PureDWTS Season 27, Week 6 – Power Rankings

Last night’s episode of Nightmare on Sesame Street was brought to you by the morbid/nonsensical theme and that “fake-like-you-broke their neck” move that everyone seemed to be doing.  Second week in a row I’m left feeling pretty “meh” on the whole – I think the kids on Juniors put on a far better Halloween show this week, and they taped theirs way back in August. Themes were a bit of a mess, and the only routines I felt knocked it out of the park were Milo & Witney’s contemporary and the pro teaser dance for the tour. Then again, I think there’s only two Halloween week routines in DWTS history that have really wowed me: Hinch & Jenna’s Suicide Squad Viennese waltz, and Frankie & Witney’s stalker-themed contemporary. No worries – not the last time you’ll hear me hold those two dances up for comparison in these rankings 😉

Seeing a lot of comments/concerns about the running order the past two weeks in particular, and I’ll say this: I think TPTB may have finally gotten hip to the fact that the viewers have totally figured out the patterns in running order, and can predict things pretty well based on that; thus, I think they’re scrambling things up a bit more this season, hence some pretty nonsensical running order positions. Funny how DeMarcus went from dancing last, middle of the show, and first (all the key positions) within the first few weeks of the show, but has gotten stuck in doom positions for the past two weeks; Milo also went from dancing in the doom spots the first few weeks, to either opening or closing the show the past two weeks. And I tend not to think their voting numbers have changed drastically in those times, so I doubt it’s necessarily and indicator of their success, and is more just TPTB throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.  Likewise, Alexis’ running order has been all over the place, too, and she still seems to end up in jeopardy every week. Long story short: I don’t think the running order means much this season.

One random thing I enjoyed from last night? Erin subtly trolling everyone from the judges to Alan, clearly not content to just fall in line with the scripted nonsense she was being handed. She’s actually hit a nice stride these past few seasons, really getting comfortable with hosting and being able to have a good rapport and make some funny comments on-the-fly with the couples. Last night’s sassy streak was a bonus – whether it was basically telling the judges they were wrong (a la “well I must have been watching a different dance than the judges, cause I thought that was awesome!”) or ribbing Alan about the showmance (“Did you like, not notice the cameras there when you guys decided to ‘confess your feelings’ to one another?”).  This is a bit of an odd aside, but part of me has wondered the past few weeks if she might be pregnant – and given that my coworker got extra sassy while she was expecting (because she usually felt like crap and didn’t want to deal with anyone’s shit), makes me wonder if Erin’s experiencing the same thing.

So Mary Lou left us, and I can’t say I’m terribly shocked. I had her 2nd from the bottom last week (and really, it was just me willing Joe to leave, so she was probably more of a real bottom for me), and the general sentiment on Twitter was that her dancing was boring.  I think the bit in her package about her divorce was a last-ditch effort to try and get some sympathy votes, but even that landed a bit weird and felt out-of-place this week.  Also didn’t really catch what the theme of their dance was supposed to be, and found the choreo unremarkable.  Some of these male pros really need to step up their choreo game – Sasha could stand to take a few pointers on creativity from Emma.  Part of me thinks MLR was probably in the bottom last week too (perhaps with Alexis…?) and they delayed the elim (or maybe double elim…) to try and see if they could pluck at least one of them out of the bottom, given that the female celebs are dropping like flies and it ain’t a good look right now. It’s gonna look even worse if Alexis gets ousted next week – and I think that one’s a real possibility.

1.) Milo & Witney – The only real winner last night – Witney choreographed another eerie contemporary, and Milo went full bore into everything she threw at him.  I still tend to prefer Frankie’s routine to this one, simply because the theme and music were far more haunting because they were a much more plausible scenario than the one Milo was given (stalkers/prowlers are far more common and thus far scarier than the prospect of being institutionalized in a padded cell with a straight jacket these days), but I think Milo’s routine had more complex and difficult choreo, which he handled beautifully.  Can we talk about that star lift?! Not only did he not even waver in it, he actually WALKED A FEW STEPS while keeping Witney suspended in it. The only other male celeb that comes to mind that was that sturdy doing star lifts was Alek, and I’m pretty sure he stayed stationary doing them. Thought the costumes and set were a bit cartoon-ish (and that rehearsal package was just so FORCED), but beyond that, another stellar performance from Milo…and I’m beginning to think he may actually win this thing 🙂

