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Glee Recap: Stolen Kisses, Stolen Songs

GLEE: The boys perform in the "Sadie Hawkins" episode of GLEE airing Thursday, Jan. 24 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Pictured L-R: Blake Jenner, Darren Criss, Kevin McHale, Chord Overstreet and Samuel Larsen.

What will likely overshadow last night’s Glee (which, admittedly, would be a breeze to overshadow) is the controversy building over the arrangement of the Adam’s Apples’ version of “Baby Got Back.” It’s very nearly identical to the cover that nerd rocker Jonathan Coulton released several years ago. This dredges up questions that are being tackled by people who are much smarter than I about intellectual property and the licensing of cover arrangements and audio engineering (some are speculating that Glee misappropriated not just the arrangement but Coulton’s actual tracks, which is even worse). It’s definitely unfair and possibly illegal, but it’s also upsetting because it’s even further proof that Glee isn’t about the lovable underdog anymore.

I’m not saying Coulton is an underdog by the Internet’s standards — he’s a self-described “nerd superstar” with his own cruise — but he certainly is compared to the behemoth of Glee, which has (presumably) millions of dollars at its disposal to fight off intellectual-property lawsuits and enough exposure that people will likely think Coulton stole Glee’s idea and not the other way around. What’s more: He’s a person who makes things and shares them on the Internet, and Rachel Berry was that same person in the Glee pilot — remember those MySpace videos she used to post of herself singing show tunes? (Hell, remember MySpace?) A kid like Rachel who follows this whole mess doesn’t learn that making things and sharing them online is something of value and a means of connecting with others; she learns that creations like that can be snuffed out by bullies in a heartbeat. That’s unfortunate.

It’s Sadie Hawkins dance week at McKinley, a scheme concocted by Tina and the other members of the Too Young to Be Bitter Club, including Lauren Zizes, who’s apparently been brought back to the show for a single episode so that we can be reminded that she’s completely unacceptable as someone to love. Cool. Finn, after mourning the New Directions' classroomless-ness, decides to have a mandatory Sadie Hawkins challenge. Serious question: Was it supposed to be funny that each performance took place in a different room at McKinley? It just made me think about how the choir room is probably really expensive for the Glee production staff to light.

Tina has an ulterior motive: She’s been in love with Blaine for a long time, apparently, a fact she reveals in a rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” It’s intercut with slow-motion footage of Blaine stealing tater tots, and it’s mostly excruciating. Blaine turns Tina down politely, and while we’re originally made to believe this is because he’s gay and he had a traumatic experience at a Sadie Hawkins dance in middle school, it’s actually because he has a crush on Sam. In hindsight, this makes a shot of Blaine watching Sam put on Chapstick earlier in the episode both more and less disquieting. When Blaine confesses all this to Tina, she nods and says, “Now that you’re not with Kurt, you need someplace to put all that love.” That’s … definitely not how that works. What’s more, it’s a little disturbing to watch Glee’s writers couple off characters like they’re throwing darts at a dartboard, and it’s hard to hear Blaine have to justify himself as “not a predator” for liking a straight guy.

Blaine’s sudden new feelings are also disappointing because his relationship with Sam was turning into a nice friendship, and on Glee, that’s a rarity. Sure, Kurt and Rachel have been friends for a long time, but there’s a little too much “You’re my pet gay!” in some of her interactions with him to make it a true friendship. And Santana, Quinn, and Brittany were frenemies at best. At least Sam and Blaine will continue to work together to prove the Warblers were using anabolic steroids at sectionals in an attempt to strip them of their win. This would be a funny enough plotline if it weren’t being treated so vividly. Hazy footage of Warblers in forced injection rooms, wearing hospital gowns is pushing it a little bit.

Meanwhile, Kurt tries to adjust to life at NYADA, and this is probably a good time for me to come out and say that I wish he hadn’t gotten in. What I loved about Kurt’s early New York arc was that it demonstrated that you can love to sing and dance without doing those things as a career, a message it would probably be helpful for some of Glee’s younger viewers to hear. He’s struggling with which clubs at NYADA to join and is tempted by the idea of Adam’s Apples, the NYADA show choir. Rachel smugly informs him that joining the group would be both social and career suicide. Oh, Rachel. How thrilled you must be to finally be able to act as smug and entitled as you’ve always wanted! (Later, a similar snit ends in Brody promising to move in with her. Sigh.) And while Kurt’s not sold on Adam’s Apples yet, he’s completely sold on the idea of Adam himself and asks him on a date. Look at you, Kurt! Deciding what you want and going after it! Now, would you mind getting back together with Blaine?

The dance itself is sort of anticlimactic, save for a rendition of “No Scrubs” in which Artie is almost disturbingly opposed to scrubs and some deeply gross flirting between Kitty and Puck (anyone up to date on Lima’s statutory rape codes?). Even the triumphant “All the wallflower girls are asking boys to dance!” moment is tepid at best, largely because of how the episode tries so hard to present Sadie Hawkins dances as a way for girls to become more empowered. In reality, it's nothing more than a way for girls to ask boys to a dance sometimes, but this isn’t reality. This is Glee.

Next week, Quinn and Santana are back! I approve.

Photo: Eddy Chen/FOX