The opening group number features the Top 18 in stark white light, dancing around loosely piled fence posts like you might find on a dune at the beach. One by one -- as the wooden stakes go bonfire red -- the dancers climb to the top and jump to their Black Swan perfection deaths. This all feels so Mia Michaels that it's probably Stacey Tookey, I think to myself, but no -- it's a Sonya Tayeh/Christopher Scott joint. Well done, either way. Meanwhile, Twitter wants me to mention that Cat Deeley's hair and makeup look absolutely dynamite this week. And they do.
There's a good bit of business to get to at the top of the show. It seems Jade aggravated an old knee injury, tearing his meniscus and requiring surgery, so he is unfortunately out of the competition. I momentarily get heartened that Carlos will get a second chance after he performed so beautifully in vain last week, but Cat makes no such announcement. She does address the fan OUTRAGE over the top-of-the-show eliminations last week, telling us they're going back to eliminations at the end of the show so PLEASE STOP YELLING. Finally, we meet this week's judges: Nigel, Mary, Erin Andrews (who was on Dancing With The Stars, though that doesn't get mentioned; she's here for the annual network-mandated All-Star Game plug) and at long last, Nigel's dream panelist, Paula Abdul.
Even with the eliminations at the end of the show, we're still going to find out the Bottom 6 right now. Cat wastes no time dicking around: it's Jasmine Mason, BluPrint, Jenna, Curtis, Alexis and Jade. America, what the fuuuuuuck? Jasmine and Jenna? I'm beginning to think you can't be trusted. Nigel states the obvious, which is that with Jade in the bottom three the judges' decision is pretty much made for them, so Curtis and BluPrint can rest easy. The female elimination would seem to be easy (sorry, Alexis), but Nigel has all three perform their solos anyway. I really kind of like Alexis, but there is no choice to be made here. She's going up against my two favorite women. Cat keeps repeating that nobody's getting cut until the end, like she's trying to calm down an irrational ranting person. Which she kind of is.
Amy and Fik-Shun: Paso Doble (Jean-Marc Genereaux)
No more cape metaphors for this Paso Doble; the theme here is warfare. The routine features stark lighting and black leather ensembles. This show's Pasos are so S&M-y (remember Jeanine and Brandon and the Matrix). Amy and Fik-Shun are proficient, but not mind-blowing this week. Still, for a style that was foreign to both of them they handled it well enough. Mary tries to make the phrase "Paso War" happen and I wish her a lot of luck. She acknowledges the technical faults, but ultimately she's very impressed. Erin critiques are very aggressive but also positive, like she's still hollering at a parking lot full of college football fans. Paula manages to combine insight with her general weirdness: "You had to hate each other up there. And hate is a strong feeling, you have to commit to it." She also mentions that Fik-Shun was on her short-lived series Live to Dance when he was only 15. Ahhh, so you mean this show didn't just pluck him from obscurity, did they? Anyway, Paula's so proud of him and that's adorable. Cat hugs him and Amy on Paula's behalf. Nigel says they haven't done anything wrong yet in this competition, which to me sounds like he's waiting for them to mess up so he can throw a little danger into their narrative.