PureDWTS Season 28, Week 7: Power Rankings

Well I guess it goes without saying that Halloween Night brought some bad juju with it that I’m struggling to shake. My girl crush Kate (and male pro messiah, Pasha) fell into the bottom two, while you-know-who somehow dodged the bottom two altogether (again). And I’m noticing a disturbing pattern with his supporters: with each week that passes with him sticking around, they seem to take on more aggressive, offensive posturing; they’re likely heartened by witnessing human garbage like former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus antagonizing Erin on Twitter, over a perceived “sad face” that she apparently had when you-know-who was announced as safe.  He did this completely unprovoked, I might add – and that’s what’s really disturbing to me. Bones’ fans may have been annoying, but I don’t recall them going out of their way to pick fights with his detractors (until finale night, when they all apparently decided to flood my mentions). Supporters of Lindsay’s partner seem to have started searching the #dwts hashtag, and start pig piling on anyone that dares to say anything negative about him – or nothing at all about him (I legit saw one poor fan inundated with “Funny how you’ve left S*** out of your list of favorites” and “You’re gonna feel so stupid when S*** wins this whole season!” tweets from the #MAGA faction).  I don’t even think half these people voting for him even like him as a person or a dancer – I think they just like thinking they’ve somehow “stuck it to the liberals” by keeping him on the show. This is why I refuse to say his name – not only does it give him power in social media algorithms, but it just allows the bad juju of the people that support him to find its way into my timeline. I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS ENERGY. But unfortunately, this show did, and when you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas…

I’ve inevitably had a few fans asking me “What can we do to stop this??? How do we get rid of him????” and I wish I had an easy answer for you. The fool’s errand this season has left us with is to basically vote for EVERY SINGLE OTHER COUPLE, in the hope that they all eventually surpass him in combined scores and votes. However, my gut feeling (one I share with Heidi) is that it’s not necessarily that he’s getting a ton of votes – it’s that there’s not very many votes being cast, TOTAL, and thus it’s giving a small-but-determined fanbase more voting power than they’d normally have. If that’s the case, then every vote that is not for him should help – and it seems like there’s some debate over whether the online accounts will allow you (10) votes total (to distribute among the couples as you see fit, as it’s always been), or whether they will allow you to vote ten times apiece for each couple (like the text voting, which allows you a max of (10) votes per couple). If you truly can vote ten times per couple per account, then y’all, I recommend you ride that till the wheels fall off – that could be the key to finally ousting this festering boil of a contestant. If it’s not the case, then I hope you guys are still voting nonetheless – if you wanted to vote more strategically, I would suggest throwing votes to James, Lauren, and/or Hannah, as I think those are the three that ol’ Frankenstein is going to struggle to surpass in votes (they’ve never been in the bottom 2, while Kate, Ally, and Kel all have). All I know is that if this show ends up with another bullsh*t winner, we can probably kiss it goodbye…hell, we might still kiss it goodbye, even if he doesn’t win. But I’ll be damned if I don’t put up a fight first…

So as I had generally been thinking for the past several weeks, we inevitably lost Karamo – half of the bottom two from last night had no business being there, and I think Karamo had plateaued with his dancing and wasn’t likely to improve much more this season. If you-know-who had gone home last night (or last week…or the week before…) like he ought to, I think Karamo would have probably been in the bottom two with him, and probably would have been the next one eliminated, anyway. I still love the story and the energy he brought with him, though, and if nothing else, I now have a quite fetching “OMG BEEEEYOOOOONNNNNCCCEEEE!” pterodactyl screeching Karamo sound byte as my text tone, graciously created for me by reader Rob 😉

1.) James & Emma – I think it says an awful lot about the quality of James’ dancing when people seem to lose their minds when he makes a relatively small, isolated mistake in one of his dances – that was the case with the minor flub in his otherwise pretty perfect Viennese waltz. We see other contestants (you know who I’m referring to) make multiple flubs per dance, and we tend to just shrug and move on, but we (and really, the judges too) can’t help but harp when James makes a mistake.  Kind of unfair, but I guess that’s to be expected when someone dances SO WELL – other than the one stutter, he was just so fluid and confident in this Viennese waltz: he was doing sequences of multiple turns, hand passes, changes in direction, and moving in and out of hold, and handled it all with aplomb. And his frame – he just carries it so regally, as if slouching is an alien concept to him. I think the only thing that puzzled me was his character – he was supposed to be a “demon”, but he looked vaguely like The Crow and vaguely like the Black Swan. Who knows 😛 Still rooting for him for the win…now if I could just stop random people tweeting me to tell me that James “is a professional dancer, he did musical theater!”…*cue emphatic eye roll*

