So You Think You Can Dance Recap: (G)Hosts With the Most

There’s a reason So You Think You Can Dance‘s Cat Deely gets an Emmy nomination every year as Outstanding Reality-Competition Host — just don’t get me ranting about her lack of an actual win in the category — and she proved it tonight by referencing Edvard Munch’s “Scream” and Calvin Klein’s ad campaigns while praising Edson and Megz’s stunning contemporary routine.

Let’s see recent Emmy winners Heidi Klum or Jeff Probst or Jane Lynch juggle such disparate references — in a live TV setting, no less — while also serving next-level glamour in black sequins and dangerously steep heels.

Even better, Cat’s emcee skills weren’t the only cause for celebration on SYTYCD this week. Team Stage’s end-of-episode group routine — built around Travis Wall’s beautiful ghost-light nightmares — and the judges’ choice for Team Street elimination (which put the “Byeee” in “B-Boyeee”) had me reviving Mary Murphy’s Hot Tamale war cry from my living room couch.

[Side poll: Was Nigel’s shout-out to his fired former panelist sweet or sacrilegious?]

While you ponder that question, let me spill the results, then endeavor to rank the night’s routines, and, finally, cook up power lists for the Street and Stage sides based on individual members’ performances during the entire episode.

Bottom 3 Team Stage (Based on Last Week’s Vote)
Marissa
Derek
Kate

Bottom 3 Team Street (Based on Last Week’s Vote)
Ariana
Asaf
JJ

Derek’s back injury — which kept him from even rehearsing over the last few days — made him the obvious pick for an ouster, but given Ariana’s gorgeous contemporary piece and Asaf’s total failure in jazz, I had to Tweet violently on the former Team Street-er’s behalf.

Ugh — looks like I’ve got tens of thousands of backhands to dole out in the next seven days!

Twitter Saved
JJ
Derek (¡!)

Saved by the Judges
Ariana
Kate

Eliminated
Asaf
Marissa

And now, let’s dish who’s left…

Routines (Ranked Worst to Best)
8. Kate and Asaf (Sean Cheesman, Jazz) |  I realize the entire pre-performance package focused on a scary lift that (without any mention from the judges) was cut before the live show — and maybe that’s reason enough to cut Kate some slack. (Fear, after all, rarely pairs well with creative pursuit.) Still, while Asaf barely executed a series of tentative moves (connected by random, rhythm-less walking and some amazing ab work), Kate wasn’t much better when it came to forging a connection with her partner. Combined with her creepy “get to know me!” clip about how she was almost kidnapped as a child — THIS IS YOUR ONE 15-SECOND ANECDOTE, GIRL? — I expect her on the chopping block again next week.

7. Yorelis and Marissa (Christopher Scott, Hip-Hop) | On a night of especially strong routines, this piece about a hypnotic intro to street dancing felt a little slight — and short on challenging choreo, too. Jason Derulo broke from his usual “whatever Nigel or Paula said” stance to insist the piece “fell a little short” — and for once, dude was correct.

6. JJ and choreographer Leonardo* [in place of injured Derek] (Miriam and Leonardo, Argentine Tango) | JJ showed a physical control and maturity this week that proved she’s more versatile than she’s been allowed to previously show. Still, I’d have loved to see more passion in her facial expressions, a little more light behind the eyes (if you’ll forgive me sounding like Tyra Banks judging Top Model), and combined with her Bottom 3 showing this week, I suspect she’ll ultimately finish just shy of the Top 10.

5. Alexia and Neptune (Dave Scott, Hip-Hop) | The judges went loony over this piece about a pair of mental-hospital patients with a dangerous attraction, but I thought everything looked better in Alexia and Neptune’s rehearsal package. For starters, the couple’s synchronization suffered during the various “hang from the padded wall” moments, and even worse, there were a number of steps where Neptune (and especially Alexia) came across sloppier than Paula Abdul during her Idol judging days. Not that it was all bad — Alexia proved with her handstand twerkery that she’s got more than “cutie patootie” in her repertoire, while Neptune’s last-second tongue-flick brought some additional playful naughtiness to the proceedings, too.

3. (tie) Jim and Ariana (Sean Cheesman, Contemporary) | I always feel like dancers who get oodles of backstory setup have an unfair advantage, but in this case, Jim and Ariana’s portrait of a depressed man shaking off his demons was a piece of art that stood beautifully apart from the museum-style caption declaring, “This is where depression hurts.” Ariana showcased enviable physical strength in the way she dragged her partner about the stage, while Jim continued his reign as the season’s most outstanding leaper. (Not to be confused with outstanding Leeper.) Just as crucial, the duo allowed us as an audience to stand right in the center of their fraught physical struggle. This wasn’t quite Kayla and Kupono’s “addiction dance,” but it contributed to an episode where stage-style choreo trumped the street stuff up against it.

3. (tie) Hailee and Jaja (Ray Leeper, Jazz) | There was some eye-popping athleticism on display in Hailee and Jaja’s duet — that slide to the back of the stage! the way the gals synched up as they fell to their backs and threw their legs up! — but Jason was right (ugh — I hate typing such awfulness for the second time in one recap) that some of Jaja’s extensions fell short up against Hailee’s flawless technique. Also, it needs to be brought up: Couldn’t Ray Leeper have picked something other than the Dianne Reeves jam on which Gaby slayed her second Season 12 tap audition?

2. Virgil and Gaby (Al Blackstone, Broadway) | Most of SYTYCD‘s Broadway routines make me want to hit the fast-forward button — or start voting frantically for whatever poor contestants have gotten saddled with the cheesiest style in the show’s arsenal‚ but Al Blackstone’s tale of two NYC residents colliding on a sidewalk and rediscovering a connection was surprisingly marvelous. Yes, the pair’s height differential was comical — for about 10 seconds — but Virgil moves with such springboard-fueled joy, and Gaby with such easy elegance, that it was impossible not to get swept up in the story they were telling. I especially loved the side-by-side drop-splits and Gaby’s over-the-shoulder wink. Is it daft of me to want Fox to option this dance and reimagine it as a one-hour musical pilot? (If yes, don’t tell me!)

1. Megz and Edson (Talia Favia, Contemporary) | Just when I was beginning to develop a case of the mean blues about Sonya Tayeh’s absence this season, along comes Talia Favia with a gorgeous routine about the struggle against temptation. (Missed opportunity to play that Corina jam from the early ’90s, but ah well…) The “shirt over face” twist that grossed out Megz in rehearsal was stunningly (and rather surprisingly) successful at capturing her character’s angst, while Edson finally had a chance to match his emotional intensity to his physical strength. This was not only the most content-packed routine of the episode — I loved the way that, at one point, the duo formed a sort of low-to-the-ground table made of human limbs — but also its most thrilling.

Team Stage Individual Rankings
1. Hailee
2. Jim
3. Edson
4. Gaby
5. Alexia
6. Kate
7. Derek

Team Street Individual Rankings
1. Megz
2. Virgil
3. Jaja
4. Ariana
5. Neptune
6. Yorelis
7. JJ

With that, I turn things over to you. What did you think of Season 12 Top 16 results night? Take our polls below, then sound off in the comments!