INTERIOR. A DARK HOLLYWOOD SOUNDSTAGE. Dressed in a slinky, metallic-sequined gown, a blindfolded SYESHA MERCADO is led by a pair of GOONS to center stage, where she is tied to a wooden post. One of the men lights the extra long cigarette hanging from Syesha’s mouth. She inhales, chin held high, betraying no hint of fear or desperation.
Suddenly, the floodlights are switched on. Syesha finds herself facing an angry semicircle of VIOLIN PLAYERS. From stage left, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER NIGEL LYTHGOE rubs his hands and salivates, while a deathly quiet falls over the audience. The JUDGES take their seats and prepare to speak.
RANDY: What’s goin’ down, Syesha? So listen, dawg, in round 1, your Alicia Keys cover, I dunno…for me, for you, it started out a little rough for me, but ultimately, it was equal to Little David’s ”And So It Goes.”
PAULA: Let me just start by saying that you look lovely tonight. You are authentically playing the role of Syesha with authenticity. And also, your performance of ”Fever” was definitely more in tune than Rocker David’s ”Dare You to Move.”
SIMON: What Paula and Randy are trying to say is it’s a good thing we ended with the ”producers’ choice” round, because if I’m being honest, even if the sequins in your dress miraculously began to display the image of the Virgin Mary in front of an American flag, there’s no way you’d be able to overcome the fact that we saddled you with that deplorable Rihanna knockoff from the Happy Feet soundtrack.
SYESHA lets the cigarette drop from her mouth. She smiles broadly, and though her mike has been shut off, she gamely mouths the words ”Idols oh two.” Seconds later, however, a trapdoor opens up beneath Syesha, and she falls out of view. The camera cuts to Ryan.
RYAN: Syesha, your journey ends tonight.
Backstage, NIGEL and his fellow producers jump up and down excitedly, while confetti rains down from the ceiling.
NIGEL: [Tearfully.] David wins! And so does David!
Yeah, so maybe that’s not exactly how season 7’s penultimate American Idol performance episode played out. And I’m not going to pretend to make a compelling case that over 13 weeks of live performances, Syesha has proven she truly belongs in the final two. What I will say, though, is that in a season where my very favorite TV show has repeatedly undermined its own credibility — judging some contestants before they’ve actually performed, praising others even when they noticeably botch kind-of-important details like, oh, their lyrics — it would’ve been nice if the Mistress of the Bottom Two had been allowed to compete on a musically level playing field with the dueling Davids.
Okay, end of rant. Because, keeping it really real, dawgs (yes, I just used a season 5 Randy-ism; 18 weeks into the current Idol season, I’m running out of fresh sentence transitions), and putting aside any overt or subconscious efforts by the production to sabotage her, Syesha was merely good tonight when she needed to be great.
NEXT: The judges score!