2.) Lauren & Gleb – Kind of a non-event week for Lauren – her Argentine tango wasn’t bad, but like Hannah’s jazz, I found it hard to remember anything impactful about it at the end of the night. Could just be hard to follow her emotional performance last week, but who knows – the choreo seemed a bit simplistic to me, and it seemed like Gleb took awhile to get started with it. Seemed like there may have been a flub with the floor-sweep trick towards the end, but I don’t recall the judges saying anything about it, so who knows. I tend to find that Lauren gets a bit overscored, relative to other couples – she got the same score as James, who had a near-perfect Viennese waltz, and Kel, who had a much more content-filled jive. But at this point, I’ve got bigger fish to fry than her getting overscored each week – at least she’s not a bad dancer, she’s just not as good as others…

3.) Lindsay – I struggle to find things to write for this couple, week after week. At this point, I don’t think Lindsay could be doing any better than she already is, and you can’t really blame her for trying to put on a happy face each week and do the best she can. He’s gotta go, y’all – not just because he’s creating an unfavorable political climate on the show, but because HE CAN’T DANCE. That seems to be lost on his supporters – they seem to think everyone is pissed because he’s a Trump acolyte, but can’t seem understand that he also is a terrible dancer.  There’s nothing about him I find entertaining, charming, or worthy of attention. Although I did get a good chuckle when they gave Mr. “Everyone is against me because I’m a Christian!” three 6’s on Halloween night 😛 The problem there, though, was that these scores aren’t low enough if they hope to oust him – he needs to be getting 4’s and 5’s to really be in danger.  Will they go that low? More than likely not. So I guess it’s up to the fans to try and help things along…

4.) Hannah & Alan – Anyone here watch Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team? I don’t watch religiously, but I do catch clips on YouTube from time to time. One thing that sticks out to me when watching the director and the choreographer critique the girls’ performances? Comments like “Victoria’s doing that crazy smile thing again!” “Meredith needs to calm down with the arm movements!” “Cassie’s flipping her hair more wildly than the girls around her, she needs to reign it in!” The negative comments often focus on things that the girls are doing that are setting them apart too much from the other girls in the squad – they want uniformity, and no one girl to pull focus with extreme moves. I feel like that’s what’s going through Hannah’s head when she performs – she doesn’t do anything too extreme in her movements, and seems to be constantly ready for a pretty photo op should someone snap a picture mid-performance. That philosophy works for professional cheerleading squads; however, in Latin & ballroom, the best pictures seem to be dancers pulling more extreme poses and faces, in really dynamic poses as opposed to flattering, more static ones. Sure, this was a jazz – but I really wish Hannah would just GO FOR IT one of these days and pull some crazy faces or dynamic moves. This jazz was pleasant enough, but as with all of Hannah’s performances…there was nothing that stuck out in my memory. It was somewhere on the spectrum that includes Haylie Duff’s dance in Napoleon Dynamite and Jennifer Garner’s “Thriller” dance in 13 Going on 30…just cute and pleasant, but not altogether that impressive or entertaining. Part of me thinks even Hannah herself thought this was going to be easier – the tearing up she did post-team dance seem to indicate her frustration. It’s a little late in the game to make a big change in her dancing, I think…but who knows. Remember in the preseason when many of us thought that the final two would be the “Battle of the Browns”? Let us laugh 😛

5.) Kate & Pasha – The thing that sucks about the next few eliminations is that it’s likely just going to cycle through the remaining contestants that have been in the bottom before, from now until the finale. The one boon for Kate? She was in the bottom 2 last week, and if she’s anything like Karamo, Kel, or Ally, she’ll be spared being in the bottom two the following week, likely owing to fans’ panic voting. And really, I think the only reason she ended up in the bottom 2 this week was the combined struggle of a lower individual score (from a dance that I actually didn’t think was that bad), and getting saddled with the team with the dead weight. Really and truly, Kate was able to create more hip action (or rather, Pasha leading Kate was able to create more hip action) than even Hannah could in her rumba, which I was impressed with; I also liked how she played Little Red Riding Hood simultaneously both coy and somehow seductive – and I laughed out loud at the move where she (inadvertently, I assume) put her boobs in Pasha’s face 😛 And Pasha, as always, was an absolute treasure – still crafting syllabus-heavy routines that are fun to watch as well as pleasing to the judges, and really, influencing many of the pros (except prolly Gleb) to stop “messin’ about” and include more content in their dances.  I just love these two so much – Pasha’s setting a new standard for the pros, and Kate’s proving that women don’t stop being sexy or having fun after 40 🙂

