We're down to the top six, and you know what that means -- no more saves from the judges! I'm conflicted about this, as the judges do tend to save the best dancers and not the favorite dancers (mostly) while America votes for who's cutest or has the best story (mostly). But, as we know from years of having it drummed in our heads, this is about who America likes, not necessarily who's best.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson joins Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe on the judges' panel. Still, Nigel says that he intends to still be tough -- even if it doesn't count for anything (according to Cat).
The final dance from our top six dancers. Some of this seems a little more graceful than it should be, but if that's the dancers' only crime, so be it.
Paul and All-Star Kathryn
The Background: It's a fast Tyce D'Orio routine. And sexy! And lots of stuff!
The Dance: My only complaint (and it's not really a complaint) about using All-Stars is that sometimes the All-Stars pull focus (not intentionally, mind you) from the people who are actually in the competition, a problem that's compounded when the judges lavish praise on the All-Stars when they're supposed to be offering constructive criticism to, you know, the people in the competition. Kathryn is amazing, so it's hard not to watch her -- poor Paul.
The Judges: Nigel thought that Paul proves week after week he can do anything, not just Latin ballroom. Mary thought it was spectacular. Then talks a lot about Kathryn. Oh, and she thinks Paul has charisma and talent. Jesse is thrilled with Paul's climb on the show. And he plans to start wearing leather pants now.
The Verdict: As the guy who looks the most like James Franco among the final three, I think he's probably safe.
Ah, we're getting solos preceded by encouraging messages from family members. This will be heartwarming and totally forgettable. Amy gets a message from her parents, who could tell she was going to be a dancer (did all the dancing give her away?). Being on stage is like her office, her dad says. What? That's… conceptual. Anyway, her parents love her. I think I could almost cut and paste this paragraph for the other five dancers, as I think there's going to be a lot of repetition here.
Amy's solo -- did she lose her balance a bit? It's a remarkable solo otherwise.
Hayley and All-Star (season 4 winner) Joshua
The Background: A NappyTabs routine with a boxing theme.
The Dance: That was fierce! Hayley does a really good job with this, even if she appears to be swimming in those boxing trunks.
The Judges: Mary thought was amazing. Jesse wishes the dance could be his workout routine and loved that Hayley was a hard ass. Nigel talks about Joshua and NappyTabs… okay, okay, they're not competitors. Anyway, he thinks she's hitting over her weight, and it's going to be a fight into the finale.
The Verdict: I'm not sure if she has the fan base to beat out Amy or Jasmine, but man, she's so good it's hard to think she's leaving.
Fik-Shun's dad talks about his son. Watching him dance is an honor for him, and he's rooting for him. Thank God, we eventually get to his solo. He has such a sense of humor that really comes across when he dances in his style, it's impossible not to like him. But I'm not sure that's enough for me given how strong the other dancers are at this point.
Aaron and All-Star Melanie
The Background: It's a Spencer Liff Broadway routine. They're a couple in love who push one another's buttons. Everyone laughs and has so much fun! Rehearsal is such a happy time!
The Dance: Why is it so dark? Why? Stop that, "SYTYCD"! Okay, that's better. He seems a little clenched, though. Oops, he drops Melanie a bit. Afterwards, Melanie declares it in character. True, but…
The Judges: Jesse is a huge fan of Aaron's, and he wishes everyone else would have to do tap (no!). Nigel loves Melanie's hair straight. And he liked the routine. Nigel wants Aaron to lower his shoulders. Mary asks if he's still injured, trying to give him an out. Aaron admits he's probably favoring it so he isn't reinsured. Still, Mary thought Aaron's legwork was amazing. Yeah, he dropped her, but she thinks he's the guy she'd want to dance with from this season.
The Verdict: Aaron's time may be short -- dropping Melanie isn't a great idea.
Jasmine's mom talks about her. She loves to watch her dance. She gives her chills. Hey, that's true for all of us, Jasmine's mom! Time for her solo (to "Amazing Grace," which is a really different and pretty awesome choice). Those legs! I think Jasmine may win this. She's just so good.
Paul's mom loves him. He looks like her. And he's a smiler. At least she talked a bit about Paul as opposed to all the interchangeable Hallmark goop. Paul's solo is… surprisingly acrobatic. Good, though.
Fik-Shun and All-Star Witney
The Background: A foxtrot? Ugh. But it's going to be sexy and fast. And a super-dangerous move that is mostly putting pressure on Witney, I think.
The Dance: Not so fast or sexy to start, really. Okay, he needs to not mug for the cameras so much if this is supposed to be sexy and not funny. That wasn't fast at all, really. Yeah, this was not great.
The Judges: Mary thinks Witney looks like Marilyn Monroe. And, yes, Witney should not be the focus here. She thinks Fik-Shun had some footwork problems but had nice posture. And then tells him he's not going anywhere. What? Did Mary just tell us Fik-Shun is through to the finale? That has to be my imagination, right?
Jesse thinks Witney was leading and Fik-Shun was doing the white man's overbite. But fans love him! Nigel thinks Witney looks great! And he watched her for most of the routine. Stop! He didn't think this was strong, but congratulates him on moving into the finale. Wait, seriously? I have to be imagining this. And he loved his solo.
