So You Think You Can Dance Is The Land of A Thousand Tear-Jerkers

The top eight get mercilessly cut down to six, but not before everybody performs a routine with some kind of message or another.

There's honestly so much packed into this episode, it's pointless to do anything but jump right into the rankings, which this week include not only dancers but choreographers, judges, and other ephemera.

17. Nigel Lythgoe

It's like it took all of Nigel's energy to keep his gross Uncle Nigel stuff under wraps, and this week, it all came pouring out. If only the worst of it were his sad attempts to speak jive use hip-hop slang after Jordan and Jake's (honestly pretty great) hip-hop number. No, the worst of it was a tie between telling Emma and Tate that they know how to be naughty girls, or leering at Comfort and Tahani, after they performed a NappyTabs number about a husband/father leaving his family, and saying, "Don't worry, Daddy's home." Not even Nigel's bizarre (but on point) bragging about this show's impressive music-clearance rate could make up for all that.

16. Maddie Ziegler

Have you noticed that when Maddie comments on the dancers in rehearsals, she refers to the contestants and their mentors? It makes it sound like she's evaluating the mentors too. Like, "This is the first time Tahani and Comfort are doing an emotional piece." Which makes it sound like Maddie feels empowered to sit in judgment of Comfort. Which: do not try it, Dance Daughter.

15. Jordan (coach: Sasha)

14. Jake (coach: Jenna)

Ugh, I did not like this double elimination. For one thing, Cat was clearly instructed to race through the unveiling of the two eliminated dancers as quickly as possible. Whether this was because drawing it out seemed too cruel to do to children or because they were low on time, I can't say. But it didn't make the elimination any less heartbreaking. Particularly for Jake, whom I had just decided I actually like. Yes, he's a major face-puller, and he's been overindulged re: his precocity. But he's also seemingly a sweetheart, and his football-themed routine (ugh) with Jenna was a stark reminder that this is a kid who will probably be bullied at school for liking to dance, which makes him my people. Our people. Best of luck to this kid.

13. Emma (coach: Gaby)

The fact that the dancers this season have been able to hide out in their home styles so much has been a great advantage for Emma, because I don't think America really knows how to differentiate good tap from bad tap. And since Emma is the second-smallest dancer next to JT, she's novelty enough to stick around until the end. Which…I don't know. I'm feeling very Detox "This isn't RuPaul's School for Girls" about it all.

11. (tie) The Bangles

11. (tie) Wokeness

This week, Emma and Gaby danced to an Andrews Sisters-sounding cover of "Walk Like An Egyptian," which apparently felt the need to change the lyric "If you want to find all the cops, they're hanging out in the donut shop" to "If you want to find all the gals, they're hanging out in the donut shop," which only makes sense of you imagine that this new version of the song was written for the movie Tangerine. Probably not, though. It's certainly interesting that a joke about cops had to go but all that Orientalism about Egyptians was A-okay.

10. Pharside and Phoenix

They're pretty good choreographers, but they super-ripped off Mia Michaels with that opening number, down to Comfort playing a baby doll.

9. NappyTabs

At the beginning of the show, it seemed like they'd nailed one of the season's signature routines with that Comfort/Tahani absentee-dad, other-side-of-the-wall piece. Not only was it well designed and performed, but it was a Message Routine, which always do well. How were they to know that this would be the week of sick fathers and birth mothers who can't keep it together and Mandy Moore choreographing about the state of the world today. Nice try, NappyTabs.

8. Ruby (coach: Paul)

She gets to spend another week in the headspace of a finalist -- since the show is off next week for the Olympics -- but that's probably going to be it. I hope I'm wrong, because she was dynamite tonight, with many thanks going to her mentor, Paul, who is still a total dreamboat when he dances.

7. JT (coach: Robert)

He's so winning this show. Goddammit. Here's what JT accomplished tonight: an overly cutesy Cha-Cha with Tahani that played like the both of them were called out to perform for Uncle Phil and Aunt Mindy at a family party. And then, as has become custom, Robert tossed him up in the air a few times in their routine together. And yet the judges love him, and he will make a more perfect brand ambassador for the show than the more grown-seeming Tate or Kida would.

6. Jean-Marc Genereaux

So glad to see this French-Canadian lunatic back on this show.

5. Tahani (coach: Comfort)

The cha-cha with J.T. was pretty bad, but the wall routine with Comfort was incredibly good. Tahani still comes out looking good, and is basically assured final-four placement. Not sure she gets farther than that, though.

4. Misha Gabriel

Oh hey there.


3. Cat Deeley

Weird week for TV's best reality host. There was the rushedness of the eliminations, sure. There was also that Asian dress that was delivering a touching tribute to sequins that she was wearing. But then she made the crack about Kida and Fik-Shun's broken antennae "as a terrible predicament for a fellow," which I assume was about dicks.

2. Kida (coach: Fik-Shun)

Classic runner-up. Which will only make me mad. He looks so confident and accomplished when performing hip-hop, and he pulled off contemporary a lot better than some adult dancers from hip-hop backgrounds have done in the past. Even Kida and Fik-Shun's secret handshake is a triumph of choreography.

1. Tate (coach: Kathryn)

Ugh, my favorite. Her Broadway routine with Emma -- which was kind of a disaster, where neither girl was sporting the requisite 'tude -- delivered a very big sister/little sister vibe, which was great. And then her contemporary with Kathryn, choreographed by Travis and set to the Sara Beirelles song from Waitress: The Musical, was just so breathtaking. As befitted the routine, Tate managed to appear more mature than Kathryn, which ought to have been called out by the judges more than it was.

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