One week from now, Season 13 of "American Idol" will be over. Actually, it will have been over for a day, since "Idol" will be shifting to its usual Tuesday/Wednesday Finale schedule, which allows FOX to slip in the season-closer on the last night of the 2013-2014 Nielsen season. Back when "American Idol" was the Biggest Show In All The Land, that used to be really meaningful.
Now? Meh. But it doesn't hurt.
Tonight's show will feature our Top 3 results, a performance by Scotty McCreery, plus long and tear-filled clip packages about the joys of visiting FOX affiliates in New Hampshire, Michigan and North Carolina.
Settle in and enjoy the hour-long ride...
9:01 p.m. ET. After bringing out Grumpy Cat last week, Ryan Seacrest is pandering to dog lovers with an adorable puppy named Georgia. Awwww.
9:02 p.m. PUPPY.
9:02 p.m. Jena Irene, Caleb Johnson and Alex Preston look miserable.
9:03 p.m. Jennifer Lopez looks, once again, like she's walking the runway. I'm not sure that "Idol" deserves Emmys, but whoever has been costuming J-Lo this season certainly deserves some sort of award. "I didn't think you were ready for a puppy," J-Lo tells Ryan.
9:04 p.m. Can Caleb speak?
9:04 p.m. What happened at dinner last night? Well, burgers happened. Jena is impressed with Caleb battling sickness. Alex is impressed with Caleb's mic-slamming. Alex had never sung and drummed at once. And now we're paying tribute to J-Lo dancing to Caleb's "Dazed and Confused" last night, which was definitely a season highlight. "Whoever goes home tonight, they will have missed the finale," says Randy, who is being intercut here even though nobody invited him to dinner.
9:06 p.m. They're BFFs for life. Yeah. Sure.
9:11 p.m. Ford Commercial time. They're driving to record their debut singles. We get snippets. None of them sound especially good. And why can we download the singles starting tonight? That means there will be no sense of discovery next week. Boo.
9:12 p.m. Jena has two dogs. And she went back to Farmington, Michigan, where the dogs greeted her. She started with a visit to the local FOX affiliate. She started with Coney Dogs at Hercules, where people were very excited to see her. She even makes a big show of waiting at least one table. Hugs! Kisses! Tears! Jena's room is disturbingly clean. Does anybody really believe that? A parade! More tears! Running mascara! A worthless key to the city! More tears! And glow sticks!
9:17 p.m. Ryan was all choked up by how emotional Jena's grandparents got. On the finale, Jena will perform with Paramore. She's very pleased.
9:22 p.m. Elliott Yamin and Danny Gokey! Those are people! Danny got married and his wife is now pregnant with his second child. He just got signed by BMG. Good for him, I guess. Elliott has been living the dream and making music. "Mazel gov," Elliott says to the show on its 500th episode. Elliott Yamin will always be my Jewish Idol.
9:25 p.m. Just in time for me to be wishing I had a new episode of "Surviving Jack" to be watching, Scotty McCreery takes the stage. The hashtag tells me this single is called "Feelin' It."
9:29 p.m. Scotty gets a kiss from J-Lo and awkwardness ensues.
9:32 p.m. I'm so, so, so, so tired of that "Gigantic" commercial for the iPhone 5.
9:32 p.m. As you may have noticed, FOX abruptly decided to push "I Wanna Marry 'Harry'" up to next Tuesday. If you care.
9:34 p.m. Let's go back to New Hampshire with Alex Preston! Team New Hampshire! He starts in Manchester and continues through many of my favorite parts of the state. Yay! Family! Hugs! Tears! Alex's old high school band visits. They hang out by a stone wall. Mont Vernon Town Hall! Governor Maggie Hassan! A parade through Durham! [Jena's footage was much more emotional. We've got J-Lo in a split-screen and you can tell she wants to cry, but she's just not feeling it.] Alex's day closes with a concert, but that was a really, really cold trip home.
9:39 p.m. Alex will be performing with Jason Mraz next week.
9:44 p.m. Will Caleb have a more emotional trip than Alex? If nothing else, he had more biscuits and gravy. He begins by surprising the kids at the Rock Academy. They don't seem hugely impressed. Jena is definitely getting the best visit-home edit so far. But Caleb is getting the most food. He jams with his band and visits Biltmore Estates. Caleb's concert seems like it was the best of the concerts home, even if it left him sick and tired for Idol. Parade! But no tears at all.
9:48 p.m. Caleb's brother Houston is a large young man. Caleb is performing with KISS. That's kinda fun. But will he be in makeup? Will they be in makeup?
9:52 p.m. Time to send somebody home!
9:53 p.m. Ryan thanks the Top 3 for what they've done this season.
9:53 p.m. Nobody cares what Randy Jackson thought last night.
9:54 p.m. The first person in the finale is... Jena Irene. Yup. At this point I can't deny that she sure feels like the show's favorite.
9:54 p.m. The person joining Jena in the finale is... Caleb Johnson.
9:54 p.m. ALEX PRESTON is going home. Note that while Harry Connick Jr. doesn't stand for great performances, he's the first person to stand to honor Alex. I like that.
9:55 p.m. Probably this was the correct vote, which doesn't mean that with proper packaging that Alex couldn't be very successful. He's quirky, but he's quirky in a commercial way and he's got ample musical talent. Caleb vs. Jena was the finale we've been building to for a while, though.
9:57 p.m. I like Alex and what he brought to "Idol" this season. New Hampshire represent!
9:58 p.m. Reminder that we've got "Idol" on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
Thoughts? Did America get it right? Do you like this final pairing?