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America's Got Talent is unique among reality talent shows for showcasing a wide variety of acts and performers, ranging from comedians to singers to people like the Caterpillar Man and the Human Fountains with their spit-tacular performance. In the July 24 episode, two incredible magicians were competing to make it to the live shows in a competition, and both knew that America's Got Talent wasn't likely to promote two magic acts in one round. After all, the competition is incredibly stiff in the Judge's Cuts, and not all magic is enough to cut it. Card trickster Shin Lim was up against master illusionist Rob Lake, and viewers got two spectacular performances that confused the judges. First up was Shin Lim. Take a look!
Let me be the first to say that watching Shin Lim's card tricks over and over again isn't enough to figure out how he's pulling off his card maneuvers. He recruited guest judge Olivia Munn to assist him, and Munn was lucky enough that she wasn't called upon to be a target for arrows like Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum earlier in Season 13. Even with the hand tricks happening mere inches from her, Munn was clearly befuddled by how he was handling the cards, and she wasn't the only one.
The judges sitting back at the table have seen plenty of card tricksters over the years, and they clearly didn't get his secrets any more than Olivia Munn or the audience did. It's a remarkable card act that impresses Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Mel B (in what may be her final season on America's Got Talent), and Howie Mandel after all their time as judges, and the odds seemed pretty good that he could get through the Judge's Cuts to the live shows. Could his card tricks be enough to power him through as the magician of the week?
Well, illusionist Rob Lake was up next, and he raised the point that he and Shin Lin are different enough as magicians that they could perhaps both earn a place in the next round of competition, but he knew that it would take something truly special to even rival Shin Lin. Here's what he pulled off:
Rob Lake is more of a Houdini 2.0 than a magician of the same make and model as Shin Lin, and the extra element of seeming danger in his chained up position added some extra suspense. The judges didn't seem any more clear on how he escaped the chains and switched places with his companion than the crowd, and they seemed to enjoy the confusion. Olivia Munn got to watch the act from a distance rather than up close, and it didn't appear to make a difference in helping her understand how the impossible was possible for Lake.
Once again, the America's Got Talent judges have seen many illusionists over the years, so there was no saying if their enthusiasm for Rob Lake was enough for him to earn a place in the live shows. Sure, he was the best illusionist in the episode. Was he the best magician? It was up to the judges to decide.
As is their wont, the judges did everything in their power to amp up the tension when announcing who was being cut and who was being advanced to the next round of competition. Shin Lin and Rob Lake were brought on stage together for the announcement, looking like they 100% believed that only one of them could possibly pass on.
It therefore came as a big shock when the judges announced that both magicians were indeed getting the chance to show off their magic at least one more time in the live shows. Despite the fact that nobody really expected two magicians to make the cut, the card trick master and the illusionist are still in the running for the million dollars. That said, their competition in the next rounds could be enough to take them out; can anybody beat the trapeze act that managed to move on in spite of a dangerous fall and one partner with visual impairments? Could somebody creepy like the contortionist beat out remarkable magic?