Glee Recap: Takin’ It to the Streets

GLEE: L-R: Brittany (Heather Morris), Blaine (Darren Criss), Santana (Naya Rivera), Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) perform in the "Michael" episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Photo: Adam Rose/FOX

Approximately ten seconds into this episode, the characters onscreen (most notably Kurt, sporting a fur-upholstered overturned bucket from Alexander McQueen’s “Gayvy Crockett” collection) throw their conversation in the garbage and just start singing, as if to say, “Oh, fuck it. All these words we’re saying are terrible.” Which they were! So, GREAT CHOICE! This episode is full of great choices — specifically the choice to do tons of songs (nine!!!) and almost zero dialogue, exposition, or plot advancement. It’s a ratio that makes for a relatively entertaining and brisk episode of Glee. The gist of this opening scene is that everyone (“blah blah blah blah” —everyone) wants to do Michael Jackson songs for regionals, and so, proclaims Mr. Schue, Michael Jackson songs they shall do. Blaine sings “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” because he wanna be startin’ the episode (sorry). It’s officially “Michael week.” Here we go.

Finn corners Rachel to bug her about that time he proposed marriage even though they are both baby children. Rachel says she still doesn’t have an answer — she wants to marry Finn “someday,” but right now she “doesn’t understand.” Finn explains that he wants to use Rachel’s wedding ring as a very tiny miniature shackle to keep her forever tied to him and tiny-town Ohio instead of to her big-city dreams (“Those rings will always be a reminder of exactly how we feel right now”). Weirdly, Rachel is not convinced. 

Over at the Lima Bean, Rachel announces that she never really “got” Michael Jackson (OF COURSE), to which Santana replies, “I’d throw this milk in your face but it’s not nearly scalding enough,” which is not EVEN Santana’s best burn in this episode. Then Sebastian Smythe shows up to let everyone know that — seeing as he is a one-dimensional evil god-king, basically Sauron in a blazer — he is deliberately yoinking their idea, and the Warblers will also be performing Michael Jackson songs at regionals this year. Oh noooooooooooooooooo!!!

Back at choir practice, the kids present their intel to Mr. Schue and everyone starts crying. If the Warblers are going to sing Michael Jackson songs, how can they sing Michael Jackson songs too? To help solve their problem, Mr. Schue asks perhaps the most unfortunate question in the history of question marks: WWMJD? What Would Michael Jackson Do? (Um, I don’t know — probably some impulsive jewel shopping followed by a lethal dose of prescription narcotics?) Blaine thinks he knows what Michael would do. He would take it to the streets. “I think I know what Michael would do. He’d take it to the streets.” So they do. They take it. To the streets.

New Directions challenges the Warblers to a “Jackson-off,” and whichever group “wins” (who is the judge? and what are the rules? and how is the verdict enforced? and etc. etc. etc. forever) “gets” to do Michael at Regionals. Song No. 2 is a rendition of “Bad” sung in an abandoned parking garage (another thing Michael Jackson might do is sing this song better). At the end of the song, Sebastian throws a slushie (the Black Slushie of Mordor) into Blaine’s gorgeous doe-eyeballs, which would be fine except that this evil slushie is filled with tiny knives!!! Or something else sharp and terrible! Blaine falls to the ground dead. I mean, not dead, but his eyeball hurts. He has to have eyeball surgery. This means WAR(blers)!!! (Sorry.)

Suddenly, overcome with grief about Blaine’s eyeball (we all are, Artie, we all are), Artie has a complete nervous breakdown: “I want them to feel my pain, because frankly, that’s ALL I HAVE LEFT TO GIVE.” Ooooooohhhhkaaaaaaaaay. This brings us to song No. 3, “Scream,” starring dream-sequence Artie with fully functioning legs — as if we need to be reminded that Glee didn’t bother to hire an actual disabled person to play their semi-condescending disabled-person role — and Mike Chang in the part he was born to play: Janet Jackson.

Next, Quinn tells Rachel that she has to break up with Finn, because “I’d hate to think of dragging an anchor from my past into the bright lights of my future.” Which is actually kind of solid advice, if you think about it (I WONDER WHAT RACHEL WILL DO). Then Quinn sings “Never Can Say Goodbye,” which is a really good song. During the song, she opens her locker and there’s a picture of Artie hanging in there (what aren’t you telling us, Ryan Murphy!!?!?). Then Quinn announces that she got into Yale, to which Mr. Schue replies, “YALE YEAH!” You know, instead of “Hell yeah.” You know, like words that humans talk.

In other stuff: Sam and Mercedes meet in the auditorium to sing an almost-chemistry-free duet of “Human Nature,” followed by the world’s most tepid kiss. Kurt finds out that he is a NYADA finalist and he poops his pantaloons. Rachel didn’t get a NYADA letter, so then she spends a bunch of time crying about how hard it is to be young, pretty, smart, talented, and in love. 

Rachel, Kurt, and Finn go over to Blaine’s house where he’s recuperating from his ruined eyeball (God, why couldn’t it have been KURT instead of Blaine? Can you imagine the eye patch flair???). Then Rachel pulls out a pitch pipe (why? Where is your invisible orchestra?) and Kurt leads the group in a touching rendition of “Ben,” Michael Jackson’s theme to the 1972 movie Ben, which is about murderous telepathic rats. (Sample lyric: “Ben, you’re always running here and there [because you are a rat].”) Hella romantic, Kurt.

Santana confronts Sebastian about being a dick, and to get “revenge,” they perform “Smooth Criminal” accompanied by overenthusiastic cello. Good revenge, Santana. Then Sebastian admits that he put rock salt in the slushie, intending to lacerate the eyes of Kurt, but hitting Blaine instead. He does not regret it. Then he throws another slushie in Santana’s face.

Turns out, Santana had a tiny tape recorder taped to her “underboob!” She’s going to get Sebastian convicted of slushie tampering and salt crime and sent to the big house!!! Except all of a sudden nobody wants revenge anymore, even though the whole episode up to this point has been about getting revenge. Kurt gives a condescending nonsense speech, culminating in “We’re not going to punish the Warblers, we’re going to teach them a lesson.” Yes. Fighting back the logical, grown-up way — with MUSIC! To the auditorium!

Oh, God. Before we get there, Finn and Rachel stop and sing “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and Rachel tells Finn that he’s the love of her life and also she found out that she is a NYADA finalist. And yes, she will marry him. Are you dead now? Did you die of surprise? Are you a ghost? Okay. To the auditorium!

New Directions lures the Warblers to the auditorium, where they announce that they’re done fighting: “We’re show choirs and we’re supposed to support each other.” (What? No you’re not.) Then they sing “Black or White” (mostly white), complete with that whole face-morphing thingy from the original video, which almost made this episode worth it. One by one the Warblers come up onstage and join, because they’re show choirs and they’re supposed to support each other. Then Sebastian commits ritual suicide by drowning himself in a comically oversize knife slushie. Good episode. Pretty good episode. Next week: Ricky Martin.

Glee Recap: Takin’ It to the Streets