6./7.) TIE: Ally & Sasha and Kel & Witney – Unfortunately, like I was with Karamo, I’m left with the dilemma “Well someone’s gotta go…and we know it’s not who should be going.” At this point, it has little to do with dance skill, and more with who has and hasn’t been in the bottom two yet.  Kel was there the week that Ray dropped out (week 3); Ally was just there in week 6. And what sucks the most is that both actually had really strong performances this week, and on a normal season probably wouldn’t be at risk of elimination for another week or so. Ally’s technique continues to improve, and I was generally quite impressed with how she handled the tango; she just needs to drop the chin and not stare at the ceiling when in hold, cause she gets what I call “freaky tango face”: this possessed, eyes-and-chin-too-far-up-and-backwards look that’s meant to emulate the posture of professional ballroom ladies, but just looks…freaky. It’s a rookie mistake that I was guilty of when I first started doing ballroom, and finally a pro told me “Court, you’re just trying to get your head out of the way so the man can see to lead. You’re not summoning Satan or checking out the lighting.” I think once the following partner understands the purpose of the posturing, it becomes much easier to get the proper, less-exaggerated look. I think Kel actually had a breakthrough week – his jive actually made me sit up and say “Hey, maybe he does have a shot at the finals.” He really might be peaking at the right time – his last few dances have gotten better and better, and in a strange twist (because the tendency is for the celebs to lose steam in the back half of their jive), Kel’s jive actually got BETTER as he got further into it. Could have been the odd staging (that neon octagon looks disorienting) or the fact that time warp is a song with a lot of build-up, but Kel finished really strong, keeping up with kicks and flicks without getting tired. My only question: why the heck were they snakes??? Granted, it’s been quite a few years since I’ve watched Rocky Horror, but I don’t recall any snakes in it.  My guess is that somebody cried “copyright violation!”, forcing them to pick something decidedly non-Rocky Horror; at least the makeup looked cool. So I guess my thoughts on these two boil down to this: I think they’re likely to wind up in the bottom 2 (unless Kate or Hannah really sh*ts the bed, which I doubt), but I don’t really have a good feel for who they’ll save. If they’re going off cumulative points, it would be Ally; but given that they opted to save Ray over Mary (who had more points) in week 2, I don’t think we can safely assume they’d follow this pattern with Ally & Kel.  I think Kel has hit a nice stride these past few dances and could potentially put on a better show in the finale, so I could see Bruno opting to save him (and maybe Carrie Ann); and if they nixed Kel, that would leave James and you-know-who as the last men standing with four ladies left, so I’m wondering if they might opt to keep Kel to keep the ratio a bit more even. The point is, I think it’s too close to call – and half the time, I think the judges are faced with a bottom 2 they weren’t anticipating, and have to make a call on-the-fly.  I’d say “fingers crossed they make the right choice!!!”, but I honestly don’t know what that is in this instance…

Thoughts on the team dances:

This season’s team dances were brought to you by the stompy paso move where you put your arms over your head, tango done in circles around the floor, and female pros screaming counts at the top of their lungs 😛 When you really look at the two closely, the choreo isn’t actually all the different – both made heavy use of paso and tango steps, and both drew inspiration from props used in previous dances (Team Trick seemed to borrow heavily from Team Nightmare in season 21; Team Treat pulled the beds from Lindsey & Mark’s jive in season 25 out of storage).  It was more the staging and execution that set the two apart. I think Team Trick largely benefited from most of their dance being done in dim, surveillance-esque lighting – seemed to offer up a bit of a filter for any potential gaffes. Team Treat, however, did the bulk of their dance in full stage lighting…which didn’t help, since they ended up with the biggest toxic asset on their team (do I even need to clarify?) and he made more than a few mistakes. With the team dances, getting the weak link isn’t always a guarantee that you’re going to get a lower score; as long as you have enough stronger dancers (and choreographers!) on the team, it’s usually pretty easy to mitigate. However, given that the skill level was unusually skewed in Team Trick’s favor, I’m not sure there was a whole lot Team Treat could have done to lessen the impact. I give MVP of Team Trick to James, who was often out in front or running the longest distance to get into place and make sure everyone lined up behind him; also loved how he led the celebs-only section. I give co-MVP of Team Treat to Kel and Kate: the latter did a great job of keeping up with the pro ladies and generally being a really good sport, and the former was often the one who drew my eye when other celebs were going wrong – during the celebs-only section, you could actually see him forcefully kicking and holding frame in order to reign in Lindsay’s (usually unhinged) partner; he also seemed to be contributing usefully to the choreo during rehearsals. At the end of the night, though, I don’t think I thought of either team dance as terribly memorable…and I think my days of being wowed by them are probably long gone. *sigh*

Thoughts?