That might have been the most emotionally intense episode of "American Idol" that we've ever seen.
The judges used their one and only save on Casey Abrams, cutting him off mid-swan song to announce that America was "crazy wrong" and that Casey deserved to stay.
It was an emotional moment, and we found our eyes welling up with tears. But even more emotional (and slightly frightening) was Casey's reaction. Shaking and buckling, he literally looked like he was either going to pass out or throw up, which seemed even more likely in light of his recent health problems.
"I thought they wouldn't use the save since there's 11 people. I started singing … the fact that you cut it scared the stuff out of me," he said.
Once Casey finally got it together, he thanked the judges one by one and ran into the audience to hug his visibly shaken parents.
But Jennifer Lopez didn't let him off the hook without a few words of wisdom, advising him to cut the "antics" and get back to being a musician.
We couldn't agree more. After Wednesday night's show, we wondered if Casey displayed a little too much humor and screechiness on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," just a week after he gave a rather silly performance of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." But we figured his popularity and unique appeal would save him.
Apparently, so did the judges.
As for the rest of the bottom three, it wasn't a big surprise to see Stefano Langone sitting in that stool, after giving the weakest performance of the week singing Lionel Richie's "Hello."
But Thia Megia was a surprise, at least to us. On Wednesday, she finally took the judges' advice and livened things up a little bit with the up-tempo "Heat Wave." She also happens to be cute, young and a damn good singer. Perhaps she had it right with those Disney princess ballads all along?
The theme of the Thursday night's show was to "expect the unexpected," and they didn't let us down for a minute. Earlier in the evening, Ryan called James Durbin and Paul McDonald to the center of the stage and warned them, "You're not safe tonight." Just as we were feeling completely and totally shocked (especially about James), Ryan clarified, "I mean … you're really not safe tonight" as Hulk Hogan emerged from his 1980s time warp. With "Eye of the Tiger" playing in the background, Hogan informed the guys that they were safe, then tossed Ryan into the audience.
Stevie Wonder also made a surprise appearance, singing "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" in honor of Motown week -- and followed that up by singing "Happy Birthday" to his friend, Steven Tyler. Between the song, the cake and the giant poster of Steven, it was all pretty cute.
Other celebrity guests included Sugarland (singing their very sweet song, "Stuck Like Glue"), Jennifer Hudson, performing her new single "Where You At" and J-Lo's hubby, Marc Anthony, who for some strange reason was there to talk to the contestants about their earpieces.
In fact, Anthony may also have a few surprises in store for him when he gets home on Thursday night, as he publicly disagreed with Jennifer's advice for Pia Toscano and called her admission that it's not easy to make her speechless "the biggest truism she ever uttered."
Jennifer said she'd "take care of that at home" -- and we have a funny feeling she'll keep her word.
More next week, when two contestants will go home. But don't feel too sorry for them -- the whole Top 11 is going on tour. How'd you manage to pull that off, Haley Reinhart?
--Jennifer D'Angelo Friedman