Can you believe school is almost out for the summer? The Academy just opened its doors last week, and already it’s time to send everyone out into the world. For 10 finalists, this could be the Best Summer Ever — but we can’t meet our top 10 until we say goodbye to 30 more dancers, and all of them are kids with hopes and dreams. After this week’s tear-stained episode, I have two suggestions. First: that the top 10’s stage debut (in two weeks!) features HAPPY CHOREOGRAPHY ONLY. Travis Wall, you magnificent heartbreaker, I’m looking at you. Second: that we maybe just put the kids on a bus to Disneyland, give them a nice allowance, and stop filming them. They don’t need the pressure. The All-Stars are the most exciting part of this season, and I would gladly watch a Real World-style series about 10 of them living and dancing together, offering kids life advice and finishing each other’s cereal.
No? We’re sticking with crying kids? To the tears, then.
Team Kathryn: After Warren Carlyle’s Broadway routine and Tabitha and Napoleon’s hip-hop number, Team Kathryn is down to three: Avery, Quinn, and Tate. Who better to test them than Travis? The other choreographers had the kids partner up across team lines, but the only partner in this Travis Wall routine is your emotions, so Team Kathryn takes the stage as a unit. Contemporary is their element; they all bring it. But one of them brings it just a little bit less, and can we all just admit that it’s Avery? She’s very good at the dance that she’s doing, but that dance is about a half-count off from the one Quinn and Tate are doing. Just a half-count. Juuuuust a little.
But Kathryn “goes with her gut” and sends Quinn home — and just as we were getting to know her! Too little too late with that intro package, SYTYCD. Quinn’s mom comforts her by telling her that she’s going to work harder than ever, which seems like a terrible pep talk to give anyone at a time like this. Now is the time for ice cream and tears, Quinn’s mom. Avery, whose montage is impressive, lives to dance another day, but it was always going to end here: In the final eliminations, Tate goes to the top 10.
Team Sasha: Team Sasha really doesn’t get a lot of screen time today, but Team Sasha doesn’t need screen time. Team Sasha is playing a long con and waiting in the shadows until it’s time to pounce. We the viewers are in the palm of Team Sasha’s hand. When you’ve forgotten about her, she’s already won. Team Sasha is Jordan, by the way. Thank goodness.
Team Fik-Shun: Fik-Shun goes with mini-me Kida, who also gets minimal camera time — and this time, that’s not enough. Show me this child’s contemporary routine! If I’m going to cry, I want to cry about Kida!
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Team Jenna: Like the kids (and, honestly, every single one of her fellow All-Stars), Jenna is a bundle of emotions this week. After letting go of Lev in the hip-hop round and Dougie in contemporary, she’s down to Jake and Joshua, who are both making some interesting hair choices that I think should earn them some lucrative pomade deals down the line. Joshua brings Jenna to tears with his interpretation of Travis’ routine, but if the cumulative 10 seconds we see of each performance are any indication, Jake is the cleaner technical dancer. Jake is on to the top 10, and he’s keeping in touch with Joshua whether Joshua likes it or not. I just hope Joshua isn’t haunted by that time he told Jenna that he could partner her because he’s danced with “larger girls” before. Walk it off, Joshua.
NEXT: What is Robert thinking?[pagebreak]
Team Robert: I would trust Robert with my life on a moment’s notice, but if he had the choice between saving my life and giving J.T. a high five, I believe he would let me die. What is he seeing from J.T. that I am not? Robert sends Gavin home in the hip-hop round and cuts Sage after contemporary, and all the while, J.T. shuffles along. When it comes down to J.T. and Joziah, Robert picks (wait for it) J.T. He cries saying goodbye to Joziah, but I’m not entirely convinced that Robert hasn’t been hypnotized. J.T. had better own it in the top 10.
Team Joshua: Team Huggable Teddy Bear cuts Merrick in an early round, leaving Romeo and Sheaden to battle it out. Joshua goes with Sheaden. The hip-hop guys really aren’t getting much play today, but Joshua has what it takes to mold young talent. Could Sheaden be our wildcard?
Team Paul: Unlike the rest of his fellow All-Stars, Paul took a chance on someone outside his genre when he pulled together his team, and now he’s left with a tough call to make. Sophia is a poised contemporary dancer; Ruby is a fiery ballroom competitor. At this point, it’s less about technique than it is about preference. Paul goes with Ruby, who looks like she might already hold the title for the non-hip-hop dancer with the best hip-hop skills. That could take her far.
Team Gaby: This season’s Paula Abdul strategist advances! Gaby makes the right call and cuts Lucas from her top 3, leaving Emma and Ryan to do a tap battle (not literally, although I’d watch that) for the last spot. Ryan looks like a good dancer, but he’s fighting an uphill battle, because we’ve never even met him. Emma, meanwhile, is a small Gaby — she holds her own in contemporary and hip-hop, and her favorite part of the week has been sleeping. I love her. Emma is in the top 10.
Are all of the All-Stars just picking the dancers they can see themselves in? Is this a battle of mini-mes? Does Robert have some polka-dot suspenders in the back of his closet somewhere?
Team Jonathan: Team Jonathan is another one that might be flying under the radar. After cutting Victoria, he narrows it down to Camila and Daniela before going with Daniela, whose mom will presumably not join her onstage this time.
Team Comfort: Comfort’s team is where it’s at this week. We’ve got a dance-off. We’ve got a fake-out. We’ve got MORE TEARS. The action kicks off with Tabitha and Napoleon’s routine, which should be this team’s jam, but both Logan and Phoenix fall short. Comfort just isn’t seeing that spark, so she asks them to dance for their lives. Phoenix’s solo is obviously more impressive, but I’m not sure I see the point of solos right now. We all know what they can do; I’m more interested in what they can’t — which, right now, is anything even a little bit outside their comfort zone. Phoenix should have been so much better at that Nappytabs choreography than she actually was. She moves on anyway. Logan, we hardly knew you. (The saddest part of this whole situation is that Phoenix cries to see Logan go.)
It all comes down to Phoenix and Tahani, who will apparently never, ever be allowed to live down that time she threw up on Paula. Their styles couldn’t be more different; if Comfort could just merge Tahani’s onstage personality with Phoenix’s fierceness, she’d be unstoppable. This could go either way, so Comfort pulls the only genuine bait-and-switch of the hour (it’s cruel, but it makes for good television). “Phoenix,” she starts, “you are far from technical, but you have this raw personality about you. Tahani, you’re more cute, but I was wanting to see that rawness that I see more in Phoenix. So I feel in my heart… that Tahani, I can pull that rawness right out of you.”
That’s a twist! Tahani was ready to say her goodbyes and bounce. She was already nodding at the dismissal that never came. Tahani is in the top 10. This can’t make leaving any easier on Phoenix, but I still think it was the right call. Everyone made a good call in the end. Except Robert.
See you in two weeks, America.