Fact about the number eight: Scorpio is the eighth sign of the zodiac. Scorpio traits include loyalty, passion and commitment. On the flip side, those can manifest themselves as possessiveness, jealousy and manipulative or controlling behavior.
The march to Kansas City, Mo., confirmed many of the trends seen on the Season 8 premiere (a more energetic judging panel, a gentler spirit of mockery toward the misbegotten). This night, however, produced the first real star of the season, the stunning Lil' Rounds, who appeared in what my blogging compatriot Phil Stacey referred to as the "pimp slot" -- the prime real estate closing the show. For the first time this season, we experienced that special feeling that we lie in wait for -- that moment of revelation when you feel you just might be looking at a superstar for the very first time, before she herself even knows it.
At the judges' table, Kara DioGuardi, still the object of the greatest curiosity, largely blended into the crowd, offering few signature moments. Her presence, though, may be credited with the honest-to-God vibrancy of the judicial branch on Wednesday night; Simon Cowell showed none of the soul-wrenching boredom he's displayed for the last couple of years, and Paula Abdul -- at times -- sounded positively on top of things.
There was one potentially ominous moment. The great hope of Kara is that she will wield a stiletto sharp enough to bring a new level of terror to the Idoldome. However, near the top of the show, when Simon told a singer that she sounded like a "cat jumping off the Empire State Building," Kara jumped in, attempting to shush him with the stunning claim that "that doesn't help anybody."
Such noble sentiments have no place on this show. We hope that we will soon see Kara dispense with them and let her claws out. We have seen enough flashes of those claws, both on Wednesday night's episode and in interviews, to know that they are there. And we can only trust that in the course of a long season, a person's true colors will inevitably be shown -- and being "Idol's" second "nice judge" does not seem a natural fit for her.
As difficult as it is to watch, that moment when people hear the truth about themselves is a huge part of the show's appeal. When "Idol" launched, it was alone on the airwaves as the one show that dared to tell the truth; people did not talk like Simon in those simpler times -- on TV or anywhere else. What the show needs is more truth -- more informed, even sharper truths -- not less.
The show's most intriguing moment came, however, in a guest cameo -- the return of Season 7 giant Jason Castro to the "Idol" auditions in support of his charismatic younger brother, Michael.
Seeing Jason, an actual, certified Idol, walk among the cringing masses in the waiting lounge was such a contrast; it was like seeing a god come down from Mt. Olympus and walk among mere mortals. The fascinating part is that just one year ago, Jason sat among them, without any special aura or grandeur to his presence. So innocuous was Jason that he was not even shown until the end of Hollywood Week.
Such is the power of "American Idol" that a year later, having worked his way through the "Idol" journey, having stood night after night before millions, he appears with a larger-than-life quality. It is difficult to believe that six months from now one or two young people in the Kansas City pool will be admitted to the hall of deities and will appear themselves much larger than life.
It is hard to imagine that in this group there could be anyone fit to walk in the footsteps of a Jason Castro, a Brooke White or a Carly Smithson (the greatest performer in "Idol" history). But history has shown us that a very small number make it on the road that lies ahead in the next six months.