The American Idol judges and voters should be ashamed of themselves.
When the Idol judges used their only save of the season two weeks ago, I blasted the decision saying that it was too early in the season to do so and that it could put one of the best contestants one fluke vote away from going home too early. After all, that is what the judges' save was created for - to protect the best against fluke votes.
And on Thursday night, my fears were unfortunately realized when this season's clear favorite Pia Toscano was eliminated in ninth place.
Toscano is easily the most talented and polished contestant in this season's crop. She has a ridiculous vocal range, super-star looks, and has nailed every single one of her performances.
Yet there she was, inexplicably sitting alongside Stefano Langone and Jacob Lusk - two singers who couldn't carry Toscano's luggage let along the kind of beautiful tones that she has showcased, with ease, this season.
The judges, who have been unable to offer any criticism to contestants who actually need it this season, have reserved much of their constructive criticism for Pia - not because she needs help, but because they believe that she can be great. She needed to show more stage presence by weaving an occasional up-tempo song into the mix, the judges told her. Well she did that Wednesday night with a spot-on cover of Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" and the voters sent her not only to her first Bottom 3, but home completely.
Unfortunately, the American Idol voters are always extremely impressionable and mistook the judges' feedback as negative. But I can't blame the voters because when the judges don't do anything but praise the mediocre and poor performers, while offering "helpful advice" to the best ones, that helpful advice can seem a lot like negative criticism.
Randy Jackson said he never gets mad on the show, but Toscano's elimination made him mad. And Jennifer Lopez said the result made her "shocked and angry" and said she had no idea what happened.
Well what happened was the lack of any real "judging" on this show - at any point during the season - resulted in this season's best competitor ending Thursday night's episode in tears and ninth place.
The judges were quick to defend their early use of the save when Casey Abrams had an improved performance last week. But I noticed they made sure to steer clear of the topic entirely Thursday night.
"Save? ... What save?"
Two weeks ago, I wrote that if Pia and Scotty don't make the finale because the judges could no longer save them from a fluke vote that this season could go down as the worst ever.
And with the best all-round contestant not even making it to the Top 7 - without even having a single bad performance - this season is unfortunately shaping up as such.