I am starting to hate “SYTYCD” a little. The pernicious presence of Mollee and Nathan for reasons that, I think, have everything to do with ratings and not a whole hella lot to do with competence, just depresses the hell out of me. It’s the kind of fix you expect to see in the workplace or in college, but must I now lose faith in merit-based reality television competitions? The next thing you know someone will tell me Andre Agassi’s hair wasn’t real or Adam Lambert is gay. Really, it’s just too much to bear.
 
In any case, let’s just cut right to the dancing. Cat’s dress is perfectly respectable and not the least bit tableclothy, our judges are back with no sign of Paula Abdul and really, we’ve got a lot of dancing to squeeze into two hours, so there’s no time to waste.
 
Ryan and Ellenore
Style: Lindy Hop
Choreographer: Carla Heiney
 
So, this week’s time waster focuses on the dancers, who will be picking partners out of a hat next week, explaining what they’ll miss about their current partners. Ellenore will miss being with Ryan because he’s a perfectionist. Ryan is going to miss her quirky personality. Aww, shucks. I’m really hoping someone says, “Good riddance! Glad to be rid of that talentless dead weight!” but, as Mollee and Nathan are dancing with one another, that isn’t likely to happen.
 
Oh ma God, are they dancing to an old Victrola record or what? This song is hateful. This routine is pretty adorable and so are Ryan and Ellenore, but in a few cases they seem out of step, which may cost them. Still, they’re certainly bringing the fun. Even if they’re dancing to The World’s Worst Dance Song Ever.
 
Lucky for them, the judges don’t seem to mind that they screwed up a little. Adam thought they were cute as all get out, which they were. Apparently Ryan hurt his back this week, so that made it all the more impressive. Mary thought it was tremendous and she’s thrilled the Lindy Hop is back on the show. Nigel thought it was terrible... that this was the first time the Lindy Hop was on this season. He thinks Ryan brought bounce. So, a big thumbs up from the judges.
 
 
Legacy and Kathryn
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Sonya Tayek
 
Legacy is going to miss Kathryn because she apparently taught him how to stretch, which is quite a useful skill to have, really. Especially if you’re a DANCER. Jeez, Legacy, didn’t you take P.E. as a kid or anything? Kathryn will miss Legacy’s insistence on getting into character. Which makes me wonder if he dragged her around by her hair while shouting “I’m an admiral, dammit!” for the paso doble, but I guess not.
 
When this competition started out, I thought Kathryn and Legacy were doomed. But ever since that paso doble, they’ve been one of the teams to beat and they seemingly no longer have money in the budget to give Legacy a shirt. But hey, if his abs keep them in the competition, so be it. Hats off to Sonya for giving Legacy a few hip-hop moments in this, because it only serves to remind us that, oh yeah, he’s not classically trained and yet he’s still kicking ass. And Kathryn showed some fire and personality, so I guess I have to chalk up that one wooden doll performance a few weeks back to nerves.
 
Adam thinks they could go all the way to the end if they keep dancing like this. Mary was blown away by the crab walks, to which I say hell, yeah. Nigel thought Kathryn was super sexy and it might be his favorite routine of the season.
 
 
Karen and Victor
Style: Tango
Choreographers: Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
 
Well, these two are working together for the first time, so they can’t exactly reminisce. Victor hopes Karen can drag him onto the hot tamale train, while Karen likes the fact she can speak Spanish to Victor. Hey, they didn’t have a lot to go on.
 
Okay, the black costumes are cool, but it makes it hard to see these guys against a black backdrop. But I will say, this is hot... if you only watch Karen. Victor looks good until you see his expression and for the first half of the routine, I swear he was counting in his head. But I think he’ll benefit from the fact that no one usually looks at whoever Karen’s dancing with anyway.
 
Adam likes this partnership. He thought the chemistry was hot, which says to me he wasn’t watching Victor. Mary thought Victor’s lines were great, but she puts Karen on the hot tamale train by herself. Nigel tells Victor he’s doing a Donald Duck swayback walk, but otherwise he was great. He tells Karen she’s like Shakira and Madonna, in that you can’t take your eyes away from her, not that she sings like a howler monkey.
 
 
Mollee and Nathan
Style: Hip Hop
Choreographer: Jamal Sims
 
Nathan will miss Mollee’s annoying giggle. Mollee is going to miss Nathan’s weird noises, even though they’re annoying. Pot, meet kettle. You’re a perfect couple.
 
