Ryan brings us back up to speed by trying to sell the fate of the 28 male contestants still in the competition as of the end of last week's shows as some kind of cliffhanger. Fortunately he fails, because they're going to keep hanging for now. Instead, the female contestants wake up, travel, jump on hotel beds and generally act all overexcited. And then get to participate in the teaser reel hinting at the heightened drama when half of the Hollywood round is all girls, all the time. Chicks, man... you know?
After the credits, they all crowd into the seats of one section of the auditorium to await whatever's next. Which, Ryan narrates, is pretty much the same as last week: contestants will come out onstage in groups of ten, sing something a capella and either make it to the next round or go home. Strolling along backstage between a double line of blank-faced, motionless Amazons towering over him like the walls of a more colorful Death Star trench, Ryan adds that there are more girls than guys in this phase, which means bigger cuts from the judges. Sure, that seems fair. And then they wonder what it's going to take to get a female winner again.
The first line includes recovering anorexic Mariah Pulice, who sings a few lines of Sara Barielles' "Gravity" in too low a key to amaze anyone. Angela Miller from the New York auditions makes a speech about girl power and remembers to hit the big notes. Victoria Acosta, the mariachi singer who came in off the river for the San Antonio auditions, sings "Killing Me Softly" because of how as a mariachi she tells stories. Angela, Victoria and a couple of randoms move on, but Mariah is done and pretty sad about it, although her sister promises to make her come back next year. I don't know why not -- everyone from this year seems to have been in it last year.
The cuts continue in a rapid-fire montage, eliminating "funny girl" (Ryan's words, not mine) Ashley Smith from the Charlotte auditions; Ann Difani, the nominee who will now have more time to spend with the Arkansas Razorbacks; and the chick who sang both a country song and "Superbass" at the New York auditions. Whoever is left after they're gone had better be good.
After the ads, Ryan's narration tries to trump up this "head-to-head" thing between two "country girls" who just happen to be in the same group of ten. One of them is Rachel Hale, the one who smiled so much at the Long Beach auditions that she seemed in danger of splitting her head and the other is Janelle Arthur, the one who used to play a young Dolly Parton onstage. While Rachel sings, Nicki gushes into Keith's ear about how relatable she is, because there's no point in turning the other way and wasting any kind of insight on Randy. Janelle Arthur claims to be the next American Idol because she's a "dreamer y'all," and then also sings pretty well. After that whole line has sung, Janelle and Rachel are asked to step forward and both make it through, and then Ryan has the nerve to not even apologize for wasting our time with that "head-to-head" nonsense. More lines sing and more girls get through. Of course, more also don't, but that's not the point Ryan's trying to make right now.