American Idol

The 'Idol' Plague is the only winner on group night

Feb. 15, 2012 at 11:32 PM ET

Imani Handy is helped off the stage after fainting during her performance.

“American Idol” said goodbye to Hollywood Week on Wednesday, leaving behind the group performances, Room 3 and – it hopes – the plague.

The star of this round was definitely the medical staff, as contestants were fainting and vomiting all over the place. It was one of those episodes where hopeful Jacquie Cera could say, “The only thing I caught was a positive attitude,” and soon afterward crash to the ground. It was “Contagion” with a worse soundtrack, given the mediocrity of some of the groups shown.

Imani Handy had the most to complain about. The 17-year-old Texan fainted a couple of times before her group was called, dragged herself on stage, was just about finished ... and passed out again. After the medical team was called in, she managed to sit on a chair to await her verdict. Jennifer Lopez asked if she was strong enough to continue on, since it theoretically only gets harder. Handy said she was and that she’d be awesome in the solo round. The music swelled ...

And J.Lo sent her home anyway. Way to tease the teenager!

It didn’t go as poorly for everyone going through those kinds of health issues. Skylar Laine came out of the hospital and nailed her solo, while Reed Grimm was nearly felled by an anxiety attack and still managed to pull something out of thin air by going on the drums.

But while some survived, it was a tough day for the questionable cases. The audition rounds don’t end here -- the winners are moving on to Las Vegas, and there’s another solo performance after that. So while we saw some of the familiar faces go home, it was mostly those who we knew by label and not by name: The Cop, the Tent Girl, the Frat Guy, That Girl Who Brought Her Kid to Dance With Her, the NBA Dancer, you get the idea. If you’ve seen someone enough that you know them by name, they’re probably still in the game.

Even so, one thing about “Idol” is that there are a lot of little moments to remember in an episode like Wednesday's.

It was tough to watch Amy Brumfield, who struggled through the "Idol" Plague and then had a tough start to her group showcase, have to sing “I closed my eyes and I slipped away” knowing that that’s what she was about to do.

Or to see W.T. Thompson call his very pregnant wife and ask sadly, “You have that baby yet? All right, good, cause I’ll be on my way home.”

It was also bad news for frat guy Kyle Crews, who not only was the only member of his group sent home but also got trashed by teammate Brielle Von Hugel’s mother, who said he had the weakest voice and cringed when he opened his mouth onstage.

Then again, he did have the weakest voice. Still. Nice of the “Idol” editors to make the Staten Island native Von Hugel to be the villain, since New Yorkers do so well in this competition even without that kind of help.

Those moments are undeniably sad. But there was also some levity, like when Phillip Phillips reacted to Randy’s compliment on his guitar by noting, “I worked two jobs for it,” and Adam Brock introducing his number with,  “I think it’s time for 'American Idol' to have some white chocolate up here.”

Heejun Han and Grimm have become the go-to voices whenever the editors decide the show needs some humor, and with Grimm struggling with anxiety issues it was Han who got the funny lines. The best part was when he apologized to group mate Richie Lawson for saying mean things about the cowboy behind his back, and then pointedly avoided shaking his hand. If “Idol” doesn’t work out for Han, I’d love to see him on “Survivor.” He’d be great in the confessionals, he’d play mind games with everyone and he’d probably win.

The show ended with the traditional Division of the Four Rooms. Three were filled with familiar names. The fourth was a bundle of nerves that featured an argument between Madison Shanley and Rachelle Lamb on Appropriate Behavior When on the Brink of Elimination. Guess which room got sent home?

Now it’s on to Vegas. Hopefully the hot desert air kills whatever illness felled so many in Hollywood. Or at least, that there are a lot more doctors at the ready.

Should "Idol" have delayed the Hollywood round so hopefuls could get better before continuing the competition? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page! 

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