You recall that I left you with two promises last Thursday. Friday turned out to be too busy work-wise to feed my DVR box to an industrial shredder, so I ended up spending most of Saturday getting the new one swapped in and then getting my internet turned back on (don't ask me how they're related). As for what I missed on Thursday: MacKensie Wasner made it, as did Kiara Lanier. Orange guy with tall hair? Not so much.
So tonight's pre-credits sequence is coming to us from Charlotte, North Carolina. Apparently there's a racetrack there. In honor of the venue, Ryan is supposedly driving in a NASCAR race to the high-octane strains of "Kickstart My Heart" by Motley Crue (although he appears to be grooving to "The Pina Colada Song" by Rupert Holmes inside his cockpit). Ryan wins the race, probably so he can get to his next job in time.
After the credits, there's an overedited bit of all kinds of postapocalyptic infotainment coverage of a supposed fight between Mariah and Nicki, intercut with some sad-looking people in an ill-lit room and finally a shot of the dramatically vacant judges' table. By which I mean there aren't even bodies in the chairs like usual. So, you know, literally vacant.
Cut to "6 Hours Earlier," per the onscreen title, and it looks more like the beginning of a normal episode. Here in Charlotte, Randy reminisces about past winners from North Carolina auditions like Scotty McCreery and Fantasia. In fact, the former appears to be here for the occasion. Ryan works the crowd, the judges arrive, and Scotty and Ryan warm up the crowd filling the bleachers. We learn that the auditions are happening at the actual Charlotte Motor Speedway, as Randy's habit of narrating everything comes in handy for once. The judges appear to be running things from up in the broadcast booth or a VIP suite or something. Contestant-wise, Naomi Morris and her large spiky boobs are up first. She designed her own clothes, you see. Nicki renames her "Omi" and advises her to add some lashes to her already over-the-top makeup. It's academic, though, because by her second line of her performance of "Respect," you can see the judges already checking out. Nicki humors her, though, encouraging her to breathe and letting her try again with "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" as though she's got a chance. The judges' decision regarding her future in this singing competition is that...she did a good job making her clothes. And then Ryan throws it to ads with as many racecar metaphors as he can cram into thirty seconds. There were hardly any left for my blurb!