The pre-credits sequence is all about how close victory is for the final four acts: Carlito Olivero, Jeff Gutt, Alex & Sierra and Restless Road. Whoever thought the final four would be them? It's the semi-finals and you're not going to believe this, but the pressure is more intense than ever! There's also some big talk from the judges -- even Demi, who no longer has a dog in this hunt, but assures us she's going to be totally honest anyway. Doesn't she have more reason to be honest now?
Out come the mentors, and then Mario tells us that they are completely defanged this week, because the results are going to be determined by votes only. "But they'll still have plenty to say." Oh good, I was worried. He also tells us that one act will be sent packing this week, while the other three go to the finals next week. And thence into obscurity. Tonight's themes? Viewers' choice, head-to-head duets and a "killer song" to get them into the finals… so not a theme at all. Mario asks Demi how she's feeling about being an impartial judge without an act in the competition anymore, and somehow makes it seem not all that passive-aggressive. Demi ruefully says this isn't her first time in that position, so she promises to "lay it out there like I always do." Mario checks in with Kelly, who tells us how proud she is of Jeff. Paulina's rather less coherent and Simon vows, "We are ready to kill tonight." Interesting. Does everyone know where the exits are?
Four acts and ten songs means we had time to interview all the mentors, but now its time to get things moving. Fortunately Paulina's introduction of Carlito gets the proceedings off the ground like an overburdened C-130. In his intro reel, Carlito talks about being in the bottom two last week -- again -- but now he's looking at it as being in the top four. His America's choice song is "Boyfriend" by Justin Bieber. Maintaining the glass-half-full attitude, he says that people picked a song for him who didn't know who he was a few months ago. And clearly they still don't. He shares an old memory of receiving a karaoke machine from his parents when he was little and gets pretty verklempt over his gratitude for their support, which they could ill afford. Ready to vote for him yet?
Oh, maybe he should sing first. His performance is laid-back, but energetic and his trademark flop-sweat of desperation evaporates almost as soon as he picks a young woman out of the audience to… sit in a chair. Then the backup dancers get a turn and he works the other side of the stage, and then the judges' table, pulling Kelly out of her seat to dance with him and maybe secretly ask if she'd like to be his new mentor. Kelly loves it, saying it's what she's been waiting for from him all season. Demi is happy for him too, saying he had the confidence and the heartthrob thing working. Simon is impressed too, even though he doesn't consider Carlito the best singer, but he always comes back from the bottom two as strong as he can. Paulina says Carlito was singing to the girls, and again describes him as "multifacetic." I'm going to have to add that word to spell-check at this rate.