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On last night's brutes magutes elimination episode, America's strangest Republican primary yet saw the too-soon departure of one of the season's strongest voices. What happened? And how can we continue to live in a world where such terrible things occur? Let's figure it out.

In the beginning, Seacrest snapped his fingers and said, in his best ringmaster bellow, "Rock and rolllll!!!!" and the lights flickered and the stage shook and out stumbled our nine gladiators, shuddering hips and jerky limbs whirling like dervishes, words about rock and roll coming tumbling out of their mouths. Yes it was a dreaded group number rock and roll medley and... well, actually, they seemed to sing most of it live and they weren't half bad! Well, no, they were half bad, but that means they were also half good! J.Lo shimmied her shoulders and did a little hand dance, Randy was hunched over his desk working on his elaborate plans for World 7 Zone 4 where he's sure to finally foil that Mario once and for all, and the old dust-filled Tyler witch shook her head in dismay, remembering real rock and roll dances from the past, dances she helped stir up with her magic cane and glass-shattering musical spells. All the kids on stage seemed happy and confident, but of course it was all just a show. Because they knew, as they know every week, that someone was going home.

Their agony was prolonged as they were forced to sit through bizarre segment after bizarre segment. There was the typical Ford ad, this one a little spy caper type thing that cast the one black contestant as a lazy asleep-on-the-job security guard, so that was great, well done everyone on that. Next came a very hairy performance from Constantine Maroulis, who while a nice person and a talented performer, will forever be know for this and only this. Just that, on a loop, forever. So it was hard to watch him sing "Unchained Melody," all the while wondering "Wait, why isn't he falling down?"

Oh at one point Russell Brand, the worst British import since British people (didn't work out too well for the Indians, did it?), showed up in a pre-taped clip thing where he taught the kids how to have swagger and showmanship and stuff, but it was really just an excuse to promote Arthur. I'm not sure what Gwen Stefani was promoting, maybe her Love Angel Music Baby line of baby angel choir robes, but she was on there too, helping the girls and only the girls get dressed. Stefano stared at the screen, watching the segment, one word, a new word, repeating in his head with a yearning: fabulous. All of a sudden he wanted to be fabulous! How freeing it was to finally consciously think it! Fabulous! He was ready for it! Why hadn't Gwen wanted to dress him? Oh why do these twenty some years have to have been such a curled little lie? Oh well. Oh well.

Anyway. This is all to say that the kids had to wait. It was torture. Finally Ryan named the bottom three and I must say, for a bottom three, there were actually two bottoms. BOOM BOOM BOOM, these are the jokes, people. These are the jokes. Yeah, it was Pia, Jacob Lusk, and sweet Stefano who were America's least favorite this week, a fair selection if you don't count Pia. Couldn't they have put Fozzie Bear or Willy Whispers in that terrible trio instead? Yes they ("they" meaning America) could have, but they didn't. They put Pia in there and she looked shocked. So shocked. Which, I have to admit, because I am a person whose heart has rotted and atrophied from non-use, was satisfying. It's always satisfying to see them be so shocked and then immediately realize that they look shocked and try to downplay it. Oh what a wonderful little drama to watch! So yes, there the three were, standing on the rock at Aulis, wondering who was going to get the knife to keep the wind in the Idol sails.

Then! Then there was a great flapping and fluttering of flesh, not unlike a sail at full bore, and suddenly there was none other than Iggy Pop, writhing shirtlessly, singing "Wild Child," confusing and terrifying everyone, but especially Jennifer Lopez, who Iggy singled out to embarrass. The sound system was wonky, the lights flickered and whined, Iggy's skin did odd tarantellas around his body as Iggy himself writhed, as if trying to leave his pants without using his hands. I mean, it was kind of great, in an odd way, perhaps as subversive as this show ever gets, though I also feel like we should maybe take the word subversive and put it in a little metal box and bury that box under Mt. Rushmore, not to be touched for a hundred years. It was what it was. It was more filler. But then, finally then, it was time for someone to die.

"Dim the lights!!!!" Ryan yelled, as he does at home, did at home last night, expecting a little post-show fun, walking into his bedroom to discover... what, a tangle of two people, a mound of desire. "Guys... Guys? You... started without me?" Somewhere inside Ryan, something was torpedoed. He felt the floor of his heart giving way. But! But! Not to be thought of now. Here he was in the present, the lights dim, Stefano — still his Stefano, people make one-time mistakes, ha ha, right, one-time mistakes — waiting anxiously. Ryan did his usual verbal dance of "Jakob you are going home... to the couches, if you live on the couches, which you don't... so you're out! Of being in the bottom three, you're in... an airplane soon enough, flying home... but not for a while... because you're not out." Etc. Jakob was relieved. This left the other two. We were all sure, everyone was sure, that Stefano was going home, Ryan would be lying if he said there wasn't a strange vein of relief pulsing through him at the thought. Pia looked composed, it couldn't possibly be her.

But then the ceiling shattered and the lights sputtered and everyone shrieked and a single trickle of blood dribbled from Ryan's nose because yes, in fact, it was Pia going home. The audience booed and moaned, which I think is kind of rude to Stefano, don't you think? The judges looked flummoxed, surely regretting using their save on Fozzie Bear Abrams those couple weeks ago, surely regretting not picking some more dynamic girls, as they're now down to, what, two? The audience was stunned. So was Pia. J.Lo cried. There was nothing they could do. They were powerless. Ryan said "And this is a reminder why you need to vote for your favorite every week. Every week, people. Every week. Consistency is the thing. Devotion's the thing. Loyalty," he said, shooting a hard, loaded look at Stefano, who had retreated into the shadows, still feeling the wind of the bullet that just barely whizzed by his head and struck Pia instead.

There was nothing left to do! Pia was given the opportunity to sing a song, but just as she started, my DVR cut out. It felt fitting. A life ended abruptly, too soon, no grand ending, just the stutter and shock and blankness of it all. Goodbye, Pia. I'd like to say we'll miss you, but I think we'll be OK. America has spoken, and there's nothing unfair about that. Fair is a relative term here. Commitment, as Ryan well knows, means something different every time.

Ciao, Pia!!!