Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


So You Think You Can Dance season finale recap: One singular sensation

America’s favorite dancer—who just so happens to be the best—is crowned.

Posted on

SYTYCD Finale Recap

So You Think You Can Dance

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

It seems from the moment that Ricky Ubeda was born, he was destined to win So You Think You Can Dance. And guess what? HE DID!

But let’s not get two hours ahead of ourselves just yet. In typical finale fashion, tonight served more as a celebration of season 11 with the final four reprising some of their and the judges’ favorite dances from the entire season. In addition to Nigel and Mary, Tara Lipinski, Debbie Allen, Adam Shankman, and Jenna Dewan-Tatum were four pretty great yet unnecessary guest judges. (They do realize there is nothing to judge anymore, right?)

If anything, the finale may have ended up being a little overproduced—any smart or close watchers could easily figure out the winner from the beginning and more clues were given throughout the night that Ricky would be the last dancer standing (though barely after the number of performances he still had to give tonight). First—the opening number of “Doctor Jazz” started with Ricky front and center miming the trumpet and kept him in focus for most of the time. And before the first elimination of the night, you could have figured out that Jessica wasn’t going to end up in fourth place because she hadn’t even performed her favorite dance yet.

A weird trend for the favorite dances proved how tough this season was. Both Tara and Nigel picked pieces that ended up being the last dance for Emilio and Rudy respectively, though seeing “Dirty Diana” again made it even harder to believe that Rudy didn’t get to do more after that. He did get to do a lot tonight though—unlike his all-star partner Allison Holker, who literally went straight from the stage to LAX in order to get to NYC for tomorrow’s announcement of the new Dancing with the Stars cast. So don’t worry America, you only have to survive one night without some sort of reality dancing competition in your life.

Other concerns and observations: Why did Cat refuse to say Enrique Iglesias’ last name? Since when is he the new Cher? It was clever that he sang his song “Bailando” (translation: “dancing”) with Sean Paul, but who told him he could wear a hat on national television? Paula Abdul, thanks so much for making an appearance. Too bad you were immediately shown up by the winner of SYTYCD Australia. Even if you’ve seen this a million times already (like some people, a.k.a me), you must watch his solo performance again and see how much someone can do in less than a minute.

After about 75 minutes, Cat took a break from cuing video packages to actually give some results. Zack was the first one told he wasn’t America’s favorite and ended up in fourth place. And then Jesse Tyler Ferguson appeared on stage and made everything better with a hilarious hosting bit and impromptu dance lesson from Travis Wall, his spirit animal. He then introduced an overall montage of the season, which reminded us that not only are the auditions full of embarrassing dads with two left feet, but the final four are actually memorable from their original auditions. Tonight made that journey complete.

With Jessica in third place, original partners Valerie and Ricky were left as the final two. Cat (i.e. the producers) had a brilliant idea to have them perform one of her favorites, their first duet together and the first time the final two have ever performed together on the finale. Anyone else find it a little symbolic that Valerie ended on the ground with Ricky walking away… with the competition?

But we all knew Ricky would win, and if you didn’t, you must have been watching a different show all summer. Ricky started out stronger than the rest, but didn’t take that for granted; he continued to get better and challenge himself each week. As the first single winner in two seasons, Ricky proved it’s possible to be America’s favorite and the best at the same time.