So You Think You Can Dance: There's always the tour (spoiler alert)
The two dancers who were eliminated from So You Think You Can Dance on Thursday night had a softer push out of the nest than some.
Nigel Lythgoe offered no criticism of the young man and woman sent home, telling them and their bottom four mates, "We don't have anything to say about you being bad tonight or how to improve, because we think you're all fantastic now.
"So all I say to you is I'm sorry that two of you are going home. That's the very nature of the competition. Please bear with us on that and we look forward to seeing you on tour."
That was the silver lining for Mitchell Kelly and Clarice Ordaz, who got cut: in a matter of weeks they'll be reunited with their fellow dancers as they prepare for the top 10 tour of the U.S., with one Canadian stop in Toronto on Oct. 9 (tickets go on sale next Friday at 10 a.m.).
Mitchell smiled through his tears and told host Cat Deeley the best part of the show was "just the stage and all these dancers here, and America just accepting me for who I am and my parents in Atlanta, and the judges for just helping me and keeping me growing."
And he singled out Ricky Jaime, who had joined him in the bottom four, and Melanie Moore, who had not.
"Ricky, you're like a brother to me and I really want you to go far. Mel, you're such an incredible dancer ... I just really love you guys."
Her fellow dancers were also top of mind for Clarice as she said her goodbye.
"I am so happy to have met all of you ... I'm gonna miss you. Oh, I'll see you soon," she said, remembering the tour.
And if the judges had nothing critical to say about the bottom four, who am I to put my two cents in?
I can say that I'm not shocked at who ended up in bottom four. Melanie and Marko, I suspect, are headed to at least top four. Sasha and Caitlynn danced too well to end up at the bottom. Tadd had a great night. And I'm never sure how it will go with Jess, but I think he deserved to be safe for Wednesday's performance.
I wasn't blown away by the Thursday solos of either Clarice or Jordan Casanova. Perhaps what sealed Clarice's fate was that difficulty that Neil Patrick Harris mentioned on Wednesday in relating to her.
Mitchell and Ricky both pulled off respectable solos, but I thought Ricky's had an extra something. Just based on what they did on Wednesday night, Ricky deserved to stay more.
The rest of the show was a mixed bag. The opening Broadway-style group routine was not my favourite of the season but still entertaining. Couldn't quite hear who Cat said had choreographed it, but I think it was Josh Bergasse.
There was a solo by Daniil Simkin of American Ballet Theatre, who was light as a feather in his movements.
Can't say I cared much for the performance of "Undivided" by Blush, along with Snoop Dogg and his giant ring. Neither the singing nor dancing were up to much.
The good news is we get a new batch of all-stars to dance with the top eight next week, including Ivan Koumaev from Season 2; Jaimie Goodwin, Anya Garnis, Pasha Kovalev, Lauren Gottlieb, Neil Haskell from Season 3 (yes, they can bring Pasha back as many weeks as they like); Ade Obayomi from Season 5; and Season 7 winner Lauren Froderman.
And Lady Gaga makes her debut as a guest judge, along with director and choreographer Rob Marshall (Chicago). The presence of Gaga alone makes the show worth watching.
You can tune in Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CTV and catch the recap here.
And don't forget, you can follow me on Twitter here.