On last night's results show, it would be the viewers who voted the worst boy and girl, but it would be the judges - spokesperson, Jennifer Lopez - who swung the axe.
Surely, then, the producers would embrace the spirit of constant flux. Surely there will have finally dispensed with the group performance. Alas, no. Worse, the song was Stevie Wonder's "Always." Was this a promise? Was it a threat?
Once the Glee-ful moment was past, Ryan Seacrest girded himself for his latest role as "The Harbinger of Doom," one that always begins with the words: "Dim the lights." And the hopes.
Jimmy Iovine was allowed valuable airtime to offer his emotional, ice-cold analysis. Elise Testone, he said, would be in trouble. Jessica Sanchez, he mused, shouldn't breathe in the adulation too deeply.
I am not sure Sanchez breathed in anything at all last night, as her shoes were so impossibly high that surely her lungs, nose and mouth were orbiting the International Space Station.
Testone was tossed into the bottom three of the girls. Jermaine Jones was first to be cast into the rump end of the boys.
A magically reduced Lauren Alaina, last year's runner-up, wandered onto the stage to show what a little post-"Idol" confidence can do for your figure and your vigor. This was survival making the fittest.
Then it was back to dimming the lights. Erika Van Pelt and Shannon Magrane were told they were in the bottom three.
Just before that, Iovine lectured Lopez on the subject of Skylar Laine's nostrils. He explained that if you don't like Laine's nasally quality - which Lopez had last night sniffed at - then you may never like her at all.
Suddenly, here we were - a mere 39 minutes into the show - and Iovine was already predicting that Jeremy Rosado was going to be on the Greyhound bus back to Florida. All the girls out-performed him, said the hard-headed, hard-hearted, hard-nosed vocalizer.
Joshua Ledet, together with Rosado, rounded out the bottom three for the boys. Some might have been surprised at this. But Ledet's up-tempo shriek-fest was an aural Shrekfest.
Mary J. Blige sang. She called Steven Tyler "Steve." Which made him sound like a large offensive lineman, rather than a mildly offensive old man.
The bottom four were Magrane, Rosado, Testone and Jones. When Seacrest asked Tyler which of these four deserved to go home, the wrinkly rocker made his best, most serious Maggie Smith face and declared: "Jeremy." Not "Jez." Not "Jezza." "Jeremy."
Could it be that Lopez' favorite little big boy would be going home? Even after JLo has saved him from oblivion last week?
Well, he ended up being the bottom boy. And when Magrane fist-pumped at the news that she was safe (a term her father might have remembered from his baseball days with the St. Louis Cardinals), it was Testone who was left perched on the precipice of anonymity as the girls' representative.
What would happen now? Would they have to sing again, a la "The X Factor"? Would they perhaps have to invent haikus of hope on the spot and then hum them? Would they have to turn to the judges and make a (no-doubt pitchy) pitch for their survival?
In Testone's case, this was a little unfair. She had been raspy, but certainly not unpleasant. She hadn't been as woefully wayward as Magrane. Part of her problem is, of course, image. Who is she? What does she represent? Who's going to love her, baby?
As Ford, Verizon and JLo herself advertised their wares during the break, the judges conferred. Would they don black caps before making their announcement? Would they weep, wail and wallow?
It was left to Lopez to be the town crier. "With the two we've presented to by America, obviously," she began, as if wanting us to know that her own Supreme Court might not have chosen these two.
She then umm-ed and er-ed. But, given the two presented by America, obviously, these judges didn't err. Ever keen not to offend, JLo couldn't bring herself to say that they'd decided to send Rosado home. Instead, she admitted: "We've decided to save Elise."
And so the infectious disease receptionist proved not to be very infectious. Lopez's wild card was sent back to the wilds of Florida, his nostrils full of the smoke that the judges had initially blown up his person.
We were treated to a lovely close-up of Jessica Sanchez, a large tear rolling down the right side of her face. As Rosado sank into hugs from his fellow contestants, Lopez bowed her head - and kept it bowed.
It's never easy to say goodbye to your children. Especially when you know that you're sending them back to the clinic. But show business is a cruel disease. And you could see from the frightened, excited eyes of the competitors that these kids have got the bug.