2.) Evanna & Keo – FINALLY, they start giving the poor girl the props she deserves! It made me feel bad that she felt deflated after last week – especially since I thought her dance last week was pretty close to perfect, and her scores/critiques had nothing to do with her and everything to do with the judges/the agenda. I actually still think her dance last week was still her strongest, as her tango this week (while still great!) seemed to have a few posture issues (noticed her shoulders hunched forward a bit in hold) and maybe a few sync issues when she was with the troupe girls; but beyond that, another great performance, and more solid choreo from Keo…and it’s nice to see the judges finally giving them their due. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again in light of last night’s elim: I think Evanna is the only female celeb that makes it to the finale, FOR SURE.  With Alexis in perpetual jeopardy and the rest of the ladies gone, I think Evanna’s got the best shot at the MBT for the ladies.  I think she’s probably more of an underdog for it than Milo or DeMarcus, but she’s got the potential.  With the votes being somewhat unpredictable this season, who knows – she could pull out a win.

3.) DeMarcus & Lindsay – This was another oddball, the-scores-and-critiques-don’t-really-match-the-dance situation. Honestly, I thought this was DeMarcus’ weakest dance so far – he seemed stiff in his hips, and the end result was pretty flat. Salsa just isn’t his strong suit. I also hated the song for a salsa, and the theme was a kind of out there – brides and bridesmaids die on their way to a wedding, and the groom and groomsmen come visit their graves? Oof. But I will give her points for creativity, and at least trying to embody the Halloween spirit, rather than going a non-Halloween route like some other couples. Whatever Marcus lacked in hip action, he made up for in lifting ability – probably wise of Lindsay to shift focus to that this week, though I worry because they’re running out of dances that allow lifts (they’ve only got contemporary and jazz left – and the freestyle, if they make the finale) and still have some pretty hip-action heavy dances left to do (rumba and samba).  What’s worrying me is that DeMarcus seems to have hit a bit of a funk after injuring his finger in trio week – ever since then, he seems to ALMOST nail his dances, but falls short in some way or another (either lack of hip action this week, or lack of energy in his feet last week, or lack of attack in his trio).  Not sure if he’s tired or has just had a string of dances that just don’t suit his skill set all that great, but I’m hoping he can make a bit of a comeback in the coming weeks to get some nice momentum headed into the finale.

4.) Juan Pablo & Cheryl – New nickname for this one: “Juan-Note Pablo”.  Cause after six weeks, he still hasn’t shown us anything but machismo & smolder. If anything, he at least had the opportunity to go the scary route this week, and he still said “Y’know, I could actually take a cue from my song and actually dress up as a zombie/corpse/mummy, but nah – lemme design some sexy pharaoh getup so I can continue being the stereotypical Latin lover.” Content-wise, it felt a tad light on the jive content – and the content that did get felt a bit too leisurely.  Song may not have been ideal, but it also looked like JP was just doing a casual stroll through the steps, as opposed to getting really hard-hitting and sharp.  He didn’t go off-time and I guess he sold it well – I just wasn’t wowed, and I would have given this straight 9’s instead of 10’s. But if the sampling of comments I saw on Twitter was any indicator, I’m guessing he needs the extra points, because a good chunk of the audience seems to be forgetting about him altogether. I think they’re going to push hard to get him into the finale, but they may have an uphill battle.

5.) Joe & Jenna – Well, I’m officially worried about Joe now – because last night, the judges seemed to do an about-face and go the “if you can’t beat ’em, JOIN ‘EM!” route and actually gave Joe decent scores.  Did he deserve them? Not in my opinion –  he is still barely moving, and very nearly gave Jenna a catastrophic spinal injury.  So for the judges to suddenly whip out 7’s and 8’s for a dance that was only marginally better than what we’ve seen from him the past five weeks? The bar is on the floor for Joe, y’all – and he’s already proven he’s getting votes, so if this is the road we’re going down now – I’d prepare for Joe at least making it to the finals. I was FURIOUS that this half-assed effort bested John’s actually-good paso by three full points. Was puzzled by the theme on this one as well – the song probably would have fit better with a vampire theme, but given that Joe already kind of lumbers about the stage like a mindless goon, I guess Frankenstein was a good fit for him. They could have saved some money and not sent him to a haunted house for “inspiration”, though – he was already Frankenstein. Jenna looks like she’s ready to open a vein every time they get called safe, so for the love of all things good and holy – I’m hoping his fans get thrown by the good scores and don’t vote so hard, so that we might get a hope and a prayer of him headed home next week.  Not sure how much more of this I can tolerate…

