Apparently, it’s either feast or famine. One week we get showstoppers galore (see: The Great Chenoweth Episode), the next, only a couple of numbers that test even our extremely flexible notions of absurdity (see: the “Single Ladies” episode). This week, it takes a whole hour to arrive at conclusions we immediately saw coming. Terri becomes school nurse to keep tabs on Emma and Will’s non-affair affair, only to get fired. Ken proposes to Emma (pathetically, but also adorably), and the girl we thought might be growing a backbone loses it in one fell swoop. (Sue’s dead-on description of her: “a mentally ill ginger pygmy with eyes like a bush baby.”) Elsewhere, the kids magically cook up two highly energetic mash-up numbers; Sue and Kurt get a few hilarious lines; and we’re left looking forward to next week, when Sue becomes co-director of Glee — and hopefully more singing happens. (In the meantime, we’ve learned that full versions of each episode’s musical numbers are available here.)
The Boys’ Mash-Up: Bon Jovi/Usher, “It’s My Life”/”Confessions, Pt. 2”
Like Kurt, we don’t quite understand “how lightning is in competition with an above-ground swimming pool,” but Mr. Schue proceeds with his grand idea of the episode: Get the kids in competition with each other, and they’ll get psyched for Sectionals! Everyone seems to be suffering from ennui — even Sue is feeling stymied! (We love the idea of her making a smoothie from beef bones; we also would like to see her in a hovercraft.) Mrs. Schue to the rescue with what is apparently the best pseudoephedrine on the planet; it renders Finn capable of conquering a Bon Jovi song in a single bound (was it just us, or was he singing “I just want to live a Lima life?” Cute attempt at plot integration, or just poor pronunciation?). Despite the quite literal meaning of the song titles (as even Rachel notes, later), we think the boys win the contest. It’s believable that they’d consider themselves studs of the cheesy-Jersey-rocker/R&B-crooner varieties, we like that Kurt retained his scarf, and Artie gets extra points for effortlessly switching between Richie Sambora vocoder skills and lady-killing smooveness.
The Girls’ Mash-Up: Beyoncé/Katrina and the Waves, “Halo”/“Walking on Sunshine”
In the realm of big themes, we suppose one stood out: Everyone’s either trying too hard or not hard enough, and neither one makes anyone a winner. Rachel achieves a little social progress this week, earnestly reaching out to Quinn (“You’re a good singer … occasionally a little sharp, but that’s because you lack my years of training”); of course, she then choreographs the most over-the-top, help-we’re-blinded-by-the-yellow number ever, with herself, naturally, as soloist (yes, we see that she has a low range, but again, Mercedes could have done just as decent a job). The girls’ number was, in fact, the glee equivalent of the pill-driven performance: a short, artificial burst of courage, followed by a sense of unease. We’re not sure we believe that any of the glee kids could pull together these mash-up numbers so quickly, and with no Schue guidance; weren’t they struggling to put one foot in front of the other just weeks ago? We’ll let it slide, though, since we know Sue will whip them into shape next week. Like she prophetically dictated early this episode, “We’re dealing with children. They need to be terrified.” Terrified into Sectionals!