After the over-overblown pre-credits sequence, there's a quick laser-dance and them out comes Mario. In honor of the occasion, I was expecting him to dress up extra fancy with three tie-clips, but he’s sticking with his now-usual two. We're reminded that the final three are at the mercy of our votes in determining the final winner, and then Mario brings out the judges. They make their entrance, which as a bonus includes Paulina wandering off prematurely. Hope you had fun this season, Paulina.
Now it's a group sing by the whole top 13, who as always are dressed all in white because of how most of them are dead. They're singing "One," all sliced and diced so everyone gets about a line at a time. I would rather it was "One" by Metallica, but it's "One" by U2 instead, alas. Finally the top three join in at the end, turning it into a proper harmony-fest. When that's over, Mario asks Simon how he's feeling, and he cops to feeling very nervous. "I just want to get to the end quickly," he says. Which is the one thing that absolutely will not happen.
After the ads (and I have enjoyed the promos for American Idol these last few weeks coming along and being all, "This is how you do it, Junior"), Mario conducts a remote interview with the top three, who are backstage with all new, Christmasy costumes. He asks them how much they want it. They all want it a lot, believe it or not.
Montage of Paulina acting like a crazy person all season, including some nutty comments we never even heard the first time. Amazingly, it only goes on for a couple of minutes before Mario invites her to introduce a performance by Carlito. Don't ask me what the purpose of that is. He sings "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," with a whole Christmas morning-themed production that includes him popping out of giant presents and shit. There are also nutcrackers and candy cane dancing and a few Santa's Little Skanks. He's lucky this doesn't count for anything, and it's obvious from his embarrassed expression that he knows it. Mario lets him give a little speech of appreciation to his mentor Paulina, which he does pretty convincingly. Paulina's speech back to him is surprisingly lucid, if not as convincing. Also, a car company has sponsored clips of messages form the finalists' loved ones back home. Which Carlito has to watch with a camera on him, fighting tears. Good thing it's interspersed with nonsensical shots of the car driving around so he can catch his breath every now and then.