Spoiler alert! Minor spoilers for the final night of Battles on The Voice.
Bring on the Knockouts! The Voice Season 21 wrapped up the Battle Rounds with a fairly standard episode. All of the coaches’ Saves were gone, and there was only one Steal still left on the table. Viewers got to watch the Battle Advisors dole out advice one last time before being replaced by Mega Mentor Ed Sheeran. But it doesn’t seem like the Battles should go out on such a quiet note. Where’s the drama? I think there’s one easy change The Voice could make that would raise the stakes and make the final night of Battles far less predictable every…single…season.
Going into the Battle Round finale, Blake Shelton was the only coach still holding a Steal. So when Jonathan Mouton and Paris Winningham took the stage for Team John Legend to battle it out over a duet of Luther Vandross’ “Here and Now,” audiences watching at home already knew both singers would advance to the Knockouts — the winner with Team Legend, and the loser with Team Blake. It was a great battle, by all means, but I was already checking out because I knew they were both safe.
If you’ve watched The Voice long enough, you may have caught onto this wildly consistent pattern. Steals were introduced to the singing competition back in Season 3, with coaches’ Saves coming way later in Season 17. (The Voice experimented with Comeback artists for several seasons before settling on the Saves.) In every season since Season 3’s introduction of the Steal, the show has been edited to where the final Battle performance results in a Steal or Save, meaning the final two artists always advance, regardless of who wins the Battle.
The order of the performances we see on TV is not necessarily the order that the performances happen during the recording process. The coaches wear the same outfits throughout the round, and the number of Saves and Steals left is mentioned infrequently enough to make it easy for show editors to shuffle the performances into the order they deem most exciting for the audience to witness. That’s why Jonathan Mouton and the other coaches looked genuinely surprised when Blake Shelton used his Steal, even though it appeared to us at home that he had to use it, because it was his last chance. And I doubt anyone will recall the final steal/save being treated like a total snoozefest in any of the previous seasons, either.
Check out the performance and Shelton’s Steal below:
Sure, some fans care deeply about whose team a contestant is on, and the argument could also be made that taking the elimination risk out of the performance allows viewers to sit back and enjoy the show. But this is a competition. One singer stays, one singer goes! The stakes give it purpose for viewers, and when they are intentionally removed in any capacity, it just loses something. Especially when it happens every season.
If The Voice would switch it up to where there wouldn’t necessarily be a Steal left for the last performance, the tension would be heightened for the viewers, and that last Battle performance would naturally have bigger stakes. It’s not the biggest gripe in the world, but when an episode comes across as largely boring and low-key as this one did, it sticks out like a sore larynx.
The Season 21 Knockout Rounds will begin soon, and Steals are in play there, too. We’ll have to see if one of those Steals stays predictably on the table until the last performance, or if The Voice will actually surprise us. The Voice continues next Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV Schedule for all of the upcoming premieres.