Mario and Khloe are coming to us from a photographer-lined red carpet outside! What major event could be going on in Hollywood on the same night as the X Factor finale that was willing to let this show come and film on it? A black SUV pulls up, and Khloe walks right up and opens the door, revealing L.A. and commencing the kind of content-free red carpet interview that I normally avoid at all costs while they're walking toward the camera. Mario does the same with Demi, and then Simon steps out of a Rolls Royce, which might almost make up for the fact that Khloe Kardashian-Odom touches and comments on his chest hair. Almost. Mario smarmily hands Britney out of an SUV limo, and the next to arrive in the last two SUV limos are Pitbull and One Direction, both of whom will be performing on tonight's show. Presumably Tate, Carly, and Fifth Harmony all took the bus.
After a surprisingly succinct pre-credits sequence about how it all comes down to this (and the actual credits, of course), Mario and Khloe come out onstage, having quickly gotten back here from wherever that red carpet was just a few minutes ago. The judges enter to the strains of The Final Countdown, but if I'm hearing that song on Fox I expect to see Will Arnett doing bad magic. Do not toy with me.
The hosts make another speech and introduce the top three. And then they stand there awkwardly for a minute because the entrance cue got missed. After a minute, and some lame, barely-heard excuses from Mario, we cut back to the red carpet, where Tate, then Carly, then Fifth Harmony get out of SUV limos after all, all singing a terribly poppy version of the Beatles' "All You Need is Love" broken into sections. Meanwhile, we watch them make their way from the carpet, into the building, past the season's voted-off losers, all the way to the stage. I guess The X Factor proved me wrong: that red carpet really is right outside. Too bad it took an embarrassing minute of dead air to pull it off.
Coming back from the ads, there's a montage of L.A. air-conducting his protégées' performances from the judges' table all season long. This is the kind of thing it takes to fill a two-hour show designed to convey one piece of information. L.A. takes it in good humor and introduces Tate to sing "Please Come Home for Christmas" with a foursome of slutty elves chair-dancing upstage from him. And then it gets worse as they come out to circle him and he tries not to leer. There's the trouble with having the unflagging support of his wife: he knows she's watching.