PureDWTS Season 28, Week 8: Power Rankings

He’s still here, y’all. 🙁

We’re only three weeks away from the finale, and we’ve eliminated half of this season’s cast. Assuming they eliminate one couple next week and another the following week, we’re looking at a four-person finale – and given that the judges seem disinclined to really do anything to help the situation, I think we need to start coming terms with the fact that’s he’s more than likely going to end up in the finals, barring any sort of extreme interference from production. As I predicted last week, this week’s bottom two was just a recycling of previous bottom 2 survivors, which makes me think it’s going to continue being such (sorry Ally, and possibly sorry Kel) until he finally ends up pitted against contestants that have also been able to steer clear of it thus far (read: Hannah, James, Lauren). I’ve seen some folks worried that he might win – while I’m not ruling it out completely, I’m also thinking (hoping) that his continued presence is lighting a fire underneath some viewers to vote for all the other couples, and with each week that passes there’s fewer and fewer people to spread the votes around to…so those that haven’t fallen into the bottom 2 yet are likely amassing bigger and bigger shares of the voting pie, which creates more pressure for his voters to pick up the slack. I’ve given up on the judges actually scoring him fairly – he should be getting 4’s, and not the overly-kind 6’s and 7’s that the judges are still throwing out.  Got blocked by Carrie Ann (again) for telling her that she has no room to be “irritated” with the fans, when she’s actively contributing to him sticking around by copping out with her little 7 paddle. So we clearly can’t rely on the judges to actually drop the hammer. But if it’s any consolation, we confirmed this week that you can vote ten times per couple, per account online, so if you aren’t doing so already – go through and add ten votes for each couple EXCEPT HIM, then submit your votes, log out, and repeat with your other accounts. If we ride this hard, it could result in him falling into the bottom 2, where he can finally be flushed out…

So with this continued clownery, the question on everyone’s lips seems to be “Is the show going to be cancelled?” If you’re just asking for my opinion, I say if this is the type of nonsense we can look forward to for seasons to come, the show SHOULD be cancelled; however, the actual answer is quite a bit more complicated than that. Ratings are at their lowest; however, if ABC is going to cancel DWTS, they’re going to have to come up with something else to put in its time slot that can hold its own against The Voice, which airs concurrently on NBC. I don’t know that it’s going to be very easy for ABC to track down a new show to replace DWTS, but I could see them swapping it out – and I think the most likely candidate is American Idol. It’s currently airing on Sundays (which is actually considered a more competitive time slot than Mondays) and is pulling in roughly the same ratings as The Voice on Monday nights. Why ABC has such confidence in an outdated reality competition format is beyond me, but I could see them giving DWTS’ Monday night slot to Idol and either putting DWTS on Sundays or scrapping it altogether. I mean, they’ve got all manner of fluffy stuff they can pad Sunday night out with – America’s Funniest Home Videos, Kids Say the Darndest Things, Shark Tank, etc. However, AI has been airing in the spring, and is already greenlit for a spring 2020 season; will ABC take the risk of doing two seasons of AI in a year and over-saturating viewers? Can they even AFFORD to do so, given Katy Perry’s bloated salary? There’s a lot of variables to consider when it comes to cancelling DWTS, and while I can’t in good conscience condone several continued seasons of the shenanigans currently happening, I can’t say confidently that this show will be toast after this one. Will be interesting to see what (if anything) gets said about another season on finale night…if they don’t say anything, up-fronts in May of next year will be a key time to watch…

So we lost Kate & Pasha, which, while not unexpected, was still disappointing. I actually thought her jive was her strongest Latin dance, and was impressed and how bouncy and clean the legwork was – which made it all the more annoying when the judges seemed to downplay how well she did, and she ended up with the same score as Lauren for a dance that I thought was actually better. But boy am I glad that they were on this season, and that Pasha was a pro – as Len mentioned last week (I think), Pasha has forced all the other pros to up their game in terms of content, and it’s benefited just about everyone. You could tell Len was sad to see them go when he did press line after Monday’s show, so I guess that’s something…

1.) Hannah & Alan – Ladies, gents, and nonbinary viewers – Hannah has finally joined the competition in week 8! This week she really had a breakthrough: she was bouncy, she was grinning and pulling faces, and she was moving big – all things I mentioned I wanted to see from her last week. I FINALLY got the impression that she really wants to be in this competition and do well, so I was able to overlook the boat show I was able to drive between her and Alan when they were in promenade during their quickstep 😛 I don’t know if it was the trip back home or her breakdown last week, but something changed for the better…and it’s making me think she’s a contender. It also humanized her for me, and rather than appearing as a pageant contestant, she seems to be adopting more of the folksiness that makes Lauren so appealing…which could spell trouble for Lauren, which we’ll get to in a minute…

2.) James & Emma – More excellence from James – which worries me a skosh, because it’s starting to feel less exciting from week to week. I know it’s not his fault, but part of me is starting to wish he’d have more highs and lows, just so his highs were more impactful from week to week. I will say this, though: James’ biggest strength (besides having some natural talent – still not a professional dancer, guys) seems to be his ability to emotionally dial into each dance, and play it just right. It also helps that he’s got some core strength and flexibility to really point those toes and stretch those arms, and throw in an acrobatic move or two 😛 Lovely dance, just wish we could see a bit more light and shade from him…

