PureDWTS Season 27, Week 5 – Power Rankings

Weird things happen when Disney comes to town. Wonky scoring, a fake-out jeopardy and almost-elimination…I guess we should unpack what all went down and see what can be inferred from it. Generally, I think the judges were out to give out as many points as they could reasonably get away with last night, to everyone except Joe; this accomplishes two things: it makes the voting margins very small (due to the larger number of total points), and also makes it harder for Joe to try and make up ground and potentially oust a better dancer. Given that we’re now on the hook for (2) double elims (and one of them is on night 1 of finale week), and we didn’t eliminate anyone this week, I’m thinking next week we cut (2) couples, when we’ve got the best odds of Joe at the very least falling into the bottom two.  He doesn’t have to be the lowest on the totem pole; if they can just get him second-lowest, they can flush him out.  As for the psych-out almost-elim – my little bird told me the couples were told by producers (after the fact, of course) that the two couples in jeopardy “were only picked for shock value, it wasn’t a ‘real’ jeopardy”. Be that as it may, I think that faux jeopardy will only have the effect of boosting votes for DeMarcus and Alexis – I think the former is doing fine, vote-wise, but I think the latter probably could use whatever boost they can give her.  I think it’s interesting that they went more for “shock value”, when they could have actually utilized this jeopardy to boost someone that maybe needed help – Mary Lou comes to mind, as I have yet to find any super-passionate Mary Lou voters (except maybe Bill – I know you’re reading this, bruh) and there seems to be a lot of viewers that tend to forget about her by the end of the night. Then again, with 5 weeks down and 4 to go, they’ve gotta start lining things up for their ideal finale…

…which brings  me to my next point: given that last night was the midpoint of the season, it’s time to take inventory of who I think is headed to the finale and who is probably not.  I’ve been told by several people that Carrie Ann apparently said in her Instagram live that (5) couples go to night 1 of the finale (meaning we get five freestyles) and then there’s a double elim at the end of the night, and only the final (3) dance on night 2 of the finale. So somewhere in weeks 6, 7, and 8, we’ve gotta shed (4) more couples…meaning there’s a double elim at some point BEFORE the finale, and my guess is that it’s next week.  My gut says they don’t let Joe anywhere near the finale, if they can help it – and Bobby’s probably not far behind him. Mary Lou just seems to be fading into the background, so I doubt she’s long for this show, either; I think the last cut is probably a toss-up between John and Juan Pablo – I think John’s actually connecting better with the audience, but I get the feeling TPTB are going to do whatever they can to ensure that the better dancer (Juan Pablo) makes it over the decent-dancing everyman. So that leaves us with Milo, DeMarcus, Alexis, Evanna, and either Juan Pablo or John headed to night 1 of the finale; of those, I think the final three SHOULD be DeMarcus, Milo, and Evanna. But given the sudden showmance angle with Alexis & Alan, and the fact that they seem to think Juan Pablo is the greatest thing since sliced bread, who knows what will happen.

Things I enjoyed from last night? Loved that they found ways to work in the junior pros and contestants, and that opener was the most unique one we’ve had in awhile – loved how may Disney Easter eggs they managed to throw in the background (loved Hayley trying to jam Cinderella’s slipper on Britt’s foot in the hallway 😛 ).  As far as I’m concerned, Jason Maybaum can cohost with Berge anytime – that kid is a riot 🙂

1.) DeMarcus & Lindsay – I’m putting these two here solely based on their jeopardy appearance and the fact that the judges were generally pretty complimentary this week, after a few weeks of low-balling these two. Don’t necessarily think this was their best dance – so I was kind of floored when they started heaping praise on it when I thought it wasn’t as good as their Argentine tango two weeks ago, which got majorly low-balled. I think DeMarcus may have struggled a bit with the foot placement, particularly in the beginning – I partially blame those dumb Hercules moccasins, as I think they may have thrown him off a bit and given a heaver appearance to his feet; but by the middle of the dance, he had hit a nice stride, and seemed to get in the pocket of the dance really well. The lifts were on-point, though – and DeMarcus makes lifting Lindsay look as easy as me lifting pizza into my mouth 😛 Nice to see a repeat of the windmill lift from Calvin’s Argentine tango in season 23. Still think these two are getting quite a few votes, bolstered by their jeopardy appearance, so they’re more than likely safe.

