Well, we’ve hit the two dance stage and, more importantly, the final stages of operation YEAR OF THE WOMAN. So let’s see how subtly and artfully the producers wangle and weave their web of subtle manipulation, suggestion and Derren-Brown Mind Powers to arrange it for there to be an all-female final without it being too obvious that the….oh wait, they’re just going to give the go-ahead for Patrick to be dropped like a wet sack of manure. That’ll work as well. He gets given the Performance Slot Of Doom, scored with a 7 paddle (IN A STRICTLY SEMI FINAL), told he has trouble walking (lol) and in the end even Darcey turns her back on him. It’s kind of hard to watch. To be fair, his dances aren’t vintage Patrick – his ballroom frame in his waltz still looks odd and stiff, and his paso doble is, if anything, even more surreal than Mark’s. And that was disco-danced on Uranus to Sarah Brightman. Still it *is* to Patti Smith and Anya…well Anya apparently looked at her performance in the rumba last week and thought “that was a bit too naturalistic and, to be honest, I feel I could have overacted a bit harder” so…I kind of love it even though it is, objectively speaking, atrocious. If he doesn’t go home tomorrow I will PERFORM SOME SORT OF PRESERVING PROCESS on A VARIETY OF EDIBLE SEED.
Which really just leaves the remaining women to jostle their individual designated roles around in their slots to get themselves into the best possible position for the final showdown. Natalie, finally, happily, after 11 weeks of wafting around being weird and over-emotional and weepy and doing chewing gum faces and camera-hunting finally knuckles down and becomes the DIRTY COLD HARD SHINY RINGAH I knew she could be all along, throwing 50,000 unnecessary consecutive spins into her salsa and cackling “YOU’RE A VEGETABLE!” in Artem’s face before scoring a perfect 40 – Artem’s first (for once I think Kara ACTUALLY has cause to be jelus). She then goes on to do the best Argentine Tango of the series (apart from one bit where she decides to gurn down the camera-lens again for no reason, SORT IT OUT, GIRL, NOBODY WANTS TO SEE IT). Susanna meanwhile nestles down further into the opposite niche – the “valiant relatable trier” slot – as she reprises her samba with less fancy dress and less screaming “KEVIIIIINNNNNN!” (and therefore less amazingness) for her salsa, and a routine apparently based on Forrest Gump for her foxtrot which makes Craig (eternal enemy of the “valiant relatable trier” (unless he’s doing a 3 month stage tour with them obviously)) want to puke. Happily, everyone else adores it.
Sophie meanwhile continues two-fold on her Journey, collecting two Brownie Badges on her path to becoming Akela Of Dahhhhhnce. First of all her first bona-fide Latin Performance badge in the paso doble which she overacts terrifyingly, pulling the stroppy face to end all stroppy faces to the theme tune of The Apprentice whilst doing a lot of lovely spins on the floor to choreography that gets more laurels for Brenda from the judges but which for me, to be honest, whiffs ever so slightly of bacofoil. Second of all she gets her First 10 from (who else?) Bruno, for her American Smooth that of course fits her like a glove right down to the ridiculous last lift that seems to defy gravity.
So, Dirty Ringah, Plucky Trier and Woman On A Journey roles filled, what does that leave for Abbey? Where does she fit? I have to admit my own feelings are still slightly mixed. One side of me tugs against her, as she bibbles on endlessly about her NYERRRRRRRRVES and produces a George Michael themed samba that now holds the record for the highest scoring ever on the show despite being just more of her doing club dancing. The other side of me tugs in her favour, swept away by a genuinely quite captivating prom themed American Smooth and thinking she might actually be the best ballroom dancer of the series when she’s on form.
It’s a pickle.
All in all it may well be the best semi final the show’s ever had (although the competition is…not exactly fierce) if you ignore how all the VTs are the usual judges holodeck rubbish (“Natalie needs to make sure all her classic ballroom dances don’t look the same…now for her Argentine Tango!”) and one segment that seems to involve one woman doing a variety of comedy accents in a variety of different wigs over Skype so we can all pretend that Patrick, Abbey and Natalie have fans.