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Last night's American Idol will go down in Idol history as one of its weirdest hours, an episode in which both Ryan Seacrest was thrown into the crowd and a man nearly died, or maybe actually did die. Behold, amazement!

It was just the craziest episode wasn't it? In the beginning, Seacrest created the heavenly lights and the shimmer-floor, and he played reels of everyone singing and pulled the stakes up out of the ground and raised them up toward his own heavens. And then he said "This week you saw the kids being mentored by Jimmy Iodine, but he wasn't their only mentor!" and then he cued a reel of a really touching Make a Wish Foundation video where a really sad man with Degenerative Face Collapse, a disease which affects literally tens of people, got to live out his dream and teach the Idol fart masters about sound levels in a sound check. Fascinating, riveting stuff. At the end of the clip, the poor man suffering from DFC, who knows J.Lo in some way, clapped his withered, flaky hands (cruelly, DFC does not just affect the face, but the whole body, just most noticeably the face) and let out a dusty laugh and said "Come see me on tour, I beg of everyone, America." No one knew what he meant, they figured it was just that his face had finally begun to collapse so far that his brain had been compromised, so they nodded and smiled and then the poor guy's face collapsed some more and the audience reached for their sick bags.

Oh that was so mean! Poor guy. Anyway, that happened and it was just like "Oh, good, ear pieces and sound checks, this is why I tune in to American Crapstack." It's not why anyone tunes in! People tune in for what was to come. First there was a group number, a group number in which, as always, everyone flailed like rag dolls and Terpsichore herself, golden muse of dance, wept and gnashed her teeth and tore at her clothes. The kids kicked and wooted and bellowed and glunted (we make up words on Fridays) and then there was a loud creak and the old Tyler-witch shrieked one of her aluminum shrieks and shook her Rafiki cane with the gourd on the end and the wall opened up and out came Stevie Wonder, on a mechanized parade float, playing the piano, doing his Stevie Wonder thing, secretly so tired inside. All the kids did annoying "We're not worthy" bows, which is just... I hate when these shitboxes try to act all respectful of Music and the Industry and Legendary Recording Artists. It always comes across so false. Stevie Wonder is a big goddamned deal, I'm not arguing against that, but for heaven's sake have a little self-respect, Idol kids, and show professional reverence without resorting to total ass-sucking. It's just so unbecoming.

ANYWAY, I"m a grumpy old doo-doo head who's staring down the barrel of a trip home today, so my thoughts are mostly on how cold Boston is going to be. So don't listen to me! The kids are free to worship Steveriah Wondrix however they want. But yeah, he came out and the Tyler witch wailed into the night and Stevie sang his Stevie songs and then there was a surprise! Stevie was like "Tyler witch!!!! I cast you out!!!! Tonight, on your three hundred and seventy sixth birthday!!! I banish you back to the swamps!!!" and the Tyler witch screeched some more and the moon turned a bleeding red and everyone howled and gorped (Friday, guys) in pain and apparently it was the witch's birthday, is what I'm saying. So it was a nice moment for everyone and the witch went up on stage and Naima tried to hug the witch and the witch said "Bitch please" with her body language and that was sad and great, like so much on this show. Sad & Great: A Fox Television Show About Music.

OK, so then Sugarland performed and it was like duhhhh, Sugarland is kind of great! Yup. I said it. Go cram it with roly-poly bugs and deal with it. Sugarland is a fun band that sings silly music and I enjoyed it. I even enjoyed it when the old white lady rapped. Yup. Carry on. So yeah, they performed and everyone was feeling good, but then of course Ryan had to go and ruin the moment by saying "DIM THE LIGHTS!!!" and it was Idol eliminations time. Oh gosh! So stressful. He first brought Scotty, Lauren, and Pia to the middle, and it was like "Geeee, duhhh.... I wonder if they're safe," and of course they were safe. Well, Ryan was like "Pack your bags!! [long, fart-filled pause] Because you're going on our summer tourrrr!" And then there was much rejoicing. Ha. Kids. Kidz. 'Round about late-July when you're sleeping four to a room at the Albuquerque Red Roof Inn, I'm going to come by and play you back the clip of you being so excited to go on the summer tewwwwer. And you will cry hot regretful tears. It's gonna be miserable. You'll disappear all summer and then by the time fall rolls around? Ain't nobody gonna remember you! That's the sad Idol trick, the last cruel strategy of Defeat.