2.) Alexis & Alan – I predicted in the pre-season that this was probably coming at some point.  And given that Alexis and her boyfriend allegedly broke up just a week ago, TPTB didn’t seem to waste any time jumping on the showmance bandwagon – and I think it should be viewed as a bit of a desperate effort to drum up votes, and I don’t think Alexis’ jeopardy appearance was an accident (even though nobody got eliminated), and I’ve been skeptical of how many votes she’s actually been getting…she was in the bottom 5 in week 1, after all.  Do I think it’s real? I don’t know.  Does it matter if it is or not? All that matters in the eyes of TPTB is that the viewers buy into it. And with both Alexis and Alan on board with it (and seemingly 100% in on the pretty heavy-handed charade we saw last night), I think it might serve its intended purpose, which is to create buzz for a very-pretty-but-otherwise-kinda-forgettable-couple. At least in the short run – I’m not sure it’s going to pay off in the long run against more organically-likeable contestants like DeMarcus, Milo, and Evanna. But we’ll see how it plays out. As for their dance – it was pretty, there wasn’t anything glaringly wrong with it technically, but by the 4th or 5th dance I saw last night I had forgotten about it.  And I sincerely doubt that really deserved a 29. But given their jeopardy appearance and a burgeoning showmance, they ought to coast through next week unscathed.

3.) Evanna & Keo – This was one dance that didn’t seem to fit the “heap the praise and points on!” scheme, and it honestly left me really confused.  I actually thought this was Evanna’s best dance – she seemed really comfortable and in her element, was selling the performance well, and was moving big and having fun doing it; additionally, I though this was another win for Keo in the choreo department, as he seemed to really commit to including traditional jazz turns and steps while also serving the Tangled theme. Admittedly, I tuned out most of the judges’ critiques as soon as I heard the first “Wellllll, it was great, buuuuuut…”, so I’m not actually sure what they were nitpicking at; but the only theory I have as to why they may have been harder on her (and waaayyyy easier on others) is to maintain her growth arc – give her supposed “ups and downs” that show a journey, as opposed to Alexis (who has been good from day 1) and Mary Lou (who has been alright from day one, and doesn’t show any signs of having a breakthrough).  At this point, I think only one female celeb makes it to the final 3; and honestly, I think Evanna’s got the best chance – she’s a good dancer, AND she’s got a fanbase that coincides better with DWTS than Alexis does.

4.) Milo & Witney – Not necessarily a bad week for Milo & Witney, but definitely one where the energy seemed to dip a bit.  I think given their theme and the fact that they’ve knocked their dances out of the park the past two weeks, expectations were high – and this dance was cute and fun, but not the showstopper that was their trio last week. I think the height difference between Milo & Witney came back into play this week – Milo seemed to struggle with reconciling his height with maintaining his frame, and maintaining body contact with Witney.  He was great on the sections out of hold, though, and I loved the fight sequence. Just not his best week, but I doubt it’s going to hurt him much in the long run. Actually kind of excited to see how he does during Halloween week – seems like something he’d get really hype about.

5.) John & Emma – These two continue to pleasantly surprise me, week after week 🙂 I was highly skeptical that John was going to handle quickstep well – let alone one to a song that has been painfully overused on Disney night (last night made 3 times – 4, if you count Jack’s trio in season 16). But as usual, he and Emma delivered – and I think it was actually their best dance so far. It was a cute, fun interpretation of the song, with a good amount of quickstep content. John kept up pretty well – he may have lost some steam at a few points, but he still sold the dance well and seemed like he was having a blast doing it. Loved the binocular shot – don’t think we’ve seen that in one of these “I Wan’na Be Like You” quicksteps yet. At the end of the day, I’m finding myself preferring John to a good number of the contestants still left – I’d eliminate everyone below him on the rankings to get him to the finale, if I had the power.  Ready for another Emma freestyle 🙂

