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Until tonight's epiosode of So You Think You Can Dance, I reserved most of my mute button usage and cringing to Mary Murphy. Tonight, Mary is downright tolerable in comparison to Mia Michaels, who seems to nurturing her talent for brutal honesty and back-handed compliments. There's very little time left in this competition and all of the judges are getting tougher with their remarks, but Mia is a step above. Maybe she's been taking lessons from Simon Cowell. At least he has the charming British accent.

The show opens with tonight’s group number an edgy contemporary routine to “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap and choreographed by Mia Michaels. Everyone is in black and tries to look sullen....probably a reflection of how they feel after having to work with Mia this week.

Cat takes center stage to get started with the filler. As with last week, there was a record number of votes this week: 12.5 million. She quickly introduces the judges and then we head right into the lengthy video recap of last night’s show. If you missed any of the action, you can catch up with waywyrd’s recap.

With that little bit of business out of the way, let’s get started with the solos. The results are already in, so these performances can’t change the vote. Fox still needs to fill the hour, so here goes…

Girls, Girls, Girls
Natalie is up first, dancing to “I Would Die For You” by Jann Arden. It’s her patented writhing on the floor, full body seizure, stomping on the floor bit. She also manages to blow a kiss to a tearful Allison in the crowd. Nigel tells her that the emotion was there, but the routine wasn’t all that great. He adds that while Musa wasn’t half the dancer that Natalie is, when he was eliminated he took away some of her magic with him. I have to agree with that. Mary tells Natalie that she has the looks, the personality and she’s a great dancer. Yes, she does get a bit too theatrical (um….hello? Pot. Kettle), but that’s part of her charm. Mia believes that, no matter what happens tonight, Natalie has a long career ahead of her. She tells Natalie that she needs to stop trying so hard: she already has “it.”

Heidi takes the stage next with her usual hot ballroom routine, this time to “Hey Mama” by the Black Eyed Peas. She finishes up in the splits with her rear leg touching the top of her head. Nigel tells Heidi that, at the beginning of the competition, he definitely didn’t think she’d be in the top six. She continues to surprise them each week. If this competition went on for another five weeks, he could see Heidi winning the whole thing. So, because it doesn’t last for another five weeks, can we deduce that Nigel is not picking Heidi to win? Mary hopes that he show has taught Heidi not to underestimate herself. She deserves to be here and go all the way. Mia loved Heidi’s final position in tonight’s solo and says that she is definitely the most improved. BUT – she is shocked that Heidi is still here. Why? The show is about versatility and, based on her experience working with Heidi, she isn’t versatile enough. Meeee-ow. Nigel defends Heidi, mentioning the contemporary “sunflower routine” with Travis a few weeks ago and says it was one of the best of the season. He reminds Mia that they aren’t searching for America’s best technical dancer, they’re searching for America’s favorite dancer.

Donyelle does a kind of hip hop, belly dancer/Middle-Eastern thing to The Pussycat Dolls’ “Buttons.” I vaguely remember muting this song when they appeared on the show a few weeks back. It sounds better this time. One thing about Donyelle – the face is always working. Nigel says that she’s been getting lost in the partnership with Benji. Tonight she proved what a great dancer she is. Mary tells Donyelle that her eyes go straight to the soul. Perpetual wet blanket Mia opines that this isn’t about eyes, it’s about growth. While Donny came on like lightning in the beginning, she hasn’t improved much in recent weeks. Mary argues with her, pointing out Donyelle’s injuries and there’s almost a girlfight. Nigel just looks alarmed.

Where the Boys Are
Proving that he clearly has the best technique of the guys remaining, Travis performs his usual amazing contemporary solo to Westlife’s “Flying Without Wings.” Nigel mentions Mia’s earlier comment about America’s best technical dancer and tells Travis that if that was what this competition was about, he would have won already. He says that Travis is a stunning technician and a great dancer. He should be extremely confident: he’s brilliant. Mary tells Travis that he started out like dynamite but then flopped a bit. He definitely fought back. It’s not hard to tell who Mia’s favorite is. She says that Travis serves it with no apologies for what or who he is. He has an amazing work ethic and it would be a privilege to hire and work with him for the rest of her career.

Ivan’s hip hop routine is next and he dances to “I Question Mark” by Wade Robson. He’s a great hip hop dancer, but this looks exactly the same as his routines earlier in the season. Nigel gives Ivan props for being the only untrained dancer still in the competition. He’s really grown in this competition. Mary compares Ivan to Seabiscuit again: he’s still in the race and she hopes he will keep going. Mia professes her love for Ivan. She had a blast working with him this week. He’s a dude, he’s raw, he’s vulnerable, he’s pure. For Ivan’s sake, I’m glad there are stalking laws in place.

Last up tonight is Benji, who hits the stage to “Brown Derby Jump” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Benji sets some sort of record for covering the most amount of stage area is in the shortest amount of time. He finishes up his routine on his back under the stairs. Nigel recalls his remarks to Travis and tells Benji that if this was about being the best performer, he would win. Even when Benji is uncomfortable with a style, he performs it so well that we believe in him. Mary compliments Benji on his versatility and then launches into some weird speech about bones. Wishbones, funny bones, backbones….Mary is a loon. Debbie Downer says that, until she worked with Benji, she didn’t realize how many limitations he has as a dancer (OH, snap!). In spite of his limitations, he’s a star.

Mute Button Alert!
Entourage by Omarion. The less said about this, the better. The song went on forever. I managed to fit in a snack break and check my email. I got back in time to see – and unfortunately, hear the teenyboppers scream…… because that’s what they do.

It’s almost time for the actual informational part of this show to start! The top six return to the stage and the girls join Cat to hear their fate. All three hold hands as Cat recaps last night’s show and reminds the girls of the judges’ comments. She then reveals that Heidi is safe. The girl leaving tonight will be….not so fast! In order to prolong the annoying suspense, she sends Donyelle and Natalie to sit down and calls the guys up. After a recap of last night’s events, Cat tells a relieved Travis that he is safe this week. He jumps around like a crazy person and hugs everyone.

Finally, it’s time for the actual reason for this show. Cat breaks the news to Natalie that she will be going home tonight. She takes it like a pro, yelling “Opa!” and taking a bow. Everyone cheers for her and we watch her journey video. She thanks the judges for their comments and says that the other dancers have become like family. One thing’s for sure – this show is definitely going to lose some emotion without Nat boo-hooing every week.

Benji and Ivan join Cat to hear their fate. They do not hold hands. Predictably, Ivan is going home tonight. He may not have held Benji’s hand, but he manages to smack him on the ass. After watching his journey video, Nigel salutes Ivan and everyone cheers. Ivan says the best part of this experience was meeting all the other dancers. He thanks the viewers and the judges and says that he’s grown as a dancer and hopes to continue that growth.

Oddly, they seem to have packed this episode with so much filler that there isn’t time for a farewell dance. Ivan and Natalie wave goodbye and then we get a look at the final four.

Tune in next week for the finals, where everyone will dance with everyone else. It will be a veritable dance orgy. The big question is who will lead – Benji or Travis?