"SYTYCD" Season 16 Recap: The Grand [Almost] Finale!

September 9, 2019

The one before the last one! Last night on “So You Think You Can Dance,” the Top 4—Gino, Mariah, Bailey, and Sophie—took to the stage for the final night of competition. They danced with each other in every possible combination, with an All-Star, and in a solo. And, yay, no one was sent home at the end!

Of course, next week, four become one. But until then, here’s what you need to know:

The Opening Number

Oh hey, did you know Cats is coming to the big screen later this year? Well, if you didn’t as of yesterday morning, you sure as heck did after last night’s opening number. In this delightful bit of #sponcon, Gino, Sophie, Mariah, Bailey, and the All-Stars were, sadly, not dressed as cats. But they did have the kind of energy we only get on the second-to-last episode of the season, and it was wonderful. (Way to choreograph the heck out of it, Mandy Moore!)

Sophie & Gino, Jazz with Ray Leeper

O.M.G. Those opening shimmies! All those beautiful developpés! Those many, many controlled pirouettes! There were solid individual moments and a lot of great partnering in this hot-like-fire routine. And oh boy, the chemistry between these two! Mary called it tribal, Dominic called it sexy, Laurieann said they fearlessly attacked the choreography, and Nigel loved the sparks that were happening.

Mariah & Bailey, Smooth Jazz with Jonathan Redavid

The concept here was that Mariah is Bailey’s dream girl…which is probably not far from the IRL truth?! (Squeeee!) This partnership has been strong since day one: They’re so well matched, have a ton of chemistry, and are totally in sync. Last night, their routine was, well, smooth! It was cheeky without being cheesy, and the audience went absolutely wild for it. So did Dominic, who reminded us all that these two are consistent every week. Laurieann called Bailey’s transformation remarkable, and said Mariah was unshakeable and unstoppable. Nigel said Bailey has had the biggest journey on the show ever, and Mary called Mariah full of sass, sophistication, and soul.

Sophie & All-Star Marko, Contemporary with Talia Favia

“Who am I without this person?” That was the question Talia Favia wanted Sophie and Marko to answer in this routine, which was emotionally charged from start to finish. It was pretty tremendous from a technical standpoint, too: At one point, Sophie and Marko went from being in side-by-side headstands, to Sophie jumping on and off of Marko’s back, to doing a series of front walkovers. Bonkers! (Our campaign for a Talia Favia Emmy nomination is ongoing. MAKE IT HAPPEN, PEOPLE.) The judges gave it a standing ovation, and especially loved Sophie’s onstage journey. Laurieann said Sophie found her strength as a woman and world-changer. Nigel praised Sophie for letting herself go. Mary said there was passion with purpose, and Dominic said it was Sophie’s best performance of the entire season.

Bailey & All-Star Comfort, Hip Hop with Luther Brown

YES, Bailey in his element! Normally it’s impossible not to stay glued to Comfort, but all eyes were on Bailey for this one. He was sharp, slick, smooth, and spot-on from start to finish. 10/10 would gladly watch again and again. (And the little secret handshake after the routine ended? Eee!) The crowd went nuts and started straight-up CHANTING BAILEY’S NAME. Chills! Goosebumps! Happiness! The judges gave it praise on praise on praise, and Nigel flashed a gold grill, which was…something!

Mariah & Gino, Quickstep with Sharna and Artem

So Mariah and Gino had never danced together, and then their first-ever routine was the quickstep?! Not nice, “SYT.” That said, we’re talking Mariah and Gino, here. They didn’t just handle the fancy-footed choreography—they absolutely nailed it. (The pre-finale energy was off the charts!) Another standing ovation from the judges. Mary gave it an A+, calling it respectable and acknowledging the difficulty of the style. Dominic remembered no one wanting to do the quickstep when he was on the show. Laurieann loved it all, and Nigel approved heartily.

Sophie & Bailey, Bollywood with Nakul Dev Mahajan

Sophie called Bailey her “biggest competition” during rehearsals, which was kind of cool to hear, right? This show is awesomely all about teamwork and camaraderie, but, uh, yeah, it’s also a contest! Despite being (not-so-bitter) rivals, Sophie and Bailey worked together beautifully in this jump-filled, joyful routine. (At this point in the show, it was hard not to wonder how the dancers were still standing, let alone performing this stuff full-out. Did all of this week’s choreographers get together and say, “Let’s really turn it up this week?” They must have.) Laurieann and Nigel wanted more of the details and said it wasn’t their VERY best, but Mary said it was fun, and Dominic praised the energy required to pull it off.

Gino & All-Star Melanie, Contemporary with Jaci Royal

For most of the competition, Gino has gotten by on his impeccable technique. But this routine may have been his breakthrough moment. He was, as Nigel said, vulnerable. He was a brilliant partner. He connected with Melanie, during both the big lifts and the quieter, still moments. Bravo, Gino!

Mariah & All-Star Robert, Contemporary with Mandy Moore

This routine was about life’s journey, Mandy explained during rehearsals. In other words, it was Operation Get Mariah to Show Vulnerability. And the verdict? Big success. Huge. Nigel loved the lifts. Mary cried and called herself the luckiest person alive for getting to watch performances like that one. Laurieann also cried, and reminded Mariah to “own it.” Dominic didn’t cry (!), but he said Mariah’s dad, who’s in prison, would be proud, so everyone else cried.

Bailey & Gino, Broadway with Al Blackstone

Gino said Bailey is his biggest competition in the competition—a sentiment shared earlier by Sophie. Everyone’s coming for you, Bailey! Anyway, the Top 2 guys’ performance, which gave us all kinds of beach vibes, was easy to watch—slow and smooth, but still complicated, with lots of nuanced movements and hat tricks. (No one dropped a hat, yay!) The judges gave it a standing O, with Nigel calling it his favorite routine of the series. (Casual! Also, spoiler: He’s going to want to see this one again next week.) Mary called Bailey and Gino the new couple to beat.

Sophie & Mariah, Hip Hop with Luther Brown

These two are friends! Best friends! (No, really. In real life. How cute is that?) Luther Brown gave them a fab routine filled with cattiness, shade, and a whole lot of sass. Sophie and Mariah were clearly having fun with it, but not so much fun that they didn’t hit it hard. It was #ponytailgoals, it was #twerkinggoals—and offstage, at least, it was #friendshipgoals. The judges gave this high-vibing piece a standing ovation and the biggest smiles ever.

! And see you next week to find out who will be named America’s Favorite Dancer—and Dance Spirit‘s next cover star!