Last night we basically saw how the show wants things to go, via the "instant cha cha": a Hines/Chelsea final two, with Kirstie in third. And they sure kept reminding the viewers that terrific dancers could go home -- citing both Brandy and Sabrina Bryan as previous examples (although they're not going to bring up robo-Brooke's crazy win, which was another case of votes trumping performance. Good gosh, how does that woman keep a job? She can't even run a coin toss.) I take that, and the whole contrivance of the instant dance, as a way of making sure that Chelsea is there at the end. Where she deserves to be.
On the other extreme, Ralph was not great last night, but it seemed as if he could not get a break from the judges. In the first round of the instant, he was clearly better -- and more assertive -- than Hines, who was on cruise control. But all three judges still sent Hines on to the next round.
Don't think this means I believe Ralph should win. Chelsea is by far the best dancer on the floor right now, judges' scores notwithstanding. But consider how much he is criticized compared to Kirstie, who is not that impressive but keeps getting praised by the judges. Smoldering? Really? Sneering is not smoldering.
Of course, the comments during the instant were generally ridiculous, as the judges pretended it was hard to choose between Kirstie and Chelsea, and then between Chelsea and Hines, because of supposed differences in styles. Anyone with eyes could see who was the better dancer. But the show appears to think generally that it's Ralph's time to go -- and that it very much wants Chelsea and Hines there to stay. Even if Hines's other dances were OK, neither deserved a 30.
That said, the fans could have a different idea. A week ago, they kept Ralph in the mix even though the judges had him a distant fifth on the leaderboard. So the most cynical part of me wonders if the show is dogging Ralph because they know his fans will keep him on -- whereas too much criticism of Kirstie might encourage her fans to vote even more and push her into the final. But, as I said at the beginining of this post, I think the show wants Kirstie to be at least top three; she's the closest thing to one of those dreaded "journey" stories that they have right now. Never mind that her journey should have ended weeks ago.