But yes, they were safe and everyone was excited for them. Next it was time to do a thing with James Durbin and Willy Whispers in which they showed a clip of the two of them wrasslin', because I guess James Durbin is supe-dupes into professional wrasslin'. So Ryan was like "I too like grabbing sweaty men's crotches! Oh god, oh god, did I say that out loud? Hold for editing! Hold for editing everyone!" No, he was like "I have surprise for you guys!" Which, for Tim or Stefano maybe, can be a sexy thing for Ryan to say, but mostly it's nervous-making. So Durbin and Rattle Whispers up there stood anxiously as the wall opened and out came... Ryan Hulk Hogan!! Yeah, the Hulk Hogan, brought back from the dead by radiation. So he did his Hulk Hogan thing and announced that Durbs and Whispies were safe and going on the summer tewwwer and then he did the greatest thing humanity has done in its 400-year history. He punched Ryan Seacrest in the face and threw him into the audience. Yes. I mean, doibs, it was a bit, but Ryan was so into it. He was like "Ohhh, ohh! I got punched, let me stumble..." and he did stumble and he like really fucking fell into the audience. I'm sure that section was just interns (one of them was a weird old man, and I feel like weird old men are probably the most likely candidates to be Idol interns, right?) and they were in on the whole gag, but Ryan really just freaking fell into that crowd. His suit jacket flapped up and his butt was waving and somewhere in the cluttered, silky hills of Hollywood, Tim Urban laughed erotically and poured himself some more Côtes du Rhône. It was pretty great. Pretttyyy, pretttyyy great.

All right. So then Ryan called a few more people, surprising people, people like Naima and Haley (who???) to safety and we looked at who was left and it was truly shocking. Truly shocking. The bottom three? The bottom three were: Thia Megia (whatever), Casey Abrams (haha, whaaaattt???), and Stefano (nooooooo!!! I seriously almost about died, because what the hell would I write about for the rest of the season??). Yeah. Isn't that a shocking group? It gets even more shocking. So yeah, so Ryan did his little jiggle dance and then J. Hudson came out and belched a song ("Where You At" — it's about J.Hud waiting in the snow for various people) and the three sad kids sat there all anxious and dying inside. When that was finally over, the hour was late and it was time to deal with this nonsense. Thia Megia was sent to safety. Horrifying. One of these two gentlemen was about to be dead. So dead. Ryan delayed it as long as he could, but finally it was time. The lights buzzed and vibrated, the crowd held their breath. In the silence, that poor man's face collapsed a little more. And then it was time. Ryan opened his mouth.

In Mudville, they'd been dancing. They'd been dancing the night before, the eve of the big competition, and they were feeling so confident, so good about themselves. In Mudville they'd drank bottles of beer under strings of white lights, and they'd gazed at the sultry moon winking up there in the indigo sky and they'd felt bigger than big, happier than happy. They danced and laughed and carried on like people do when they don't know the world is creaking and ending around them, when they don't know what the next terrible day brings. You see, in Mudville, they never could have guessed. They never could have known. You see, their Casey, our growl gourded Casey... Well, Casey had struck out.

