America’s Best Dance Crew: “Pitbull Superstar Challenge”
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America’s Best Dance Crew: “Pitbull Superstar Challenge”

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America’s Best Dance Crew

“Pitbull Superstar Challenge”

Season 7, Episode 6

Plot twist!

I was fully prepared for Fanny Pak to go home this week. I was sure of it. Even though I like them, I think they’ve probably been the (inexplicably) weakest of the remaining five crews. I had a piece mentally planned out, describing just how they seemed to do the opposite of what they should have done. They ruined that initial plan by doing a fairly straightforward, slick performance, but there was still a chance for it when Rated Next Generation did their great performance. Then the judges rightfully praised both crews, and Mario Lopez said his thing, and opened his card, and said that the saved crew was...both crews?!?!?

That's an America's Best Dance Crew first, and an odd one at that. As he was judging, D-Trix said that this was the most difficult decision he’d had to make as a judge. This is probably true, for him, since he started last season. But it wasn’t true for the show overall. J.C., explaining the decision, said that the challenge was difficult and RNG and Fanny Pak probably had the best performances of all five. But that’s happened before.

To take two previous examples: in season two, at exactly the same point in the season, Super Cr3w and Supreme Soul each did great performances in the “Bring The Beat” challenge. Lil Mama was so distraught by having to decide performances with their crews placed in the danger zone that she insulted an entirely different, saved crew.

Also, in season four, with four crews left, Massive Monkeys and Rhythm City had to compete against one another and gave arguable the two best performances of the season. I think, in the context, the judges made the right choice, but I would say that both of those crews stood a better chance of winning the whole season, and both of those performances were better than the performances tonight. That debate was controversial enough that Shane and J.C. yelled at each other during the judging.

This is not to say that saving both crews this week was a bad thing. In fact, I liked the wrench that it threw in the show’s workings. I can nitpick the rationale used, but I can’t say that it wasn’t supreme entertainment to see the crews hugging each other when the results were announced. Nor were the judges necessarily wrong that these were the best two performances of the episode (though I really liked 8 Flavahz tonight). It’s just that it’s an interesting time and place to break the rules.

Of course, this leads to more questions regarding how next week is going to work. Did the producers plan on giving the judges a “save,” and that’s why they eliminate two crews earlier on in the season? Are we eliminating two next week? Are they just adding an episode with MTV’s blessing? It’s a fascinating twist regardless, and it might make next week’s episode even better.

Another thing that’ll make next week compelling: the crews are still evenly matched. Mos Wanted Crew finally had the ability to pull ahead and make their case for being the favorite. Their country challenge, involving Russian dancing, was perfect for pushing them out of their comfort zone and into a faster pace. And, as all the judges mentioned, the choreographed it well, then didn’t dance it out. This should have been Mos Wanted’s defining moment: I aM mE had two stellar performances by this point last year. Their relative failure indicates that, for the first time, Mos Wanted isn’t the favorite anymore.

I’m not sure there is a favorite, though. Before this week, I’d have put Elektrolytes in the top spot, as a crew that’s been steadily improving as well as getting the necessary votes. But again, the judges noted the weaknesses in this week’s performance. The boys relied too heavily on the capoeira they were assigned. It was more spectacle than dancing—and the spectacle was good, but it wasn’t well-designed.

This leaves room for the girls of 8 Flavahz to take the lead, and I think they did so, with a can-can performance with personality, stunts, and choreography. Their main issue, I think, is that they’re kind of the mirror image of what I aM mE did last year. That crew used the camera for controlled visuals, playing to the at-home voters instead of the crowd. 8 Flavahz uses the entire stage in beautiful but messy spectacle. It can be great, but it’s chaotic, and I’m not sure any previous winners have been quite so all over the place.

I still expect Mos Wanted Crew to make the finale. RNG and Fanny Pak are also not getting enough votes, for whatever reason, so it’s hard to see them winning in a pragmatic sense, although they’re dancing well enough that it wouldn’t surprise me in quality terms. But other than that...who knows what's going to happen next week? The tension is rising, and the dancing is entertaining. Keep it up, ABDC.

Stray observations:

  • “All the way down to that man-bag...” D-Trix, keepin’ it awkwardly real.
  • Lil Mama says she’s wearing a hoodie for Trayvon. Now. Not six weeks ago when the show premiered. And the way she awkwardly shoehorned it into judging RNG, well, that’s a Lil Mama special. Still, it’s cool that MTV allowed her to make a statement like that.
  • I had no idea that Cypher from The Matrix was such a successful rapper.