By the standards of this so-so installment of “American Idol,” Wednesday night's performance episode was rather superior. Nobody embarrassed themselves, several singers shined and two contestants even did originals and earned some credibility.
That's why I figure that we're heading towards the Save on Thursday's show. I expect the sentimentalists on the judging panel to feel like it's somehow wrong to send somebody home after Wednesday. It wouldn't be wrong. CJ Harris could go home and it wouldn't be wrong, so maybe that's somebody who wouldn't get saved. Maybe Dexter Roberts could go home without getting the Save? But I feel pretty sure that Caleb Johnson, Alex Preston, Malaya Watson, Jena Irene, Sam Woolf and Jessica Meuse would all be spared if America ignored them for some reason.
So let's get down to the business of maybe not sending anybody packing…
8:59 p.m. ET. That was not a limerick Gordon Ramsay just did in that elimination. I hope he doesn't think it was.
9:00 p.m. Randy Jackson thinks Caleb, Jessica, Dexter and Jena are safe. Wow. Randy doesn't think Alex is safe? Randy is wrong. And silly. But he's right that America had a tough choice. Let's see how it plays out…
9:02 p.m. The Save is still alive, Ryan reminds us, helpfully. We also will get Daughtry, if we wait patiently. J-Lo is in a hot pink or fuchsia short-suit. No. I don't know the difference between hot pink and fuchsia. Sorry. Maybe on a bigger screen I would. Stupid Slingbox. The crowd is very loud. Ryan's thinking, “I could just let them shriek for 30 minutes and still earn my paycheck.” Instead, Ryan tells J-Lo she looks hot, which I think is a contractual requirement this season.
9:05 p.m. It's off to dinner with the Finalists. Caleb thinks Sam looked like an innocent cherub. CJ is impressed with Dexter's “cool smoke.” Sam says he tries singing to all of the girls, but Malaya tries showing him how to choose one and give her the eye. “I just want to say I love you all,” Jena says. Spontaneously. Totally.
9:06 p.m. In random order… The first person safe for next week is Dexter. The next person to safety is… Jena. “That's all the news we have for the moment,” Seacrest says. And everybody else will have to sit and nervously watch Daughtry. I'd much rather watch Daughtry from a position of comfort.
9:11 p.m. “I'm here with my buddy Simon Cowell,” Ryan jokes, referring to Randy. IS that a tease of some sort?
9:11 p.m. Hey, it's a Ford commercial! We haven't had these this season. Nobody missed them. Amazingly, they actually found a way to use Sam Woolf. Well-played, Ford director.
9:13 p.m. Randy has to do the intro to Daughtry, whose new single is “Waiting For Superman.” How many songs are allowed to have this name? Come on. Be more creative, Chris! It's very literal. There are references to capes and Lois Lane. Very literal. Chris is a fine rock frontman, but this isn't my favorite Daughtry song. Your results may vary. I like his light show, though. It's like b-roll from “Cosmos,” with Chris Daughtry as Neil deGrasse Tyson.
9:16 p.m. “I'll never forget that night and the look on your face,” Seacrest tells Chris, taunting him with having once been eliminated on “Idol.” Chris is a good sport and does his Shocked Bootee face.
9:21 p.m. Back to results. I love half-hour shows! Who will join Dexter and Jena? Celeb is going on. J-Lo seems pleased and Caleb does as well. Also going forward? Jessica. And Alex.
9:23 p.m. Malaya, CJ and Sam are the Bottom Three. We're really pushing this, because it's time for another commercial break. Subway's Flatizza is a stupid product with a stupid name.
9:26 p.m. Either “Surviving Jack” is starting late, or we're not even going to bother having any deliberation now.
9:26 p.m. The person at risk of elimination is Sam Woolf. Interesting. “Pick one,” Malaya tells the judges as she goes to safety. Is that what she said? And what did she mean?
9:28 p.m. Sam does “Babylon” again. And it's melodically solid, but also excruciatingly awkward, because he has no clue what to do without his guitar. On one hand, giving him the Save is fairly logical and doesn't hurt the show in any way. On the other hand, Sam has every advantage in the world and he's been in the Bottom Three thrice. He's just not connecting. Save him now? He'll go home in two weeks. Or three.
9:29 p.m. “We are unanimous. We're going to use the Save tonight,” J-Lo says. The other Finalists come out and hug Sam, as confetti pours down like Sam just won “American Idol.” Somebody is very excited and forcing the “Idol” censors cut the audio repeatedly.
9:30 p.m. Wasn't that predictable? Indeed!
9:31 p.m. Now watch “Surviving Jack”!
What do you make of Sam's repeated Bottom 3 appearances? Is he doomed next week despite the Save?