''Idol'' recap: The final two
She doesn't have to change her name to syNOsha, does she?
Sorry, I just couldn't help myself, considering how the contestant formerly known as sYESha Mercado saw her surprisingly long season 7 run end in a third-place finish tonight, giving us the finale that's pretty much been a foregone conclusion for the last 10 or 11 weeks: David ''Snuggle Bear'' Archuleta vs. David ''Cougar Bait'' Cook!
Yes, it's a little discouraging that we're headed for the season-ending extravaganza that Nigel Lythgoe has been dreaming of (and unsubtly lobbying for) since late February. But even the most ornery American Idol fan would have to admit a David-David showdown is going to be more suspenseful than any matchup involving the aggressively chipper model-actress-belter who never quite won over the judges, the squealing audiencebots, or the majority of EW.com readers.
And despite the fact that Syesha never quit trying to foil Nigel's best-laid plans, I think she knew she had less chance of cracking the final two than of seeing Simon show up for a live broadcast in a turtleneck. (Note that she failed to grin broadly during tonight's show opener, and she wasn't wearing sequins, either!) I mean, Randy pretty much foreshadowed Syesha's exit during Tuesday night's performance show when, after her fine cover of Alicia Keys' ''If I Ain't Got You,'' he praised her late-season surge and declared, ''That's why you're standing there at No. 3!''
At No. 3? Um, Randy, didn't you mean as part of the final three? Our votes count, right? You guys don't have all this mapped out back when you name the final 24, do you? You're not, like, focus-grouping the auditions and preselecting the winner based on the opinions of a dozen blond, college-educated, Ford-driving, Coke-drinking, AT&T-texting women between the ages of 18 and 34, are you?
Oh, good, whew. You scared me there for a second, dawg. Next thing you're gonna try to tell me my beloved Fantasia Barrino has dyed her hair electric pink and taken to howling and hopping around like the Exorcist Bunny!
Anyhow, back to Syesha: She was never my favorite contestant in fact, she outlasted three or four singers I liked better but I grew to admire her over the last 13 weeks. For starters, she showed amazing restraint by not hurling her microphone at the judges on Tuesday after they criticized her for performing a forgettable dance track from the Happy Feet soundtrack that had been assigned to her by the show's producers. (As a reader named Coolkid asked on our EW.com message boards, ''Why didn't the producers improve Hell's Kitchen's ratings by having a 'Slice-up Syesha' challenge on their next episode? It's basically what they're doing already!'')
NEXT: This year's best dressed