She keeps howling even as L.A. and her mom come up to join her. Okay, this isn't fun. Paula, meanwhile, is still at the judges' table comforting Nicole, who looks like she's just done that thing where you flip a coin to make a decision and you realize too late how you wanted it to land. Rachel has this whole desperate exchange with her mother that's probably too raw to be broadcast, even though it is, so I'll be damned if I'm recapping it. I'm a man of principle, after all.
Steve takes pity on her and cues the Rachel-montage. After that, Paula and Nicole finally make it up to the stage, just when Rachel was starting to pull herself together. Steve cuts her from the herd to ask about her highlight on The X Factor "so far." Nice. Rachel says she loves everyone and promises to go farther. Steve then hands the mic to Simon, who's taking this better than he did with Drew last week. He also thanks everyone who voted for Rachel and also vows we'll be hearing more from Rachel.
Steve offers the mic to Nicole, who is roundly booed and declines to speak. "Nope," Steve shrugs, and name-checks Rachel one last time while she cries some more in Melanie's arms.
So the final four are Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik, Chris Rene and Marcus Canty, all of whom are two songs from the finals. Steve reminds us one more time, "One of them will win a five-million-dollar recording contract." Maybe even Marcus at this point. One thing's for sure: there are going to be a lot of defaced Shape magazines on the newsstands tomorrow. Now where's my Sharpie?
M. Giant is a Minneapolis-based writer with a wife, a son, and a number of cats that seems to have settled at around two. Learn waaaay too much about him at Velcrometer, follow him on Twitter, or just e-mail him at m.giant[at]gmail.com.