Last night on Twitter, after Astro landed in the bottom two but before Astro's series of stunts, I said that if Astro was eliminated after being the best of last week, the first paragraph of my recap would just be one big angry rant. Astro did not get eliminated, so no big angry rant for you. Instead, allow me to present the shitshow that was last night in another form:
THE VEX FACTOR
A farce in one act
Stacy Francis: (over 30), Internet scapegoat with vibrato and an inevitable ouster ahead
Astro: (can act 14 and also act 4), young rapper on the verge of killing his chances of winning
Simon Cowell: (won't tell you), mogul. British.
Paula Abdul: (ageless), charmingly wacky or wackily charming lady with hidden depths
Nicole Scherzinger: (ambiguous), aspiring singer who probably also has hidden depths
L.A Reid: (not even an issue), the man
Steve Jones: (nobody's bothered to ask), trying very hard to pass a Turing Test
Rihanna (only early 20s), Rihanna
Sony Photographer (whatever), who takes pictures of people and talks about Sony
Sony (the beginning of brand time), beneficiary of product placement
The Other Contestants: (ranges 13-60s), mostly singers, specifically:
Drew Ryniewicz (14), wonderstruck
Lakoda Rayne (early twenties), equal knowledge of country music, the Lakota nation and rain
Chris Rene (youngish), wearing sunglasses in the same attempted spirit as Bono's Fly guy
Melanie Amaro (late teens), an everygirl who can sing like whoa
Marcus Canty (same), exuberant
Josh Krajcik (over 30), slinger of burritos
Leroy Bell (60s), quiet and professional
Rachel Crow (13), moppet
STEVE: All right, recapper, off you go, please welcome to the X Factor stage... ROCK! Ahem. QUEEN!
(QUEEN doesn't show up, nor does ROCK. THE OTHER CONTESTANTS instead sing "We Will Rock You" and belt, never in unison. Stage managers may substitute lip synching if the production budget requires. CHRIS RENE has somehow acquired five years' worth of rap experience and skill now, when it doesn't count. ASTRO kills it.)
STEVE: Very good, very good. Now The X Factor is going to go through its elimination segments and performances in no particular order, but since I am a character in a farce I will do them last. Please welcome... THE RECAPS!
(THE OTHER CONTESTANTS are recapped. STACY is captured in grimace. RACHEL does an adorable dance.)
RACHEL: I did it, I did it, I did it...
(THE OTHER CONTESTANTS continue to be recapped. LAKODA RAYNE gives Facebook-photo rock horns. MARCUS decided not to change his jeweled sleeves after his performance.)
STEVE: Brilliant. Now, in no particular order, please welcome....A FILLER PHOTOSHOOT BY SONY!
(SONY PHOTOGRAPHER takes SONY photos. MARCUS smooches STACY. EVERYONE affects shock. EVERYONE affects big-upping SONY. RIHANNA's hit single titled "Come On, Come On, I Like-It-Like-It" plays to at least three 13 or 14-year-olds.)
STEVE: Excellent, excellent, boys and girls. Now, viewers and producers and Navy members who will never watch this show again: RIHANNA!
(RIHANNA, who is introduced by hit singles "Only Girl (in the World)," "What's My Name" and "Na-Na-Na-Na, Come On," performs "We Found Love" amidst a neon wasteland and jumps around. BACKUP DANCERS incongruously writhe. RIHANNA does not even try to hide the fact that she's lip synching. The performance should be a hopeless place, and the audience should not love it.)
RIHANNA: (flirts with Steve, is ignored) Contestants! In order to succeed, just do what you love! (aside) And work from the minute you wake up until the minute you don't sleep because you're too busy working! (makes many kinds of eyes at Steve) Love my record! (leans in toward Steve) Love me, perhaps! (does not rib L.A. as was originally filmed).
STEVE: Ah, the teleprompter. Brilliant, brilliant, off you go--the results!
(LEROY BELL is safe. NICOLE SCHERZINGER beams like her album finally came out. LAKODA RAYNE is safe. EVERY OTHER CONTESTANT AND EVERY JUDGE BUT SIMON AND PAULA tries to hide their shock and dismay.)
PAULA: I told you so! I told you so! I'm going to be ridiculously happy for the entire episode for the feat of succeeding with one contestant, and it's going to giddy me up enough to make the one good decision of the night!
(CHRIS is safe and affects swag. MELANIE is safe and thrilled silly. JOSH is safe and is just like "yup." MARCUS is safe and is like "fuck yeah" but does not say "fuck," because he is all family-values now.)
L.A.: Hey, is it just me or does this mean one of Drew, Rachel Crow and Astro is in the bottom two?
STEVE: In no particular order. ...yes.
L.A.: This world is bullshit.
(THE WORLD continues on anyway. DREW is safe and looks genuinely shocked, which she shouldn't because she is DREW and thus has Simon Cowell immunity. RACHEL is safe. ASTRO, by the process of elimination, is not safe. THE WORLD stops continuing on.)
