Oh, Idol! We are almost to the good part. Yes, last night we were gloriously informed that this week is the last of the auditions episodes, that long and frustrating Idol stretch when it feels like we are running in place. But now, at last, we have some traction. Tonight is the final audition episode, and then we race on! In the spirit of flight, of celerity, let's press on.

This was a bifurcated episode, with half taking place in the overheated wasteland that is San Antonio, and the other half in Long Beach, better known as the oceany asshole of Los Angeles. Naturally, everyone in both towns was super eager to get the hell out of there, and not knowing what else to do, they showed up to audition for American Idol in the hopes that the show would get them somewhere else, somewhere better. You can't blame them, can you? You'd want to leave too! Maybe you are currently there, right now, and want to leave. Well, don't worry. The Idol train will come rumbling through next year. Well, actually, it had been six years since the show was in San Antonio, so... It'll be six years. Hold tight.

Anyway! Despite both places being terrible barren hellscapes, there were some pretty good contestants. Sure, some time was spent last night shaming freaks, but not too much time. The worst freakshaming last night, and of the season, was when some sad poor young kid came in and said that some man in a bathroom who said he was a record producer had told him that he should audition. Which... who knows if these were simply the ketamine fever ramblings of an insane person or what, but if there really was a strange man in the bathroom who identified himself as a record producer and told him to audition for this show, then this kid is lucky all that happened is that he was mocked, cruelly, on American Idol. Usually that scenario ends way differently. First it's "I'm a record producer, young man," next it's "Come to my home recording studio in the Valley," and then it's "No officer, that's fake blood all over that wicker settee, I swear." So, be grateful, kid. But also, jesus were the judges cruel. This kid clearly doesn't even know how to tie his shoes, but they paraded him in front of the judges anyway, and they pointed and laughed, Randy throwing his Bowser fireballs at him, Keith Urban taking a picture so he could show Nicole later. ("Fool!" she would cackle when he showed her. "The world is full of fools, just like you. Lucky for you then that I've got my head on right. Now pick up these thumbtacks and wash for dinner. We're having cooled eels.") It was a really pathetic display of meanness on the judges' part and I hope not to see anything like it again this season.

We didn't have to see much meanness throughout the rest of the episode, though. It was all rather positive. There were a couple moments when I was sure that it was going to be some sad disaster, but then it wasn't! At one point a big guy who was basically Latino Baby Huey, Bebé Jugo, walked in and you thought Ohhh brother. Because he was super earnest and had a silly voice and was obsessed with Mariah and hadn't been given a backstory package, which usually means someone's gonna stink up the joint. So we braced ourselves and closed our eyes tight and then Jugo began to sign and holy moly mamma mia, this kid blew Mariah Carey up the staircase behind her and then she slowly tumbled back down, limbs akimbo, but a smile on her face the whole way. Because this kid could wail! He really could put a proper screech on it, and everyone was thrilled. Keith Urban's wig was fused to his head by the radiant heat, and he was glad for it, less work for him, so he gave Jugo a big standing ovation. Randy, pants full of a hot koopa dung, slammed the table with his leathery fist and said "YES!' It was really a moment. This kid was insane. So he got a golden ticket and went back into the lobby and did some diva-ing around, touching people's hands like he was at a big concert. But that's fine. He earned it. He's aces. Wow.

There was a girl who did get an intro package but I still thought she would be bad because she was wearing what is in fact the worst crop top in America and she was not exactly in shape for it and she was so nervous and it was just like "Oh god, here we go." But then? She opened her mouth and out came "At Last" and it was so good! Like really beautiful tone, completely effortless, just really gorgeous. Good for you, crop top! Now go get a stylist! Because damn. We also saw a big guy who had a bad speech impediment because of an intense tonsil surgery who turned out to be incredible. That's the second time we've had someone with a severe speech problem — we had the stutterer before, remember — who sings like a freakin' miracle. Well, OK, the stutter kid wasn't that good. But this guy, tonsil guy, wowee, he could sing a song or two. Yes he could. It was great. The judges all got teary and happy and it was very sweet. He's one to watch, perhaps! Just because he's got a nice story.

