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‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Top 14 Results: No Surprises

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

This week's elimination on "So You Think You Can Dance" was probably the least shocking of this season; when cameras panned backstage to show judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and guest Travis Wall dramatically debating in the wings while musical act Florence & The Machine performed, it all seemed just for show. I imagined they were really chatting about the weather or where to go for dinner afterwards, rather than actually hemming and hawing over their decision. Unlike past weeks, their choice seemed obvious here: It was Ashley and Chris's time to go. And so it came to be. Nigel, Mary, and Travis did send Ashley and Chris home this Thursday.

Ashley and Chris were joined in the bottom six by Jordan and Tadd and Ryan and Ricky, as I'd predicted. Jordan and Tadd didn't really deserve to be there ("People must have gone to the kitchen while they were dancing," Mary semi-jokingly hypothesized), but I assume their style of dance, the smooth waltz, and their routine's bizarre sea-creature motif, just didn't connect with viewers.

Ryan and Ricky were also undeserving of such an outcome ("American got it wrong, for sure," Travis declared), but the reasons for them landing in the bottom six were likely multiple, and more complex. It's possible that some viewers didn't quite connect with their twisted "Zoolander zombies" fashion-victimized routine this week, but honestly, I don't think viewers are connecting with Ryan this season. Her ties to former "SYTYCD" judge/choreographer Mia Michaels are off-putting to some (just as onetime contestant Will Wingfield's ties to Debbie Allen were in Season 4), and this week's bio package featuring plenty of shots of Ryan dancing with and hugging up on her apparent BFF Mia probably did her (and, by association, Ricky) no favors. This perception of Ryan favoritism among viewers dates all the way back to the first live results show of Season 8 (the night no one went home), when she was saved from elimination despite, even by Nigel's admission, delivering a lackluster solo. Granted, Ryan did a MUCH better solo this week, rightfully earning her place in the top 12 and proving she never should have been in the bottom six. But Ryan may not be as popular with viewers as she is with the judges, and poor Ricky, who's such a likable fellow, may be suffering for it, having landed on the chopping block with her twice now.

I'm sure there are many people who assumed Sasha and Alexander, the one other couple who received truly harsh critiques this Wednesday besides Ashley and Chris, would be in the bottom six. But I knew they'd be safe. I knew Sasha already had a diehard fanbase in place that would forgive her so-so hip-hop routine this week, and would probably vote more enthusiastically than ever out of fear that she was at risk. I'm not sure Sasha was so sure she was safe, however; when Cat Deeley read off the news that she'd made the top 12, she looked utterly relieved. I was too. Yes, based on this week's dances alone, Sasha and Alexander should have been in the bottom, but based on their entire body of work throughout the season, they deserved to stay. At least Sasha did.

But really it was Ashley and Chris--who've never been one of this season's strongest couples, aside from their one great Broadway/jailhouse number--who did worst this Wednesday, dancing a salsa that was anything but hot. ("It wasn't good enough, and I think America recognized that," Nigel told them flatly on Thursday.) And I think they knew they were in trouble. I think they knew not even killer solos would save them.

As for the solos, Ryan's, as I mentioned, was fabulous, and Jordan also delivered--this time thankfully not going too far with the wannabe-PCD stripper moves that plagued her other solo of the season back in top 20 week. Ashley, however, once again failed perform a truly great solo, just like last week. If there was any chance that her solo could have changed the minds of the judges who'd probably already decided her fate, she blew it.

As for the boys' solos, Ricky was favorite male solo of the night, and was superb enough for Travis to declare him the best contemporary male dancer of the season (along with Marko). Tadd was rad, walking onto the stage on his knees with a huge smile on his adorable face and bursting with unstoppable energy, but his fellow B-boy Chris actually danced a more inventive and technically advanced solo, full of quirky, twitchy, almost insect-like moves--particularly impressive since a bout of hydration had forced Chris to sit out the episode's opening group Bollywood number.

But ultimately, while Chris proved himself to be a better B-boy than Tadd, Tadd had already proven himself to be the more versatile dancer, excelling all season in all sorts of styles everyone had expected him to struggle with. And since this show is all about dancers embracing styles of dance outside their areas of expertise, it was obvious that Tadd deserved to stay, despite dancing a weaker solo than Chris.

While neither Ashley nor Chris looked surprised upon hearing their fate, they certainly looked crushed. Neither tried to hide their disappointment, or their tears, or their gratitude for the opportunity of getting to be on the show in the first place, albeit briefly. It actually hurt to watch their hreatbroken reactions. While neither contestant was destined to win this year, their talent is still undeniable--in a less competitive "SYTYCD" season, they may have made the top 10--and I wish them both well.

But America, and the judges, did get it right this week.

[photos courtesy of Fox]

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