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Last night the drums beat and the bugle sounded and it was time for another execution. One of the three remaining Idolkidz had come so far and yet here it was, about to end.

What a night! There's always something so stirring and oddly graceful about the Home Visit episode, a reminder that these dumb kids are tied and rooted to real places, to real people, to a weird set of American emotions like we all have, all jumbled and pointy and loud and exploding, everyone with their own strange internal fireworks. Katy Perry was right! (No, no she was not. She is never right about anything, ever, for she is the living worst.) So yeah, I kind of liked last night's episode, even if I didn't like where it all ended up.

First we saw Haley go home, to a rainy and abandoned Chicago. It was a sad bit of luck that the weather was so poor for her homecoming, thus diminishing the crowds. Though I think she was never going to have the great heaving gurgling mass of local youngsters that the other two were going to have — she's the "artsy" contestant, whose fans are probably not going to rouse from their sweatpanted waking slumber to go cheer her on — she probably could have had a slightly bigger crowd had the sun been shining in old Chicagoland. But ah well, that's that, it was still a good visit, and there was a good crowd for her big concert, held at a race track. Her dad was there and she did a growl about Chicago and everyone cheered in the misty rain and it was nice for Haley. Nice that there could be one last nice thing. (Uh oh...)

Then, of course, the clouds parted! The yolky sun beamed down on the deep damp green of Tennessee and a choir of dime store angels sang and it was time for Lauren Alaina to come on home. Lauren lives in the borderlands, the strange space between here and there, so while she landed in the Chattanooga choo choo, she's actually from Rossville, GA, a small town just across the state line that features this funny thing. There was a good-sized crowd of squealers waiting for her wherever she went (even outside the AT&T store! synergy!), and it was mostly a joyful visit, but there was also sadness, this being an area recently devastated by tornadoes. She visited with a young boy who had saved his family from the rubble of their home, and it was a sweet little moment and Lauren proved herself able at that particular skill of celebritydom, the immediately established emotional connection, the using of a sad story or a small child (or in this case both) to reflect her own light back on herself. It was deft and subtle and I tip my hat to Lauren, for I did not know she had it in her. After that there were more crowds and more tears and a concert and the world was suddenly full of fried ice cream. It's the Lauren Alaina effect.

Obviously Scotty the Body had the biggest, most crazed crowds. Oh man did Scotty's crowd put Haley's sad little rain party to shame. Of course it was all little girls, whimpering and wheezing, hoping to get their hands on the side-singing love of their lives. Scotty got to see his old baseball teammates, and I'm sure they didn't know what to make of it, I'm sure they didn't know what they were supposed to or allowed to make of it, them being high school baseball boys and therefore not dudes who should be watching American Idol. (Unless their girlfriends made them, but they still aren't allowed to care.) So I'm sure they just asked about what hot celebrities he'd met and then Scotty threw out a pitch and, don't ya know it, he could still put a little English on that ball. So, something to fall back on if this Nashville nightmare comes to an end. After the baseball meet-and-greet (sorry boys, that's all you'll get of Scotty from now on, he's a different person now, not even really a person at all anymore), there was more parading and whatnot and Scotty, man, Scotty's a crier. He tried to hide his face from the cameras but he couldn't really, because when he cries, his whole face... Well, let's just say that Claire Danes would be proud of him. Total crumple face. But it was sweet. I know teenage boys are not allowed to cry unless they're Kurt on Gleeeeee, but they actually do, and here was Scotty, doing it. He was just so overwhelmed by the crowds and the cheering and the chanting of his name. It must be so surreal to leave home for some crazy thing and then come back and everyone knows who you are, strangers shrieking at you on the same streets you walked down anonymously not even a year ago. I'd cry too! At Scotty's concert he started singing Baby Lockthemdoors and, zomg, the guy who actually sings that song surprised him on stage and everyone cheered and Scotty cried some more. Scotty cried a lot, guys. I mean, so did the girls, let's not put a double standard on this, but Scotty I think cried more than them. Or maybe he just has a much more expressive cry face. That could be it.

So yeah, those were the home visits. What else happened in this episode? Oh, ha, right. There was an insanely weird performance by a trio of Italian youngsters who sing opera-style songs? The group is named Il Volo and it is made up of: The Cute One, the Sweet Geek One, and the Fat One. The Cute One is actually kind of the least cute, in that he makes lots of weird "Ima hump you" facial expressions and has an unpleasant pompadour of hair. The Fat One is whatever. He's the Joey Fatone of the gang. Which means he's comic relief as well. Is he funny? Could any one of the numerous Italian teenagers who read this blog tell me if he's funny? Mi dispiace, bambini, pero non ho capito Il Volo. (Six years of Italian and I still don't got it at all, whatsoever. Sigh.) The Sweet Geek is, comically, the one with the deepest and most powerful voice, funny then (in a very staged sort of way) that he wears nerdy Sally Jesse Raphael glasses and is pencil thin with whimsical spikes of hair. I think it's really funny and great that Idol put these curious bastards on the show, but I'll bet there was a lot of head-scratching going on in living rooms and dens and bedrooms across America last night.

Sally Scherzinger or whatever that fool's name is came out and did a sad dance to a sad song and everyone was bored to sad tears. I guess they're just plugging her because she's going to be a host of The X Factor this coming fall (only on Fox). Boring. She's dull. She's not a bad singer, but unfortunately no one's really buying what she's selling. I can't really explain it, but it's just the way it is. Some people have it, others don't. Lucy Scherzinger does not have it. You are the weakest link, goodbye. (Timely reference.)

SO YEAH, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BAD NEWS. There's no preambling to be done, not with only three people remaining. Ryan lined 'em up and said "Scotty... you are in the final two!!" and Scotty reacted with staginess, all the natural crumple face stuff of the home visit now gone again. So it was down to the two ladies. Ryan said "The person joining Scotty next week will be... Lauren Alaina!" People cheered and Haley zoomed out a bit, didn't she? She kinda went somewhere for a second. She was clearly upset, visibly shaken. As she should have been! She's much more of a natural than Lauren Alaina. But oh well. I mean, really. I used to joke about her being some weird stowaway because she was so forgettable. And look how far she's come! She's the Syesha Mercado of this season, only not completely unlikable. She should be proud. She did a good, satisfying, wonderfully indulgent (why not indulge now?) exit rendition of "Benny and the Jets" and that was that. There are two.

Two! Two country teens. We've boiled this American stew down to this and what is it? It's two white teenagers who sing country music. In Barack Obama's America? I guess so. Teenagers truly rule the world, I suppose. And now, show-wise, is there any question? I mean, I guess there was never any question, but now it seems for sure. Scotty wins this thing? Unless all of the Haley voters go to Lauren and she surges ahead, a la Kris Allen. But I somehow doubt that happening. I think the Haley voters probably resent Lauren more than they do Scotty. I think maybe the Haley voters could also just give up and vote for nobody. What's the point now?

Forget it, everyone. It's Teentown.