TV

‘American Idol’ Recap: What Was With That ‘Shocking Twist’?

Show introduces an 'unprecedented' changeup on Thursday night.

By Adam Graham

“American Idol” opened up on Thursday (May 1) with the two most dreaded words in the “Idol” lexicon: “Shocking twist.”

In the end, that shocking twist didn’t quite come to pass, but it threw a wrench into what was becoming a rather routine march toward the finale.

Here’s how things shook out on Thursday:

Let’s Do The Twist
Ryan Seacrest opened the show promising an “unprecedented turn of events that none of the Idols will see coming,” following up with, “two words: Shocking twist.”

There have been shocking results on “Idol” before, but twists are something different. Results come from the audience, twists come from producers. What did the show have in store?

After building up the twist nearly the whole show —calling it “a game changer” and a “difficult decision” that “will send shockwaves through the top five”—the twist was revealed: The contestants had the option to go forward with the night’s results as planned, or vote as a group to throw out the results and stay together as a group for another week, resulting in a double elimination next week.

Each contestant would receive a vote, and if they were to scrap the results, the vote had to be unanimous. So, how would they vote?

Dissension In The Ranks
When presented with the news of the twist, the contestants looked shocked. Jessica Meuse looked like someone had just slapped her in the face, which is a lot for someone from Slapout, Alabama. Caleb Johnson jumped right out in front of the group and proposed they unionize. Yes? Keep the group together?” he asked. Alex Preston seemed hesitant, and said either “no” or “I don’t know” — it was tough to make out his words. As the show cut to commercial, their fates were up in the air.

But what advantage would there be to breaking up the group? Why not stick around another week? Forget the fact that producers were attempting to null America’s votes; this was an opportunity for a close-knit group to stay together another week and, in effect, get a do-over. If someone was going to go home — and producers seemingly wouldn’t introduce this twist unless a major player’s life (Caleb Johnson? Jena Irene?) was on the line — this would give them all another chance in the competition. But on the other side, since producers seemingly wouldn’t introduce the twist unless a major player’s life was on the line, this could be a chance for someone low on the totem pole to get rid of one of the top dogs and make their path to the finale a little easier.

When they came back from commercial, Seacrest read the votes —which were cast anonymously — like Jeff Probst reading results at the end of an episode of “Survivor.” One vote “yes” to keep the group together. Two votes yes. Three votes yes. And then the other shoe dropped: One vote no. And to round things out, a second vote no.

Someone was going home. And that person was… Sam Woolf. Wait, Sam Woolf? All this was over the elimination of Sam Woolf, who voters already voted off the show four weeks ago? Seriously?

Woolf didn’t seem terribly surprised by the results, and sang Imagine Dragons’ “It’s Time” as he was embraced by his fellow contestants and the show went off the air. Fin.

The Fallout
So what was all this about? Were producers attempting to save Sam Woolf yet again? Or were they just trying to add a dose of intrigue to the show’s lowest-rated season?

Further, who were the two “no” votes? And how will fan speculation of who cast those votes affect the remaining contestants? (Before the first “no” vote was read, Meuse was shaking her head, as if she knew what was about to happen.)

Ultimately, it was business as usual. Woolf was going home anyway, but this “twist” —even though in the end it didn’t come into play —made things on the show a little more interesting. And after all, “American Idol” is a television show, and making it interesting is the name of the game.

Next week, the contestants sing songs in the theme “Love: Break-Ups and Make-Ups.” And since it comes as the group of four could be fractured like never before, the timing couldn’t be better.