September 06, 2012 at 10:35 AM EDT

A visit to the 1950s, a visit to the 1960s and *so many* silent screams. Plus a dance marathon — three performances for each of our top six! My God, that’s a lot of blisters. So let’s get into it. There’s much to discuss.

The opening number, a Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine to Kelis’ “Scream,” was pretty sweet. I loved the contrast between the more lyrical sections and the more driving, dramatic parts. And what about that that front walkover Eliana did in the air over the guys’ heads? Insane. My only wish is that the costumes wouldn’t hide so much. I like to be able to distinguish the dancers from one another.

Listen, Cat’s dress tonight really commanded my respect. All her colors were working so brilliantly together, Ice Storm style: the orange and the browns and metallics on her frock plus that ever-so-mauve creamy lip color. I’ve felt that Cat has been going through a strange phase recently where she’s been eschewing lip color altogether, but tonight everything was just right.

The big deal about this evening: no saves from the judges. Eliminations are now based solely on America’s vote. For me, this added a spark and a little dash of intrigue to the whole affair.

How cute was it during the micro-solos when the boys mimicked each other’s styles? Three Cs!

The first duo of the night was Tiffany and all-star Benji with a Jean-Marc Genereux jive to “What I Like About You.” What a festival of happiness! So much energy, so much infectiousness – and I don’t mean disease-wise. Any choreography in which Tiffany can be a dynamo and get to cash in on her unlimited supply of cutes ‘n sass is bound to be winner. She’s really an athlete, maybe moreso than an artist. The pair got a standing O — the real, genuine, pop-out-of-your-seat kind — from all three judges. Nigel said the routine’s energy lifted the entire audience. Mary said she likes everything about Tiffany, who looked like a pro swing dancer. Christina’s hair looks great. Oh yeah, Christina Applegate was the guest judge tonight. I’m deeply ambivalent on the matter of Christina. I think she’s gives some smart feedback, and she sure does love dancers. Yet she’s such a show, is she not? I said it before and I’ll say it again: everything she utters is fraught with such *production.* She’s like that friend who’s super adorable and funny but knows it never knows when to dial it down for a second. Like maybe not everyone’s in the mood for a whole Broadway song and dance in every interaction, mkay?

A few more profound thoughts about T-Maher-Star:

–  She really likes that Pebbles hairstyle for rehearsals.

– Girl is a powerhouse. She can do everything. And she’s more than just a technical dancer; there’s real joy in her performances.  But she just doesn’t have star quality that Eliana has. And this got me thinking about star quality. It’s so elusive, so hard to articulate. If anyone’s so compelled I’d love to discuss this in comments.

– Costuming for this routine got me thinking about cut-outs and mono-kinis and the like, which in turn got me thinking about Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” and that blue, two-piece cut-out dress she wore during the whore parts of the movie. I’m not sure what actual fashion people think about this look — is it in at all? totally out? in an ironic way? in for dancers only? — but I’d really like to take part in it somehow. Swimsuit, I guess. Summer 2013.

Did anyone else hear Cat say that this jive was a “lovely ending to the show?”

NEXT: Don’t blame the dancers for the choreography, yo

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