6.) Bobby & Sharna – First off, I’m just as over Bones as I am Joe at the moment – the whining about his schedule (and then whining about his scores on Twitter last night) has brought me to the point of “bro, go home.” Also wasn’t loving the camera hogging and attention whoring in the (wayyyy too long) opening number last night. I think Bobby was only slightly better than Joe this week – he moved maybe a tiny bit more, and embodied the character a tiny bit better. Now onto the theme/costuming/set/etc.  Awfully similar to Frankie’s contemporary – down to the ladies in pale pink flowing nightgowns, the guys in all black with smoky eye makeup, and the general home invasion theme.  Even some of the choreo felt similar – this Argentine tango definitely had more of a contemporary feel to it, and some of the throwing-the-girl-around-like-a-ragdoll and creeping-up-behind-her steps looked borrowed.  If y’all want to complain about copying – I think this routine was far more guilty of it than anything Witney has choreographed this season. But knowing some of you, you’d probably try to say that Witney’s choreo for Frankie’s contemporary last year somehow copied Sharna’s Argentine tango choreo for Bobby this year – ’cause flux capacitors, y’all. Point I’m trying to make: everything is going to feel pretty similar anymore, so if you’re going to try and claim Witney copied whoever, at least apply the rule across the board. But I digress – I think I’d have a joy-induced asthma attack if we were gifted with a double elim next week and lost both Joe & Bones.  They just don’t seem to have much to offer anymore, and like Jenna, Sharna looks about 1000% DONE with this season and the nonsense that comes with it. But knowing my luck, we’re probably going to lose someone I actually like first…

7.) Alexis & Alan – These two have a serious PR problem – because the level of desperation one has to reach in order to agree to such heavy-handed and shameless showmance nonsense is up there. Do I believe for one second that these two are actually a thing? HELL NAW. The whole “let’s confess our feelings in front of the camera” bit was farrrrr too rehearsed, and the fact that Alan seems comically non-committal when confronted about the whole thing (“I’m just enjoying our time together!”) tells me he’s either a) just like every guy on Tinder that’s “not into labels” and “hates drama” (translation: he wants to have no-strings attached sex without you calling him out on his shitty behavior), or b) he’s actually pretty uncomfortable with the fauxmance angle and is trying not to dig himself into a hole he might not be able to get out of.  I’m leaning towards the latter – Alan may be young & dumb, but I don’t think he’s reached Gleb levels of douche, and he seems to really want to prove himself as a pro without getting caught up in a showmance so early in his pro career (then again, it didn’t really hinder Mark…or Derek…or Maks…). So yeah – the show/fauxmance is a hot mess, and their threepeat appearance in jeopardy last night tells me it may not even be working anyway. As for the dance itself – I’ve actually wanted to hear this song used on DWTS for awhile now, but they basically neutered the originally by bleeping out “naughty” words (cherries and panties and “real big AH”, OH MY!!!), and further obliterated it by stripping it down and fouling up the timing. The dancing wasn’t bad, per se; it just felt…hollow.  Alexis was smiling and staying on-time and bopping around happily, but it felt like she was just dancing by numbers, rather than FEELING the performance. Also wasn’t feeling the more Christmas-y theme – if they wanted to do a candy theme, they could have taken a cue from Miles & Rylee on Juniors; I would have turned Alan into Willy Wonka and thrown Alexis into a Teenage Dream-era Katy Perry getup, complete with blue wig and cupcake bra. But what do I know? 🙂 I know this: I think these two should be concerned about how many votes they are or aren’t getting – I think production is going to try like hell to get them into the finals, but I don’t know that they’re able to be saved at this point.

8.) John & Emma – Having to put these two this low makes me mad, as I actually thought their paso doble was one of the more entertaining and creative dances we saw last night. So the theme was a tad wonky, but very Emma-esque – I only kind of caught it, were they supposed to be Henry VIII and the ghost of Anne Boleyn…? In a weird way, I dug the quirkiness of it. The choreo was just so fun and whimsical – loved the knights and the swordplay.  I’ll agree with Len that the parts in hold were generally much better than the parts out of hold (John was actually shaping pretty nicely through his torso in hold), but honestly, I wasn’t seeing the “roughness” and “lots of mistakes” that Bruno and Carrie Ann were spouting off about – my guess is that they were parroting what TPTB had told them to say, as the critique (and really, the scores) were pretty incongruous with what we saw.  I’m guessing they’ve decided that John can’t go to the finale, and that he’s getting too many votes that should be going to others (READ: Alexis and/or Juan Pablo). Goddammit, John – stop dancing so decently and being likeable and relatable, I guess. GROSSLY underscored – this was at least as good as Joe & Bobby’s dances, and easily 1-2 points better. But John isn’t the chosen one, so he got screwed. I’m hoping he’s getting enough votes to cover the shortage in points (kind of wondering if some of MLR’s voters might shift their votes to him), but I guess I’m not optimistic.

So what are your thoughts headed into country/team dance week? Who do you see making the finale?