Cat Deeley opens the show looking like Aphrodite wrapped in foil, which I am taking as a very good omen for the evening. Nothing at all of note in the opening dance-off, except, have we talked about how much I adore the "These are the girls; and here are your guys" part? And how I would like it to be applied to other parts of the culture, like announcing the Academy Award nominees or when Congress is gaveled into session? Well, now we have.
With only seven pairs remaining and two hours of programming, I expect there to be quite a bit of filler tonight. Which is good news for all of us, because we can breeze through all quick-like. The "getting to know you" vignettes will concern both how the dancers got into dancing, as well as embarrassing childhood photos and videos, both of which will only get mentioned if they're interesting.
Jakob and Ashleigh are up first, and they've drawn a Napoleon and Tabitha hip-hop routine. We learn that Jakob has never not been adorable, be it during his "chunky" years or when he and his pals danced the "Bye Bye Bye" dance at a talent show. Seeing how young Jakob clearly was when "Bye Bye Bye" came out is enough to make me weep in a corner until Death's imminent arrival. Tabitha and Napoleon's routine is about a couple where the guy cheated on the girl. They're going heavy with the characterization in rehearsals, which makes me skeptical for the quality of the dancing, but I've loved these two throughout, so who knows?
They're dancing to "Whatcha Say" by Jason Derulo, which of course heavily samples that Imogen Heap song that -- among many other things -- Mia Michaels choreographed so beautifully to in the second season. The routine starts off real stupid, with Ashleigh reading a text message on Jakob's phone which is then projected on the backdrop. And that is the extent of what is bad, because once the dancing starts, Jakob Karr KILLS THAT SHIT. He's fast, he's precise, he's on rhythm -- it's some of the best hip-hop dancing by a non hip-hopper that I've ever seen on this show. And he's completely in character, putting some oily slickness on his movements to make him seem extra smarmy. Ashleigh totally keeps up with him, but if I'm, being honest, I only really looked at her when they pulled off this amazing flip (Ashleigh does a hand-stand, puts her legs around Jakob's head, pulls herself up, then drops back into standing position). I'm pretty blown away by this whole endeavor, I must say.
Nigel gives props to "Nappy Tabs" (sigh) and loved the gimmick (double sigh) before heaping praise upon both dancers. Weirdly, though he calls out Jakob's four straight weeks of flawlessness, it's Ashleigh who gets the more extended props, for her growth and how she hasn't ridden Jakob's coattails. And he's right, but I worry that Jakob's excellence is being taken for granted at the expense of the dancers who are "growing" and "learning." Oh SHIT, is this what it's like to root for Danny and Brandon and Will? Mary's even worse, saying her eyes kept getting drawn to Ashleigh before basically saying "you too, Jakob." Even Adam, my dear Adam, speed-reads past Jakob to get to Ashleigh. PEOPLE! Get your shit together. Don't let this amazing dancer get overlooked.