We know the drill by now. Ryan is on a stage that's otherwise empty except for five unoccupied stools, until the judges ride the platform up from below the floor. Randy reports that they're not going to need Jimmy to break any ties tonight and we're starting with Zoanette. She totters out on her heels to shake hands with some fans, but Ryan beckons her back to her spot before the judges so she can listen to a suspense-building speech from Randy that goes on so long that even Ryan tells him to get on with it. Zoanette's staying in, which means that there are going be five very angry young women leaving the theater tonight.
Mariah tells Melinda that she's only 19 and will have more opportunities, but this one's over for her. So she'll be one of the five. Juliana is the next to face judgment and Keith says she was great and she's very talented, but tonight she's done. She hugs the judges and also Zoanette on her way out. Ryan calls up Aubrey, and Nicki tells her she'd put Aubrey through if she got her way. "Oh, looks like I am having my way today," she concludes, so Aubrey's in. "Tricky! Tricky, tricky!" Ryan says admiringly as Aubrey gives hugs all around.
For the decision on Christabel, we're back around to Randy, who as usual talks about how hard this is for the judges, but Christabel is out. And at 29, she's dead to this show. Mariah is the one to deliver the news to Candice, doing some throat-clearing about how hard the deliberations were before sending her through. Candice gets to claim the third stool next to Aubrey and Zoanette. That leaves four still waiting for the last two stools and when Jett is the next to be called out, you know she's doomed. And she knows it, too, waiting patiently through Keith's speech and not exactly shocked when he delivers the news. Conversely, when Breanna is called up next, it's obvious that the last stool is going to be a tossup between Janelle and Rachel, but Nicki does her best to sell the idea that Breanna is done. I think Breanna might have even bought it for a second there, but only for a second. Obviously she gets the fourth stool.
So Ryan's now in the backstage lounge, waiting for the final word with Rachel and Janelle, who are holding hands. Janelle talks about how happy she is to have come this far after three years in a row, and Rachel says something similar. Hard to tell which of them is going after that, but the side-by-side clips seem to give Rachel the edge. Of course, I've been wrong before and will be again, many, many times. And this is one of them. When they present themselves before the judges, Randy makes his usual speech about how hard this is for the judges before saying that Rachel is out and Janelle is in. So that's tonight's contribution to the top twenty: Zoanette, Aubrey, Candice, Breanna and Janelle. Yes, Zoanette is still there. It's really happening.