Oh my, their dance is about Alexander Graham Bell creating the telephone. That sounds sucky, doesn’t it? And it is! Basically, we have another routine where Mollee and Nathan run around. Not dancing so much, but running around the stage to make us think they’re dancing. Unfortunately, they do start to dance at some point, and, while Nathan is considerably better at hip hop than Mollee, she’s so God awful I’m pretty sure she brings his performance down a peg just by being near her. She’s completely rigid – she doesn’t bust a move so much as bend it gently. Awful is too kind a word, really.
 
Weirdly, the judges saw a performance that didn’t suck half as much as the one I saw. I really think they fear giving them a slam because little tween groupies will find them and kill them in their sleep. Adam says he thought they really sold it, but he could see the stress on Mollee. Mary says it got better as it went along, but enjoyed it. Nigel thinks they’re really good dancers but will be happy to see them partnered with more mature dancers, as he thought it seemed like Dolly Dinkle’s regional hip hop class 101. Adam thinks the shake-up in their partnership will do them good. I agree, because I think it will send them home.
 
 
Russell and Noelle
Style: Samba
Choreographers: Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
 
Noelle will miss Russell’s laid back personality. Russell will miss her hugging. They’re so nice and so sweet. Ergo, this samba is going to suck.
 
Noelle looks like she’s having a great time... on a Disney parade float. She looks elegant and refined, and the samba, not so elegant and refined. But jeez, she is wearing a sequined bikini. You can almost feel the waves of embarrassment. I half expected her to stop the show and wave at the camera, mouthing “Sorry, Mom! They made me wear this!” Russell, also being sweet and nice, is unfortunately well behaved as well. Too bad, because, really, they’re good dancers. And, you know, super duper nice.
 
Adam thinks it was, ahem, too nice. Mary agrees, adding that there wasn’t enough bounce and lowering of the knee, but she loved the performance level. Still, she was disappointed. Nigel needed more sex from Noelle and needed a little more forward lean on Russell’s samba roll. He pretty much says hey, you guys are going to be in the bottom three, sorry, and I can’t disagree with him.
 
 
Ashleigh and Jakob
Style: Lyrical jazz
Choreographers: Sonya Tayek
 
Ashleigh will miss her friendship with Jakob. Jakob says he’s going to miss her more than he can say. Okay, not the most interesting comments ever, but you can tell these two really like one another as friends, which is sort of touching.
 
In rehearsals, Ashleigh warns us that she’s fighting ever instinct in her body to be so loose and unstructured, but you know, she pulls it off. There are a few moments where you can see her struggle a little, but you’d never guess this girl is a ballroom dancer.
 
Adam says it was so beautiful he doesn’t know what to say. And Jakob should never wear those purple pants again. Mary is sad thinking they’ll be broken up next week. She tells Jakob he’s technically amazing and Ashleigh has grown so much she now expects great things from her. Nigel says he takes it back that Sonya’s other routine was his favorite, because this one now is. And he’s also really bummed thinking they’re going to be broken up. I’m sure Ashleigh’s husband loves to hear how great she is with another guy, even if he’s probably not on her team.
 
 
Ryan and Ellenore
Style: Broadway
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
 
Usually Broadway routines just seem odd and out of place on this show – without context, they don’t really wow. But this routine is pretty great and oh ma God, do Ryan and Ellenore sell it. This definitely plays to Ellenore’s inherent quirkiness and Ryan, who usually seems so milquetoast, gives surprisingly good menace. Man, if everyone keeps delivering like this, I have no idea who should go home. Oh, wait, Mollee and Nathan.
 
Anyway, Adam says it was true Broadway vocabulary and they nailed it. He says Ryan was great but Ellenore was a rock star. Mary thinks Ryan really dug in and delivered the lifts and that Mary is the It Girl. Nigel then asks Ellenore to teach Mary her alien language, which is not a good idea. At all. But he loved the routine and he loved them.
 
 
Legacy and Kathryn
Style: Viennese Waltz
Choreographers: Jean-Marc and France Généreux 
 
Okay, first off? This kind of blows most of the waltzes I’ve seen on this show out of the water. Beautiful routine that makes great use of the stage. And, you know, not boring, which is something. Unfortunately, there’s no disguising that Legacy, well, he ain’t no ballroom dancer. He’s kinda clunky and Clydesdale clompy, but Kathryn looks so good you can almost ignore him if you squint.
 
