So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 Finale: Did the Right Person Win? (Take Our Poll!)

To the uninitiated, the parting words of So You Think You Can Dance‘s Season 8 third-place finisher might have sounded at best a little hokey, and at worst, like a last-ditch attempt at maintaining composure after discovering it would be another contestant who would take home the title. But as Marko Germar tearfully explained that, in his mind, the show was so much more than a matter of winning or losing, it drove home the deeply emotional reasons why these contestants battle so ferociously to try to make it in a physically draining profession where prospects for national fame and huge paydays are all too rare. “Money’s paper, contracts are paper,” Marko explained. “This is our life.”

That philosophy also reminded me why, in a contest among four undeniably wonderful artists, I didn’t care all that much who ended up with the Season 8 crown. Oh, sure, as the evening progressed and Cat Deeley announced that Tadd Gadduang had finished fourth — “I’ve had the time of my life,” he quipped, possibly subconsciously lobbying Kenny Ortega for a role in his planned Dirty Dancing remake — and Marko in third, I felt a slight sense of relief that it had rightfully come down to the two most consistently compelling performers this season: Melanie Moore and Sasha Mallory. And for a while, I wasn’t so sure that would be the case, since exec producer and head judge Nigel Lythgoe had begun the evening by making amends to Marko and Tadd for writing off their chances at the end of Wednesday’s performance finale. “I was insensitive,” he said. “I’d publicly like to apologize.”

I’m not sure what you heard in your living room after Nigel’s “I’m sorry” moment, but in Casa Slezak, it was the world’s largest needle scraping over the top of the world’s largest record. Uncle Nigel, apologizing? What next? A Jennifer Aniston-Angelina Jolie buddy comedy? A bipartisan rendition of kumbaya in Congress? Cats and dogs living together? I mean, would Nigel really apologize if there wasn’t a chef backstage preparing him some piping hot crow on a bed of humiliation?

So You Think You Can Dance: The 12 Best Routines of Season 8

Turns out that, yeah, apparently he would. Cat revealed that, combined, Melanie and Sasha had accounted for more that 79 percent of the 11.5 million votes cast on Wednesday–but it was the former dancer, with more than 47 percent of the ballots in her favor, who took home the title of America’s Favorite Dancer. (Yay!)

The remainder of the lightning-paced two-hour telecast was filled up with 14 “best of the season” encores, plus a dazzling tap routine starring SYTYCD UK winner Matt Flynt (flanked by Season 8 tappers Nick Young and Jess LeProtto), and a post-apocalyptic Sonya Tayeh piece that found Tadd gussied up in a black patent-leather zip-front corset with gray shoulder “turtles.” Here’s my quick take on the encores:

Dance I Was Most Excited to Revisit
Top 10 Guys’ “Doors” (though I had to restart from the beginning after spending 30 seconds trying to figure out which of the Top 10 guys had gone blonde. One word for Alexander’s new hue: Yikes!)

Dance That I Enjoyed Much More the Second Time Around
Top 10 Girls’ “Geishas”

Dances I Wish Had Been on the Set List
Tadd and Jordan’s “Vulture” Routine
Nick and Iveta’s Quickstep

Dance I Still Don’t “Get”
Ashley and Chris’ “Prison” Climb

Still Reigning as Best of the Season
Melanie and Marko’s “Return to Stone”

Routine That in Retrospect Should’ve Made My Top 12 of Season 8 Countdown
Tadd and Lauren’s “Another One Bites the Dust” (damn that was hot!)

What did you think of the Season 8 finale? What routine was your favorite, and which one do you wish had made the telecast? Did the right person win? Take our poll below, then hit the comments to share your thoughts on the season. And for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!