It's down to the wire for the remaining finalists

By Kate Ward
August 05, 2010 at 08:07 AM EDT
Mathieu Young/Fox
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Whoa. Things suddenly feel different in So You Think You Can Dance land. This whole season, I’ve plopped down every Wednesday night, fully prepared to knock the judges and show for allowing a weak link to maintain his presence on the show. But now, after last week’s satisfying results episode, we’ve been left with four stellar dancers. Yes, we lost Alex Freaking Wong several weeks back, an injury that still stings. And, yes, last night’s show came complete with enough filler to supply an entire Twinkie factory. But why should we complain? Honestly, last night’s show made clear that this season has become, well, pretty darn good. We’ve been left with a final four who all dance on a relatively even playing field, and all arguably deserve to win the whole shebang. Of course, only one of those four will nab the crown — and it’s pretty clear who he will be. I only hope Wapakoneta is preparing to fling confetti next week.

Because after last night’s final number, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Kent would take home the prize this year. Of course, it helps that he’s got the tween vote. And that he’s been given the pimp spot from week to week. (I’m surprised more people haven’t cried foul on this point.) But, most of all, he’s been blessed with some of the best choreography of the season, including Travis Wall’s touching backstabbing number — danced with all-star Neil — which will go down as one of the top numbers of the season. (But, sorry, Kent, Alex Freaking Wong and tWitch’s hip-hop still takes the cake.) And the duo have become quite the power pairing — their chemistry makes them appear nearly indistinguishable on stage, which is shocking, considering they differ quite a bit height, looks, and personality. But not in skill — those gorgeous pirouettes! That incredible lift! I got so invested in Travis Wall’s number, I started wondering how this whole man-in-black/man-in-white number fit in with the Lost mythology. (But I’ll just leave that to Doc Jensen.)

NEXT: Disco inferno

And it’s a good thing he was gifted with the number, since his first dance was a poor showing. He might blame his faulty Doriana Sanchez number with Courtney on the fact that the people of Wapakoneta are not familiar with disco, which surprised me because I always figured that teeny-tiny towns were, like Germany, 30 years behind in terms of popular music. Nevertheless, the dancer attempted to channel his inner Tony Manero despite his unfamiliarity with the genre, which left most of the judges, and yours truly, with anything but a (Saturday Night) fever. Being such a fun dancer, I expected Kent to shine brighter than his sequined peek-a-boo shirt. Yet you can see him thinking about every step — an unattractive trait when you’re looking for effortless dancing. The whole number felt young and unpolished, even if Adam suggested that ”young” described the genre and the age Nigel was when he rocked disco, something that apparently can be seen on YouTube. Of course, Adam’s comment prompted me to ignore Kent’s flashback footage and frantically begin searching for a clip, but, sadly, I gave up after a few minutes. Partly because I got bored looking, but mostly because I don’t think I could handle the sure-to-be sexual charge that would spark within my being from the sight of Nigel shaking his groove thing. Luckily for Kent, the aforementioned Travis Wall routine surely will make audiences forget his uninspired disco, as will his second inspirational speech of the season. Jeez, at this point, the guy should travel with his own personal soundtrack of swelling music, right?

Speaking of swell, Lauren’s managed to grow on me throughout this season, mainly because she’s our little girl all grown up. In fact, it’s hard to believe she’s the same excited poodle we saw in the flashback footage after her first dance. Because, last night, during her Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo Argentine Tango and Sean Cheesman jazz routines, she transformed into one sexual bulldog. (And, yes, I understand that this canine comparison is starting to get rough. Or ruff? Sorry, I can’t help it.) And since I’ve officially boarded the Lauren bandwagon, I won’t call too much attention to the disconnect of someone claiming to be unsexy in real life auditioning for the season to Marvin Gaye’s ”Let’s Get It On”. (Hm.) No, instead, I’ll call attention to her impressive maturity, pitch-perfect lines, and astonishing grace, in spite of all her physical strength. Lauren’s first dance — which also featured Pasha, who last night was rocking the smarmy insurance salesman hair — even prompted Adam to perform some karaoke, Tyce to honk like a moped in traffic, and Mia to tell the dancer that she just became a woman. (That noise you heard was Nigel throwing a glass of water on himself.) The judges, however, were slightly more critical of her jazz routine, not that I completely understand why. Sure, Lauren’s black widow routine with Ade was a bit empty and predictably sexy, but I gasped watching the duo execute those lifts without hesitation or trepidation. Yet Tyce instead chose to criticize the dancer’s ending pose? Bitch, puh-leeze. If there ever was a need for one of those cartoon boxing gloves attached to a spring, it was at that moment. Because, for once, Nigel was the judge who got it right. Surprising, because as soon as Lauren came on stage in her cat suit, I fully expected Uncle Nigel to spend his 3+ judging minutes comparing her to Julie Newmar. But I have to applaud the British one for instead pointing out Lauren’s incredible growth and tenacity. Snaps! In fact, Lauren impressed so much last night, Adam told her the words he said every dancer wanted to hear: ”I want to hire you.” (Nice sentiment, for sure, but the words we dancers always long to hear are, ”Here, eat this.”) Rock of Ages, here Lauren comes?