Adam notices Legacy is crying, and Legacy gives a little speech about hope and the little train that could or something like that. And then Adam gets weepy. Adam still gives him a knock for his footwork and his shoulders, but said Kathryn was great and he was impressed with the whole thing. Mary thinks they’ll both be okay, even though Legacy’s feet were smacking around the stage. Nigel says it’s impossible to be mean because he’s stolen the hearts of the judges, so he’s turning a blind eye to all the stuff he screwed up. But Kathryn was gorgeous. Still, he’s not sure they’ll be safe tomorrow night.
 
 
Karen and Viktor
Style: Hip Hop
Choreographer: Laurieann Gibson
 
Okay, Viktor might be going home. This is some stinky hip-hop. Karen, as usual, is pretty fierce and has the right attitude, but Viktor is all floppy arms and pointed toes. Plus, they’re out of synch. This is baaaaaad. Like, Mollee and Nathan bad.
 
Adam says there was a lot of commitment and intensity but it didn’t match the music. But he thought the dancing was great. Uh, okay. Mary thought it was okay, but not memorable. But she loved the tango they did. Nigel wishes they could have ended with the tango, since this didn’t work that well. Karen’s smile looks pasted on, and I think she might smother Viktor with his leather jacket backstage.
 
 
Mollee and Nathan
Style: Can-Can
Choreographer: Toasty Oreo
 
The can-can? What, Russian folk dancing wasn’t available? Toasty says the can-can began as a couples dance. Did it also begin at Disney, because these guys look like they’re supposed to be handing out croissants at the French pavilion of Epcot. I have to admit, this is a good routine for Mollee and Nathan because it’s not so much about dance as it is about endurance and gymnastics. Nathan does do some amazing spins, I will say, but it feels like the kids got thrown a bone on this one – a dance that required no sophistication or nuance, but lots of energy.
 
Yet again, it’s a big goopy lovefest from the judges. Adam thinks Mollee and Nathan were the right couple to get this routine, because they’re Energizer bunnies. He thought it was really good. Mary thought Mollee did great for someone with a bad ankle, and she loved Nathan’s turns. Nigel thought it had great energy. Everyone’s happy. Except me, I guess. Yay.
 
 
Noelle and Russell
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Toasty Oreo
 
What is it tonight with the bad song choices? This is an intense routine, and the music catches the poignancy of this couple but not the passion. But who cares? Noelle and Russell really nail this – I’ve been a little on the fence about these two, in that they haven’t risen to the top as one of my favorite couples, but this is a gorgeous dance and they both bring a range of emotions to it.. a palette of emotions, if you will. Because it’s about painting and, oh, never mind.
 
Adam thinks Toasty used his paints (dancers) beautifully, and thinks Noelle and Russell were gorgeous. He doesn’t think they’re going anywhere after that performance. Mary said it was very special for her and thought it flowed beautifully. Nigel thinks they’ve done something memorable. Then Cat tells them to clean up the mess they’ve made on the stage. Which they don’t have to, because there are always production assistants to torture.
 
 
Ashleigh and Jakob
Style: Cha-Cha
Choreographers: Jean-Marc and France Généreux 
 
Okay, they should have a lock on this, as Ashleigh is a ballroom dancer and Jakob can do anything. And they just breeze through this like the drive-thru at McDonald’s. This is just kick ass good. They have to go to the top ten. I know Ashleigh was weepy thinking about breaking away from Jakob, but honestly, I think I may be, too, because they’re just that good together.
 
Adam says this is Ashleigh’s world and we’re all just visiting, but Jakob made himself appear to be a ballroom dancer. Oh, and they killed it. AND they’re the couple of the night for him. Mary thinks they blew it out of the ballpark, which is a mixed metaphor, but I know what she means. She says Ashleigh shined and Jakob was sharp and really came through for her. Nigel says it was a really good cha-cha and they are waltzing through to the top ten.
 
 
So who will be in the bottom three? My guess is Karen and Viktor (though only Viktor screwed up), Mollee and Nathan and, maybe Noelle and Russell, which makes me a little sad. Even though I have every reason to believe that Mollee and Nathan won’t go home unless one of them snaps a femur, hope springs eternal. But yeah, I’m thinking buy-bye Victor and maybe Noelle. TV, like life, just isn’t fair.
 
Who do you think will be in the bottom three? Are you looking forward to hearing Shakira tomorrow or are you just sick of seeing her everywhere like I am? And do you think they should bring back the can-can? Or is it a can-can’t?