3.) Lauren & Gleb – This jive started out strong – Lauren was selling it, really getting those knees high, and her costume was cute.  Then it all seemed to fall apart in the second half – Lauren lost time once, and it seemed to just open the door to her losing time again, and again…and also forgetting her choreo. Part of me blames Gleb for creating a routine that seemed a bit disjointed, but part of me thinks we may just finally be seeing the limitations of Lauren’s skill – up until now, I think she’s gotten off relatively easy with the judges, largely being overscored for routines that were good, but perhaps not the cleanest technically. She’s also injured, which tends not to bode well for anyone heading into the finale.  I still think she’s getting heaps of votes, so I doubt she’s in danger, but I do think she’s beginning to hit a wall.  The fact that she was so quiet after getting her critique makes me wonder if all those weeks of getting overscored have given her inflated expectations, and thus getting called out for mistakes (and scored accordingly for them) feels harsh. And now that our other southern girl has actually had a breakthrough and really joined the competition, I’m wondering if Lauren may suffer by comparison…

4.) Jenna (Lindsay, really) – New week, new partner – same lack of dancing. Vaguely looked like he was trying to direct traffic during his jazz routine.  God bless Jenna, thoughts and condolences to Lindsay.  He’s still gotta go, though…

5.) Kel & Witney – I’m on the fence about whether we’ll see Kel in the bottom 2 again – part of me thinks he’s had a bit of a breakthrough these past few weeks, and may have actually gained enough traction to stick around.  Then there’s part of me that remembers that he fell into the bottom two way back in week 3 (when there were still a lot of other couples around that he could and should have probably surpassed in votes) and worries that he’s inevitably going to fall into again now that we’re getting down to the wire. His salsa this week impressed the hell out of me – he was blending in VERY convincingly with the male pros that guested in his dance, and the sequence at the end with the three couples dancing together was so sharply in-sync that I briefly lost track of who was who. Witney’s choreo also seems to have livened up as the season has worn on, and was a lot more entertaining and creative this week. One edge Kel seems to have over Ally is that I feel like he dances OUT to the audience more, while it sometimes feels like Ally dances to Sasha or herself – I noticed it in their dance-off, too.  When it comes down to it, I feel like the judges may opt to keep Kel over Ally simply for optics – as the last male contestant of color left (and the show rather swiftly eliminating the other three men of color in the first half of the season), it may look a bit better to have a more diverse semi-final.  He’s also been on a roll these past few weeks, and could potentially be a more entertaining prospect for the finals.  I’m just not sure…and I’m lightweight hoping that Lindsay’s partner finally succumbs to the bottom 2 next week and eliminates the need for choices like these…

6.) Ally & Sasha – At this point, I just think Ally being in the bottom 2 is unavoidable. She’s been there twice already (more than anyone else still left), and I just don’t see her getting a sudden uptick in votes to keep her safe again. Anymore, I guess I’m of the opinion “If they aren’t getting votes now, they’re probably not gonna get them next week.” There’s just not enough other contestants left for her to realistically surpass, and even if she dances perfectly next week…I’m not sure the judges are going to keep saving her. I often find myself liking her performances, but not being terribly moved by them; I felt that way about her paso this week.  Good dance, and she is improving…but it’s not really the first one that I recall when I think about all the week’s dances. At times, she hit it full force; but at others, such as getting in and out of hold, she seemed to lose momentum and focus. It was a really good paso; I’m not sure I agree that it was a perfect one, though. She’s a sweet girl and there’s definitely people that I’d rather see go before her, but I think her only hope is if you-know-who miraculously falls into the bottom 2 with her.

Thoughts on the dance-offs:

Kel & Witney vs. Ally & Sasha: A nice, evenly-matched dance-off – probably the most evenly-matched of the three, and also the one that I found the most enjoyable to watch. Thought both of them were giving it their all – Ally & Sasha seemed to lean harder into choreo, while Kel & Witney seemed to focus more on performance quality.  In the end, I think Kel edged out Ally simply by appearing more comfortable on the floor – he genuinely looked like he was having a great time, while I caught a few glimpses of Ally looking a bit nervous and lost, and she seemed to get swallowed up by the choreo at a few points. Kel was more at ease and in-the-pocket of the dance. Loved that they had a bit at the beginning where Kel and Ally danced together – it gave the dance-off an air of “in the end, this is all in good fun!”

S*** & Jenna vs. Kate & Pasha: I couldn’t even tell you what he was doing – I’m guessing just standing and pointing while Jenna danced around him, as he usually does with Lindsay on a weekly basis. Kate & Pasha actually had a respectable choreographed cha-cha routine, which had a few borrowed steps from the cha-cha we saw them do in week 1 and was (as always) full of content. I’ve never thought Latin was Kate’s cup of tea (though her jive this week made me reconsider that), but I thought she did a very respectable job and earned her two points – especially given that her opponent did a whole lot of nothing.  As with Kel and Ally’s dance-off, I loved that they had a break in the middle where they sort of acknowledged one another and all four of them did some steps together – or rather, Pasha, Kate, and Jenna did some steps together, while the other guy stood there staring awkwardly at them. This was fun to watch due to Kate and Pasha alone – and I give minor props to Jenna for trying to compensate for her temporary partner’s shortcomings.

Hannah & Alan vs. Lauren & Gleb: This one…was just a bit bizarre to watch, mainly owing to Lauren & Gleb making it weird. To Hannah & Alan’s credit, I felt like they were going 150% the whole dance-off, doing some heavy-duty choreo and doing their best to serve up real salsa content – showmanship was a bit lacking at times, but I’m willing to let that slide because she was doing legitimate steps. Lauren & Gleb…seemed completely disinterested for the first half of the dance-off, and then midway through, Lauren actually came alive…and started doing some weird twerk-like movement.  Then Gleb doffed his shirt, they did some awkward gyrating, and the plot was lost completely on their side of the ballroom as Hannah & Alan continued with their salsa tour de force on the opposite side of the floor. Hannah easily won this one, though I wouldn’t have put it past the judges to give Lauren the two points just to get her out of the basement.  But she ended up being safe anyway, so the points rightfully went to Hannah.

Who do you think has a spot in the finale? And who could be in trouble next week?