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Last week, the bat was officially taken out of the judges’ hands, and for the first time this season, the contestant eliminated was left solely to the viewers. But to make up for this sudden lack of wieldable power, the judges did everything they could to make sure that Adechike would not be around for the finale short of having his citizenship revoked. And so we are left with three: Kent, the corn-fed, wide-eyed boy wonder from rural Ohio; Lauren, the Arizonan who has grown by leaps and bounds since Vegas Week; and Robert, the Californian “dark horse” who has shown resilience and class at every juncture.
We start with a montage of previous eliminations, including that heart-wrenching moment when Alex was declared not medically fit to continue. The collective hearts of America sank on that day, and Season Seven was officially re-designated Season Seven*. Ashley limped into the sunset. Jose and Billy got cut on the same day. And finally, Adechike, who I’m betting the judges have already forgotten.
The Final Three do their introductory twirls, and Cat comes out in one hot-looking black dress. Since this is the final performance show of the season, I’ll just say that Cat often has… interesting taste in clothes (some of which she reputedly designs herself), but she’s such an awesome lady she could rock a burlap sack. Plus, how can you not love the way she says “fi-NAH-lee?”
Cat announces that each contestant will be dancing four routines tonight and a solo. Holy schnikes. Let’s hope the kids get a few weeks off before the tour starts, because honestly, I’ve seen cage fighters whose bodies didn’t take the pounding these guys have taken in the last two months. We are then re-introduced to the “jidges,” who, thankfully, only number three this week: Nigel, Mia and Adam. And so, for the final time this season (and after another montage of the auditions, including the phenomenal Brian Gaynor, Vegas Week, the show, blah blah), off we go!
Dance 1: Kent with Lauren (All-Star), Nakul Dev Mahajan, Bollywood - “Om Mangalam” from the Kambakkht Ishq soundtrack – The pair come out in the sparkliest damn Indian garb I’ve ever seen. Kent is in heaven, because he is not only allowed but actually encouraged to make goofy faces. The dancing is frenetic and energetic and actually quite delightful. Nigel calls it a great start to the show. Mia said it was the perfect routine for Kent, and she’s right. Adam calls Kent the “feel-good” dancer of the season.
Dance 2: Lauren with Twitch, NappyTabs, Hip-hop - “Power” by Kanye West – This is novel: Lauren and Twitch play political foes engaged in the hip-hop equivalent of a debate, complete with podiums. It’s not bad, but it’s not my favorite. Nigel jokes that she hopes that Sarah Palin won’t attempt that dance, and reaffirms that this season is anyone’s to win. Mia wonders aloud if there’s anything that Lauren can’t do. Adam says that she makes him proud to be sitting in the judge’s chair.
Dance 3: Robert with Mark, Tyce DiOrio, Jazz - “Whip It” by Devo – In my mind, I’ve been comparing Robert to Mark since the season began, and it does my heart good to finally see them in a routine together. And to this song, one of the nerdiest and coolest ever written! In fact, the two are so similarly clothed and coiffed that from a distance, I am completely unable to tell them apart. The routine itself is jerky, spasmodic and really cool. Nigel basically recaps my recaps, by stating that once Alex went down, he tabbed Kent as the eventual winner, but as the weeks have gone by, Lauren and Robert have made the race a virtual dead heat, to the point where Nigel doesn’t have a problem with any of them winning. Nice equivocating, Nige! Mia loves the way Robert has kept himself grounded, and did a brilliant job. Adam once again praises the inclusion of All-Stars this season, because it has improved the quality of dancing enormously.
Dance 4: Kent (solo) - “The Finish Line” by Train – Before each of their solos, we are being treated to a one-on-one interview between Cat and each of the three finalists. Kent is still a bit star-struck by the whole experience. His favorite routine was the prom routine with Lauren, which is not surprising, given that that bit ended with a smooch so lengthy that Cat practically had to crowbar them apart. Honestly, I still expect him to win, but I’m not as ticked off by that fact as I was a month ago.
Dance 5: Lauren and Robert, Dee Kaspary, Contemporary - “That Home” by Cinematic Orchestra – As you know by know, all contemporary pieces have to have some kind of deep symbolism, and in this case, the routine represents the end of their journey. The couple, clad in what looks like sexy bed-wear, do a very graceful routine that includes a king-size pillow, and ends with the duo nonchalantly snoozing on the stage floor. Nigel praises both contestants’ remarkable strength. Mia says that Robert has evolved into a “genius dancer,” and that Lauren was “just perfect.” Adam was moved by how much the contestants support each other.
