S11E9: Gather ‘round ye ladies and gentleman for the tale of Idol’s giant tease of an episode. After we find out what happened to the girl who fell on last night’s episode, we’re onto the most agonizing part of the process: forming groups for group night. But of course, after we wade through the sea of power struggles and sleep-deprived rationale, we think we’re about to get to the goods: the group performances. But there are only two minutes left! Just as one of the most contentious groups takes that final inward breath before starting their song, the episode cuts to Ryan Seacrest announcing a preview for next week. Well, damnit. And they had as all riled up and everything.
“So does that mean I get a yes?” –Symone
Before we could get into group drama, we had to take care of the unnecessary cliffhanger from last night’s episode. (You could have let us know she was okay, Nigel Lythgoe.) It turns out that Symone was suffering from dehydration and she blacked out while talking to the judges. They send her to the hospital while they finish the eliminations. After replaying their auditions in a haunting echo that made me hate just about everyone’s voice – the echo thing is just creepy, guys. On the chopping block are Ethan Jones (the contestant whose dad is in rehab, but honestly he sounded like an overgrown Backstreet Boy) and Lauren Mink (who helps disabled people for a living and changed keys in the middle of her “Alone” rendition last night). Nico Star (who I don’t really remember) and Jeremy Rosado get the green light. And with that, it’s group time.
“Nobody likes cops. Nobody wants to be in my group.” –Alisha Berhardt
Here’s a quick refresher: every contestant must find a group. Groups are four to five people and must have a combination of Day 1 and Day 2 contestants. Without fail, contestants start making groups with people from their own day group. Seriously, they do this EVERY YEAR. It would seem that no one who auditions for the show actually watches it.
And on to the usual set of group-less contestants. First up is Amy Brumfield, the girl who lives in a tent. Ryan keeps emphasizing how she’s homeless on group night, which is just a little insensitive, but hey this is Idol and they get away with that stuff. Amy has the flu so no one wants her because they’re afraid they’ll get sick – little do they know that it’s too late. By the end of the episode, everyone other contestant seems to be retching over a trashcan.
As everyone scrambles around, Alisha the singing cop can’t find anyone to sing “Joy to the World” with her until she finds two rejected contestants, including Amy. They join forces, but they need more people. They meet a duo who’s set on singing “More Than a Feeling” which is a much better choice for a group performance, but Alisha is hell-bent on getting to sing “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.” Though you think she’d have enough of it after singing it in people’s faces. She gets nasty to bully her group into doing her song and waiting for another group, but it’s getting late, so Amy and the other guy join the “More Than a Feeling” duo. And Alisha is left to find another group. She does, but not without terrifying them by asking “Do you like cops?” until they’re too scared to keep her out of the group.
“I’m soon to be a famous mentor.” –George Black
Symone comes back to the competition late and everyone has already formed groups, while she worries about securing her future, her dad brags to the camera that he’s a great stage dad and that he’ll be a famous mentor when Symone wins. Note to future famous mentor: if you can’t get your daughter to drink water, you shouldn’t brag about your leadership skills just yet.
Then we have Brielle von Hugel, a returning contestant who sang in a group with Pia Toscano last year. She’s taking charge of her group, much to group member Kyle Crews’ dismay. Luckily for Brielle, her stage mom is being a stage mom, waiting in the wings and bad-mouthing Kyle. She’s convinced that Kyle is a bad singer and he’s ruining it for the other kids – dear Brielle’s mom, he’s actually really good. You can shut up now.
“He wants to play hardball, okay. Guess who’s on my team? Jesus.” –Amy
Amy’s group is having issues because she’s too sick, but she’s not the only one. Already two other contestants are sick, including Phil Phillips. (Though Phil is suffering from a previous condition.) Why is everyone sick? Did they weaponize bird flu just so Hollywood week could get a whole lot more exciting? It’s just so outlandish. We later learn that Alisha’s teammate Christian also caught the “Idol Bug,” but she’s still being a complete and total control freak. Eventually the rest of the group acknowledges that Christian is holding them back, but Alisha is just a little too quick to want to kick the sick kid to the curb. And this is why group week is great – we learn who the truly awful people are.
“Phil had a kidney stone, and Cowboy had a brain stone or I don’t know what’s wrong with him.” –Heejun
Heejun, you are my favorite Idol contestant. Please never leave us. Heejun and Phil Phillips are together in a group with an obnoxious cowboy. That sounds like a nightmare I just made up, doesn’t it? Cowboy, as Heejun calls him (so it’s good enough for us), keeps hijacking the group and after nine hours, they haven’t gotten very far. Still Cowboy Richie decides he’s fed up and he eventually throws in the towel. You know, you can usually tell who the mediocre singers are by the fact that they turn into such controlling jerks during the forming of group night groups.
“I think a little sleep deprivation brings the best out of everybody.” –Steven
Finally, we have the Betties. This group is all girls and so when the hours get wee, they all go nuts. Half the group is ready to call it quits, saying their voices will give out if they stay up any later (which is pretty wise). One girl – let’s call her Jennifer Yellowshit because I couldn’t catch her last name in all the madness – sits alone after the other girls go home to sleep. She’s bawling and trying to practice even though it’s a ridiculous hour. Her teammate Rihanna comes back and like Rose said to Jack in that really romantic Titanic scene “I’m not leaving you!” They proceed to rehearse until 5 a.m.
