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What You Didn’t See On Thursday’s ‘American Idol:’ Ryan Seacrest Proves His Worth, Finalist Dads Hug It Out

The last night in the Idol-dome brought laughs, tears and goodbyes as the final two are revealed and Haley Reinhart is sent home.

haley reinhart elimination
Michael Becker / FOX

Thursday’s episode was all about finality. It was the last climb up the winding driveway at the Grove parking structure, the last time CBS Television’s red coated security would ask to see my ID (despite my attendance every week), the last time I handed my electronic devices over for confiscation and, finally, my butt can say goodbye to the Idol studio’s insanely uncomfortable chairs. (Suggestion: scoop up Oprah’s seats for, first, The X Factor, which will beamed from the Idol stage starting in September, and later season 11!)

Of course, the final chapter on season 10 is about to be written as Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery face off for a country showdown next week at the Nokia Theater. Needless to say, second runner-up Haley Reinhart looked absolutely crushed as Ryan Seacrest delivered the results. Those tears and many more on our second-to-last installment of what you didn’t see…

  1. First, a glimpse from outside the studio -- the craft services tent, to be exact, where most of the Top 10 has gathered. A minder struggles to get their attention and bring them inside, where they’re needed for an on camera shot, but is also dealing with constant holdups, like when Casey Abrams and Paul McDonald see Haley’s dad Harry Reinhart and stop for a hug.
  2. Once inside, musical director Ray Chew poses for a photo with his band members. The newly installed band leader really wants an Emmy, and I have a feeling this picture will end up as part of the campaign.
  3. The top 10 file in. A towering Brad Garrett is behind them followed by Lauren’s mom whose hair is looking extra Kate Gosselin on this elimination night.
  4. The judges come out to deafening cheers, but Steven Tyler isn’t satisfied and eggs on the crowd for more volume.
  5. After the top 3 make their entrance, they head over to the couch to watch their video segment with JJ Abrams. Haley and Scotty turn around to face the giant screen on stage while Lauren fixes her sight on the screen across the studio.
  6. Elle Fanning is adorable and nobody believes that more than Jennifer Lopez, who is grinning from ear-to-ear as a Scotty crush is revealed.
  7. Time for the first commercial break and to bring out the golden stools. With the props comes Jay the warm-up guy, who’s, frankly, no match for Cory. Jay announces that the Top 13 will all be present at Simon Fuller’s Hollywood Walk of Fame induction on Monday. Of course, you Idol Worshipers already knew that
  8. With 30 seconds until the show is back on air, Haley gets some last minute denim adjustments.
  9. First up on the hometown visits video package is Haley, an ominous sign already. Seeing herself on screen, while seated on the stool with Ryan Seacrest to her right, she throws up her hands at her limo faux pas – meaning she had no idea the ginormous ride was for her.
  10. Bodygaurd Aaron is plucked from the crowd by stage manager Debbie Williams signaling some sort of onstage cameo. Sure enough, a box of Kleenex is brought out seconds later. Who knew this burly dude was such a joker? I can barely get him to smile on most days.
  11. Commercial break two is upon us. As Aaron steps down from the stage, Idol exec producer Nigel Lythgoe jokingly hands him a 20-dollar bill. Meanwhile, 20 string players are quickly assembled on the stage.
  12. The Italian Jo Bros Il Volo take the stage, and upon realizing their proximity of the judges’ table, look stunned.
  13. The three tenors are a Ron Fair-Jimmy Iovine discovery, if you’re wondering how they managed to score such a key booking. Anyway, their “O Sole Mio” is well-received by contestant and audience member alike. Haley is doing a little cha cha from the couch while Ryan Seacrest’s mom seems to know all the words.
  14. The post-performance commercial break calls for hugs (Il Volo with the Top 3) and lots of pictures (mostly with the judges).
  15. Before returning from a break, Steven Tyler throws out a handful of T-shirts to the crowd below.
  16. It’s Scotty’s turn at the hometown segment. He begins to watch from the stage then is led by Debbie down to the crowd with Ryan. The judges, meanwhile, are clearly in his corner. When the video package plays Scotty’s declaration that he’s going to “win this thing,” both Jennifer and Randy clap their hands and look towards him with a nod of support.
  17. The studio remains dark as a pre-tape of Nicole Scherzinger and 50 Cent is played next and Scotty, Randy and Steven huddle at the judges table talking intently about something. With a fist bump, Scotty then returns to the couch.
  18. Taking advantage of every possible moment of free time, the judges are asked to tape a promo for the Muscular Dystrophy Association during the break. Jennifer goes first and nails the read within a couple takes. Randy Jackson is next, but fumbles on the word “progressive” so many times that it’s pushed to the next break. Grabbing the microphone from his hand, Ryan exclaims, “It ain’t so easy, is it?!”
  19. Lauren’s hometown package is extra emotional as she visits tornado-ravaged areas near her hometown of Rossville, Georgia. Fighting back tears while watching the screen, Ryan, a fellow Georgian, gives Lauren a shoulder to lean on.
  20. There’s no escaping the red lights, so the time has come. Lauren’s and Haley’s dads hug it out as Ryan grabs his cue cards. Alas, it’s only a tease and they’ll have to wait another four minutes.
  21. “Ryan, you are a bad boy,” Debbie scolds over the P.A. as the Top 10 are shown out. Randy gives the PSA another go and nails it this time.
  22. With 10 seconds to air, Stefano Langone and Jacob Lusk sprint for the exit as Scotty makes his way towards center stage.
  23. Back from break and Scotty is given the first bit of good news – he’s going to the finale next week. Although no one is surprised, the room erupts, the judges clap and Scotty simply shakes his head in disbelief.
  24. The next minute is bad news for Haley who looks completely stone-faced as the verdict is handed down. The judges stand up for the second runner-up and applause – Randy even blows kisses her way.
  25. For Haley’s exit video, the top 3 turn around to watch, then it’s time for her swan song, “Bennie and the Jets.”
  26. Never one to let a defeat get her down, as we saw countless times when we landed in the bottom three, Haley delivers an energetic reprise that has everyone in the studio -- including the Top 10 -- on their feet.
  27. The sassy Haley throws the judges’ names into the mix to their delight. Making her way through the crowd, she gets a slap on the butt from Top 13 finalist Naima Adedapo and a huge embrace from her father, who charges across the floor towards his daughter.
  28. As the closing credits roll, Lauren can barely contain her excitement and jumps in place while Jennifer offer some last words of advice and congratulations. Steven and Randy, meanwhile, are consoling Haley, who doesn’t look nearly as distraught as some of her fellow season 10 hopefuls.
  29. The last order of business, before releasing the Idols so they can rehearse for the finale, is the matter of the coin toss and Scotty’s hair. Of the latter, Debbie cracks, “Scotty is thinking of shaving his hair for the finale, but only if Jennifer shaves it.”
  30. The coin features Scotty’s face on one side and Lauren’s on the other. Whoever’s face it lands on will have the choice of going first. “Ryan’s not so good at tossing,” Debbie remarks. “We’ve lost many coins.” Well, not this one, which lands on Scotty’s face. Ever the gentleman, he gives Lauren the choice -- she decides to go second, no doubt knowing that it’s a position of advantage.

The tenth chapter in Idol’s history will be written next week as these two teens go head to head in a country showdown. Of course, Idol Worship has all your finale needs covered, as we'll be on hand for the pre-show activities, live blogging the show and reporting from the after-parties. Check back here and often.