Dance 6: Kent and Lauren, Mandy Moore, Jazz - “Hip to Be Square” by Huey Lewis & the News – No kissing this time, Mandy Moore promises, although Kent does get to smack Lauren’s behind. It’s a pretty geeky 80’s-looking routine, with both dancers wearing librarian's glasses. I would deem it youthful, but not all that interesting. Nigel says that they danced it well, but the choreography wasn’t that challenging. Mia liked the quirkiness but little else. Adam cops out by saying he loved it (and that’s it), and Cat calls him on it, because Cat is awesome. Cut to Mandy making a pouty face and probably wondering if her paycheck is going to be smaller next season.
Dance 7: Robert (solo) - “The District Sleeps Alone” by The Post Office – Robert, in interview, is so humble it’s almost aggravating. His favorite routine was Travis Wall’s “Fix You” routine with Allison, which is a damn fine choice. He expounds about his unending string of ballroom routines, and can’t wait to reward his mother for all the support she’s given him over the years. Awww. I still believe he’s the longest shot to win, but I have to hand it to him. He’s truly a likable guy, and I hope he has a brilliant career following the show.
Dance 8: Kent with Allison, Staci Tookey, Contemporary - “Sundrenched World” by Joshua Radin – The couple play a seemingly perfect couple who are secretly having major problems. There are a lot of dramatic movements, including some rather pronounced clutching at each other, as well as some very pained expressions from both dancers. It's a very mature performance, something I wouldn't have expected Kent to pull off quite so well. Nicely done. Nigel praises Kent’s lines, and says that his only real weakness is a slight lack of upper body strength. Mia is blown away by how “invested” Kent was in his performance, which Kent confirms. Adam tells Kent that he’s changed from a mere dancer to an artist, and that he’s very proud of him.
Dance 9: Lauren (solo) - “I’m Goin’ Down” by Mary J. Blige – Lauren tells how weird it’s been to be the only girl left for a month now. Her favorite routine, too, was the prom dance with Kent, and no, not just because of this kiss, thank you very much! She, too, loves her very supportive parents, as well has her friends, one of whom prodded her into trying out for the show. I think we all owe that friend a debt of gratitude, don't you?
Dance 10: Robert with Kathryn, Spencer Liff, Broadway - “Cool” from West Side Story - Jeez, these choreographer’s minds… Kathryn plays a severe-looking investigator of some sort, here to interrogate shady suspect Robert – Broadway style! And like most Broadway, it doesn’t float my boat. In fact, the best part for me was when Robert reveals post-routine that when he did the splits, his trousers followed suit. Whoops. Nigel says the Robert has gotten better every week. Mia loved the classic feel to the routine, but wanted more “sizzle.” Adam says that he did legendary dancer Jerome Robbins proud. And I just noticed: has Robert’s facial hair always been this unruly?
Dance 11: Lauren with Pasha, Tony Meredith & Melanie Lapatin, Cha-cha - “Not Myself Tonight” by Christina Aguilera – Funny moment in the pre-film when Lauren tells us how odd it is that every choreographer seems to want her to be a “man-eater” (and I’ll say it again – just like Anya). And once again, wardrobe has a ball clothing her like one. Check out the picture on the front page and go nuts if you don't believe me! The music is up-tempo, and my girl delivers one of the smokin’-est performances of the night. Gasp-worthy. Nigel, who is always the best judge when it comes to technical performance, says it was perfect. Mia singles out her butt for special praise, and then goes nuclear by saying that she wishes that SHE could dance like Lauren. Wow. Adam says that the way she embodies whatever music is chosen like no contestant he’s ever seen.
Dance 12: Kent and Robert, Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo, Malevos - “The Chosen/Drum Addict” by Taylor Long – For the last performance of the season, we get a genre that seems to be a “gangster” spin on a tango. The two dudes are wearing pinstripe suits and felt hats, and the whole routine is very “alpha male,” despite the arm-clasping. There are also a few cool moments when it looks like they are actually fighting in slow-mo, Matrix-style, and the music is very drum-heavy. Nigel reminds us that the finalists have had to do more routines in one night than any other finalists before them, and congratulates the guys on how hard they’ve worked. Mia said it wasn’t perfect, but loved it anyway. Adam agrees that it wasn’t as precise as it could have been, but that all the finalists are so awesome that it doesn’t matter.
So that’s it. After more than a dozen weeks, scores of routines, heaps of injuries and loads of heartbreak, it’s all in America’s hands. I believe in my heart of hearts that Kent will win, but I’m praying that Lauren will emerge victorious. Not just because she’s from Arizona and because I adore her, but because only two girls have won in six seasons, and I’m a big hoper that the Universe believes in equality. Plus, it would be ironic if Lauren outlasted the five guys she entered the Top Six with, wouldn't it?
And finally, a special thanks to Cinemablend for giving me the opportunity to perform this service for you, as well as all of you who slogged through my first assignment of recapping. I look forward to a lot more in the future!