American Idol, Castro Cast Off

Ever have a birthday where someone tried to throw you a surprise party, but you found out about it first? So you pretended that you didn't know, and acted all surprised when everyone jumped out from behind the couch. But you didn't care because the party was great and you got to see all your friends and eat cake and open presents. The fact that it wasn't a "surprise" didn't diminish your enjoyment at all. Ever have a birthday like that?

Well that's what American Idol was like tonight.

Jason Castro's elimination-at-last wasn't a surprise at all. But that doesn't stop us from enjoying it.

The dreadlocked dude from Texas finally reached the end of his Idol adventure, after a couple of absolutely dismal performances Tuesday night. Jason rightly and thankfully got fewer votes than David Archuleta, David Cook or Syesha Mercado, earning him a trip back to his home town of Rockwall.

Actually, the fact that it wasn't a surprise was a bit of a surprise. In the previous month, we've seen Michael Johns, Carly Smithson and Brooke White all go home on weeks when they shouldn't have.

Truth is, I tuned in expecting to see Jason survive and watch one of the other three go home. I was ready to start screaming at my set if Ryan had told Syesha she was eliminated instead of Jason.

Even Jason knew he should have gotten the boot. He was clearly expecting it. I think he has been for several weeks now. Since about the time he stopped trying, or even pretended to try.

His renditions of "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" last night were so awful that even HE joked about it, saying a friend had told him, "He shot the tambourine man." (That's pretty clever. Wish I'd thought of that one.)

True, every year there's a contestant who makes it farther than they should. Last year it was Sanjaya Malakar. But even he didn't make the final four. Or the final five for that matter.

If, somehow, Jason had survived, there might have been a real Idol revolt. Just based on a few emails I've received, I think some fans might have given up on the show.

But everyone can breathe a big sigh of relief. With this one elimination, there is harmony once again in the American Idol universe. There is little or no question that all three remaining contestants, Syesha, David and David, deserve to be there fighting for the finals.

Actually, Jason isn't the only one going home after tonight. Next week is the annual "hometown" episode where contestants will head back to their respective cities, presumably to a hero's welcome.

A few other Idol notes:

Ryan told us that 51 million votes were cast, one of the highest vote totals ever. Maybe now he'll stop begging for votes at the end of every show and chiding us that our favorite singer might go home if we don't call or text.

The opening song by the contestants was "Reelin' in the Years." After Simon blasted several contestants for dismal song choices last night, what brilliant producer chose THIS song? I have three words for whomever it was: Horr. Uh. Bull.

We got to see the Idols' trip to Las Vegas to see a Cirque du Soleil show. Completely boring and pointless, except it helped them fill about five minutes in a show that should really only be a half an hour.

Those gosh-forsaken viewer calls were back. Absolutely inane and worthless, except it helped them fill another five minutes in a show that should only be a half an hour.

Maroon 5 performed their new single, "If I Never See Your Face Again." Actually, it's not that new. Their album came out before Memorial Day last year. Maroon 5 is definitely an acquired taste. Not mine. I had flashbacks to Blake Lewis beat boxing last year.

Former Idol Bo Bice, runner-up to Carrie Underwood, sang his new single "Witness." Actually, this song isn't that new either. The single came out before Halloween last year. If Maroon 5 is an acquired taste, Bo Bice is inedible to me. I'm not buying the whole "southern rocker" bit. It feels a little manufactured to me. And what was up with the Frampton voice box thing?

So Jason's gone, leaving Syesha, David A. and David C. to battle it out. Will it be a David-versus-David final? Or will Syesha pull off a New York Giants-esque underdog win and knock one of the Goliath Davids off? See you next week.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.