Tears flowed faster than the footwork of the dreaded quickstep during tonight’s So You Think You Can Dance results-show telecast, but ultimately the right two dancers went home. (No, I’m not talking about Carmen Electra, though she was conspicuously absent from the judges’ table after guesting in the “gentle celebrity” spot on Wednesday.)
To be honest, I’d have been okay if Ashley and Chris had done the one-two step back to obscurity in Week 1 of the Season 8 finals — following that “cheating couple” hip-hop routine the judges loved but I didn’t get at all — a development that might’ve allowed Nick and Iveta to find their footing in the competition. But I’d be lying if I said my heart didn’t break a little for both dancers as they wept openly at Nigel Lythgoe’s verdict announcing their respective SYTYCD journeys had come to an end. (Particularly brutal? Ashley, mascara running down her face, telling Cat: “I wanna be remembered as the person who smiled all the time.”)
Of the two, Chris’ solo was significantly more inspired than Ashley’s, but as Nigel Lythgoe pointed out, the Texas B-boy has been collapsing under the weight of the choreography that’s been thrown his way over the past few weeks. On Wednesday night, for example, Chris could barely hide his discomfort when faced with a salsa routine that demanded he get his hips rotating like a wire whisk in a bowl of freshly cracked eggs. Worse still, dude was noticeably out of sync with the other half-dozen Season 8 guys during the Justin Giles “Grief” routine. Ashley, for her part, never brought additional depth or maturity to the pieces she was assigned, and in a season of she-beasts including Melanie, Sasha, and Caitlynn, her demise was always more a matter of “when” than “if.”
At the very least, Chris and Ashley got to exit on a high note: Having been a part of Nakul Dev Mahajan’s fabulous, detailed Bollywood routine for the Top 14. (Note to self: Download “Kata Kata” from the Raavan soundtrack upon completing this recap.) I didn’t see a single weak link in the fast and furious group choreography, but if any single contestant stood out in a positive way, I’d have to give credit to Jess, who was so light and precise he seemed to perform the entire piece while suspended three inches off the ground.
And, of course, Chris and Ashley leave having borne witness to an undisputed week of fashion ferocity from Cat Deeley. Following Wedensday night’s Asian pleated delight, the stunning Brit chose a silver encrusted minidress with kicky belt. (Note to Nigel: Never impugn Cat’s elegance and style by referencing her beauty in the same breath as Kim Kardashian!)
Yes, I know, a lot of TVLine readers are probably kvetching that it should’ve been Nigel’s pet contestant Ryan (and perhaps her partner in crime Ricky) to walk the plank. But while I’m not a fan of the bubbly blonde, either, and still can’t believe she’s managed to outlast Missy, Miranda, and Iveta, you also can’t convince me that her “zombie Zoolander” this week wasn’t several leaps above Ashley’s torpid salsa. Girlfriend might have the wrong facial expression in nine poses out of 10, but at least she can sustain her energy through the duration of a three-minute routine.
Anyhow, before you hit the comments and tell me I’m cray-cray, let’s dole out some quick-quick-quick reviews for the evening’s solos (complete with letter grades):
Ashley Rich: Knowing she was practically guaranteed a spot in the Bottom 3, you’d think Ashley would’ve spent the prior 24 hours developing a solo with more fire, passion, and technical difficulty. But everything about the piece — from the choreography to her tutu to the choice of John West’s “Lovely” — felt depressingly pedestrian. Grade: C
Chris Koehl: I’ll admit I was a little distracted by the saggy seat of Chris’ pants, but he definitely displayed more gusto and pizzazz doing his human-pretzel tricks to Basement Jaxx’s “Scars” than he did in his previous “dance for your life” encounter. The little backflip exiting stage left was icing on an already sweet confection. Grade: B+
Jordan Casanova: Nigel’s right: There’s more to a solo than a series of développés, and it would be nice to see Jordan tap into a different vibe — anger? regret? maniacal longing, perhaps? — than simply fall back into Pussycat Doll mode. Still, her peacock bikini top was killer. Grade: B
Tadd Gadduang: I loved Tadd’s whimsical “knee-walk” onto the stage, the way he used said crawl to launch himself into an aerial spin, and the way he spent the final 10 seconds of his time on stage standing on one arm. You can roll your eyes at his choice of Gloria Estefan, but I applaud the B-boy for bringing some whimsy to a hard-hitting style. Grade: A-
Ryan Ramirez: This was definitely more passionate than Ryan’s previous Bottom 3 solo, but there was something a little spastic about the speed and pacing of all of Ryan’s spinning and writhing and hair-tossing. By not allowing any breathing room in between the focal points of her choreography, Ryan left an overall impression that was more confusing than impressive. Grade: B-
Ricky Jaime: Ricky’s Top 20 redux solo was the season’s best “dance for your life” moment, but this time around, there was a lack of the unexpected in his work. The guy can leap and pirouette with the best of ’em — that off-the-ground spin, in particular, was astounding — but when Nigel warns you you’re not connecting with the audience, you’d better dig deeper! Grade: B
Bottom Three Couples
Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl
Jordan Casanova and Tadd Gadduang
Ryan Ramirez and Ricky Jaime
Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl
What did you think of this week’s results? Should the judges have split up couples for the first time this season, sending home a man and a woman from different duos, or was the Chris-Ashley ouster the right move? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.