9:00 p.m. "In my hand, I hold the results that may shock you..." Ryan Seacrest teases, kicking off the start of Wednesday (March 18) night's "American Idol." Am I up for a good shocking? Why yes, I am.

9:01 p.m. Over 31 million votes came in last night. That's the good news (unless you remember that 33 million votes were cast last week and unless you compare last night's ratings to the previous Tuesday's numbers). The bad news is that we can look forward to performances by Brad Pais ley, Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis. Again, I'm disappointed we won't get a performance by Macho Man Randy Savage.

9:02 p.m. Ryan reminds us that in the entire storied history of "American Idol," the Judges' Save has yet to be used. A partially audible Simon Cowell can be heard muttering, "It's only been one week." Then Ryan again teases the possibility that a surprise may be coming.

[Results and that surprise after the break...]

9:05 p.m. Last night's show happened. I was there for it the first time. I'd rather watch a few minutes of NIT hoops than relive it.

9:06 p.m. The Group Sing is set to "Trouble," with Scott MacIntyre tickling the ivories and Megan Joy pretending to dance. Some critics speculated on possible lip-synching last week. I certainly can't rule it out. Nobody's given the chance to solo, so there aren't any lapses or embarrassments. Maybe this is just a group whose voices blend better than previous "Idol" clumpings?

9:10 p.m. Did somebody order a Kristin McNamara audition? I'd already forgotten about her, though she might have done well with last night's Country Theme.

9:13 p.m. Oh, Ryan. It isn't a smooth transition if you say, "I understand you had fun shooting the Ford music video this weekend" without transitioning out of anything. Set to "Here It Goes Again," the ad finds our singers throwing water-filled condoms at each other.

9:14 p.m. Every week we say good-bye to somebody. Previously, we've never had to see what happened after the lights went down. The answer? Tears. Everywhere tears. Alexis Grace, and Lil Rounds have tears, so you can just imagine what Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez were like. It turns out they all go out to dinner and the winners pay tribute to the losers. 

9:16 p.m. Alexis had some idea that losing people would be this emotional, but it was even more emotional than she'd have guessed. And speaking of emotional, Michael Sarver is missing his kids. Last week, his daughter asked him why he doesn't wanna be with her anymore. Awwwwwww. He's all teary, as he tells his daughter through the camera that he loves her. This is about as shameless a plug for a contestant as I can recall, especially for a contestant who, by any rights, should be going home tonight. "That just kinda touched/broke my heart," says Megan.

9:18 p.m. Let's get to some results. Danny Gokey wasn't at his best last night, but he wouldn't be The Redeemer if he weren't safe. He's the first member of the Top 10, which means he's the first person on the Tour. Lil is up next and she's also in the Top 10. She thanks Jesus, who previously took the wheel for Danny. Anoop had a comeback performance last night and he's safe. When is he ever going to finish that graduate work?

9:20 p.m. Allison Iraheta and Michael stand together. Ryan asks Paula to guess who's in the Bottom Three. "None of them," is Paula's not-clear-on-the-concept answer. Paula says that based on their critiques, Allison should be in the Bottom Three. That doesn't correlate at all with what was actually said last night, but Paula's correct. Allison initially sounds shocked, but declares, "Ain't no thang," as she wanders over to the Stools of Shame.

9:22 p.m. That wasn't very nice. Michael sat down after Ryan sent Allison off to the Bottom Three, but he has to stand up and join her. He's also Stool of Shame-bound. 

9:27 p.m. Chris Carpenter went six strong innings today for the Cardinals. Does that mean I did something smart in drafting him at the tail-end of my fantasy baseball draft? Oh. Hi, Brad Paisley. How 'bout that Baylor-Georgetown NIT game? 

9:31 p.m. That was amazingly dull, Brad.

9:35 p.m. Back to results. The Unsinkable Scott is going on Tour. Simon and Paula exchange looks that either say, "Good God, what did we do?" or "Stop touching my butt, you perv." Megan is barely able to stand, so Ryan lets her sit down in safety. Matty Giraud, who pierced Paula's heart last night, will get to stab many more circulatory organs in the weeks to come. He's safe to distract me with that throbbing vein in his forehead. Kris "Who?" Allen will get another chance to remind me who he is.

9:38 p.m. That leaves Alexis and Adam Lambert, who make for a funny height-discrepancy sight gag when they're standing next to each other. Simon stands by his insulting of Adam's performance from last night. Ryan asks Randy to guess who's in the Bottom Three. Randy explains to the crowd that Adam's cover of "Ring of Fire" was Jeff Buckley's arrangement before blundering Alexis' name and guessing she's in the Bottom Three. He's correct.

9:40 p.m. That puts Michael, Alexis and Allison in the Bottom Three. Ryan quickly sends Allison to safety.

9:41 p.m. Interesting. If it's Michael going home, nobody will care. If it's Alexis, the we may see the Judges' Save invoked, because this is way too soon for her to be going home.

9:45 p.m. We're treated to a journey through Carrie Underwood's rise from Robo-Carrie to American Idol to Worldwide Musical Sensation. This performance would be far awesomer if she were dueting with Randy Savage.

9:50 p.m. Is it sacrilege to say that Carrie sounds really sharp on some of her higher notes? Then again, I have a bumper sticker on my car that says "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Bo Bice."

9:52 p.m. Simon says that they've had a conversation and they may consider saving one of the two contestants. Gee, I wonder which one. That will make it extra cruel either way. If Michael's booted, the judges can just be all "See-YA!" And he'll know he wasn't even worthy of consideration. If Alexis is eliminated and the judges don't use the Save, she'll know that she was worthy of consideration, but not worthy of saving.

9:56 p.m. After the vote... Michael is safe. Alexis is going home. OR IS SHE?

9:57 p.m. Simon acknowledges that Alexis was the one they were considering saving and tells her that she's singing for her life.

9:57 p.m. Alexis launches into "Jolene" as the judges put their heads together and pretend to thing. She's better tonight, in no small part because she does away with the verse she did in falsetto last night. Her voice cracking on a couple notes actually helps.

9:59 p.m. Simon, looking genuinely miserable, says Alexis was close, but not good enough. This was, for the record, EXACTLY the right time for them to use the save. Alexis should have been good for a run of five or six more weeks minimum. Heck, I saw her as a viable candidate to win the whole thing. For them to keep the Save around to extend Danny or Adam's life for a week or two later in the competition is just a mistake.

10:00 p.m. Color this recapper mighty ticked off. The anti-democratic Judges' Save exists as a way of saying "America, you kinda blew it." Well, tonight, America kinda blew it.

10:02 p.m. What has two thumbs and is really annoyed at the "American Idol" judges right now?

10:05 p.m. This guy.

What'd you think? Was this the week to use the Judges' Save? Or was Alexis not good enough to be worth saving? Wouldn't it just have been humane to send Michael home to his daughter?

 

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