Good lord this is getting sappy, but the hits just kept on coming. At the end of the episode there was a guy who was very tiny, not a dwarf exactly, just very small, and everyone felt kinda bad for him. But then he sang and everyone was like "Yuppppppp" and Randy threw a koopa shell of approval and Nicki Minaj tossed her wig at him, which she only does for the contestants who have truly won her favor, and this tiny person was sent packing to Hollyweird. Good for him! He seemed like a nice kid, he even made a joke up top about there being a height requirement for the show. Aw. Good kid, good kid. I don't know how he'll stand out in the busy, terrible world of Hollywood Week — sad thing is, most of the kids that we like right now won't make it past next week — but for now, he had his moment and that is nice.

What was not nice was an awful girl from Arkansas who was Miss University of Arkansas and was trying to act all surprised and demure when Randruh Jackson showed up at the stadium to hoot at her about auditioning for the show. She was submitted by her husband, who was her college sweetheart. And, uh, I don't know if it was just me, but... The husband? He... maybe works a lot of late nights with Doug from the office? He maybe goes on lots of fishing trips with his good friend Dylan? Y'know? Like... Hm. I just feel like not a lot of quote-unquote straight guys marry Miss University of Arkansas, y'know? There's just not a lot to grab onto for a straight guy. She's too slick, things slide right off of her. Anyway, who cares, that's their business, not ours. She came to the show and sang well enough and was completely insufferable when the judges gave her compliments and then her husband came in all flushed, saying "Sorry, sorry, Ryan was, uh... showing me something," and we were supposed to think they were such a cute couple, but they were not. No sir. Not cute at all. More like annoying and bad. But it's OK. You know why? She will never make it through Hollywood Week. So, who really cares.

Someone else who will not make it through Hollywood Week, which is a terrible terrible shame, is one Papa Peachez. Great gravy on a green goose, was Papa Peachez a thing or two. He was definitely a thing or two about a thing or two, this Papa Peachez. Where to start? Well he is a blond, floppy haired lad of the decidedly "twink" varietal, but he's not all blushing and batting his eyes, no sir, he is out there for all to see. He does dances, is the thing, and he is from the Deep South, so he puts some country stank on it. And it is marvelous and weird and wild and wonderful and great gods in the sky does Ryan Seacrest like it. Ohh glory does Ryan Seacrest like Papa Peachez. The sight of Ryan staring so intently, nodding eagerly, as he talked to Papa Peachez before the audition warmed the gray, greasy corners of my withered heart. It was simply lovely. Nicki Minaj fell in love with him too, even though he sang ludicrously. And because he was funny, Mariah said yes and Randy, with Ryan yelling at him through his earpiece, decided to let him through too. So Papa Peachez, the first contestant I can ever remember saying he was gay — well, singing he was gay — on the actual Idol show, is heading to Hollywood. And everyone is so thrilled. So, so thrilled.

None more so, of course, than Ryan Seacrest. It had been a good day — with Baby Jugo, and the speech impediment guy, and this delightful young lad who was a black Justin Bieber in every way possible and should probably win the whole show — but then here was Pretty Peaches, come to put it in the record books. Of course Ryan liked all of Polly Peaches's lithe wriggling. And of course he liked his flop of blond hair. All of those things Ryan liked. But, he thought excitedly as Penny Peaches prattled on, he knew someone else who would like him more. That thing back at his house, the being that looks like Tim Urban but decidedly isn't, the creature that broke out of its room last week and has now taken over a wing of the house, grunting and growling in the dark, scratching at the walls, Ryan spending most of his time shut up in his own bedroom far at the other end of the house, a line of chalk outside his door to ward the Tim-thing off. Ryan knew immediately how much the creature would like Papa Peachez, and he thought that maybe, maybe, maybe if he brought this present home, something would change. A peace could be reached. The old Tim might cut through the demon fog of Colton Dixon and snap back into his body. Ryan didn't know quite why, but as he watched Peachez dance there, twirling and twirling and twirling, he knew that he was the key to something. That this here was change, this is what it looked like. Like a fluttering sprite, like dandelion fluff. Papa Peachez, the savior of everything, the thin angel who did, by some miracle, save San Antonio.