(at long last...I took notes, but the episode isn't as fresh in my mind as if I'd written this right after the show, so apologies in advance for the truncated recap).
We're really going for the drama this year, opening with lots of ominous clips of the kids. Ryan says it could be a surprising boot, but he always says that, so we'll see. JLo is again dressed like a snazzy Office Manager from the '80's in a red satiny top, high waisted tan slacks, and her hair in a topknot. Randy is wearing a gray and white sweater that I believe he has worn on the show before (I applaud this, btw- it's good to know that famous folks have a favorite clothes too). Steven Tyler is overdecorated, as usual.
Ryan threatens us with Constantine Maroulis and Iggy Pop. What have we ever done to you, Ryan, that you treat us this way?
The Group Sing is pretty good, a medley of I Love Rock & Roll, The Letter, and Sweet Home Alabama. We segue right into the Fordmercial, which is a complex spy scenario that is actually pretty good. This might be the best product placement video they've ever done (in any season- except maybe for the zombie one).
Russell Brand comes out as a Charisma Coach, so he can berate and belittle the kids a bit, and shill that horrible-looking remake of Arthur (which wasn't exactly a great movie in and of itself). I would much rather watch Helen Mirren do this stuff, but Mr. Brand is only minorly annoying.
After wasting that bit of time, the lights are dimmed and Ryan calls Casey, Stefano, and Lauren down. Casey is wearing a very cool knitted cap- it looks like it's made from Alpaca, and I want the pattern. Stefano is wearing a cheap windbreaker (which probably only looks cheap). Lauren is in an odd, loose brown jumpsuit with possibly an attached vest. As weird as that sounds, she looks much better than she did on Performance night. Woohoo- Casey and Lauren are safe.
Well, Constantine hasn't changed. He still has lanky, greasy hair, and he still has that unnerving stare, and a voice I would prefer never to hear. He murders Unchained Melody, but his new baby daughter is adorable. Go, Constantine's Daughter!
Then we spend a bit of time examining what Gwen Stefani did to the girls on Performance night by styling them and providing outfits from her L.A.M.B collection. She excitedly shows them a range of clothes and accessories, and the girls can barely disguise their horror. It's plain that they chose the lesser of the evils in the outfits that they wore, and that's saying something.
Next up, front and center, are Paul, Scotty, and Pia. Paul and Scotty are dressed in their usual style. I guess Pia is as well, in a tight black jumpsuit thing with one sleeve and a keyhole chest that features her breasts prominently. Oho- Paul and Scotty are safe. Pia is not.
And now TMZ is doing some media training, which is sort of like the pot teaching the kettle to be black. Mostly, it's a roast of the kids, with a jab here and there at Ryan. It's a waste of time.
The last trio are, James, Haley, and He Who Will Not Be Named. No one is wearing anything out of the ordinary. I am delighted when James and Haley are safe (not that I like Haley, it's just that it's absolute justice for HWWNBN).
Ryan introduces the half-naked, dessicated corpse of Iggy Pop, and I spend the next 3 minutes shielding my eyes from the horrific sight of saggy old-man-boobs. I will say this- Iggy has a lot of energy for an old fart.
And now to the business of the episode- I can say goodbye to any of these three with no regrets. Ryan replays HWWNBN's really stupid challenge, implying that he brought this on himself. Ryan needlessly toys with him, and then sends him back to the stools. And then he toys even more with Stefano and Pia before announcing that Pia is heading home. Poor Stefano looks to be in shock, the judges are angry, and JLo manufactures tears. Me, I'm not upset or surprised. Pia is beautiful, and she can hit most of the notes (and hold them for an amazingly long time), but she showed no personality on stage. Boobs can only account for so many votes, and she exhausted her supply, I think. Maybe she'll relax on tour. I wish her well.