Nigel's pick allows him to reiterate his claim from last night that Lauren is the best contemporary dancer they've had at performing ballroom, which I agree with 100%. He chooses her and Pasha's Argentine tango, which is just as blazing hot this time around. Lauren's adaptability too ballroom is part of the reason I think she should win this whole thing.
Adam's choice is Robert and Allison's contemporary, a.k.a. Travis Wall's Mom Dance. This one is my official routine of the season, absolutely the most memorable and beautiful and touching routine it had to offer. If Robert ends up winning, it'll be for this, and I will be just fine with that. Watching it back again, I still tear up when the routine breaks open at midpoint, though Robert is a tad behind the pace at a couple points. That's the danger with these reprises. They'll never be new again.
Next up are last season's winner Russell and Lil' C with a hot-looking krump. Russell may not be my favorite winner of all time (still love you, Jakob!), but he and C are pretty damned spectacular.
Mary Murphy finally gets her place in the sun, and she gets to the Hot Tamale Train in record time in introducing Jose and Dominic's Excalibur routine. I know people thought Dom outclasses Jose pretty badly on this one, but I still think it's one of Jose's season highlights.
Charlie Bruce is the winner of So You Think You Can Dance U.K., so Nigel imported her over to dance a Mandy Moore routine with Neil. Not a bad day's work, lady. In a shocking development, the routine is set to Celine Dion's "I Surrender." Hey, Mandy, Celine is MIA'S territory! And she's not even from the '80s, so I have no idea what you're even playing at here, but STEP OFF. As for the performance ... pardon me, I have to watch that again. WOW. This Charlie girl can leap, and her insane control and balance lets her stop on a dime, even if she stops, say, wrapped around Neil's waist. Girl, you're gonna have to teach me that one. You guys, remember when Neil was barely keeping up in the early weeks of Season 3? That seems like a billion years ago -- he's really spectacular. But the story here is Charlie, as I start to imagine an international season where she got to go up against America's finest. They'd have their work cut out for them. I need a hookup for SYTYCD U.K., and I need it today.
Now that we've reached the 80-minute mark, it's about time to get down to a Final Two, don't you think? Cat pokes fun at Robert and his Bollywood costume (uh, upcoming dance spoiler -- Kent's also in his "I just broke up with Neil" wifebeater, and Lauren's ready for hip-hop), calling it the perfect outfit to be eliminated in. I have to say, third place on this show is not bad company to be in. Kathryn. Kayla. Katee. Neil. I'd hang with that group. Robert will be joining them. That feels about right. He was my favorite throughout, but Lauren's been more impressive, especially these last few weeks, and Kent is Kent. Can't fight City Hall. Cat does her Cat thing, bucking up his spirits and introducing his best moments, wherein Robert's mom makes me cry for the 100th and final time this season. He sincerely -- and that's been an issue for him, so recognize -- thanks everybody who voted for him and all his fellow dancers. He's a sweetheart. He'll be fine.
Adam's up with another pick, and it's -- SURPRISE -- Lauren in a hip-hop routine, with Twitch. This is the one set to "My Chick Bad" by Ludacris and Nicki Minaj -- no real high concept, just some strong hip-hop from the pair of them. Lauren really had no weak genre all season, huh? I can't remember the last time a dancer was this skilled on contemporary, ballroom, and hip-hop.
Cat then kicks it to Alex and Allison dancing the Sonya routine from Week 1 that everybody overpraised. It's on tape, obviously, and it's actually very good, but that "best in show history" talk was kind of insane in Week 1.
Stacey Tookey's pick is the Bollywood danced by Billy and Robert. ...Did I like this one the first time around? It seems decidedly ordinary here among the season's best. I'd rather see Billy performing his jive with Anya.
Mia next chooses Neil and Kent's "How It Ends" piece, the Travis-choreographed contemporary that I loved so much. This time around, I'm struck by what a mature routine this was for Kent. For all his "I gotta be me" talk in defense of his face-pulling, he kept it all on lockdown here, to tremendous effect. So he CAN do it, for the record.
Cat then introduces a performance of this year's kiss-off song, sung by Black Gold, and accompanied by a montage of season highlights. It's no Ryan Cabrera from Season 3, but it'll do. The lead singer of Black Gold looks like Andy Samberg's Eurotrash cousin. That's all I got.
Okay, here's the big WOW moment Cat's been teasing all night. First, she shows a clip of Alex and Twitch's hip-hop, unquestionably THE highlight of the season. Clearly, Alex can't get up and reprise it, but they were contacted by someone who wanted to help them recreate the performance. Saying no more, Cat kicks it to the stage, where Psychiatrist Twitch opens the door to reveal...Ellen Degeneres. Yeah. That had been spoiled earlier in the afternoon on Twitter, so I'm not shocked, but how disappointing. Turning the highlight of the season -- and a moment hyped for two hours as an epic performance -- turned into a stunt at best, a joke at worst. I love Ellen, and I love her enthusiasm for dance -- and in truth, she doesn't exactly embarrass herself here, but it can't help but be a pale imitation. I will say, the highlight was afterwards, seeing Mia Michaels serving Ellen with a Paris Is Burning style wagging finger. You go, Diva.
Now? Time to get real. Kent and Lauren emerge to reveal the winner of Season 7. My heart says Lauren, my head says Kent, and my gut tells me I'll be happy with either. It'd be so much easier to hate Kent if he were a crappy dancer, but he's not, so I can't. Cat! We only have five minutes! There's no time to look at their journeys! She finally gets to opening the envelope, and the winner is ... LAUREN! HECK YEAH!
There is seriously no time left, so all at once: Lauren freaks, confetti explodes, Kent is given a bouquet of flowers bigger than his entire body and shuffled off the stage, Russell presents Lauren with a ceremonial bottle of Gatorade (jealous?), and Cat has no time for Lauren to pull herself together and say anything. The dancers storm the stage and mob Lauren. Robert intercepts Kent emerging from the wings and spins him around in the bestest big-brother hug you ever saw. Then he seeks out Lauren, who at this point has cracked open the Gatorade and dumped it on her head. She and Rob share a delightful cackle, and then Twitch and Dominic put her up on their shoulders. It is seriously the best, most genuinely exuberant celebration at the end of a reality show ever. Just pure "HOW FUCKING COOL IS THIS?" delight. Not a bad way to end things, I'll say. It's been quite a season! Team LoFro!