'American Idol' Recap: Nothing Makes Sense

Another strange elimination episode leaves but one takeaway: The world is ending

Michael Becker / FOX
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What the hell is going on? Are people actually calling in and voting, or is Ryan just picking the most dramatic losers and having his way with them? Last night Pia Toscano was the one to go, and the announcement was totally unexpected. She hasn't been the biggest thrill, to be sure. There's no Bowersoxic gap between her front teeth, she's not a rumored illiterate, she lives over the hill and through the woods from GlamNation. But like a stealth valedictorian, she was consistent, delivering exactly the same above-average product every week, down to her appearance. Shiny hair, an even shinier smile, white teeth framed by red lips. Each time she sang, her hand crept up her side just as it had the time before, until she'd hit her power note, head back, wailing in tune. Like the show itself, which purports to be an orderly chipping away from person-we-like-least to person-we-like-most, until person-we-like-best is left standing, Pia offered the steadiness of ritual.

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But, first Casey, now Pia? The least-to-most progression is clearly wonky. Could a nonentity like Stefano win this thing? There's no way to know! Vote for the Worst, the nihilistic group that likes to screw with Idol's voting ratios, already claimed Pia's offing as a side victory in their campaign to keep Paul McDonald afloat. And yet neither Paul nor anyone this season is bad enough to be an in-joke. Even Scottie, a living answer to the question: What if George W. Bush were a wedding singer?, needs no help from VFTW. Teenaged girls already rush him on stage at Ryan's command, thank you very much.

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So what exactly is going on? Why are Jacob and Stefano still around? Are there any exciting contenders left? It's starting to feel like there haven't been any from the start, since Casey and Lauren, the two most promising, simply haven't delivered. Paul is a little silly, James is exhausting. Scottie, see above. If Haley can get her growls in order, she might be a satisfying dark horse, but so far no one is truly inspirational. It's enough to make you want to demand a recount and drag Naima back into the game. Remember when she did that African dance? It literally came out of nowhere! Those were the days, dammit, those were the magical days. Now here we are, already in April, and for reasons unclear, Pia has been unceremoniously booted. Jennifer has cried a little, and the crowd has booed. Let us try to understand this exercise called Idol. In toying with us, it demands our attention.

Last Episode: On the Upswing