As much as I hate to say it, I've been feeling disconnected from this season; I'm not so much dissatisfied with the quality of dance (at this point, I think we're at about par), but more to the quality of the show as a reality program. Specifically, I haven't been able to connect with any of the dancers on a level that I did in seasons past. The obvious thing to point at, because I am the lowest type of shipper, apparently, is the lack of couples. Yet, as fun as power couples are, the real juice comes from individuals who really do have special star quality, and however much I dislike such a subjectively meaningless term, it applied spectacularly to Janette and Legacy during their runs on SYTYCD. And I don't mean something as deliberate and thought-out as someone "growing" throughout the competition -- no, a charismatic goofball will do fine. (And no, Kent doesn't count; he's the more-verbal spiritual successor to Mary.)
So, as flimsy and specious as their judgments are, the judges are right about how much the show depends on personality. Either that, or I'm just becoming more and more averse to pure aesthetics as I grow into my dotage. This is a sad admission for formalist me. As a result, even as good as Alex has been (and I'll be honest, neither of his two big routines have reached all-time status for me, nor was he super-fun-time-barrel-of-yuks like Legacy or Janette), he didn't make the season, so his withdrawal from the competition won't break it, either.
And while I'm admitting to my faults, I should mention the problems with trying to ignore the inanity that the judges (read: Nigel) often spew, which is how I get through the average episode without stabbing. Such a strategy is enough to just get by, but combined with Nigel's volume of identity-politics–provoking asides, it also creates the potential to make patriarchal attitudes about race and gender perfectly normal and, worse, acceptable. Like, the umpteenth time he denigrates a non-contemporary dancer (especially one who specializes in hip hop) or leers at another female dancer, I barely bat an eyelash because he's blunted my ireful instinct. In fact, I get more peeved at other people taking exception to his behavior, so my strategy of active apathy can get pernicious.
However, you may be interested to know that I thought the BappyNats number was an Orientalist nightmare, not so much for the choreography itself -- which mostly/impressively avoided NattyBats' penchant for hackery -- but for the license it gave Mia and Nigel to act like embarrassing idiots. Breaking news, there: identity politics is driven by actual identity.
And now, to demonstrate that final point:
Despite the views, Adechike had a rough time in front of the judges, though he earned it in his stiff, thudding jazz. But although he was likewise very rough in the Bollywood, you have to keep in mind that at least for a portion of the routine, he was performing Alex's part, so who knows how much time he had with it:
I was all set to jump on Robert for dropping Kathryn (I'm talking during the routine, not just in rehearsals), but after subsequent viewings, Kathryn actually stumbles out of one jump which threw off everything about that particular segment. The stumble is a shame, too, since I really enjoyed the choreography, inspired as it is by an excellent SYTYCD Australia number (and, I seem to recall, a SYTYCD Britain number as well, but mentioning that series has a way of dissipating my credibility).
As for the quickstep, I actually liked it, even if we allow that some of the passes are too hoppy rather than skippy and that Robert's frame collapses too often. (I admit I didn't notice Robert's elbow dipping, but then, I don't notice when my own elbow falls down and breaks my frame, so there you go.) Ashley was lovely, though, as was her dress. Best costume of the night.
No, wait, that award goes to Billy's jaguar bodysuit in what had the potential to be an awesome routine. Unfortunately, it ended up being something I wish Legacy or Gev had gotten instead (Jose's shoulders are a rounded wreck) to partner with Billy. And despite his lack of overwhelming, feral power, he's nonetheless very physical in it, and Mia was right in this case, his poses are fantastic.
Moreover, Cheeseman's dance gave rise to that thing on Billy's head that was an emo joke waiting to happen.
Cat, bless her, obliged: "You should be in an emo band or something." And it seems Billy took her advice to heart:
I have to presume that the judges knew the extent of Alex's injury going into the results episode, in which case the elimination rituals were patently unnecessary. I also assume that the dancers knew that Alex had to bow out (otherwise, making him keep mum about it is both cruel to him and the other dancers), so it's curious that Billy pulled out his Made Shankman Cry solo (though it definitely seemed much more rushed than the first iteration we saw last season).
I'm kind of exhausted and pressed for time as I type this, so I'll have to cut this short. I may try to put some more stuff up by Tuesday night, however.