And of course, they’re the first performers in the morning. Surely nothing will go wrong when we finally resume this first group performance next Wednesday. Those poor girls are going to have to hold their breaths all weekend.
Were you a little miffed at this giant tease? Or were just happy to soak up all the insanity? Plus, isn’t Heejun just the best? Let me know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler
S4:E6 Last night was the Primetime Emmy Awards, so I’d be very surprised if you watched Mad Men too…because if you were like me, you stuck yourself with a cactus thorn every time Jimmy Fallon broke out his guitar and then just passed out. Mad Men did, however, walk away with awards for Best Drama Series, Best Writing, and at last week’s Creative Arts Awards, won Best Hairstyling and Best Casting. So it was otherwise a successful night for them. Did they deserve all those awards? Let’s take a look at last night’s episode and find out.
We opened up with Don and Peggy interviewing a guy with an outrageously skinny tie, trying to school Don about what a good advertisement looks like. It turned out he was Jane’s (Roger Sterling’s wife) 24-year-old pipe smoking cousin. But since all his ads were “cures” for something, Don ushered him out and insisted he take his unoriginality with him. Peggy said he made her feel good about herself, and she asked Don if he was excited to be nominated for some award that advertisers get if they’re good at convincing us that Vicks Vapo Rub is good for when we run out of Milkbones, too.
Don went to talk to Roger about Jane’s cousin, and how all of the ads in his portfolio weren’t even ones he did: they were ones that inspired him. Then, we flashed back to a dubious time when Don was a salesman and he was helping Roger find a mink for somebody. Roger caught a glimpse of one of the ads in the store and told Don to call him…but “only for specific shipping instructions.” This scene made my heart sink a bit -- even though we’ve spent the last four seasons watching Don use and abuse his assistants and generally inhabit a climate of total superiority, it’s amazing how all it takes is one scene for us to go right back to making sure he’s got enough jelly on his peanut butter sandwich.
The flashback continued, and we saw Roger give Joan the mink. She opened up the box and found a portfolio that consisted of the ads Don had lined the suit store with. It was, of course, forgotten about when Joan took off her dress so she was only wearing his gift.
We came back to a time we're more comfortable with (one where Don asks for a “simple but significant” drink), and saw Peggy trying to get the new art designer to step up his game and stop making her do all the work. He rambled on and on about nudes before Peggy asked him if he thought his leather jacket would protect him from being the target of a Don screaming session. That seemed to resonate with him, and the two of them got to work. And by “work” I mean doing what I did in tenth grade chemistry, which was throwing pencils up in the air so they’d get stuck in the ceiling.
At the Cleo’s (the advertisement awards), Don won the award for his Glo-Coat commercial. Unfortunately, he wasn’t asked to give a speech. Instead, Joan, Roger, Don and Pete raced back to the office to make a presentation to the people at Life cereal. However, Don was totally wasted while he talked to the executives, and they didn’t seem to think average folks would understand the irony that Don incorporated into the ad. So Don, in his drunken stupor, rambled off slogans like, “Life, the cure for the common breakfast.” Which, incidentally, his inebriated conscience probably lifted from Jane’s cousin’s portfolio.
Don had his secretary lock Peggy and the art director in a hotel room so they could get some work down for a deadline they had to meet the following Monday. Peggy took off her clothes so as to “inspire” his nudist tendencies, but it only rendered him less capable of completing the task at hand.
When Roger was at the after party for the Cleo’s, he got to thinking how even though Don received the award, he was the one who found him and gave him a chance. Unfortunately, there aren’t awards for finding talent and giving it a place to grow, and Roger remembered how he sat down with Don, who was looking to get into the industry, in a bar at 10 AM. Again, it was sad to think of a time when Don had to lie to his boss so he’d get out of work and have the opportunity to stuff Roger Sterling full of olives in order to gain some insight. While this was happening, Don was back at his house having sex with a very pretty girl who hummed the Star Spangled Banner. But Don woke up the next morning to learn she was actually a waitress named Doris who gave him an endless supply of french fries the night before. Hard to believe we only saw Don experience beer goggles for the first time in the fourth season of the show.
Peggy showed up at Don’s house to remind him that he changed the Life ad from “Eat Life by the bowlful” to “Life: the cure for the common breakfast.” This upset him even more than when he learned he slept with a woman who stands in front of fries and waiting for them to fry. The next day, he called Jane’s cousin back into the office and offered him $100 for his “idea,” which Danny rejected in favor of a job. Don gave him one, but only because he remembered how Roger gave him one. It was all very “Lion King.”
I take it by now you've realized this episode was about an awards ceremony, and it aired on the night of an awards ceremony. Clever, yes. Over the top? Surely. But the message was good, and Don slept with his first unattractive woman. That alone made Mad Men worthy of all its Emmys.