STEVE: Brilliant, smashing... wait a second, I do believe this is a bottom-two shocker! How do you feel?
STACY: (doesn't speak, seems really genuinely hurt, and you should all probably go easy on this moment if you must judge individual moments)
ASTRO: Hip hop made it this far, and hip hop can prevail still! I think?
KATHERINE: Hi there. I'm going to insert myself into this recap because it's not fair to Astro for him to be my mouthpiece. America voting Chris Rene through and not Astro shows a stunning collective lack of taste and hip-hop knowledge. The Billboard Hot 100 has been full of hip hop for the past few years when it hasn't been full of Euro-dance, and perhaps somebody out there could make the eminently useful suggestion that perhaps if shows like The X Factor would just embrace hip hop instead of dad-pop or The New Boring, they might be much more successful in getting artists to chart--country music, more every season, is the other way to chart, but The X Factor kiboshed that quite soundly several episodes again and are pushing Lakoda Rayne really, really, really hard to compensate. And yeah, looks like I did decide to spend an entire paragraph ranting, but seriously, when you allow people under 14 onto a show you should not be shocked when people under 14 act like people under 14, even if it's going to destroy all the groundwork the show's done for Astro's image and will undoubtedly make a lot of Internet commenters very smug and insufferable as they bring this up on every X Factor article from now until forever, and make a lot of Astro fans very disappointed, and you know what?
STEVE: Time's up, excellent, great, off you go, come along. In no particular order... let our contestants sing for their survival!
(STACY sings "Amazing Grace" backed by the SFX choir they use whenever something miraculous happens in a children's cartoon. THE SUBTEXT is no longer subtext. To be fair, she sings better than she has in weeks. Then ASTRO takes the stage. But...!)
ASTRO: I'm not going to perform. In fact, I'm going to go up on stage instead and tell you all how I'm not going to perform. But do you think I should perform? L.A., is there any particular timeline in this universe in which you will actually allow me not to perform?
TWITTER: (loses its shit; the one appropriate moment for the Twitter-ometer does not happen)
L.A.: I hate you so much right now.
(ASTRO does in fact perform. He is okay, but it is not his best showing, and STACY is objectively better.)
STEVE: Brilliant, both of you into my steel-plated arms as the judges deliver their verdicts. Come along, come along.
L.A.: (chews ASTRO out for a full minute. It is excruciating.) I cannot believe you right now. I literally cannot believe somebody allowed this to happen on a reality competition. I'm going to save you, because you are my mentee, but just know that I really, really, really hate you right now. (Saves ASTRO.)
NICOLE: I'm going to dither and blather as if it's not perfectly obvious that I'm going to save Stacy, just like it was obvious that L.A. was going to save Astro, because it's too early in the season for a SHOCKING JUDGE BETRAYAL and there's been enough shock on this episode so far. (Saves STACY.)
PAULA: I'm going to save Astro because I have more taste. In doing so, I'm going to essentially eliminate all suspense from this rigmarole, especially since Simon said earlier in the show that Astro was his favorite and since there wasn't much redeeming to Stacy's performance last night, but it is a decision that must be made now to keep this mess from going on further. (Saves ASTRO; is smarter than anyone gives her credit for.)
SIMON: (Chews ASTRO out for another full minute. It is even more excruciating.) Because it's my duty to outdo L.A. in all things, including hating you so much right now, I will do so.
ASTRO: I'm just a kid and not a professional yet, and I'm going to react live on TV like lots of not-yet-pro kids would: I don't want to perform for people who don't want me here.
AUDIENCE: (clamoring) ASTRO! ASTRO! ASTRO! ASTRO!
(EVERYBODY ignores the audience.)
SIMON: You know what, Stacy probably got the fewest votes anyway, so let's just end this. (Saves ASTRO.)
STEVE: Very good, very good. Stacy, now that you've been eliminated from a reality TV show, how do you feel? Why, what's this expression on your face? I am not familiar with it!
STACY: (a class act) I'm going to take responsibility for my performance last night in a way much more graceful than anything that's gone down thus far this episode. Thank you for the tremendous opportunities, thanks to all my fans. Please don't yell at me too much on Vote for the Worst. (exits)
THE INTERNET: (goes to every comments section to complain about Astro was a brat--to be fair, tonight they had a point for once)
MORE INTERNET: (goes to every comments section to complain about how Stacy was a plant and ungracious, having obviously ignored her final speech)
KATHERINE: There has never been anything more worthy of that GIF, so let's have it again. That is my reaction. It is my reaction to everything. Next week, let's all forget any of this ever happened. Astro is a star who didn't derail the proceedings ludicrously, next week's episode will have drama that's less mind-boggling, the singing will be good, et cetera, OK? OK. (exeunt)