aside from that, the whole dance was sold well.  I think her musicality is improving – she has a tendency to get a bit ahead of the beat from time to time, but she does seem to be able to get herself back on track.  I think she’s going to be our slow climber this season – someone that gets better from week to week, but it’s more of a subtle change…so she could very well end up in the semi-finals or even the finals, depending on how things shake out.  Keo’s samba and jive this week were both some of the best choreo I’ve seen from him – so it gives me hope that these two could be our dark, dark horse this season: the ones that creep up so suddenly that you don’t see them coming until they’re right on top of you.

5.) Juan Pablo & Cheryl – I’m still just really left wondering “But why should I care?” after these two dance.  I don’t have anything against either one, per se, I just don’t really feel any sort of special attachment to them.  Juan seems like a bit of a stock character as this point, where I feel like I don’t really know him (or even need to know him) with respect to his spot on the show, whereas contestants like Milo, Evanna, DeMarcus, John, Tinashe, and even Mary Lou seem more fleshed-out and relatable to me, and I’m invested in their journey. There wasn’t anything wrong with his foxtrot, but it wasn’t all that spectacular to me, either – it was slick, it was sort of fun, and then it was over. I probably would have 86’d the gloves, though, as the removal of them during the dance seemed rough and a tad clumsy. Thought maybe they used the couch a bit too much, as well – would have liked more use of the floor.  I get that they were trying to create this storyline of a steamy tryst in a Vegas hotel room, but it just felt a bit…clunky, and detracted from the dance.  I’m hoping we get to see some vulnerability from JP next week, so I can at least feel like he’s a real person and not just a guest-star of sorts…

6.) Alexis & Alan – I had a revelation on Tuesday night while watching Alexis dance: she moves like Melissa Rycroft – generally with the right technique and confidence, but always just a tad too soft & pretty, particularly with her arm and leg lines. I would even go so far as to call it “cheerleader-y”, in that it seems a bit restrained and overly clean in order to avoid standing out in a squad of NBA/NFL cheerleaders/dancers, where uniformity is the goal. No doubt Alexis can move – she was staying on-time and handling Alan’s tricks and dips every bit as well as Tinashe did on Monday night – but I would have liked to have seen her get a bit more down and dirty, and use her hip action a bit more. Maybe even pull a bit of stank face, instead of her omnipresent (though very pretty) smile. I also think she may have gotten screwed over by her music somewhat, as I would not personally consider her hindquarters to be as “big” as the ones mentioned in J-Lo’s song, so it seemed a bit silly; I also found myself comparing her salsa unfavorably towards Alfonso’s salsa to the same song back in season 19. I just worry that I’m not the only one wishing she’d let loose a bit more – I think she’s running the risk of fading into the woodwork, unless she can take her dancing to the next level (and maybe rally her millions of Instagram followers to pick up a phone…)

7.) John & Emma – To Emma’s credit, I think she is possibly the most clever pro on the show when it comes to choreography – particularly choreography for partners that are not the most skilled dancers. She got handed a dance that John was probably not going to handle easily (jive) to a song that was not at all appropriate for jive (“King Creole”, which is wayyy too slow). And still – she managed to churn out something pretty entertaining that was a respectable effort, choreo-wise.  I’m not going to harp too much on jive content, as I don’t think the song was really conducive to it; plus the whole “Vegas night” theme basically mandated the need for at least one Elvis impersonation dance. John stayed on-time, didn’t miss any steps, and sold the routine well. Was it the best jive I’ve ever seen? No.  Did it need to be? Also no – it was entertaining and reasonably jive-like, and fit in very well with Emma’s repertoire of clever dances for non-dancers. John may have ended up in jeopardy, but I think he may have just been a random choice in this instance – he seems to actually be connecting with the audience and selling his dances well, or at least better than the others who he’s likely sharing a voting fanbase with (Nancy & Mary Lou). I think the jeopardy appearance only served to boost his votes for the coming week.

