Have you ever felt that the Duels round on NBC's "World of Dance" was a bit unfair? During the Duels, each act's success hinges not on how objectively good they are, but on how good they are relative to a single challenger. Which means that mediocre acts can move forward if they best slightly-more-mediocre opponents, while frontrunners who're given tougher matchups end up knocked out.
Newly-engaged goddess J.Lo and her team get that. Which is why, last night, "WOD" introduced a twist designed to make the Duels more just: a redemption round. Formerly, five acts were eliminated in each division during the Duels. But from here out, the two highest scorers of those five will go head-to-head to earn a wild card spot. And that made last night's Upper Division Duels significantly more exciting.
Who just dueled it? Who was redeemed? Who made Derek Hough scream like a teenage girl? Onward to the episode highlights!
First, let's talk about Jonathan y Jorge vs. Denise and Josh, aka fantabulous salsa virtuosity vs. emotionally powerful contemporary. Ultimately, the former beat out the latter by less than a point, allowing the show's first same-sex salsa duo to continue its very sparkly journey. But Denise and Josh weren't done yet: As we found out a bit later in the show, their high score was enough to earn them a spot in the redemption round.
We were honestly obsessed with both Derek Piquette and Derion and Madison going into their Duel, but figured Derek's magnetic charisma gave him the edge. Whelp, we were wrong: The judges thought Derion and Madison's dynamic, intricate routine had more substance than Derek's emotionally charged performance—.7 points more substance, to be exact. (At least now Derek will be able to take some real time off for his double hip replacement surgery. We're pulling for you, Mr. Piquette!)
It'd be hard to find two more different competitors than street duo All Ready and contemporary queen Briar Nolet. We thought both of them absolutely killed it last night, with All Ready bringing the humor and crazy energy and Briar bringing the technique and dramatic intensity. All Ready ended up the victor, but Briar's still-impressive score meant she got a second chance in the redemption round.
So, in the end we had two contemporary phenoms, Denise and Josh and Briar Nolet, fighting for the wild card spot. But while their first-round scores were very close, we thought Briar completely dominated this face-off. Girl. Was. FIRE. And the judges agreed with us, advancing her to the Cut. (They must know she has a history of winning!)