Credit: FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: A Contestant Sings During X Factor USA

The beakers in our blog lab keep bubbling as we blast out our as-we-live-it reaction to The X Factor Week 1. Tonight was Episode 2, and a picture is starting to form, a pattern is starting to emerge, and a pressure is starting to build.

Gorgeous extra-planetary shots of Miami, with its glittering daytime promise of crystalline pleasures and pink stone delights, bring us to the next arena where dreams become tangible and are then either tacked to Simon's fridge door or cast downward to shatter in the Canyon of No.

There's a classic Idol-style background piece on our first victim, one Ashley Sansone, which makes us feel like we're going to open with a cheeping bird's nest of yesses, but it turns out to be a just-as-classic twist! She stinks! It's back to the construction site cafeteria husband-search, Ashes. She scrapes her boots off the stage and....vanishes.

Was she ever really there? No time to investigate! It's a flurry of new spraytanned lambs led to the sunburned slaughter. Talent show massacre! Dud after mother/daughter team dud. Florida, honey, you a mess.

But we all grew up on the same mythology.  Anyone trapped in the Sunshine State knows that if they're in terrible peril, the only hope is to shake three snow globes in one fist and speak the name...Gloria Estefan. She appears on the balcony like Evita on a discount cruise and charges up the crowd with snippets of yesteryear's Top 40 glory. 

Renewed enthusiasm! None dare defy Gloria! But...it's followed by a tear-soaked breakdown! And the Avatar of Empathy, The Human Kleenex, St. Paula must mount the stage and help swab the deck!

Will anyone make it? The show's success lives on the edge of a knife!! And the next guy they airlift in looks like he fell off of Vanilla Ice's yikes-mobile with that razored roadrash sideburn thing some folks do when some folks don't care how they look.

BUT! He's kinda great with a happy feet Elvis croak that stimulates. We shall follow his career with great interest.

Meanwhile, host Steve Jones, clad in a tablecloth, whispers to himself somewhere backstage while a Disney-channel refugee fails to charm with a Hot Topic mixtape moan. Then...a cheeeesy montage of lighting effect breakdowns designed to look like the chick has haunted the place.  C'mon show, you're above this. 

AND THEN! The show works! Winner after winner pops up with beautiful, soaring voices. The gators of mediocrity scurry swampward! It's the formula! It's real! Melanie Amaro: Yes! 2SQUAR'D, despite their En Vogue's tour-bus accident ensemble: Yes!  Just when we know despair, they pull us back in!  And we slide on a squirt of skin cream all the way to Dallas.

Credit: FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: A Young Duo Auditions During The X Factor USA

Somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico, the producers remember they forgot to write Judge Nicole a personality, so there's a(n offensive) montage of her saying y'all in a pussycat drawl. We're Down South, you see.  We get a super goofy kid who Simon calls a reject from the Bieber-doll factory, the sponge-loosening mayhem of a sly backwoods Kentucky prankster, two hedonists stroking one another, and a Tuvan throat singer with a dream catcher belt buckle. Will we be seeing these on shelves? A weirdly aroused L.A. Reid hopes so.

Than some Oprah-level feelgoodery with a Mr. Please Please Please named Dexter Haygood who, truth be told, was a lot of fun. Now we get why they do the auditions in front of a crowd, and the way the show scissors the Idol shadow off of itself is coming clear.  Sexy Dexy would have been 86'd from the old show for being a karaoke krooner, but he worked the crowd. He worked 'em. From his high-heeled scramble after a loose silver ring to his second-chance blow-away, he made 'em feel what they wanted to feel. Showmanship! The judges were helpless!

Then! More winners including a rugby ruby named Caitlin Koch who brought. it. We'll be following her career with great interest!

Then!! Hee Haw! Some comic relief with a sassy susie named Xander Alexander who wore a hammock he ran into on the way to the show. It just tore right off the tree, y'all, and I had to keep on going.

He shows some early promise with an attitudinal battle of wills against the Devourer of Souls, but we've seen this movie before. You might score a few points in a pre-sing wit-war, but all your energy goes into the black hole of Simon's v-necked tee, and away flies the talent.  Away, away, away. Across the ice-bridge and down, down, down into the gurgling inky depths. Farewell, Xander.  Fare. Thee. Well.

Then!!! It was over. We have a week to digest it.

We're hooked, clearly, we can't stop writing this, and we have some folks we want to see again, but...we don't know if our nerves can take many more loop-de-loos.  We want next week to be a whole mess a' them yesses we been hearin' so much about. More of Simon's secret wink, bitte.

"Bitte" is German for "please."  Good night!