The Verdict: I don't see him going the distance, but apparently he is! Unless I just imagined that! I would rewind and rewatch if I could, but Slingbox limitations. Please, someone explain in comments. I am hoping I imagined that, because if I didn't, ouch.
Hayley's mom is proud of her. Blah, blah, blah. He solo is very, very solid.
Jasmine and All-Star Neil
The Background: A Tyce D'Orio tsunami dance of fun. It's topical! It's tragic! The judges will love it!
The Dance: Voice over is annoying, but so so beautiful. Jasmine really can't be beat for pure emotion and technical skill. Just so, so good.
The Judges: Standing O from them, so we know what they think. Nigel thought Neil was tremendous and Tyce is so great and TALK ABOUT JASMINE. He thinks Jasmine will be joining a company the moment the tour is over and she's his favorite girl on the show. Mary is weepy. It was like seeing rainbows in her soul! I didn't make that up but I wish I did! She thinks Jasmine is spectacular. Jesse thought the routine was unbelievable. He thinks Jasmine has heart and it was beautiful… and she's his favorite dancer this year.
Aaron's parents love him. Aaron DJs and was born to perform. Aaron is tapping, as you might expect. I really can't believe he's done so well in so many styles. He's a great tapper, but seriously, that's almost more music than dance -- which makes his achievements on this show all the more remarkable.
Amy and All-Star Alex
The Background: Bollywood… huh. It's a story about a diva and her servant. At least Amy has Alex for this. If anyone can elevate a goofy routine, it's Alex. Bollywood is always fun, but I'm not sure it's possible to convey sophistication and sex appeal in Bollywood.
The Dance: This is really well-done. It's more of an incredible feat from a lung capacity and flexibility perspective than anything, but still, Amy and Alex looks great doing this. Is it sexy? Not really, but who cares? I can't believe they haven't passed out yet.
The Judges: A standing O. Mary thought it was crazy! She thought the twist and squat section required so much athleticism it was amazing to her. Jesse's quads and hammier hurt just watching the routine. Nigel loves these Bollywood routines. And he thinks Alex had a lot of guts, since he snapped his Achilles doing Bollywood all those years ago. Big props… to the both of them.
The Verdict: Is Amy as popular as Jasmine? Doubt it, but she's going to the finale, most definitely. She is a beast.
Paul & Hayley
The Background: Paul doesn't want to let Hayley down.
The Dance: This is beautiful. Just… beautiful. Took me a minute to recognize the song, too, which is just lovely as well. I sense Hayley is going, and it just makes me sad.
The Judges: Jesse and Mary give them a standing O. Nigel remains seated. Jesse thought it was amazing and keeps it Carly Rae Jepsen short -- amazing. Nigel thought the flow of the movement was great, but he didn't love all the flexed feet. What? That's a note on choreography, isn't it? But they're both complete dancers. Mary thinks they should date! Mary thinks Paul looks like James Dean. She loved them.
Amy & Fik-Shun
The Background: Hey, a hip-hop number. It's two crumpers in love, breaking furniture. Well, maybe just in rehearsal.
The Dance: Really, really nice. Thank God, none of the usual hokey couple dancing they've had, and it's more fluid than most hip-hop routines. It is sexy, actually, which is impressive.
The Judges: Nigel loves their chemistry. He thinks Amy proves "you don't have to put it in someone's face to be sexy, Miley Cyrus." Mary loved the syncopation and the body rippling, and she thinks dance is just Amy's pulse. Mary thinks Fik-Shun makes sense, as fiction should. Jesse thinks Fik-Shun is a megastar, and his solo erased Miley Cyrus' horrible twerking. Ooh, burn! And Amy could fit in his pocket.
Jasmine & Aaron
The Background: It's a jazz routine about a vain woman trapped in a mirror and a guy who is the only one who can see her.
The Dance: The connections here just seem so clunky. There's a heaviness to this dance. Still, they're doing some amazing stuff -- and crap, did Jasmine just slap her leg against her ear? She looks like something in a geometry class. Damn! There are rough edges, though.
The Judges: But the judges loved it and gave them a standing O. Mary thought they have a deep conviction when they dance together. She gives them a "hot tamale train" hoot. Jesse thinks Jasmine is a crazy robot and he hates her because he can't be her. And he has a crush on Aaron. Nigel thinks Aaron's tap solo was incredible, plus he kept his shoulders down in this routine. He can't believe what Jasmine did with her legs. He thought it was a throwing down of the gauntlet to everyone else in the competition.
Time to send people home. Wah. I think we know Fik-Shun isn't going anywhere, right? Seriously, did I hear that incorrectly, or did Mary give it away? Anyway, he isn't. It's Aaron and Fik-Shun going through with Paul getting the boot, and Amy and Jasmine in the finale with Hayley going home. I'm a little disappointed, as I think Fik-Shun is better than expected but still not as strong as Paul overall. But, you know, America's favorite dancer, blah blah blah. In any case, it will be a good finale nonetheless. Even if America gets it wrong next week, too.
What do you think about who's in the finale? Who are you rooting for? And do you think Nigel is playing fair?