Last night was, truly, the most shocking rose ceremony in Idol history. Well, OK, maybe not in history entire, but certainly this season. It was a big deal, you guys. A big, big deal.

Normally we'd spend some time talking about the silly group number and the dopey celebrity performances. Normally we'd swoon over Kris Allen and firmly denounce the uncle/nephew pairing (seriously) of LMFAO for the utter bozos they are. But these are not normal times. Normal things are not done now, here in this light-plagued new morning. Yes, the light has come and banished all the dark away. Our night prince is dead, America. Colton, our Colton, is gone.

Colton was sent home last night. Colton was in the bottom three with Elise and Hollie, two perpetual bottomers, and yet Colton, the perpetual topper (well, that's debatable), was sent packing. He was slain with a sword of light, banished from the bright, waking world, sent back to his kingdom of black and bones. Everyone seemed shocked. Positively everyone was stunned. Sure Colton promised them their doom, but still. He was their Colton. Yes he aimed to bring about the end of human days, but he had such a nice smile, such a haunting, penetrating stare. O Colton! Why were you vanquished? Proud demon of blood and horror, what slew you so cruelly?

Seriously, wtf happened? I'm of two minds on this seriously surprising elimination. First, what they want us to believe: Colton bobbled this week. He sang two bad-fit songs (well, I thought "September" was a better fit than the judges) and didn't sing them all that well and so people didn't feel compelled to vote for him, figured him safe anyway so why not throw this week's support behind someone else, and enough people did that that Colty boy ended up a bottom when he'd never bottomed before. We've seen this happen in the past, with Chris Daughtry of course and others before and since him. This old show does still pack a few surprises, the unexpected still occasionally occurs. Colton perhaps flew too close to the sun. Maybe there was hubris not just on his part, but on the fans' as well. Maybe everyone just got too comfortable and Colton paid the ultimate price for it. Maybe that's what happened.

Or, maybe that's bullsh-t. Maybe this show is pulling some super strings. Let's say they want a girl to win, they want Jessica Sanchez to be their prize princess. What do they do to ensure that? They scare everyone into voting for her and then, whammy, when everyone's still reeling from that they eliminate the guy favorite. Maybe this is partly me just covering my own ass because I had him going all the way in my bracket, but part of me just does not believe that Elise, after one boring and one unpleasant performance on Wednesday night, got more votes than Colton Dixon did. I'm sorry, I just do not believe that. I smell conspiracy, I sense deceit. Maybe they made some deal with him, said hey champ we gotta get rid of you but here's this this and this in return. Maybe that's what happened to our buddy boy. I can almost picture the meeting, a dark office somewhere, a few murmured words, a shaking of hands, a pat on the back, some suit saying "This'll all work out, you'll see. It's the best thing, it's the best thing for everyone." I believe that such sinister deals go down in H-town all the time. It's showbiz, after all. America's most evil profession.

Though, a few things poke holes in this theory. Mainly, why, if they were going to do it, would they do it now? Why not just have him go all the way to the top 2 and then have the girl of their choice win? If Colton was as popular as he seemed to be, wouldn't his continued presence on the show mean slightly sturdier ratings? And TV people love them some ratings! Knocking him off in seventh place doesn't really do anyone any good. I suppose they might have simply wanted a few more weeks to really bolster the girls' singing profiles, and Colton was a distraction from that, but I don't know. If there's some grand plot being orchestrated here, whoever is doing the orchestrating isn't that good at it. But still, I think it could be a conspiracy. It could be an elaborate ruse.

But I suppose we'll never know for sure. Not until it's years later and some Growing Up Brady-style behind-the-scenes exposé is released by, like, Lee DeWyze. For now there are only questions. There is only mystery. What happened? Specifically, what happened to Colton's body after he was slain? There were the usual gasps and flashing lights and I suppose the judges said something and then we realized that Colton was gone. Where he'd fallen just moments before was now simply a bare spot of stage. "Colton?" Ryan called out. And then, softer, "Master?" But there was no response. A girder high up in the rafters of the Idoldrome rattled but that was the only sound. There was nothing else.

Everyone felt a bit strange as they left the theater, feeling followed by a shadow not their own, feeling a cold and clammy tightness in their insides. But they ignored it, figured it was the shock of it all, figured it was just Thursday night and the week had tired them out, made them punchy and jumpy. It's nothing, they all thought. It will pass. The only one who did not think those thoughts was, of course, Ryan, who drove up to his house high in the hills in thoughtless silence. Who opened up the door to his house, walked in, but did not turn on any lights. He instead stood still in the middle of the house, everything black, only a dim glimmer of faraway city lights seeping in through south-facing windows. Ryan stood, closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths. Finally, when he felt it, felt the presence near him in the house, he said, aloud, "I know you're here. I can feel you. Please, just give me what I want. Please. Please tell me how to get my Tim."

And a deep chill went through Ryan, a terrible despair sunk into him, when all he heard in return was a low, mocking, sinister laugh. Then a rush of wind. Then quiet. Ryan shivering alone, the house creaking and groaning under the weight of ancient spirits.