PureDWTS Season 29, Week 3 – Power Rankings

What can I say about Disney night that I haven’t already said in season 28, season 27, season 25, etc.? Not much. It’s the same 2-hour long Disney commercial that it has always been, with dances (usually poorly) shoehorned to fit (overused) songs, and costumes that feel like plagiarized essays – “yeah, you can copy mine from last season, but change a few things so it’s not so obvious.” That much I kind of expected – but I’m also dealing with the added complication this season of still having TOO. DAMN. MANY. COUPLES. It’s enough of a mental load to remember them all at the end of the night, and on top of that, we’re still getting really truncated dances – which is beneficial to some (marginal dancers like Chrishell) while detrimental to others (decent dancers like Skai, who seems to take a few bars to really hit a stride). With 13 couples remaining, next week will basically feel like a regular premiere night, and we’re already in week 4. We’re gonna have to start trimming some fat (and quickly) if we want to get whittled down to a 4-couple finale before Thanksgiving.

Tyrant was still up to her usual “look at meeeeee!” claptrap with her Minnie Mouse ballgown and absurdly long wig, but dare I say she may have dialed things back a just teensy bit this week? At the very least, the judges seemed to get more time to critique, while we seemingly only had to endure one dumb Tyrant question posed to each couple instead of multiple, increasingly painful ones that the celebs struggled to answer eloquently (or diplomatically). Don’t get it twisted – this show is still much harder to endure than necessary, owing to Tyrant’s presence (and Bergeron’s absence); but this week felt fractionally less painful.  Think someone pulled rank and told her to pipe down after last week’s sh*tshow?

So “that b***h Carole Baskin” got sent packing this week, and I hope that means I don’t have to hear any more bitching about how upset some of you were that “Derek saved her!” last week. You guys do realize the judges collude on who to save/ditch, right? So even though it appeared that Derek “got the deciding vote”, the three of them had already decided who was staying and who was going, and it was just a matter of what order they revealed their votes in to maximize suspense. And Carole had to have more than one vote to stay, yet nobody seemed as upset with Carrie Ann as they were with Derek.  My god, I worry about the intelligence quotient of the voting public these days *facepalm*. Anywho, it was her time to go – and I think that’s why they handed her samba as her style this week to ensure it, as nearly no one nails that dance and even the good ones usually just barely flirt with proper technique.  Carole basically tiptoed carefully through her dance – no bounce, not much rhythm, but I will credit her with generally keeping in step with Pasha. And I think Carole may have been saved from complete embarassment when Tyrant hit her with this gem of a question: “So how does Pasha compare with the cats?” That’s like someone asking me how Mama Spence compares to the spreadsheets I use to make budgets at my 9-5. I dunno – I worry about both of them making dollars and sense? Da fuq. Is anyone rehearsing these questions with Tyrant before the show, or is she just improvising them on the fly???

1.) Kaitlyn & Artem – Can Kaitlyn dance? Yes.  Am I as sold on her talent right now as Carrie Ann, Bruno, and some of the readers here at Pure? Nah. This was another nice contumba – owing to the song, I’m guessing Artem (like most of the other pros) had to improvise quite a bit this week, and so we sacrificed some rumba content in favor of some more dramatic, contemporary-esque flailing. There were still quite a few standard rumba figures in it, but due to the shortness of the routine and Kaitlyn’s tendency to fall back on her ballet/jazz training, I didn’t see a whole lot of hip action on her part, which is the defining characteristic of the dance. The dance was nice; I didn’t love it, though – and that’s the theme of my feelings about Kaitlyn’s dancing: it’s nice but not my favorite.  Sorry, Bachelorette fans/female ringer advocates – the idea of another Bachelorette with dance training winning DWTS based on some pleasant-but-not-extraordinary dances just bores me to tears, and right now, Kaitlyn is just more of the same. However, I’m seeing a lot more people riding on the Kaitlyn bandwagon this week, so I doubt she’s going anywhere.  I guess I just hope Artem is able to inject some creativity in their routines, so I feel less blasé about Kaitlyn’s dancing.

