“It’s a Thursday. Boo,” host Cat Deeley told the studio audience just before going live for Thursday’s So You Think You Can Dance elimination episode. And less than three minutes after cameras started rolling she was already in tears.
“That was amazing,” Deeley said with watery eyes of the top 8’s circus-themed opening group number. But later in the program there were more tears – and not happy ones.
First the girls were brought forward to hear their fate, and quite predictably it was Jordan Casanova and Caitlynn Lawson who were placed on the chopping block based on America’s vote.
“Because [Melanie and Sasha] closed the show with such a powerful performance … I thought they were [safe],” guest judge Rob Marshall told PEOPLE after the show.
Then the men stepped up to plate. And while Marko Germar was a shoe-in after his emotional Sonya Tayeh routine left Gaga in tears the night before, it was uncertain who would compete alongside him.
The answer: Ricky Jaime, an announcement that came as a pleasant surprise to the studio audience after Nigel Lythgoe had publicly stated his “reservations” about Ricky’s safety Wednesday.
“I thought he’d be in trouble. He’s been in trouble every week, why wouldn’t he be in trouble with a routine that wasn’t really outstanding last night?” Lythgoe told reporters.
But fellow judge Mary Murphy had faith that Ricky would survive the vote.
“Ricky is a dark horse that’s coming through under the radar,” Murphy said. “I don’t think we should underestimate him.”
With the top four selected, that left Jess LeProtto and Tadd Gadduang to dance for their lives along side Caitlynn and Jordan.
And after a medley by Gaga, the remaining judges came back from deliberation.
“It’s so difficult because at this point,” Marshall said, “everyone is at the same level so there was no reason to let anyone to go.”
With that in mind, the judges turned to past performances before deciding to send Jordan and Jess home.
“With Jess, we know he’s a far better dancer than Tadd technically, but Tadd brings something totally different – this excitement – into the dance,” Lythgoe explained. “With Caitylnn, we went back to her amazing tango.”
There’s just one more elimination before the final four is announced, so going home now is just a formality for the dancers who will return to perform at the finale on Aug. 11.
“It’s bittersweet to leave at this point in the competition because we’ve grown attached to the show,” Jess said after being eliminated. “So to leave now is hard but …”
“It’s two weeks and me and this guy will be back,” Jordan interjected.
Added Jess: “I hopefully won’t be forgotten.”