A whopping four dancers' dreams are deterred but not destroyed tonight as SYTYCD takes a midseason turn for the prolific.

By Jodi Walker
Updated July 31, 2014 at 07:15 AM EDT
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Well, it seems the SYTYCD producers heard all of our cries—“We miss the solo routines!” “Speak for yourself; the solo routines are not missed!” “Those mini group numbers were great!” “To hell with the mini group numbers, just give me more Rickyyyyyy!”—and got to work meeting our divisive demands. It’s crazy that sometimes a two-hour show includes a couple of dances and a Very Special Performance by Lucy Hale, and other times, just a week later, it can can include an opening number, seven partner routines, six solo dances, two mini group numbers, an Academy of Villains performance, a Step Up preview, a National Dance Day recap, and with the little bit of time left, the dancers can tell their partners what their most random personality traits are… or something like that.

Wow, what a show! But with all that glorious, glorious dancing, also came the pain of four dancers having to go home at the end of the night. While it’s been fairly easy to pinpoint a bottom two from six people every week, choosing only two to stay somehow seems much more arbitrary. What if America voted incorrectly this week? Oh well, if producers have made anything clear to us thus far, it’s that Ricky is going to win this thing, so just buckle in and enjoy all the “dark and creepy” routines between points A and B. Oh, also Rudy and Jacque are dating. Did you know that Rudy and Jacque are dating? (Real talk: Did they pool their allowances and bribe Cat’s teleprompter guy or something? What is happening there?)

The Greco-Roman opener was fun and all, but let’s just talk about those final group numbers for a moment: Give Travis Wall and Mandy Moore every damn Emmy they’ve got in that joint, because those two work hard for the money, and we better treat them right. The boys defied gravity approximately six different times in Travis’ oceanic routine, but for me, it was the girls who reached otherworldly heights, and I am not too proud to admit that I was tearful right along with the judges by the end of that powerful—not pretty—number. And not just because of the perfect use of Evanescence’s “My Immortal!” (I mean, a little bit because of that.)

Christina Applegate was on hand as guest judge tonight to critique, fangirl, remind us of the power of dance, and occasionally tell the boys when their nipples were showing. Clearly, it was a fun show, but that double elimination was ever looming, and as always, Cat got right down to terrifying the Bottom 6 before they had to perform three different dances: Serge, Teddy, Casey, Emily, Jessica, and Carly. Pick your poison, because no matter what, you’re going to be feeling some tinges of regret at the end of this SYTYCD purge.

Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal

Style: Jazz, Choreography by Ray Leeper

Song: “Long Road to Hell” by Avicii

Surely it is impossible to make anyone look scary in derby hats and Converses, but that’s what Emilio and Bridget were supposed to be accomplishing in this devil-went-up-to-Earth routine. The number was spirited and unique, but Bridget and Emilio were dancing it on two very different emotional and physical planes. The judges seemed to respond more to Emilio’s naturalistic, down-low style, and Christina made her stance on **jazz hands**performing**jazz hands** clear early on: It’s not about dancing with your face, it’s about having the right intentions and making them clear. She said Emilio mostly did that, and she is mostly right.

NEXT: There was a sale in the goth section at Mood

Tanisha Belnap and Rudy Abreu

Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Mandy Moore

Song: “Seduces Me” by Celine Dion

I think Tanisha could seduce a napkin, and probably take it by surprise with her effortlessness every single time, but Rudy was also especially connected here. In a night of great performances, it wasn’t at the very top, but that one-armed lift was a standout, and as Mary said, a psychological feat as much as physical. Nigel added, “You know what they say—real men don’t lift weights, they lift women,” which, when not accompanied by some imagery, made for a very interesting mental picture. Of Tanisha, Christina simply “can’t.”

Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart

Style: Paso Doble, Choreography by Jean Marc Genereux

Song: “Dragula” by Rob Zombie

Another “dark” number, another scarlet and black wardrobe—because blood and stuff, y’know? This music was a lot, but it was a campy dance with a campy vampire premise, and Jacque and Zack attacked the hell out of it. Nigel appreciated that the concept didn’t overshadow the routine, and Mary said it was “love at first bite.” Oh boy. Christina just wanted to tell Zack that he blows her away every week (because if Ricky is this season’s star quarterback, Zack is Jonathan “Mox” Moxon casually waiting to be called up from the bench).

Emily James and Teddy Coffey

Style: Broadway, Choreography by Carlyle Warren

Song: “From This Moment On,” Kiss Me Kate (Original Soundtrack)

It was just too bad this routine didn’t go over better for two great dancers in the Bottom 6. Emily and Teddy actually started off really strong and kind of lost their way halfway through. Nigel said it’s a tougher style than everyone might realize and his thighs were hurting just watching, but he was a little disappointed about how things fell apart at the end. Christina was quite taken with Teddy and his “otherworldly arms,” and though the dance was a bit wobbly, she enjoyed it. But those wobbles just won’t cut it, apparently.

Jessica Richens and Casey Askew

Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Travis Wall

Song: “Like Real People Do” by Hozier

After a lineup of grittier dances that impressed but didn’t change Christina Applegate’s whole outlook on dance or anything, this airy vision of love was just what the audience (and Jessica and Casey) needed. That song! That wind! Those lifts! The kiss! I loved that the kiss we heard about in the rehearsal package wasn’t the climactic moment of the routine, simply a sweet moment in the beginning to “kiss, like real people do.” Christina pointed out later in the show—very astutely—that Travis Wall nails his song choices time after time. The judges all agreed that the new pair found their chemistry impressively quickly and sent shock waves of sweetness throughout the audience with this truthful and organic love story. (The wind tunnel didn’t hurt.)

NEXT: Why, yes, that is the Nae Nae you just spotted in that hip-hop routine…

Carly Blaney and Serge Onik

Style: Quick Step, Choreography by Jean Marc Genereux

Song: “A Cool Cat in Town (Aerophon Mix)” by Tape Five, feat. Brenda Boykin

Mary pointed out that the Quick Step is a long way from Serge’s Latin Ballroom style and that he and Carly have shown tremendous growth. Though the judges gave almost entirely positive feedback, they didn’t seem particularly excited about Carly and Serge’s routine, and once again, it’s too bad for two great dancers, because it almost assuredly signals their exit. But at least they had a memorable exit, with that final tunnel and spin to the floor.

Valerie Rockey and Ricky Ubeda

Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Pharside and Pheonix

Song: “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake & Lil John

I tease about all the praise that Ricky gets only because he earns every bit of it, week after week. I’ve been waiting to see how he’d perform in a hip-hop routine, and, turns out, it’s with his regular level of extraterrestrial technique. These two so fully commit to every performance, and while it certainly seems like more of an effort for Valerie next to Ricky, as she said of her leg wave in side-split: “It didn’t just happen.” They both put in the work to give their best performances, and I’m one of those that’s impressed with both of them (while still understanding that Ricky is going down in the record books). Nigel said in addition to being one of the best technical dancers they’ve ever had, Ricky also knows how to completely immerse himself in a character, and Christina declared it the best number of the night.

Bottom 6 Elimination: I was glad to have the solos back tonight, but in the end, it was the partnered performances that decided the fate of Serge, Carly, Emily, and Teddy, perhaps unjustly, depending on whom you ask. Casey and Jessica haven’t been the most versatile or consistent performers, respectively, but tonight, in the routine freshest in the judges’ minds, they gave the performance that deserved to stay.

Do you think the right dancers went home tonight in the double elimination? Which pairings are you most eager to see switch it up? And, after an upswing in content in the last two episodes, are you excited about this Top 10? Sound off in the comments, and as always, please use extreme caution when throwing one of your friends 40 feet through the air to two of your other friends while depicting lost souls of the sea.

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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