2.) Johnny & Britt – Thank god, Johnny finally had a breakthrough this week!!! This rumba was the first dance we’ve seen him do where his skating background seemed to benefit him – he was following through beautifully on the extensions, and everything flowed together pretty seamlessly. If Johnny’s got one big advantage from his skating, I think it’s an understanding of continuity – he knows how to make one step flow into another; however, that becomes a detriment in dances like the tango, where every step is more punctuated than flowy. I will say his hips still need a bit of work – he wasn’t quite settling into them fully, so some of the leg lines looked a little clipped. But it was good to see him truly thrive in a dance, and I loved hearing about his family background – I didn’t realize his parents gave up so much so he could skate. Only drawback to this particular dance? Tyrant’s not-so-subtle plug before his dance for the live-action Mulan on Disney+…gotta make those Disney dollars, I guess.

3.) Nev & Jenna – Praise jeebus, I’m just glad I don’t have to listen to yet another Riker stan whine about how his Pirates of the Caribbean dance was “sooooo much better than [insert subsequent celebrity here]’s dance!”  to the same song, as I seem to have done for the past several seasons when they’ve reused “He’s a Pirate”. Glad they managed to pull something else out of the Pirates soundtrack to work with, and I think this may have been the one song this week that actually fit the dance style it was given well, and didn’t have any weird musical accents or tempo changes to throw everything off. In terms of mastering his assigned dance, I think Nev came out on top this week – it was easily identifiable as an Argentine tango, he seemed to understand the timing and technique, and he seemed to nail both the character of the dance and the character of Jack Sparrow.  I’ll also commend Jenna for some clever choreography, as there were some fun little flourishes in addition to standard Argentine tango fare. Really, I enjoyed the whole thing – no complaints, except for the fact that Nev doesn’t seem to be standing out in the same way as Kaitlyn, Johnny, or Justina right now. I think he’s won some fans over, but compared to Johnny’s flamboyance, Kaitlyn’s injury, and Justina’s bubbly energy, I think Nev may be just a bit too chill to really be super memorable right now.  I think he’s easily one of the best dancers, but he’s going to need a great, standout dance to make people remember him week after week.

4.) Jeannie & Brandon – So Jeannie must have heard me last week, skeptical as to whether she could handle a ballroom dance during which she couldn’t really “ham it up” as she had done during her salsa and cha-cha in weeks 1 & 2. Really, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they pulled this Viennese waltz off – it was very cute, she sold it well, and there were only minimal technique issues (mainly, more struggles with turns and a few shuffle-y feet). I think once she and Brandon realized they were the “cheesy” couple this season, and that was the edge they had over everyone else, they embraced it, and the result was growth. I’m thinking they might follow a similar path to Drew & Emma in season 25 – they weren’t the best technicians, but they realized that being goofy and entertaining was their secret weapon and it got them all the way to the finals.  This couple is growing on me, for sure.

5.) Vernon & Peta – After struggling for the first two weeks of the season, I feel like Vernon turned a corner this week – sure, he’s still got a lot of work to do on cleaning up his dances, but for the first time, I felt like he really had fun. The utter joy of him hopping around dressed as a candlestick with a huge grin on his face was infectious 🙂 There were a few slight timing issues, and I had to chuckle a bit at Vernon doing turns at the beginning of the dance – he seemed to move like a Roomba that kept bumping into invisible obstacles. But I was smiling throughout the whole dance, and he does seem to be working on his frame and footwork. I get the impression that Vernon really, really wants to be good, and is willing to really work hard for it.  So for that alone, I’m glad he’s still here, and I’m glad he’s trending upward.

