The following contains spoilers for the January 27 episode of America's Got Talent: The Champions. Read at your own risk.
With just one episode to go until the semifinals, the stakes were high on America's Got Talent: The Champions. Some of the best of the best went out and performed for a shot to advance, and while a few were lucky enough to advance, others were not. Two acts were particularly unlucky, as a questionable decision by the judges in the final advancement of the night felt wrong and unfair to those who remained.
The moment came during the judges' advancement vote in which they chose between acrobats Christian and Percy, violinist Brian King Joseph, and young comedian JJ Pantano. It was admittedly a close vote, but ultimately the controversial Simon Cowell decided to vote through the 7-year-old comedian to the next round.
There's no denying JJ Pantano was a crowd favorite, but was he the most talented of the bunch? Christian did a high stakes balancing act with his dog on his back, and Brian King Joseph brought the house down with a highly choreographed original song that had the judges on their feet. Pantano had some entertaining roasts of the judges, but to me it's hard to justify it worthy of advancement on America's Got Talent: The Champions.
The worthiness of advancement is a subject the judges question each and every episode, and they've been down on some very talented acts on that justification alone. And yet, two very talented competitors went home due to the judges voting through a child comedian. A non-ventriloquist comedian has never won America's Got Talent period, so was the decision solely made on the fact that he had Champion energy?
I'm doubtful, and while I'd find it tough to eliminate a 7-year-old child on America's Got Talent, the buck is gonna stop somewhere. The odds of JJ Pantano winning America's Got Talent: The Champions feel very low, and his advancement has already taken the spot of someone who may have had a better shot at winning. There's a chance I could be eating these words when Pantano ends up winning Season 2, though the show's legacy suggests the odds are in my favor on this one.
To me, the issue is that when judges make calls like in this recent episode it compromises the integrity of America's Got Talent: The Champions. These contestants come back to prove they're among the best of the best (and win a prize), and tonight's judges' vote felt more like a move that made for great television rather than respected voting through the best competitor of the three. Bad calls by judges are unavoidable in most competitions, but this one was one of America's Got Talent's worst calls in recent memory.
America's Got Talent: The Champions airs on NBC Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET. CinemaBlend is the place to be for all the latest news happening in television and movies.