eliminates its first two finalists. Our theme this week is letting go, as in "ABC seems to be letting go of this show pretty quickly, since they’re still burning off two episodes a week." 

We join our aspiring HSM-ers in "home room," where the kids try to draw Ether out of his shell. For the record: Bailey, Tierney, Christina, and Shayna are the front row overachievers, assuming seats weren’t assigned. And once upon a time (nerd alert!), I would’ve been right up there with them. Nick shows up to take everyone to the site of their first challenge: K-Mart, where they’ll be singing "We’re All in this Together" in the middle of the store to get over any fear of performing in public. They’ll hear the music, but none of the shoppers will. Ha, nice twist.

Jen and Nick watch on the surveillance cameras as the kids run up and down the aisles singing to weirded-out shoppers. Anthony is adorable, Bailey scares small children, Christina is tentative, Stan finds a cute girl to serenade, and Shayna is fabulously exuberant. As they get more comfortable and gather at the end to dance together and with the shoppers, it’s actually kind of fun. I have to point out, though, that some of them were pretty out of breath, which doesn’t bode well since they’re expected to be able to dance and sing at the same time.

Afterwards they hang out in the common room, where Shayna and Stan end up sitting separately, and are thus mercilessly teased by the rest of the group. At first I think it’s a bit unfair, but then Stan busts out the "do you have a boyfriend?" question, within hearing of everyone. And yeah, she’s been dating a guy for 11 months. Awk! Ward! He’s all "yeeeah, I don’t want a girlfriend anyway. So…what’s the weather like outside? Bunnies are cute. I like pie. What?" Aww, poor Stan.

After a quick product placement for Verizon (so that’s K-Mart, Verizon, and High School Musical 3 so far tonight…), Nick gives them their next challenge: To sing in trios. Fearlessly. All the songs are about letting go, and they must use their city park stage set to symbolize that. They’re given plotlines to act out.

Isaiah/Stan/Tierney: "Unwritten" Stan is intimidated as the less-experienced singer in the group, and has some trouble with the harmonies. Stan and Isaiah play friends trying to cheer Tierney up. Okay, Stan looks SO cute with nerd glasses! He does a great job, especially for such an inexperience singer. Tierney is great vocally, but could’ve picked up her acting a bit. Isaiah has great body language. The judges love it in general, but feel that Stan was holding back a bit. 

Anthony/Bailey/Christie: "There’s Always Someone Cooler than You" Anthony has some trouble with the vocals, and Bailey is worried that it will hurt her. The plot involves a sad popular girl (Bailey) who needs cheering up. It’s not very good. For me, Christie and Anthony are the weakest of all the semi-finalists when it comes to tone quality, which allows Bailey to outshine them vocally. However, Anthony makes up for it in charm. Christie? Not so much. She WAY overdoes it, and her dancing is laughably over the top. The judges agree that Christie was over-selling the song, and fear that Anthony is resting on his natural talent.   

Ether/James/Shayna: "The Remedy" James plays a cupid bringing Ether and Shayna together. Ether feels a bit subordinate in the group, and has some trouble relaxing and letting go. They do a great job. Ether still seemed a bit uncomfortable in his body language, but sounded fantastic. The judges think they nailed it, but want to see Ether become a leading man.   

Briana/Christina/T.J.: "The Man in the Mirror" T.J. leads this group due to the nature of the song, and Christina and Briana play his conscience, somewhat unhappily. T.J. takes advantage of the opportunity to shine, while Christina and Briana seem like they’re competing for his attention (and the judges’). Christina wins the competition hands down. Briana was singing the song, but she wasn’t performing it. The judges agree that she was a disappointment.

The faculty feel that Tierney did the best job applying their lesson to her performance, and she’s thrilled. You know, I loved her singing, but I’m not sure I agree with that. She is then forced to read off the cast list of names still in the running. Briana and Christie will be moving into the chorus (no, they never explain exactly what that means, but I gather it means that they stay but aren’t in the running to win), and everyone else will be moving on. Yeah, that seems fair. We end with an "impromptu" sing-along of "We’re All in this Together" and an exclusive preview of HSM3. Sigh.

How did you feel about the eliminations? Did you think Tierney deserved to win? And, um…did anyone else get sucked into Wanna Bet afterwards? Because I’m finding it strangely addictive.

Posted by:Liz Pardue