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Glee Recap: Where Air Comes From

GLEE: The glee club members show their inner powerhouses for "Diva Week" in the "Diva" episode of GLEE airing Thursday, Feb. 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Pictured L-R: Becca Tobin, Heather Morris, Jenna Ushkowitz, Darren Criss, Alex Newell and Melissa Benoist.

It’s a little bit of a bummer to follow up last week’s joyfest of an episode with an hour of Glee that doesn’t clear any bar higher than the one set by Naya Rivera’s M&M’s commercial. Fortunately, it’s one of the best candy commercials in recent memory, so this was still a decent episode — it just lacked the sparkle of last week’s.

Before we dive into the episode, a question: Am I getting really puritanical, or is it inappropriate for a girl (Tina) to straddle a drugged, sleeping boy (Blaine) that she’s in love with while she unbuttons his shirt and then slowly rubs VapoRub into his chest? The Tina/Blaine crush had a tiny bit of potential to begin with — “I have a crush on a gay guy” is a pretty common real-life choir complaint — but it’s getting turned into Tina being obsessed with “going after what she wants.” I’m assuming her actions were supposed to be sweet, but the whole situation felt predatory.

My recollection from the last we’d seen Will and Emma was that they had decided to take a break until after he’d finished his work with the blue ribbon commission for arts education, but I guess that was just wishful thinking, because the wedding is only ten days away! Emma’s in a tizzy because of Will’s unrealistic expectations, and Finn offers to help her in exchange for her help with the diva-fication of the New Directions.

Emma helpfully tells the glee kids that a diva is “a fierce, often temperamental singer who comes correct; she is not a trick-ass ho and she does not sweat the haters.” Words to live by! The kids trash-talk a little (Sam, charmingly, spends most of the argument plugging his ears) before Brittany and Unique break into Beyoncé’s “Diva,” and it’s nice and everything, but I’m pretty sure the moral of the Super Bowl was that Beyoncé should be the only one allowed to sing her songs (and all other songs) forever.

As unpleasant as the Blaine/Tina shenanigans were, they result in the episode’s two strongest musical numbers. Before he fully succumbs to his cold, Blaine sings “Don’t Stop Me Now” to the rest of the New Directions kids in order to prove that men can be divas, too. There are a lot of different ways to praise Blaine, and I’ve run through most of them already, but I’ll point out that tonight, the 5-month-old I was watching with nearly dove out of his high chair to see what was happening when this song began and then ignored the rest of the episode. See? Literally everyone loves Darren Criss. But Tina steals the show with her rendition of “Hung Up.” After she finishes, she rolls her eyes at the compliments, saying, “Don’t even worry about it.” It’s not clear where they’ve been hiding this Tina Cohen-Chang (behind Sam or Finn, probably), but she most definitely brings it, and she looks great in magenta hot pants too.

Back in New York, Kurt’s fed up with Rachel’s insufferable antics, and while most roommates would settle something like this with passive-aggressive Post-It notes, the two opt for a diva-off of their own. NYADA’s Midnight Madness sing-off is great because it’s the exact sort of weird event kids at performing-arts schools dream up, down to the half-lighting, the “silent applause only” rule, and the constant references to blood sport. The best shade thrown leading up to their face-off is probably Kurt’s response to Rachel when she says it’s a shame he’s acting so jealous, just when they were getting close: “We became close because you became tolerable.” But his true bombshell — that he fake-choked at their diva-off in season one — is an amazing bit of continuity, and a lovely reminder of Kurt’s willingness to put his father before his own success. (Speaking of Burt Hummel, he’s ... still alive, right? That prostate cancer story line needs revisiting.)

That said, “Bring Him Home” was such an odd choice for their diva-off. I’m wondering if it’s because the Glee producers just wanted a Les Miz number to coincide with the film’s release (although it’s been out for months now). It’s a shame that Rachel and Shelby sang “I Dreamed a Dream” three seasons back, because there’s a whole lot more diva in that song than there is in “Bring Him Home,” which is (sorry, everyone) a little bit boring, especially when you consider that it’s a man singing passionately about some kid he met five minutes ago who talked to his daughter once.  Every time Kurt gets another stand-and-belt number like this, I’m reminded of his fun and flashy songs from the past (“Not the Boy Next Door” comes to mind first), and it just feels like a waste. At any rate, Kurt’s win is totally deserved, and I’m not just saying that because I enjoy watching Rachel have all of her hopes and dreams crushed as frequently as possible.

Meanwhile, Finn and Emma spend more and more time together. She even gives him pamphlets to cope with Rachel moving in with Brody (“You Won’t Be Alone Forever … Probably!” seems particularly helpful) and he goes to comfort her in the midst of a meltdown, and just like that, they’re kissing. To repeat: Finn and Emma are kissing. And weirdly … it works. It’s not just that I oppose a Will/Emma wedding because it would serve as an endorsement of how domineering and dismissive he’s been in their relationship. Finn and Emma are kind and simple people who could find a way to be good for one another.

And then there’s Santana, who’s dropped out of college and come home with a fake girlfriend and a vendetta against Sam. It was her master plan to get back together with Brittany, who gently turns her down, explaining that she likes being with someone who makes her think about “where air comes from and how in every movie with Jesus in it he dies in the end.” Instead of staying and taking over Sue’s job (which seemed like a serious offer, but then again, Sue will say or do literally anything at any time for any reason, so who knows), she heads to Kurt and Rachel’s loft in New York. When they ask what she’s doing there, she shrugs. “Moving in.” Now this has potential.

Photo: Adam Rose/FOX