So You Think You Can Dance recap: Finale Part 2: Winner Chosen
It was so inevitable that it almost seemed unlikely (which is the sort of logic that only makes sense in reality dance competitions), but in the end, two plus two still equals four, life makes sense, and Gaby Diaz is the So You Think You Can Dance season 12 champion.
I thought for a while that Jaja, with her expressive face, adorable accent, and willingness to tackle any style, might take the crown — and wouldn’t it have been cool if America’s Favorite Dancer were a tiny krumper from the Czech Republic? — but whenever they danced side by side, Gaby outshone her. Gaby earned and deserved this, and I think we should all dance on a box in her honor. (On second thought, spare your local emergency response teams and just clap a lot while standing firmly on solid ground.)
Gaby, though! Remember when she got cut after her first audition? It just goes to show that if you work hard, never give up, and are a wonderful person with endless talent, the world is yours. Tell that to the next generation.
But let’s flash back a few hours to a time when her win was still technically not guaranteed and Travis was backstage ruining his manicure in anticipation. No one ruins a manicure on Cat Deeley’s watch. Cat looks smashing tonight in a bronze frock that shows off just a hint of her baby bump, because the bigger the night, the more Cat sparkles. (Is this why SYTYCD doesn’t have a physical trophy? Is Cat the trophy?) She and the judges take a moment to celebrate the Creative Arts Emmys, which rewarded the show for its lighting and costumes, gave honors to the Houghs and Tessandra Chavez, and — cue “the full-on Deeley chills” — finally recognized Travis. Congrats, Travis! Now if only they’d recognize Cat.
After a “celestial” group routine featuring the top 10 and 10 All-Stars, in which Jaja wears golden ram horns and pulls them off, it’s time for everyone to wind down by selecting a few favorite routines to watch again, also known as “what I do before bed every night.” In this season of Stage vs. Street and The People vs. Jason Derulo, it actually feels entirely fitting that Jason’s first pick is Virgil and Joshua’s routine. It’s men doing man things in a routine expressly designed to take over an all-female space. I’m into the fact that Virgil uses Joshua as a human trampoline as much as the next person, but Joshua outdances him overall.
Paula, as usual, is here to make it better. She picks Megz and Edson’s T-shirt routine — which, fittingly, is like slipping into an old T-shirt and coming home. Next up, Paula selects Jaja’s Broadway routine with All-Star Ricky. All I can think of is that cute opening package where Jaja wondered what mobsters are.
The Team Street top 10 perform their NappyTabs group routine, and tWitch throws it back to Gaby and Neptune’s contemporary piece. tWitch loves Neptune, and who can blame him? Not to sound like a Disney Channel Original Movie (kidding; that’s always the goal), but Neptune dances with his heart. On the other end of the spectrum, Cyrus dances with 10-year-old animation phenom Phoenix Lil’Mini, who inspires Nigel to wish there were a SYTYCD for kids. If it’s a MasterChef Junior-style lovefest, cool. But I know from a few episodes of Dance Moms that I’ll never admit to watching years of dance that those children would probably drive themselves to the breaking point. Let’s avoid. (Anyway, everyone on SYTYCD is pretty young already.)
NEXT: He doesn’t even go here
Now, raise your hand if you were expecting a special segment just for Asaf. It should look like the gym lecture from Mean Girls out there; you have all been personally victimized by season 12’s Regina George. But, like Regina, Asaf has grown a lot, and his video package — a montage of the season’s sexiest moments — is actually kind of endearing. “I would take Paula to a date. She will pay,” Asaf declares. That’s fair.
While we’re on the subject of sexy moments, Hailee’s pick is up next. It’s her routine with Robert, because she wants to kiss him again. She’s not sorry. The performance is so hot that it may or may not knock out a cameraman. Travis picks Gaby and Joshua (pros: Gaby. Joshua. Missy Elliott. The choreography. Cons: Geisha costume). Virgil picks his robot routine with Hailee. Jason picks Travis’ ghost light routine. I cancel all Halloween plans because I’m going to stay in and watch the ghost light routine on repeat.
American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Herman Cornejo and hip-hop dance group Academy of Villains arrive to shake things up, but the really exciting new routine is yet another Travis Wall original. By popular demand, Travis choreographed a piece for Jim and Alex Wong about an absent father who turns up to meet his son. It is, unsurprisingly, art. Jim didn’t make the finals, but we’ll always have this.
Travis is really having a good night, isn’t he? He won an Emmy, he choreographed for two favorites, and he gets to dance with Jenna Dewan Tatum. Travis and Jenna perform a smooth and sultry piece to the Alabama Shakes’ “Gimme All Your Love,” which Cat calls “delicious.” But even the best piece of cake must end, and Hailee’s Team Stage journey is the first to wrap up. She takes it well, smile on her face and oversize bouquet in hand, then runs off yelling “WHERE’S ROBERT?” I respect the heck out of Hailee’s priorities.
Virgil is the next to fall, leaving Gaby and Jaja — as expected — to battle it out. Jaja chooses her Christopher Scott routine with Jim (looking back to a time before the judges were quite so hard on him), while Gaby picks her Mandy Moore routine with Robert. She really is so good at that one, and Robert practically buries his face in her hair afterward to whisper encouragement.
Whatever he says does the trick. Gaby wins, everybody cries, and nobody brings out a box, but she probably feels like she’s standing on one anyway. Travis snaps some photos — his team has emerged victorious in the first Stage vs. Street battle — and that’s it. Are you hoping for another shakeup next year, or did this new format work for you? Are you happy that Gaby won? No matter what, we’ll always have the All-Stars. ‘Til next season, America.
Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.