6.) Justina & Sasha – For the record, I do not think “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is suitable for a Charleston – sure, you can manipulate it a bit to make it sort-of workable, but there is literally just so much going on in that song, that the clipped movements of the Charleston look low-energy next to the chaotic building tempo of the song. So for Justina & Sasha to have to do a Charleston to it – they were doomed to look low-energy, regardless of how much they were actually doing. I still applaud Justina for diving headlong into it, just like she has every other dance – I still feel like she was giving it 110%; it’s just that she wasn’t given quite as much as she has been in previous weeks – the choreo was a little bit weak, as Sasha seems to struggle with Charleston choreo in particular (Ally’s messy Charleston last season comes to mind, as does Mary Lou’s uneven Charleston trio with Nastia a few seasons back). I like to think Justina ought to be fine in the long run, and this is just a blip on the radar; but I worry that as Kaitlyn, Johnny, and Nev gain momentum, Justina will become an afterthought for some fans. Not me, though – she’s gotten my votes every week, and will continue to do so. Had to laugh when Tyrant was interjecting her opinion on what Charleston should look like (“It’s like the Kid ‘N’ Play dance, right? Hehehehehe”) while Derek was trying to explain, and Derek gave her the most brittle, irritated, “I will murder you while you sleep” smile and just nodded and said “Yep, EXACTLY LIKE THAT!!!”

7.) AJ & Cheryl – I’m gonna chalk it up to having so many damn couples still left this season, but AJ is getting a bit lost in the shuffle for me at this point. I enjoyed his dance last week, but this week, there was just something missing. Could have been the fact that the song wasn’t ideal for a quickstep (should’ve just stuck with “Friend Like Me”), could have been those damn flowy pants they had him wearing, which hid most of his leg and foot action…who knows. I don’t think AJ’s doing anything wrong, per se, but I don’t know that he’s making as big a splash as he’s capable of right now – he was always the “rebel” of the Backstreet Boys, with the crazy hair colors, tattoos, piercings, etc., but I feel like he’s been relatively tame so far on DWTS. I think he needs a tango or paso where he can really let loose before he becomes a contender, but hey – he’s already a better dancer than Nick, and he’s got a pro that is usually a ticket to at least the back half of the season.

8.) Jesse & Sharna – Another couple that got screwed by a song that was not ideal for the dance they were meant to do. I’ll give the show props for at least exploring some different Disney movies (Newsies is what I would call a deeper Disney cut, as the music isn’t quite as earworm-y as most of the animated films), but this song had some tempo changes that made it hard to do a proper jive from start to finish. Had it been me deciding the music, I probably would have given them “Seize the Day” instead, and let Sharna pick between doing Charleston or a big, Broadway-esque jazz number. Didn’t Tyrant mention in the preseason that they would be including “other” dances pretty often, anyway? Poor Jesse seemed to get visually frustrated during this one – seemed like he went off-time more than once, and his feet were flexed and kinda floppy on flicks and kicks; again, I’ll chalk a lot of this up to the song not being the best. But when he was on-beat, he was ON – I could see him light up and really start performing. Hopefully they don’t have another bad song week again, but of course, they likely will,with the pros having no control over the music these days.  Did anyone else notice that Sharna’s left ankle was wrapped? Hmmm…

9.) Nelly & Daniella – So for the second season in a row, Daniella is tasked with handling the “new movie promo dance” – granted, last season, they just turned it into a pro dance instead of making one of the couples do it, but as I’ve said in multiple previous seasons, getting the song from the new movie during Disney week is a bit of an albatross.  Sure, you don’t have a blueprint for how a dance has to look, since nobody has seen the movie yet, but the audience is also not familiar with the song, and so you can’t really rely on the music to make them care. Nevertheless, I think Daniella delivered some cool, smooth slow fox for Nelly to do, and the overall effect was generally quite nice. Yes, he’s still got postural issues and needs to work on his foot placement, but as I’ve said before, Nelly’s at his best when he can simply groove by himself, and Daniella gave him some opportunities to do that.  She, like her spouse, is a smart choreographer that likely learned quite a bit from working with Derek prior to joining DWTS 😉 I’m heartened by seeing Nelly open up a bit more each week, so I think he may have some staying power.

