Before the show, the top 14 dancers surprised the judge with bundles of balloons and a cake. "Everyone is smiling now, but later tonight, two dancers are going to pick that cake up and drop it on my head," Lythgoe joked.
The show then kicked off with a high-energy Bollywood piece, which brought the crowd to their feet. The joyous mood continued as both Caitlyn and Mitchell and frontrunners Melanie and Marko — come on, you know Melanie is going to win! — were declared safe. The decision to keep both couples was a no-brainer since Caitlyn and Mitchell's routine was hailed the best of the night on Wednesday.
After another plug for National Dance Day — July 30, in case you forgot — the bad news finally fell on Ashley and Chris, whose salsa number was not spicy enough, landing them in the bottom three for the second week in a row. As if it couldn't get any worse: Chris would now have to dance for his life after earlier suffering from dehydration and missing out on the Bollywood number. Jordan and Tadd joined them in the bottom three after a slow waltz that didn't quite wow the crowd.
Surprisingly, Ricky and Ryan, whose Zombie Zoolander-like jazz routine brought down the house on Wednesday, were thrown in the bottom three again. "I think America got it wrong for sure," guest judge Travis Wall told them. More surprising was that Sasha and Alexander were safe after their lackluster hip-hop number.
When it came time for solos, Ashley and Chris failed to impress in comparison to the rest of the upbeat — or heartwrenching, in Ryan and Ricky's case — performances, which is why they were eliminated from the competition. Both were in tears as they said their farewells.
"At first I was a little sad," Ashley told TVGuide.com after her ouster. "Me and Chris did our best, and we got a lot of crazy styles that we weren't used to, but I'm really happy. We were not in our comfort zone [on Wednesday]."
Her partner shared the same sentiment. "I'm extremely happy with what we accomplished," Chris said. "You never know what the judges are wanting."
The judges, however, knew exactly what they wanted, even before the vote after Wednesday night's show. "The fact that Chris and Ashley couldn't latch onto the salsa actually helped us today," Mary Murphy said. "Had they not done that, they'd still be around."
"It was unanimous," Lythgoe added. "Ashley basically never really peaked after the prison routine that she and Chris did, and we loved that routine. Their work after that has not been very strong. The salsa was very poor."
As bad as their salsa was on Wednesday, Lythgoe notes that they reserve the "Worst Routine" title for Sasha and Alexander's hip-hop dance. "There's a couple of times where we thought their routines haven't been as strong as we'd like, but America loves them," Lythgoe says. "Next week is the final time that these couples work together. After that, they're going to be split up, then it's going to be interesting to see who America goes with."
Wall knows exactly who America will follow, though. "I feel like Sasha is a huge, huge, huge fan-favorite," he said. "She got so much camera time before they moved into the top 20, so I feel like she came in with that, and she's bringing Alexander along with her votes."
Did you agree with the judges' decision tonight? Do you think Sasha and Alexander are in danger of being eliminated next? Hit the comments with your thoughts.