Traditions were broken on So You Think You Can Dance this week: A Season 8 couple who hadn’t been in the Bottom 3 all season found themselves in jeopardy during tonight’s results show. The judges, for the first time in five weeks, eliminated a male and a female contestant who hadn’t been dancing as partners. Oh, and gloriously, both the show and its sublime host Cat Deeley found themselves nominated for Emmy Awards.
Should we pause here for a moment to offer a slow-clap for the best host in the reality TV game? Dee-Ley! Dee-Ley! Dee-Ley!
Ahhh, that felt good, didn’t it? And speaking of feeling good, while it’s never exactly a joy to see young dancers’ SYTYCD dreams come to an end, I’ve got to say I wasn’t too devastated to see Ryan Ramirez and Alexander Fost end their Season 8 runs. Over five weeks of live performances, both contestants had leaned heavily on their partners to carry them through to safety, and neither one had really ever delivered a routine that indicated he or she had a chance to go all the way to the finale.
What’s more, I don’t think Ryan and Alexander were particularly shocked by their eliminations. As Nigel pointed out, Ryan had had a “lackluster” night on Wednesday’s performance show, and went into her solo looking “down and depressed.” And even when Alexander had a breakthrough evening on Wednesday, the judges tempered their enthusiasm with reminders about how the dude had spent the prior four weeks dancing in Sasha’s magnificent, athletic shadow. Nigel doled out a harsh comment about how Alexander’s solo had let him down badly, but let’s be honest: His fate was sealed the moment he slipped into the Bottom 3.
Anyhow, without further ado, let’s delve deeper into those solos with some brief reviews (complete with letter grades):
Caitlynn Lawson: Nigel excitedly declared that Caitlynn is startling to realize what it means to dance for her life, but I thought her solo was pretty average, and that her transitions between movements could’ve — and should’ve — been a little smoother. That siad, I think if Caitlynn is going to have any chance to outlast female front-runners Melanie and Sasha, she should start by pulling back her hair and keeping it out of her eyes. Too many times this season, Caitlynn’s face has been obscured by her wayward mane, making it hard to get an emotional connection to her work and hiding the fact that she actually looks a lot like a young Reese Witherspoon. Grade: B-
Mitchell Kelly: If any one of the six at-risk contestants was dancing a duet with the specter of elimination, it was Mitchell, who threw every ounce of his physical power and emotional energy into my favorite dance of the night. The guy was a whirling dervish of leaps and pirouettes, and that final spin that dropped into a split was particularly impressive. For real, I let out an audible “Day-um!” when Mitchell ended his impressive physical display with his leg raised at an impossible angle. Grade: A
Ryan Ramirez: There was a strange disconnect between Ryan’s movements and the music she’d selected (Crystal Castles’ “Not in Love”), and the overall effect made her seem less graceful than she’d probably hoped. Like Nigel, I detected a defeated quality to the dance, but even if you’re sure you’re headed home, wouldn’t you want your final impression on the SYTYCD stage to be a dazzling one? Grade: C+
Ricky Jaime: In Ricky’s world, pirouettes are like Kim Kardashian’s 15 minutes of fame: They extend well beyond the point at which you’d expect them to go “poof!” and turn to dust. Nigel said it was one of the best “dance for your life” routines he’d ever seen, and yet while I’d rank Ricky’s solo a close second behind Mitchell’s, there was no denying the magnificence of his movement and the gasp-worthiness of his leaps. I howled when Cat sent him to the wings by noting, “His report should say ‘must try harder.'” Grade: A
Sasha Mallory: There was something a little twee about Sasha’s routine to Bobby McFerrin’s “Thinkin’ About Your Body,” but while I felt like Sasha could’ve upped the degree of difficulty, I appreciated the fact that she seemed to be embodying the music — giving us something artful — instead of desperately trying to show us every trick in her dance repertoire. Grade: B+
Alexander Fost: I thought Nigel was a little too harsh in declaring Alexander’s performance a technical debacle, and I loved that move where he performed a flip and landed effortlessly on one foot, but the fact is, he was only third-best of three very fine solos on the men’s side. Grade: B+
As for the remainder of the telecast:
* I liked the uniqueness of Kelley Abbey’s opening group number, “En Fuego,” which centered around Jordan posing all sexy-like with a giant undulating red skirt. Marko managed to pull off a sheer tank and suspenders without losing his sex appeal (no small task, that), and not surprisingly, Sasha and Melanie managed to stand out from their cohorts.
* Nigel informed us of the devastating news that Alex Wong won’t be a Season 8 All-Star after snapping a tendon in his left foot on Saturday while performing the same move that snapped the tendon in his right foot a year ago. All that talk of SNAPPED TENDONS and the realization that it’s gonna be an Alex-less season made me want to crawl under the couch and turn to dust.
* Oh, look, it’s Nicole Scrucnhiewhatzit still trying to make that “Right There” mess happen. This is why we can’t turn on the radio.
Bottom Three Couples
Ryan Ramirez and Ricky Jaime
Caitlynn Lawson and Mitchell Kelly
Sasha Mallory and Alexander Fost
Ryan Ramirez and Alexander Fost
Season 8 All-Stars
Melody (Season 1)
Allison (Season 2)
Pasha (Season 3)
Twitch (Season 4)
Comfort (Season 4)
Chelsie (Season 4)
Brandon (Season 5)
Kathryn (Season 6)
Robert (Season 7)
Now it’s your turn to hit the comments and share your thoughts on this week’s eliminations: Did the right dancers go home? Are you happy with the Season 8 Top 10? And what do you think of this year’s All-Stars? Sound off below, and for all my reality news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!