On elimination night, Will, one of the early breakout contestants, is sent home; meanwhile, Comfort is eliminated for the second time
So You Think You Can Dance

Welcome, So You Think You Can Dance fans! I will be your guide/fellow Cat Deeley obsessive as we journey through last night’s devastating results episode. But beware! This is the mating season of the Lythgoe. Actually, it’s always mating season for the Lythgoe. And I strongly advise that you don the protective earmuffs when traveling through Mary Murphy’s hunting territory. I can’t hope to match the skill and expertise of the great Adam B. Vary or last night‘s guide, Lisa Raphael, but hopefully we can get through this together. I guess I’m just worried that if you SYTYCD fans out there hate my TV Watch, you’ll all march here with torches and pitchforks, strap me down, and force me to listen to Mary’s screech until the point of madness.

I will confess: I am more a fan of Dancing With the Stars than I am of So You Think You Can Dance. ”Heresy!” many of you will cry! But for me a dancing show isn’t complete without Tom Bergeron incessantly cawing ”Liiiiiiiiiiiive!” Or without paso dobles set to the Superman theme. That said, few hosts on television today can hold their own against the ease and elegance of Cat Deeley, who contrasted Wednesday’s killer black frock with an off-white Grecian ensemble that made me want to call her Terpsichore, the muse of dance.

After the cheesy title music, which seems like it could be featured in an afternoon parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we got down to yet another group dance. Of course, it would be impossible to top last week’s hyperkinetic Bollywood fantasia, but this week’s hip-hop number, set to Common’s ”Universal Mind Control (UMC)” felt like a letdown. It didn’t help that the techno-rave lighting scheme almost made it impossible to identify the dancers, let alone make sense of their dancing. This isn’t So You Think You Can Light a Reality Competition! The number felt less like a hoppin’ Studio 54 than it did Captain Eo. Actually, Captain Eo is a memory I visit more and more these days, especially when watching this show. I did, however, love Courtney Galiano’s Bride of Frankenstein rag-doll bow welcoming Cat/Terpsichore as the number came to a close.

How refreshing it is to have Toni Basil on the jidges’ panel this week! Not only is she a dance legend, with an affinity for more genres than most of these contestants have probably ever even heard of, but — what a revelation! — she actually thinks before she speaks! SYTYCD really needs a judge of her caliber just to balance out Mary ”I’m One of Marie Osmond’s New Line of Screaming Dolls Come to Life” Murphy and Nigel ”If She’s a Woman, I Will Objectify” Lythgoe. Basil might actually have usurped Lil’ C as my favorite guest judge, although just by saying that I feel like I’ve betrayed Lil’ C and myself.

NEXT: You only die twice

But come on, how sanctimonious was Nigel telling us all to vote in the presidential election this year? The fact that he’s affiliated with shows that feature call-in voting does not make him an expert on electoral procedure. (Although, seriously, go and vote!)

It wasn’t much of a surprise that Comfort was the girl sent home tonight. Her fox-trot was pretty much one in name only, and her solos always seemed the same. That said, I feel for the hip-hop princess. To be voted off twice! That’s like when Amy Irving’s character was supposedly killed off on Alias, then brought back later on, only to be killed off for good a couple episodes later. Still, Comfort didn’t seem that saddened by her departure and was probably thankful to be on the show a couple extra weeks. Her deliriously campy diva flirtations with the camera backstage will be missed. But it’s true, her solos betrayed her lack of improvisational ability and her absolute need of professional choreographers.

I am thrilled, however, that Katee and Mark sailed through to next week. I was a little worried that Mark, Comfort’s other half in the aforementioned train-wreck fox-trot, might have lost some viewer affection, but apparently not. His face is a symphony of emotion, so it’s all the more impressive that he can subordinate his megawatt personality to the requirements of each dance. He was even a little buck in that hip-hop routine Wednesday. (How impoverished my lexicon was before SYTYCD taught me the word ”buck”!) And who couldn’t love his endearingly self-deprecating look of absolute astonishment when Cat announced he would not be in this week’s bottom two guys!

