Leave Whitney Houston alone

By Kelly Connolly
July 18, 2017 at 12:17 AM EDT
Adam Rose/FOX
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It’s Academy Week, everyone! Today’s the day. The sun is shining. Your favorite dancer is going home. People are dancing in the founta…

[Allison Janney gasps. The Psycho theme kicks in. Robert Roldan shifts uncomfortably in his seat as the camera zooms way in on his hot ’50s dad glasses.]

Your favorite dancer is going home.

I’m sorry, dance fans, but I just can’t in good conscience pretend that this is a beautiful day in Deeley Land. Darius Hickman, whose audition I want to somehow market as skin-clearing lotion, has been eliminated. And no one will tell me why. Why is Darius going home? Why are we still trying to make Alexis happen? She’s not going to happen.

Because Nappytabs takes no prisoners, a handful of featured auditioners — like Sade, Tristen, and Romainson — are knocked out in the first round of Academy Week. But it’s Darius whose unexpected exit stings the most, and that’s partly because we don’t get a good explanation. Robert mumbles something about how he just wasn’t “affected” like he’s reading it off a cue card (we’ve all seen “Fix You,” Robert! We know you have feelings!), which makes me think there’s more to this story than anyone will tell. If Darius spent the hip-hop round taking a nap in Travis Wall’s duffel bag, I’d still let him through. Ballroom dancer Kiki basically does that, and Jenna just chides him for being a “hot mess” and invites him to join her team. Maybe the only answer to any of this is that the world is cruel and illogical and ugh, we’re all going to crash into the sun in a few billion years anyway. But if there is more to this story, I just hope everyone is okay.

Anyway, welcome to the Academy.

This week’s episode gets off to a joyful start with a rollicking group number choreographed by our very own Mandy La La Land Moore. In a dramatic pep talk, Nigel tells the dancers to bloom wherever they’re planted. He then chassés over to the All-Stars and makes sure they heard his “bloom where you’re planted” line because he’s very proud of it. Nigel loves nature imagery!

And I love the All-Stars. This season, we’re following the format of last year’s Next Generation: Ten All-Stars will judge the contestants, select teams of four, and eventually narrow down those teams to just one lucky dancer, who will then move on to the top 10. From there, the All-Stars will guide and partner with their dancers in the live competition. The crew of old favorites is intimidating and perfect: Gaby, Comfort, Marko, Jasmine, Allison, Jenna, Paul, Robert, Cyrus, and Fik-Shun.

Sure, there are downsides to this format; we only get to meet 10 new dancers in the live shows, and they don’t get to do quite as much partnering with each other. But who can deny the power of weekly quality time with Allison Holker and her extensive collection of jumpsuits? Gaby’s off-the-shoulder numbers? Robert’s GLASSES?? Is SYTYCD really a fashion show? Discuss.

Our esteemed panel meets the dancers through their solos; based on those performances, they make a few cuts, and the remaining dancers partner up for a Nappytabs routine before the second round of cuts — at which point inspired All-Stars can invite dancers to join their teams or send them on for more choreo. If more than one All-Star wants a dancer on their team, it’s the contestant’s call. This is all organized chaos, so let’s hit the highlights:

  • Kiki speaks!
  • Dancing sandwich Robert Green embellished his pants with cute artwork like a UFO and pizza. To quote Cat, “How are you possibly going to compete with those trousers?” Dye your hair a primary color, I guess. In the most inspired partnership of the evening, he’s paired with blue-haired Kaylee (The Artist Formerly Known as Impavido), and they’re a hit. Robert is on Jasmine’s team by the end of the night. Kaylee goes with Cyrus.
  • Lex Ishimoto is so good.
  • Ryan, a Twin Peaks episode in human form, makes his last UNCOMFORTABLE CHOICE (it’s the khaki shorts) and goes home, but not before subjecting the All-Stars to a routine that disrespects the good name of Whitney Houston.
  • Everyone loves contemporary dancer Logan Hernandez. Robert (Roldan, not Green) thinks he’s a literal alien and gives him a whole pitch about how he’s going to change his life, and Allison just screams that she wants him so bad, ahhhh!!!! and Logan picks Allison.
  • No one wants to be on Robert’s team. Have they not seen him?
  • Gaby might be a Nicole Kidman clapper.
  • Marko gets Koine, which seems like a great fit.
  • Fik-Shun gets Dassy, and I want all of their interactions on film.
  • Someone named Sydney seems to be a hot ticket. She goes with Paul.
  • I don’t remember meeting Evan before, but he goes with Gaby, so congrats, Evan.
  • Fik-Shun gets Kyle Bennett Jr.
  • Mark, who is still Jean-Ralphio, is a lot more popular than I expected him to be. He lands on Team Comfort after some hot debate.
  • Lex Ishimoto is so good.
  • Robert is, like, just sitting here.
  • Lex (who is SO GOOD) goes with Gaby. There’s the competition all sewn up, right? With their powers combined, I bet they could tap dance in socks or something.

And that’s the episode! I’m off to form a Darius Support Group; everyone is welcome. I’ll see you all next week. In the meantime, someone please help Robert.

FIK-SHUN-ISM OF THE NIGHT: “You guys are all… not… going home!”

Episode Recaps

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
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  • TV Show
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Premiere
  • 07/20/05
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  • In Season
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