'American Idol' Recap: Where Have You Been All Our Lives, Stefano?

The quiet kid showed some spunk this week, too little, too late

Michael Becker / FOX
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A week ago, Stefano seemed primed for the chopping block. His voice was jerky, his English sounded like a made-up language when he sang, and he was so quiet it was easy to forget he existed until the moment Ryan said his name. Then Wednesday night gave us a Stefano insult montage that painted him as our loveable, notorious flirt. That rascally Stefano, we were presumably meant to murmur, as if we'd known all along. According to the montage, he was fun and flirty – probably annoyingly fun and flirty – but still, a person who says things and stuff! Where was that Stefano all season? Maybe if we'd seen him like that he'd still be around, instead of gone forever from the Idol stage until the tour, which is probably not as great as Ryan says it is.

Along with Stefano in the bottom three was Jacob, who kinda sorta blamed his showing on a glitchy earpiece. Of note: during Wednesday's performance, Stefano pulled his earpiece out too. (Remember how proud Marc Anthony was riding into town with a bag full of earpieces? As far as gifts go, kind of the Idol version of diseased blankets.) While Jacob marinated in the sting of rejection, Ryan coolly intro-ed "someone who never felt the sting of rejection on the Idol stage." Season seven Idol winner David Cook! Yes way! He did his thing, with lots of polka-dotted guitars backing him up. The last bottom-three-er was Haley, which was ridiculous. Even Ryan seemed to see the injustice. In a surprising show of mercy, he skipped a final three formation and sent her to the safe couch bosom. Right on. Her stellar "Rolling in the Deep" deserved more votes than it clearly got...America.

Highlights of the night:

• The always dumb, secretly-fun-to-watch Ford music video, in which, this time, the kids drove out to some sort of CGI tabula rasa desert where they lassoed a cloud, pushed a mountain into place, and created a river that Scotty canoed through with a dignified look on his face. Some message about Ford caring about nature ensued.

• Guest performer Katy Perry getting her kicks. She stepped cautiously around the stage in a white future space-queen body suit coiled in LED lights. Her backup dancers writhed around dressed like E.T.-ish aliens, as per the song ("E.T."), and Kanye soon strode out in a hairy vest. Totally normal.

• A painting that Ryan made Casey share with us, from a fan whose Japanese name Casey could neither pronounce nor identify as either a girl's or a boy's. The painting was stark and random – a lone brick wall, a small dog, and an upright bass with Casey's face plastered on it. Fan With the Japanese Name, whoever you are, great job. Seriously. Even if you didn't meant it, that Casey-bass was a deft homage to the product-placement orgy this show is.

• The farewell video starring Stefano. From the video screen, he chortled, he grinned, his eyes creased in joy. From the stage, he told us he couldn't be happier, and he looked like he meant it. All in all, a classic Stefano goodbye, according to montage evidence. Who knew?

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