Finale! Melanie! Sasha! Marko! Tadd! Who will win?? …Almost certainly Melanie or Sasha, to be honest. But I kind of have no idea which way the wind will blow in that matchup, which is pretty great.
Cat got her hair up for this prestigious occasion, and Nigel and Mary are joined at the jidges’ table by Kenny Ortega and Katie Holmes. I don’t love this. The celebrity judges have been, on balance, pretty great this season. The best of them — NPH, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Gaga — were able to provide a viewer’s perspective and also managed to actually criticize when warranted (especially when it came to the choreographers, which was kind of thrilling). But I always feel like the finales should be back to basics. The old gang of choreographers. I know I’ve become a broken record with my pining for Debbie Allen, but come on! Season’s almost over, man, throw me a bone! I should mention, however, that Katie wins me over by congratulating Cat on her Emmy nomination. She seems like such a regular girl sometimes!
Melanie and Marko: Disco (Doriana Sanchez)
Aw, Melanie and Marko, back together after three whole weeks apart! And disco — I was wondering where the disco was hiding this season. Did they save it ’til the finale, when any accrued injuries wouldn’t ruin the season? Don’t think I’ve forgotten the carnage Doriana wrought last season. It’s a classic disco number, with classic disco music (Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”) and classic disco duds. This kind of a dance depends on speed, which may not be either Marko or Melanie’s strong suits. The lifts also seem braced-for; this doesn’t feel organic, which is just a huge change from what Mel and Marko usually pull off. If this is their last routine together of the season, that is a bummer. The lesser judges don’t say anything bad about it: Kenny calls it “Fun. Electric. Sizzling. Great,” and Katie says she feels like she’s watching Saturday Night Fever (insightful!). But Mary acknowledges that the lifts were a struggle, and they went in and out of the style. Thank God for Mary this season. She’s really reminded me that even with the screaming and craziness, she knows her **** and will get specific on your ass if she has to. Nigel agrees with Mary, though he’s impressed that Marko powered through a difficult lift. It’s the first real criticism of a Mel/Marko routine all season. Not great timing.
Sasha and Mark Kanemura: Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh)
Wow, what a dream combination of dancers and choreographer. I still can’t get over what a success story Mark is. And I don’t mean how insanely ripped he’s become since joining Gaga’s band of merry pranksters… Okay, I don’t JUST mean that. My gosh. The idea of this dance is that Mark represents the obstacles in Sasha’s life. So it’s another shadow of Mia’s “Addiction” dance. We’ve had so many thus far. I can’t hate on the product, though, because it is INTENSE. Sasha and Marko are completely submerged in their characters, and that strong sense of purpose behind graceful contemporary movement really does it for me. It totally plays into Sasha’s “warrior princess” narrative (Cat says so immediately after they’re finished dancing, and Kenny repeats it during the crit). A cut to the audience reveals LEGACY, cheering for Sasha. Which reminds me I’ve been watching the Season 6 reruns on Ovation, and I kept seeing Sasha in these quick montage cuts in Vegas. Amazing to think that this season’s possible winner could have been overlooked entirely then. At the end of the routine, Sasha slaps Mark on the butt, which Cat totally fixates on. “What’s going on with the butt-patting?!” she giggles. I mean… how could Sasha avoid that thing? Anyway, Katie is “astounded,” Mary shrieks, and Nigel tells Sasha, “You’ve just beaten up Lady Gaga’s principal dancer.” He says the gauntlet has been thrown down to the other four dancers.