9:02 p.m. ET Tonight we find out who makes it into the “American Idol” Finale. Or else we’re all just waiting around for Justin Bieber. It’s all about how you look at it, I suppose.
9:03 p.m. Over 47 million votes came in last night, Ryan tells us. That’s the most this season, not that he needs to mention it. We already know. And last year? Same week? 88 million votes.
Wednesday’s (May 19) “American Idol” recap and results after the break…
9:03 p.m. That was an awkward “Simpsons” plug, there, Ryan.
9:03 p.m. Ryan wants to get into the heads of the Top Three. With Casey James, that’s a frustrating prospect. Casey can’t speak in complete sentences, so Ryan feeds him the word “surreal.” Casey agrees, amiably, that it is, indeed, surreal. Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze explain that we don’t understand how much work goes into being on “Idol,” but Lee has learned a lot about himself. Crystal agrees. And nobody cares what Casey says.
9:05 p.m. Casey admits that he never thought he’d get this far and he says that since this is more than he ever expected, nothing that happens can be bad. Crystal’s also cool with whatever happens, but she’d love to win. Lee wants to win, as well. But he’s fine with whatever happens. Do any of these people aggressively want to win? This season needs somebody with a Russell Hantz-style sense of entitlement. This season needs somebody who’s going to say that if they lose “American Idol,” the season should be redecided based on the votes of the last nine eliminated contestants.
9:07 p.m. Oh my God. This roundtable palaver is continuing. Somebody sing!!!
9:08 p.m. In a damning indictment of the American health care system, Crystal leaves little doubt that the best thing about being on “American Idol” is the treatment she’s received for her diabetes, that she’s healthier than ever before. I expect her to add, “Before ‘American Idol,’ I hadn’t even heard of insulin!” Mostly, I want to link to this YouTube clip.
9:10 p.m. That was 10 minutes of conversation. What’s the opposite of the Algonquin Round Table?
9:13 p.m. It’s a Shepard Fairey-inspired Ford commercial set to “Wild One.” I’d buy an “Obey Idol” poster with Simon Cowell’s face on it, if you’re listening Shephard.
9:15 p.m. Time for trips home. Casey arrives in Texas and is greeted like a modern day Casey James. He gets a police escort, he visits a local FOX affiliate and, if the footage we see is any indication, he doesn’t interact with a single male fan in his whole trip. He signs a wiener dog and is basically surrounded by squeals. He’s overwhelmed. In a sweet scene, Casey goes and visits the doctors and nurses who saved his life and fixed his arm after his accident six years earlier. This is actually a really good moment. Well orchestrated, FOX.
9:18 p.m. Ryan wants to make Casey cry and asks him more about visiting the doctors. He gets choked up, but that’s not enough. Ryan wants to know what Casey felt, emotionally. Once Casey’s voice cracks in a manner Seacrest deems acceptably lachrymose, we cut to commercial.
9:24 p.m. Perez Hilton? Seriously? Apparently he discovered ort next “Idol” performer, somebody named Travis Garland.
9:25 p.m. Random dancers not actually dancing? Squealing singer I’ve never heard of before? Split screens? This is awful. Back to the Red Sox game.
9:27 p.m. Perez Hilton must have incriminating pictures of somebody at FOX. Otherwise, that was an inexcusable waste of my time.
9:32 p.m. We’re off to Ohio with Crystal. She also gets a police escort and heads straight to a local FOX affiliate in Toledo. The contrast between Crystal fans and Casey fans is utterly hilarious. She’s appreciated by children, by older people, by whole families. The squealing isn’t as deafening, but the whole thing seems a good deal more like a celebration and less like a horrible orgy-waiting-to-happen. Crystal does a concert where she performs an original song and throws out the first pitch at a baseball game.
9:36 p.m. Crystal isn’t shy about crying at Ryan’s prodding. He doesn’t have to ask what she’s feeling emotionally. She’s actually capable of showing us.
9:37 p.m. Lee’s kind of town, Chicago is. He gets a police escort straight to his local FOX affiliate and to an AT&T store. Dude. Lee gets to throw out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game [Crystal only got the Toledo Mud Hens.]. I want to be Lee now. Oh and if “American Idol” comes down to a First Pitch-Off between Lee and Crystal, Lee’s unbeatable. He goes to his old elementary school and to his paint store. “American Idol” is so totally in the bag for Lee this season. His clip package has an entirely different rhythm and focus than either of the other two.
9:41 p.m. Ryan uses Lee’s father as the emotional leverage to get tears. But even though Lee was crying through his whole visit home, he keeps it together now.
9:46 p.m. Singing “You Smile” and “Baby,” it’s Justin Bieber. Thank you, Travis Garland, for making Justin Bieber look like an absolute musical genius.
9:50 p.m. I’m not sure I even realized that Justin Bieber was an actual person. I thought he was just a Twitter trending topic.
9:51 p.m. This is still a results show, right? We haven’t decided to do a Top Three this year, have we?
9:54 p.m. Whew. Here come some results. Everybody loved Lee last night. Everybody half-loved Crystal. Nobody hated Casey last night, but he was already kinda a third wheel.
9:54 p.m. The first person in next week’s finale is… Lee. He isn’t sheepish at all. He pumps his fist and, maybe for the first time, looks more excited than humble and grateful.
9:55 p.m. The second person in the finale is… Crystal Bowersox. It’s a confusing way of reading the results and Crystal is all, “I’m safe? I’m safe?!?” Ryan has to reassure Crystal that she’s safe, while also slapping Casey upside the head with his elimination. Way to kill the moment, Seacrest.
9:56 p.m. Casey saw this one coming. He shrugs, smiles and launches into her version of “Daughters,” even acquiring an unidentified small child from the audience. Who is this little girl? So far, nobody on Twitter has answered me, so at least it’s not something obvious that I missed. Casey James is, so far as I know, serenading a tiny stranger.
9:59 p.m. Ah, Casey James’ journey. From Kara’s boy-toy to… Kara and America’s boy-toy.
10 p.m. That means that next week, it’s Lee and Crystal. It’s the finale we’ve been expecting since late March and it’s probably the finale we deserve. I’m pretty sure Lee’s gonna win, but will they find a way to let Crystal do a duet with Melissa Etheridge or Bonnie Raitt? It seems practically mandatory.
Are you surprised by tonight’s results? Of course you aren’t! Are you satisfied with the Top Two? And does anybody want to defend Travis Garland?