I'm back on recap duty tonight because Thad is reporting again from the "American Idol" viewing party in Garner. I'll try to make him proud!
The three finalists come out for a quick hello, and the first thing I notice is that Scotty is not wearing plaid. I repeat: Scotty is not wearing plaid.
Seacrest throws us straight to a filmed segment where the three finalists (Scotty, Haley, Lauren) plus ousted James Durbin meet J.J. Freakin' Abrams at his Bad Robot production company. Scotty is wearing his Garner "Blue Crew" t-shirt. If Garner High is not selling those on the internet now to raise money for their Booster Club, they are missing a huge opportunity.
Abrams shows the Idols scenes from his latest film, "Super 8," a movie about some kids who ... do something. It must be connected to Fox in some way. I can tell you it has Kyle Chandler from "Friday Night Lights" and it's in 3D. The Idol kids just see a little and they beg for more. Don't get greedy!
Abrams gives each of them a cool Super 8 camera to take back for their hometown visits. They are so excited. Scotty screams, "J.J. is in it to win it!"
Back in the "Idol" studio, 13-year-old actress Elle Fanning, who stars in "Super 8," refuses to tell Seacrest who her favorite Idol is, but does say her 8-year-old cousin's favorite is Scotty. Actually, she did so much giggly mugging for the camera before revealing that big secret, Seacrest almost cut her off to go to commercial. This isn't "The Elle Fanning Show," miss!
Our first hometown visit is Haley, who travels back to Wheeling, Illinois, via Chicago. It's raining like crazy, but there are big crowds. Haley has an emotional reunion with her family and her friends, and she gets a parade. She greets crowds at the local high school gym, then gets a police escort to a huge rainy concert at Arlington Park. Haley pretty much rocks out at her concert, and her dad is playing on stage with her.
Back on the "Idol" stage, Seacrest talks to Haley about the visit while her G I G A N T I C "Idol" bodyguard Aaron stands by with a box of Kleenex pretending to cry.
Next we see a Ford commercial where Scotty, Haley, and Lauren hang out at the beach playing volleyball and frolicking in the sand. Tween girls are weeping at home right now.
Then "Idol" tries to force a little culture on us by making us listen to the teen Italian tenor group, Il Volo, who sing "O Sole Mio" (us simple folk know that by Elvis Presley's verison, "It's Now or Never"). They are quite good, but pretty sure they aren't crossing over with McCreerians.
Thirty minutes into the show we get Scotty's Garner visit. The tape opens with Scotty's visit to the WQDR radio station. Mobs of girls, some of them are crying. Someone from the crowd hands Scotty a Krispy Kreme donut and he eats it. I would too, even though it was probably from a stranger. Back in the stretch SUV, all Scotty can say is "Wow. Wow. Wow."
Scott goes home and hugs his family and we see his room. If your tweenager fainted during that part, I hope you revived her fast because there's a lot of good stuff happening really quickly right now. Like WOLFPACK BEDSPREAD.
Next up is Garner High. The soundtrack to all of this is the Avett Brothers' "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise." Designed to make you cry, I swear. Not fair.
Scotty hangs with his friends, throws a few pitches with his teammates, then gets back in the SUV. In the SUV, Scotty starts sobbing. Real "ugly cry" time. I can't help it, I'm crying too. That Avett Brothers song really is not helping.
Scotty then goes to Lowes Foods and dons his apron. You can tell everywhere he goes he's just overwhelmed by the support of his hometown fans. They quickly cut to Scotty's parade, and a truly priceless shot is of a young girl following along by Scotty's convertible, just crying like somebody died. She shouldn't feel alone because Scotty's crying just as hard in the car.
At the Garner concert, we see that unforgettable footage of Josh Turner surprising Scotty during his signature "Baby Lock Them Doors" song. That moment is so good. And again, at the end of his concert, Scotty is bawling on the stage.
We hear Scotty say it might be the best day of his life.
Back in the "Idol" studio, Seacrest sits in the audience with Scotty and his mom and dad, Judy and Mike McCreery, and asks them about that day. They agree it was an emotional day for all of them. Scotty's mom says she and Scotty were both in tears most of the day, and that the town of Garner "went above and beyond" for her boy.
Seacrest kills my verklempt moment by introducing Nicole Scherzinger to sing some post-Pussycats song. This is great because it gives me a chance to mute the TV and proofread what I've written so far.
And we're back.
We see Lauren's hometown trip to the Northern Georgia-Tennessee Valley area. Lauren cries a lot anyway, and she's crying a lot during the visit. We go through the happy stuff really quickly, and then we get to watch Lauren see some of that area's horrifically devastating tornado damage for the first time. It's truly unbelievable. At one point, Lauren rides by a school where she played basketball, and then she meets a little boy who rescued his baby brother after the storm. Am I even typing any of this right? Because I can't see the screen at all.
Lauren also gets a parade and a concert at the really pretty Coolidge Park in Chattanooga. At her concert she tells the crowd how sorry she is that all that bad stuff happened around there and my screen gets blurry again.
Lauren also says it's the best day of her life.
Now we get some results.
Scotty is safe! And Garner goes wild!
Then -- boom! No delay -- Lauren moves on to the finale with Scotty.
Personally, I really wanted Haley in. Sigh. I guess I can't have everything I want.
Okay, McCreerians. It's on. First off, bone up on all your Scotty news. Then, do some finger exercises to make sure you're limber and in shape for dialing next week.