Whaaaat???? I know. I know!! Oh gods, oh frak I know. Somehow Casey had been eliminated. Everyone screamed and an old widow fainted. How had this happened? Well, duhhhhhhh, it happened because Casey has been utterly terrifying the past two weeks with his horrible faces. Sorry. Them's the Idol breaks. Fact: people care what you look like. Deal with it. I was totally cucumber about this situation. As in cool as a. Whatever. Casey? Poof. Who cares? He was never going to win, and it wasn't surprising, because Casey looks absolutely terrible when he performs. Yup. OK. Whatever. Go ahead and be shocked. Everyone else was! Oh man, everyone else was dyyying. People were freaking the frick out. Casey himself looked stunned, which is always really annoying. People were just turning inside out over this.

So of course then it was time for Casey to sing his please rescue me ditty, and he began, all shaky and weird, people pretending to have the Good Times with his music, when really they were having the Bad Times. Tears streamed down people's faces and the lights curled around Casey as if to protect him, and Ryan, figuring he had one unnoticed moment to sneak away, grabbed Stefano by the arm and yanked him off stage and kissed him urgently square on the mouth and cupped his face in his hands and said "I'm so glad it's not you. I'm so glad it's not you. I was so scared it was you." And Stefano smiled and laughed, so confused and jumbled with emotions, and he said "But what about, you know, the situation back home?" Ryan felt rushed, he didn't have time to explain, Casey was almost done with his ramble. "The situation back home is..." he paused, thinking about the night before, his excitement in coming home to his Tim, and then the Wallenda tumble in his insides of seeing that Tim was drunk and angry, not happy, and then the wine glass thrown and the glass that cut Tim's foot and the swears and the paper towels and the scrubbing of the rug and the horrible flick of Tim's lighter. "The situation back home is complicated." Stefano nodded. "Good enough for me." And as he was about to lean in for another wonderful ruby kiss, Ryan heard "Stop! Stop!" Oh god.

He rushed back out onstage. "What? What? You're stopping him?" Randy bellowed, "Yes!! We're stopping him. We know what he can do, and..." And then the Tyler witch nodded her little tree burl of a head and she leaned into the microphone and growled "Yess... Casey Abrams... you... are... saved." And never has a blessing sounded more like a curse, or a curse like a blessing. And Casey, oh god Casey, he died. Casey died, guys. Casey doubled over and went sheet-white, his brow soaked with sweat, his eyes zooming out, the telescoping of death. Ryan, clutching the terrified looking boy, felt the distinct warmth and vim of humanity leaving a body. Oh God. He was dead. Casey had died from the shock. Ryan was about to call for help, to wave furiously to some stagehand to come out and solve this impossible situation, when all of a sudden there was the Tyler witch, there on stage, gazing strangely at Casey's corpse. She whispered a few foreign words and a strange breeze blew across the stage and she rattled her Rafiki cane and there was a tremble in the air. Ryan blinked. Suddenly he was standing up, not holding Casey anymore. The Tyler witch was back at her seat, looking bored as a house cat. Had he dreamed it? Had it not all happened? And there was rescued Casey, standing next to him, on to the next round, going on the tour, yes they'd do 11 this year. Oh good. Ryan had just imagined it. Casey hadn't died, don't be ridiculous. The witch hadn't done something with her ancient, dark shamanism. No. Of course not. Don't be silly. But then Ryan got the strangest feeling. He looked at Casey, walking over to hug his contestafriends. He got the strangest feeling and he knew, and he wasn't sure how, that Casey had died. That this was some... spirit, some ghost. Some wraith that would make its way through the competition. Ryan looked at the Tyler witch, perched on her chair, and she looked back at him, and though she didn't move her lips, Ryan heard a whispered voice in his head. "Remember..."

Remember? Remember. Casey, or what had become of Casey, was there hugging his friends, none of them noticing his strange new chilly dampness, all of them too young to see the specific pallor of death. Ryan stood at the center of the stage, shaking. He looked at Stefano, who was caught up in all the rumpus. He looked at his hands. He looked up to the ceiling. He stood there, wondering. Ryan Seacrest stood, wondering.