8.) Mary Lou & Sasha – I’ll give Mary Lou props for giving the samba the ol’ college try – Sasha is right that anymore, it’s the hardest dance you can get handed on DWTS, because almost NO ONE can handle the technique well (the most recent good example I can think of is Shad’s – he at the very least seemed to nail the hip action and at least tried to get the characteristic “bounce”). I think Evanna probably got closer to the actual technique in her samba on Monday night, but Mary Lou was maybe more energetic and sold the performance a bit better.  Both ladies could stand to work on closing their thighs, though – most celeb ladies on DWTS look like you could drive a boat show between their thighs when doing samba, and it’s something almost none of the male pros seem to address. Was a fun dance, overall, but it’s probably not one I’m going to remember in the long run. I’m interested to see how well-received her MMY dance is on Monday – I’m a bit over the whole “I was the first woman on a Wheaties box!” schtick, but that’s just me…

9.) Joe & Jenna – Ok, gonna put it out there: WTF was this dance??? :-O I’ll give Jenna credit for being really edgy & envelope-pushing with some of her choreo (hello, Adam’s freestyle), but this…was just weird. First of all, the snapping was just bizarre, like some sort of barroom beat poetry session, on top of being one of many time-wasting techniques employed to ensure that Joe was doing as little actual dancing as possible.  Jenna was doing all the heavy lifting, with regards to the actual steps, and Joe for the most part just leaned this way and that way and sometimes offered a hand to Jenna in order to make himself seem like part of the dance.  And really – this was less jazz-y to me and far more contemporary-y, with the amount of flailing going on. The mission in this one was clear: keep Joe dancing to a minimum, for he is baaaaad.  Where Emma took a turd of a dance and a song selection and managed to parlay it into a pretty entertaining (and memorable, for the right reasons!) dance for her perhaps-not-the-most-skilled partner, Jenna was basically handed a free pass in the form of jazz (which is pretty open-ended) and squandered it with this nonsense.  But it appears as though TPTB either a) want to keep Joe around for awhile, or b) have resigned themselves to the fact that he will likely be around awhile (owing to votes), so the judges seemed to go pretty easy on him in the critiques.  Oof…I think is gonna get annoying, real quick.  Unless by some miracle, Joe actually starts to improve…

10.) Bobby & Sharna – Methinks these two are starting to grate on each other a bit – or really, Bobby’s starting to grate on Sharna, and understandably so.  Sharna’s body language on Tuesday night seemed to hint at a strain between the two, which I’m sure has to do with the fact that Bobby has become a chronic showboater out on the floor. Where DeMarcus took great pains to exercise restraint and stay locked in hold and in sync with Lindsay in their quickstep, Bobby appeared to say “f*ck it, I’m gonna have fun with this!” and seemed to bounce about the floor in reckless abandon, doing something akin to both Prancersizing and some of the Fortnite dances.  This was one instance where I was glad that there was a built-in time waster in this dance (the magic trick where they sawed Hayley in half – can we be done hazing her now and try to find her a partner for the spring season? :-P) – it meant I didn’t have to watch as much of Bobby jumping about like a madman. At times, he seemed like he was mere inches away from causing injury to his hapless partner. Sure, some might argue that he’s “exuberant” or “joyous” in these displays – but really, we’re headed into week 3, and the excitement of week 1 should have worn off already – so these displays are just starting to feel like attention-whoring.  I think he’s probably safe come Monday, but I’m doubting he’ll make it to the halfway point of the season…

11.) Nancy & Val – Let me put this out there: Nancy may be the most laid-back, non-dramatic partner Val has ever had, and perhaps she’s partially responsible for the toned-down Val we’re seeing this season (the other part I credit to Jenna – and maybe part to TPTB for placating him with a judging position on Juniors).  The downside of that laid-backness, unfortunately, is that I don’t think she’s really standing out in a good way or a bad way, and may be getting lost in the shuffle at the end of the night when it’s time to vote. Her paso was decent – she didn’t go wrong, and seemed to stay on-time – but I don’t think it was anything special or particularly impactful, while the one person below her on the leaderboard (Bobby) was at the very least memorable, and the person she tied with (John) had a very entertaining dance AND the boon of being put in jeopardy. I just think there’s no more lower-hanging fruit to pick off at this point – so Nancy’s number is up.  However, if Nancy gets called safe on Monday night – I think Bobby and possibly Alexis need to start worrying.

So what are your overall thoughts headed into week 3? Share ’em below. I will be (sort of) live blogging the premiere of DWTS Juniors on Sunday night at 8 PM EST – you should come join me 😉 Show may be pre-taped, but we’re all watching it together for the first time!