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So You Think You Can Dance recap: Fighting the Good Fight

Kelly Clarkson comes for a visit as two of the Top 14 have to go … and one of them refuses to leave without really showing what we’ll be missing

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Sytycd Karla Garcia
Mike Ruiz/Fox

So You Think You Can Dance

TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley, Mary Murphy
Current Status:
In Season

All week, I’ve been daydreaming that, after Nigel’s classy eulogy for Michael Jackson (as well as Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon) last week, the producers would put together a fitting tribute to Jackson’s iconic contributions to dance as this week’s group performance, perhaps even choreographed by Jackson protégée Wade Robson. Instead, we got a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine — scratch that, we got a meandering, incoherent, shapeless mess that Tyce Diorio inexplicably took credit for creating, especially considering it would’ve looked terrible even if Michael Bay hadn’t apparently been hired to direct the camera work like a sequence from Transformers: Revenge of the Tulle. I guess one could nominally glean it was an oblique homage to Jackson’s role as the Scarecrow in the 1978 film of The Wiz given that it was set to ”Everybody Rejoice (Brand New Day)” from that musical, but only if anyone in the Top 14 was dressed like the Scarecrow — or, for that matter, like Dorothy, the Tin Man, or the Cowardly Lion, as opposed to creatures in what evidently was a discarded sequence from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Face Paint and Feather Headdresses. Next week, look for Tyce to restage ”Surrey With the Fringe on Top” from Oklahoma! with a surfboard prop and his dancers in Bermuda shorts, followed by a number from Cabaret re-imagined on a kindergarten playground, and a group production of The Lion King‘s ”The Circle of Life” set on the International Space Station. The man’s a friggin’ genius.

As for the actual results, well, the moment Cat Deeley — who had apparently spent a full day of driving along the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down, only to discover she’d left her best frocks at home and had to go on in her metallic print jammie jams — told Karla & Vitolio that they were in the bottom three, I think we all knew the duo were goners. The news got even worse after unambiguous judge favorites Kayla & Kupono and Jeanine & the Chbeeb landed in the bottom three. And yet Karla refused to make it an easy decision for the judges, delivering a thoughtful, well-constructed solo that was by far the best choreographed of the night. If Kayla hadn’t been so consistent this season, and especially if she hadn’t just turned out the best routine from Wednesday’s performance show, I personally would’ve been hard pressed not to send her home after a solo that had me thinking only about how much her hair resembled a tangled clump of raw cotton. Jeanine, meanwhile, simply continues to impress; my boyfriend pointed out how savvy she was to plan a solo that showcased her ample technical skill as if it was gentle ballet routine, given how much the judges lauded classical ballet as the preeminent (and most unforgiving) of all dance genres. Thank jeebus for Cat, who stood up for Jeanine after Mary Murphy blatantly snubbed her while gushing over wanting to see her partner’s solo.

NEXT: Why is Kelly Clarkson singing here?