NEXT: The prince of the competition

I’d be surprised if our Robert wasn’t employed by the tour’s end, too, because the contemporary dancer has truly become this season’s chameleon. He was the one contestant to not dance in his own genre last night, yet he’s surged ahead of most in the pack, cementing his status as this season’s dark horse. First, he managed to float his way through his Jonathan Roberts Viennese Waltz with Anya, a dance that drove Mia to call him the prince of the competition. And you know what? She’s right. I, too, have finally realized the guy is dreamy in that Prince Eric sort of way, a thought that made me momentarily wish I were the Ursula of this fantasy so I could make Tyce my Ariel, because, good god, he just needs to shut the hell up. But back to Robert. The judges, who even called him brilliant, were right to praise the contemporary dancer and his ability to master the rise and fall of a waltz. He was graceful, committed, and boasted partnering skills we haven’t seen from a non-ballroom dancer in at least several seasons. I only hope audiences can appreciate a good rise and fall that doesn’t involve a tabloid-attracting teenage pop star. Luckily, Robert’s second dance was far more upbeat: A NapTab dance about clowns that were about to get the axe, which a strange concept, because I’m pretty sure John Wayne Gacy proved you should never hire a clown for anything. (Or give him an ax, for that matter.) Yet, the choreographers had the perfect dancer — season 7’s own clown. He might not have boasted buck (ugh) b-boy moves like Dom, but Robert’s theatrics made it appear as though he outdanced his all-star partner. Yet the viewing audience has only recently warmed up to the dancer in previous weeks; he could craft a Mark Kanemura clone out of balloons, and he still would have been in the bottom three, so his position in the finale is still floating up in the air.

Still, it’s hard to imagine that Robert won’t outlast AdéChiké. After all, last night the judges did nearly everything in their power to ensure the contemporary dancer would go home. In fact, after what seemed like the 1,000th speech applauding AdéChiké’s work this year (”You’ve done a wonderful job across this season” translates to ”Kthnxbai” in SYTYCD land), I’m shocked they didn’t just go ahead and give him the hook. That being said, it’s clear that AdéChiké was out-performed last night. I don’t, however, completely fault him. The guy was handed two rather uninspiring numbers, which felt strange, considering they were tailor-made to mirror his own journey on the show. When Sean Cheesman told us his afro jazz number, also danced by all-star Lauren, would bring out the joy in AdéChiké’s dancing, I fully expected tears and a routine wrought with emotion. What we got was a corny, if powerful, dance that left me trying to decipher the physics of AdéChiké’s orange shrug. (In other words, I was a bit bored.) But wait! There was still one more number left with AdéChiké! And it was sure to be a doozy — as soon as we discovered the dancers’ second number, with all-star Kathryn, would be choreographed by Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, the dancers’ idols, I grabbed my tissue box and hunkered down for a real sobbin’. Instead, the dance — which seemed oddly disconnected from the Melissa Ethridge track chosen to accompany the piece — left me reaching for the Visine. Oddly enough, the dancer saved his emotion for after his two routines, breaking down and graciously thanking the network for showcasing the season’s talent. It was a touching moment that could win him more votes, but being a sentimental favorite won’t likely eclipse the solid performances his competitors brought to the table last night.

So it appears we should prepare for a Kent-Robert-Lauren final three. But who do you want to see in the finals, fellow So You Think You Can Dance fans? Do you think anyone other than AdéChiké will be sent packing? Is Kent a lock for the win, or could Lauren and Robert sneak their way to victory? Were you glad to get a glimpse of alums Nick and Channing last night? Were you also loving Cat’s roller-disco Barbie look? And in terms of the choreography itself, did you also think the name of Tyce’s crap shooter routine was about 50 percent accurate?

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
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