Something was off last night. After two (at least) weeks of the judges heaping praise on everyone no matter how they danced, all of a sudden they took it the other way last night and got down-right mean with many of them. I think I agree with Heather that the judges (Nigel in particular) are a little miffed they don't get to be solely in charge of deciding who stays and who goes anymore. They're trying extra hard to influence the public.
Anyway, let's get to it.
Kevin and Karen - The Hustle (Maria Torres)
I'm not sure if it's her personality or the fact that the judges act as if she's the second coming of Season 4's Will (who they also loved for reasons I could never comprehend), but Karen rubs me the wrong way. Every week we suffer through "oh, Kevin, I didn't see you there because Karen is so damn hot she set off the sprinklers"-type comments from the judges and it isn't right. Kevin has been very good too. I noticed this week that when each dancer did his/her introductory "dance" Karen got almost no applause at all so I think others feel the same way. And it's for that reason that I suspect this boring, forgettable hustle will put them in danger. It's not that they were bad, but they definitely weren't good, and if anything, I think Kevin was better than Karen no matter what the judges say.
Jakob and Ashleigh - Jazz (Mandy Moore)
Mandy Moore is obsessed with '80s music. As Nigel noted, this routine had shades of the same kind of awesomeness Mandy infused into her Season 3 table dance for Sabra and Neil and I enjoyed this one nearly as much as that. The cane was interesting and Jakob and Ashleigh mostly owned the routine. I don't particularly like her but every week Ashleigh's dancing puts her at the top of the heap and it certainly doesn't hurt that Jakob is a freaking dance genius. His movement is so perfect that I often feel hypnotized by him. And as with last week, their performance was every bit as good as their dancing.
Peter and Pauline - Quickstep (JT and Tomas)
First of all, I just noticed that "Peter and Pauline" is funny (to me, because I'm a huge dork). Anyhoo, this is a really hard one to judge because their technique was pretty bad. His knees were so high I was completely distracted by them and she looked a bit more like she was running than dancing (that might have been partially due to the fact that he has considerably longer legs and was moving at a good clip himself, but still). It would have been a total mess if not for the fact that the dance had a story and real characters for them to play and they performed the shit out of it. I mean to tell you they were entertaining as all get out. So entertaining that I didn't care at all that the technique was awful. So how do you put a grade on that? Oh, like this:
Legacy and Kathryn - Broadway (Andy Blankenbuehler)
Before I even saw the dance I was thrilled to see someone choreographing Broadway who isn't Tyce or that tall bitchy woman from last season. Broadway has never been my favorite style on this show. In fact, I've historically enjoyed it only a smidgen more than disco, but Holy balls was this awesome. There was a story and props and personality out the ass and they danced it beautifully. It is obvious Andy choreographs actual Broadway musicals because he wasn't trying to shoehorn a couple into what should be a group number like Tyce is always doing and instead he choreographed a dance for a couple like you'd actually want to see on Broadway. And while the judges were hard on Kathryn and what they perceived as her lack of personality in the number, I thought both she and Legacy were excellent in every way.
Victor and Channing - Contemporary (Stacey Tookey)
They were paired with each other for the first time this week after losing Bianca and Phillip respectively last week. They're both contemporary dancers and they got a contemporary piece. So you'd expect the dancing to be stellar and the chemistry to be a bit weak and that's exactly what I saw. I don't think either Victor or Channing has the strongest personality, so the performance aspect is going to be tough for them but the dance was lovely and I thought they were very good in it. The judges were much more hard on them and that disappointed me. Last week I thought Channing was terrible and deserved not just the bottom two but to be sent home, the judges thought she was good; this week I thought she was very good and the judges acted like she was sleep-walking through the performance. Sometimes I don't understand those dipsticks at all.
Ryan and Ellenore - Hip Hop (Lil' C)
Painful to watch. I'm not sure it was 100% their fault as the choreography was a little boring, but I wonder if it would have been better if they'd been able to hit it harder and actually convey swagger and attitude as Lil' C mentioned was required during the rehearsal package. We'll never know because neither dancer was capable of making that routine work on any level. Ellenore was making a real effort to have attitude but she wasn't succeeding and Ryan may have been trying but he's every bit as "white" as Evan and ten times as frat-y so he just came off as equal parts dork and douche. I was very glad when it was over.
Nathan and Mollee - Salsa (Gustavo Vargas)
I have never in my life seen a more awkward dance. Mollee looked like she was getting it during the rehearsal package and then she got on stage and she seemed so nervous she just lost it. She was ok with a move or two here and there but most of the time she looked scared shitless. Nathan was a mess the whole time. He was bent and slouched and crouched, he looked beyond ridiculous the entire time. I have to say, I know Nathan came in as an early favorite after his audition for last season and everything, but he has really not impressed me. His interviews have revealed that he's as dumb as a box of hair and his dancing is not on the same level with most of the rest of the contestants. I think Mollee has been carrying him and she's not quite good enough to do the heavy lifting for them both.
Russell and Noelle - African Jazz (Sean Cheesman)
Completely awesome. The African tribal movement blends so well with the funkiness of the jazz and the story gave just enough meat for the dancers to really sink their teeth into. I finally felt like Noelle showed up to the competition this week and that she and Russell were connecting with not just the dance but each other. Russell remains my favorite for not just his ability and desire to adapt to any style, but his refusal to use "I'm a krumper" as an excuse. He doesn't want the judges to tell him he did well for a krumper, he wants the judges to tell him he did well. Period. And he does, every week. And Noelle totally reminds me of my wonderful friend Lisa. They look a lot alike and Noelle's mannerisms are even very similar to Lisa's. So now I have no choice but to love her.
Bottom 3 - Kevin and Karen, Ryan and Ellenore, Nathan and Mollee
Should Go Home - Nathan and Karen
Will Go Home - Kevin and Mollee