6.) Bobby & Sharna – *shrug* It’s Bobby. At this point, I’m kind of over the Willard-from-Footloose goofiness, and it’s just reading as awkward and forced now. His dancing also still feels awkward to me – that erect, head-held-high posture he had for most of his waltz was unintentionally hilarious, but also made his dancing feel stiff. He moved ok, but never seemed to get in the pocket of the music; at the end of it, I was just left going “Meh. At least Sharna looked pretty as Ariel.” I’m not as annoyed with Bobby as I am with Joe, simply because Bobby actually appears to be actively trying to learn how to dance; however, Bobby’s probably next on my list after Joe, simply because I feel like the whole “I’m a guy from a town with a population of 800 who just loooooves to dance!” schtick just feels…disingenuous at this point.  That being said – I feel like Bobby is still connecting with viewers, and might have another week or two left in him.  Time will tell.

7.) Juan Pablo & Cheryl – Dancing 2nd – not really a good sign.  Especially when you consider that every couple that has been eliminated so far has been eliminated after dancing in 2nd or 3rd position. And really, I still feel like Juan Pablo is coming across as relentlessly one-note: every dance he’s done so far has centered around his machismo, bravado, and his ability to smolder.  Last night was no different – I felt like it was just another retooling of his cha-cha, salsa, foxtrot, and samba. Sure, he handled it well, but he wasn’t really showing me anything different than what I’ve already seen from him; plus, that dance was so full of production and props and extra dancers, the attention was shifted off of him more than a few times.  He may be right that the perfect “30” was too much, too soon – I don’t think it was deserved, and I think he’s going to be chasing the dragon of that score for awhile.  Even 29 felt a bit high for last night’s dance – part of me thinks they’re trying to keep him around longer. Just wish he’d show us some vulnerability…

8.) Mary Lou & Sasha – Once again, I’m left without a whole lot to say about Mary Lou other than “her dancing doesn’t suck, but it also doesn’t excite me.” I think part of my lack of excitement lies in the fact that Mary Lou moves small and tight – yes, I’m aware she’s short, but so were Terra, Simone, and Snooki, and they all managed to find a way to really move big and maximize the impact of their moves.  Mary Lou…almost seems to wad herself up a bit as she dances, and she also tends to move a bit mechanically, which I saw again this week.  Also can’t say that I was terribly impressed with the choreography Sasha gave her – I actually found the part with the sword pretty cringe-y. And at the end of the day, I don’t know that TPTB have a stake in keeping her around – they seem more inclined to prop up Juan Pablo and Alexis, and are letting the chips fall where they may with regards to Mary Lou. For that reason, I think she’s got a legitimate risk of heading home next week – particularly if there’s a double elim. Her score isn’t great, and she only has three people below her – and of those three, I think at least two can handily beat her in votes.

9.) Joe & Jenna – Ok, I’m going to say something that sounds patently ridiculous on the surface, and then qualify it: I think this may have actually been Joe’s best dance.  THAT SAID – Joe’s best still has miles to go before it even gets close in quality to some of the other remaining contestants’ worst dances. He’s still not doing much of anything at all when he’s on the floor, and the stuff he is doing is almost always off-time; but I did see at least a smidgen more effort from him this week, so I can appreciate that. Is it enough for me to say “Joe deserves to stay”, though? Yeah…no.  He is by and far the weakest dancer left, and there’s not really anything about him personality-wise that redeems him for me.  With any luck, there will be a double elim next week, and he’ll be one of the ones sent packing. Part of me thinks saddling him with the mandatory “new Disney promo dance” this round of Disney week was calculated – seems like all of the couples given the new/not-yet-released Disney movies during Disney week have struggled (Jodie & Keo with Zootopia in season 22, David & Lindsay with Cars 3 in season 24, Nikki & Artem with Coco in season 25).  Not much else to add – just think it’s (long past) his time.

So how do you feel about Disney night? What are your predictions for next week?