So, more than one person has mentioned to me that they feel like “SYTYCD” is playing favorites. Not intentionally, mind you, but the going theory is that the judges’ panel, which sometimes includes Mia Michaels, hesitates before eliminating one of her students. I’m not sure I necessarily buy it, but if Ryan survives much longer in the competition after subpar performances like the one she turned in last night, I might have to consider it.

Last night’s judges are back: Nigel, Mary, Sonya and Jesse. And before we can get started, there are lots of kudos to our Emmy nominees, which include Cat. Big standing O for her. The show got a total of eight nominations, more applause. Okay, okay, you’re all great. Can we get to the people who actually, you know, dance?

After all the self-congratulation, it’s finally time to put some couples on the block. It’s Clarice and Jess vs. Caitlynn andMitchell. I don’t think Clarice and Jess did poorly last night, but I’ll be really sad if Caitlynn and Mitchell end up on the bottom, largely because I think their Ugandan child soldier whatever the hell dance was the problem last night, not them. But lo and behold, they’re on the bottom. Darn it!

Nigel gives us an update on Alex Wong. Good news! He was chosen to be an All-Star! But then, bad news. Auditioning for another show, he did the same move that snapped the tendon on his right foot – and promptly snapped the tendon on his left foot. I would think he might not want to do that move ever, ever again. Anyway, he’s off the show and faces another year of rehab. I’m worried he’s going to say screw it and become an accountant. This is so unspeakably sad.

Anyway, we find out who the All-Stars are. Melody (season 1), Allison (season 2), Pasha (season 3) Twitch, Comfort and Chelsie (season 4), Brandon (season 5) Kathryn (season 6) and Robert (season 7).

The wretched elimination process continues. Melanie and Marko are up against Ryan and Ricky. And… Ryan and Ricky are on the block. I’m not surprised. No way are Melanie and Marko going home yet.

Next, Tadd and Jordan face off against Sasha and Alexander. This one’s a little harder to call. While Tadd and Jordan had one killer dance last night, they also had a crappy 80s one (which was crappy because of the choreography, not them). If they pay the price for that, I’ll be seriously disappointed. The next two dancers in the top ten are Jordan and Tadd. Whoot! I think this means Alexander is going home. Yes, last night was a breakthrough for him, but it took too long for him to get there.

We see a tap/rap performance by Jason Samuels Smith & Anybody Can Get It. I’m sorry, I’m just not a tap fan. That’s my personal bias and totally unfair, I admit it. They’re very good and very talented and I admire them, but I suspect that if you muted your TV you’d think these people were having seizures on national television.

Hey, there’s Melinda Sullivan from last season! I remember her! Still hate tap!

So, time for solos. Caitlynn dances. And she dances very, very well. She’s fluid and natural and not too smiley. She really is one of the beasts.

Mitchell takes his turn, and he is just insane. So good. So strong. So graceful. Don’t send him home!

Ryan is not fantastic. Lots of hair flipping, but I still notice a missed step and some clumsiness. Boy, this is not going to save her.

Next up, Ricky. While Ryan wasn’t dancing for her life (or doesn’t know how), Ricky is dancing FOR HIS LIFE. This is just off the chain. Go Ricky! He is not going home this week, I’m positive. I love that he pauses to vibe the audience. Yeah, he’s got charisma.   

The crowd, of course, goes wild. Sonya mutters that she never wants to be there again. I know what she means. It must be awful trying to eliminate people for whom you’ve actually created routines.

More solos. Sasha does a cool, slithery piece that’s engaging but definitely isn’t dancing for your life. But she’s head and shoulders above her partner, Alexander. He does ballet, which should be in his wheelhouse (the genre he originally auditioned with before switching to contemporary). But this is, honestly, pretty bad. He fumbles a pirouette, his arms wobble and he just looks scared. I’m sure he is, and I can’t blame him, but he needs to make us think he’s having fun.

Nicole Scherzinger performs. This sounds a lot like Rihanna, and I think I liked plain, old Nicole Scherzinger better when she was just being Nicole Scherzinger. The song is moderately hooky, but there’s nothing earworm-y about it. I can definitely get this out of my head.

Time to cut the two unlucky dancers. Nigel informs Cat that it was a unanimous decision with the girls. He thought Caitlynn’s solo was exceptional, but the judges had to take her body of work into account. He felt Ryan was lackluster last night and didn’t think her solo was great, either. He said she seems depressed. She shakes her head no but her eyes say yes. He tells Sasha he didn’t love her solo but thinks she’s fabulous. Nigel stops messing around and lowers the ax. Ryan is out.

Ryan cries and smiles. She seems like a lovely girl and, yes, she is a good dancer, but I do wonder if the pressure of the show just got to her. Maybe seven hours just isn’t enough time for her to learn a routine and nail it (which is pretty understandable). But it was definitely her time to go.

Nigel says the vote was not unanimous for the guys, because it was three votes to one. Nigel says Mitchell performed a strong solo, but his work has bounced between average and very good. He has peaks and troughs. He tells Ricky his dance for his life was one of the best he’s ever seen. He praises Alexander, telling him he finally found himself during last night’s performances. But his solo let him down very badly, and Nigel notes it was a mess technically.  Alexander is sent packing. It was time. When Nigel actually mentioned that Sasha had been carrying him for weeks, it seemed like everyone was ready to cut the cord.

So, whether or not Ryan was the beneficiary of some judging good will or not, ultimately her dancing wasn’t strong enough to keep her in the competition. Alexander couldn’t count on his golden partner to save him, either. Next week, they’ll be judged solo (but will dance with an All-Star as well as one of the other dancers they’ll pick from a hat), so it’s just going to get tougher.

Do you think it was time for Ryan to go? Do you think she got a boost from her association with Mia? Are you sad knowing what happened to Alex Wong?