The Alamo's main floor: Haley Scarnato (24, San Antonio TX) is almost too grounded -- like you're wondering if she's up to something behind that gorgeous and bullshit-free faÃ§ade. I think she's great, even if she is dressed for Charlie's Angels. Bailey Brown (16, Krum TX) has based her entire identity on how she's too good for the farm life she grew up in. Simon uses all the buzzwords that mean "cute, blonde, 16-year-old girl with an okay voice," so she's in. William Green sings "Amazing Grace" like he's trying to warn you that the fog is too thick to cross the bridge tonight. He gets rejected, but then tells the judges he's going to talk some trash, just for the cameras, you see. He does, and the judges and I just love him. Akron Watson (23, Dallas TX) is William's cousin, and he has a good voice but a weird personality vacuum. But, come on, all the family's charisma likely went to William anyway. Akron makes it through. Ashlyn Carr (18, Sugarland TX) can sing, but she sabotages herself with weird Toni Braxton tics and facial contortions. The original verdict is a no from Randy and Paula, but Simon feels like seeing how many people's strings he can pull at once, so he says he'd have put her through. And since Paula and Randy so rarely have an opinion of their own in these auditions, they call her back in and let her re-audition. Nothing's different, but they let Ashlyn skate by on some very thin ice. Jimmy McNeal (23, Waxahachie TX) is "like a little fun Ruben," per Simon, and the judges love him. Then he and his family have some "kids say the darndest things" fun with Ryan in the hallway. Heartwarming!
The Alamo's basement: Bryan Kyrish is scary as hell and has opted for screaming Billy Idol songs instead of becoming a serial killer, which is nice of him. Jasmine Holland is sad and cannot sing, though I'm not sure to what degree those two things are related. Once she's rejected, she gives Randy shit for being a non-entity in the music industry, and you have to be a special kind of bratty to make me defend Randy, so congratulations, Jasmine. Sandie Chavez invents a new language in which to suck, which is always interesting. Jacob Tudor is a Rumpelstiltskin-looking creature with angry, beady eyes who uses his platform on national TV to talk the same tired shit about the judges that they all do. But he likes Ryan!
In other news, the "Other Door" phenomenon gets the glowing tribute it so richly deserves, and we learn a couple disquieting things. Chief among them being that your recapper and Paula Abdul are on the same mental wavelength. I'll be in the liquor cabinet if you need me.
Ryan Seacrest wearing his little pale pink plaid button-down while standing in front of the Alamo is just about the cutest thing you ever did see. Like he's our tour guide today, only he'll be telling us things like what General Santa Ana was wearing, and whether Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie were really friends or just super-fake to each other's faces. The requisite "Remember the Alamo" reference having been laid, we're free to delve into the opening credits: "DA-na na-na na-na na-na na-na na-na na-na..."
Ryan calls San Antonio the "last stop on our audition tour," and the hordes of sleeping wannabes represent the collective weariness we the audience feel as we enter into this, the seventh mind-numbing audition episode. And then it's morning, and everyone's awake and screaming and moving around, and it's like Dawn of the Dead, only you probably couldn't get away with sniping these guys from a rooftop. Probably. The "Rawhide" song cue lets us know that, yes, we're actually in Texas. The judges arrive -- Paula in a very pretty polka-dotted dress -- and Ryan's voice-over makes some sort of excuse for Simon, saying he was jet-lagged after flying in from London. I'm not sure Simon's behavior tonight is any weirder than normal, so I don't know why we needed that disclaimer, but okay.
First up is Bryan Kyrish, who looks vaguely like Tom Sizemore before his life went to shit. He's a hulking figure, even if you totally can't see his legs at all because he's wearing camouflage pants. He says he's not intimidated by the judges because "Paula, Randy, and Simon put on one leg...in their pants, same as everyone else." Indeed they do, Bryan. Indeed they do. There's a very slight, but very real, sense of menace hiding behind his eyes, and he reminds me specifically of a person I grew up with, the kind of person who you were really glad never had access to firearms as a high-schooler. He says people compare him, vocally, to "Billy Idol, Ozzy, AC/DC," so, you know, what better outlet for him than this show? "I want the judges to feel my energy, feel my fire." He does scary break-dancing moves, including a scary worm, in the interview anteroom, and then he scares the hell out of Ryan Seacrest by just...being. Seriously, it's the weirdest thing, because he seems happy and nice enough, but you can totally see it in his eyes. Inside, he tells the judges that he entered a "mock American Idol competition" and he won the grand prize. There a couple different ways you can take "mock" in that sentence, though once he starts singing, the choice becomes rather clear. It's just a lot of yelling and intense eye contact, over and over. He drops violently to his knees a couple times, causing Paula to recoil. He's "singing" Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," so he does the requisite fist pumps. Paula and Randy join in the fist pumping, because it's fun, and aerobic exercise will be good for both of them, for very different reasons. Bryan's fist-pumping gets more and more scary, and then he's just...done. Just stops cold. Paula asks if it hurts his voice to scream like that. No, it doesn't. She then asks if it hurts his knees to crash down on them like he does. Again, no. I love that Paula is more fascinated by him than anything. Her fight/flight response has never worked quite right. Simon sums it up as a whole lot of screaming without any melody, so it's a no for Bryan.
Outside, it's more weirdness, as Ryan notes that Bryan was probably not the best fit for ballads. He laughs, "Can you imagine singing a love ballad?" Bryan says he actually can, and then he and the crazy eyes propose a duet between him and Ryan. Bryan says something about "Beauty and the Beast," but when he starts singing, it's an Ozzy Osbourne song. Ryan, back to being afraid again, balks at singing along. He gives Bryan the arms-length handshake and sends him on his way, before exhaling the exhale of a man who's just dodged a bullet.