10.) Skai & Alan – Y’all, two weeks in a row now, Skai has given some lackluster performances – and two weeks in a row, she has been one of the last called safe.  I don’t think that’s a simple coincidence, and I think she may not be getting the votes many of us thought she would. I thought her jive this week started well – cute costuming, and I love that they finally did The Princess and the Frog. But it was as if Skai’s fumble during her samba actually happened only moments before (and not the week before) and she was still jarred from it – because the whole performance felt a bit timid and disconnected, with the same deer-in-the-headlights expression she had in the back half of her samba last week.  I wanted to love it, but I felt very similar to Derek about the whole thing – it just seemed so STIFF. I hope Skai isn’t suffering from DeMarcus Syndrome – like he never really regained his footing after his finger injury during his season, I’m worried the samba snafu may be coloring Skai’s performance for the rest of the season.  I’m hoping Alan can help her shake it off, because she does have some natural talent to carry her.

11.) Monica & Val – I stand by what I said about Monica in weeks 1 & 2: she’s got the technique, but man – she’s quiet and reserved. Really and truly, if she could just match Justina or Jeannie’s energy level, I think she’d be up there with Kaitlyn, Nev, and Johnny as contenders.  But alas, Monica is still one that I find myself forgetting at the end of the night, owing to her reserved demeanor. It was a another nice dance, and she had some nice extensions and moved well; did notice a few wonky posture issues, though. I doubt she’s long for this competition, unfortunately – unless she really comes out of her shell in “Most Memorable Year” week. I’ve got no beef with her, but I also just don’t remember her in the grand scheme of things.

12.) Chrishell & Gleb – Dear LORT, the judges may have set a new world record for “most smoke blown up a contestant’s ass in under five minutes”. Was anyone else as floored as I was that they were gushing over this barely-a-waltz? Once again, Gleb did the absolute bare minimum, and utilized some of the usual time-wasters (walking down some stairs, walking away, bad acting) to keep Chrishell from actually dancing as much as possible.  He also conveniently seemed to keep Chrishell relatively stationary while he danced around her, and the camera men seemed like they were in on the gig as well. We also conveniently didn’t see Chrishell’s feet, owing to that ballgown and some more clever camera work – my guess is that they would have been pretty sloppy. But hey – hard to see a contestant’s weaknesses when they’re barely moving, so I guess there’s that. Then we had Gleb chewing the scenery at the end, when Chrishellrella had to run away at the stroke of midnight to avoid turning into a real estate agent or something – it was painfully awkward, and I was having some secondhand embarrassment for them. So why all the gushing over Chrishell, then? I think the judges were told to wrap things up quickly (to leave more time for the elimination), and that they needed to ensure Chrishell’s safety – Carole had to go, and I’m not convinced Chrishell’s raking in the votes.  We also have yet to hear her talk about the much-hyped divorce she just went through – I’m guessing that’s going to be fodder for “Most Memorable Year” week, and they aren’t going to let that go to waste by sending her home too early.  I mean – did anyone watch Selling Sunset this season because they love real estate and catty behavior? Nope – everyone I know that has watched it, has done so in order to hear about her divorce. Once she spills that tea on DWTS, I think it’s curtains for these two.

13.) Anne & Keo – It really sucks, because I actually thought Anne started out her quickstep fairly strong, and was making it a really fun, lively performance. Then it got a skosh sloppy in the middle, and I feel like everyone forgot how fun it was and just chalked it up as being a bad dance. Like Vernon, I think Anne is really trying to do well, and choreographed dancing is just not something that comes easily to her (I get the feeling she’s a great groover and improv dancer, though – especially with a few drinks in her 😉 ) I think Derek gave them some good (and kind!) advice on how to improve, but unfortunately, with the low-low hanging fruit of Charles and Carole now gone, it’s going to be not-terrible-but-not-great dancers that go next – and I think that tier includes Anne & Chrishell, and possibly Monica. I guess at the end of the day, I’m just glad that Keo got a partner that loves him so much, and wants to sing his praises whenever she can 🙂

Alright – thoughts on Disney night?