And Katee probably deserves to win this whole thing. Her hard-knocking, domestic-squabble contemporary routine was the perfect synthesis of story and style. In her solo, she even made Celine Dion music seem hot! Nigel declared Wednesday that he had enjoyed every one of Katee’s dances this year, although that compliment can’t begin to serve as a sorbet for the disturbing thought of him keeping Mary prisoner, as he also could not help lewdly suggesting. Generally, it seems the more incomprehensible Mary is in her comments, the more she likes the dance. Her screaming over Katee is the equivalent of thumbs up. You could use Mary’s voice as a test of your upper frequency range. If you can’t hear her high-pitched screech, you’re going deaf; although, if you’re watching this show, that might be a blessing. I feel like the producers of SYTYCD could just place a boat horn in the middle judge’s seat. It blasts if the dance rocks. Remains silent if it falls flat.

How could Will leave? The most charismatic dancer on the show this season. The trouper whose character-filled solos made us beg inside for them to last beyond their ridiculously short duration. (Who else felt like your heart was ripped out when Will’s solo to ”Dance With My Father” came to a close last week?) He was the Patrick Swayze to Courtney’s Demi Moore in the ”Like You’ll Never See Me Again” number. Why, TV Watchers? Not that I’m one who likes to agree with Nigel, but come on, viewers, did you just not vote for him because you thought he was going to make it through anyway? Even Twitch was blown away. When Cat told Katee’s partner that he was in the bottom two, he was absolutely devastated. Twitch turned his back to the camera and crouched to the floor, so certain was he of his imminent departure. Speaking of which, didn’t you just love Cat all the more for turning her back to the camera and stooping down to comfort him? Not only is that insanely difficult in that type of dress, but to give him that attention in that moment showed what genuine affection she has for these contestants and their emotional journeys. Yeah, as if we’ve ever seen Seacrest do something like that. (Read my esteemed colleague Ken Tucker’s tribute to Cat in the new issue of EW on stands today.)

NEXT: The one that got away

I have to say, of the four guys, Joshua probably most deserved to get sent packing. And not just because of the judges’ insistence that he has ”the biggest butt on the show.” (Although it’s hard not to keep that in mind while watching him dance now.) The guy has strength, power, and conviction, to be sure, but he lacks Will’s versatility and Twitch’s seat-of-his-pants dynamism.

But Courtney in the bottom two? Not only is she ridonkulously hot — and I love her scrappy Long Island accent — but Courtney injects the most personality into her routines of any of the remaining dancers. Whether it was her spicy samba or her soulful hip-hop this past week, Courtney wore her emotions on her sleeve and worked them exquisitely into her dances. How could she be in the bottom two girls and not Chelsie Hightower, who to me is merely the second coming of Julianne Hough?

Another fascinating if semi-mystifying element to the show: Watching Cat comfort Twitch got me to thinking about how SYTYCD succeeds in large part because of how genuine this series is. Any other reality competition (certainly Dancing With the Stars) would try to create more dramatic tension out of revealing the bottom four. Instead, SYTYCD just whittles the contestants down one by one, so that we knew that Courtney would be in the bottom two just because she was the only girl left, and that Joshua was safe because the bottom two guys had already been chosen. Of course, this can make for some flaccid TV: Do we really need to go through all the judges’ comments when we already know whether a contestant is in the bottom two or not? This also certainly leads to some world-class filler. We knew the bottom four by the half-hour mark last night and had to sit through the odd combination of a George Balanchine pas de deux and a rap performance by LL Cool J. Then again, to me that shows SYTYCD isn’t out to manipulate the audience quite as much as DWTS or American Idol.

What do you think, TV Watchers? Do you share my pain over Will’s departure? Was it awkward seeing Comfort get voted off twice? Or should she have never been brought back in the first place? Did you also officially fall in love once and for all with Cat when she comforted a despondent Twitch? And can we find some outlet for Nigel’s various fetishes other than public embarrassment on prime-time television?

Episode Recaps

So You Think You Can Dance

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

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