Well, kids, it’s finally here: Sectionals. Yes, sectionals – as in, the thing Mr. Schue has been yammering on about since day one. I always thought that nothing could ever top last year’s big sectional jaw-dropper (What’s that you say? Quinn’s pregnancy CAN’T be chalked up to Immaculate Conception and/or hot tub sperm mobility? NO!)
But this week’s installment managed to bring the drama. We left off last week with a big announcement: that Kurt was transferring to Dalton Academy, home of The Warblers and its insanely charming lead singer, Blaine. Still, the show (in this case, sectionals) must go on. Mr. Schue plans on taking The New Directions in the same direction as every other performance: a Rachel/Finn love song followed by a rousing group number that ends with a Beyonce moment for Mercedes, but Emma (who is obviously the only person who has the power to change Will Schuster’s mind) encourages him to let the other kids shine. As she says, it’s high time we pay attention to the stars that don’t “burn quite as obviously bright.” Brava, Emma. That, in my opinion, is the mentality of a true educator.
So Mr.Schue decides to shake things up…starting with Mike Chang’s shoulders. This year, we’ll be treated to some siiiiiick dance moves by Mike and Brittany (Editor’s Note: That little flippy thing she did at the end? HOLY SH*T!), along with lead vocals by the new power couple, Sam and Quinn. Naturally, Rachel flips, which leads to Santana going all Swimfan on her ass and telling her that she deflowered Finnocence before Rachel even let him touch her (apparently tiny) boobs. One of the things that I love most about the construction of Rachel’s character is that her ego is only matched by her slew of self-esteem issues. Her issue with Finn’s virginity loss has little to do with the lie itself, and more to do with the fact that Finn has been with a smokin’ hot girl like Miss Lopez.
In another land (seriously, homegirl really does exist in another place altogether) Brittany is having cold feet about her upcoming dance solo. Even though Britney Spears taught her that she is more talented than the rest of the group, she’s nervous. Artie gives her a magic comb, she works up her courage, and these two earn a highly coveted spot in my heart and the title of Cutest Couple Of The Episode.
Unlike much of this season of Glee where there was nothing more than a lot of really great song and dance numbers, this really was an episode with a storyline and/or solo for every character. Puck came out of the woodwork and (literally) took one for the team. After propositioning the football team boys to join Glee club in Kurt’s place, he gets himself locked in a port-a-potty (remember when he did that to poor little Artie? KARMA.) Pigtail Girl, who is apparently named Lauren, comes to his rescue. “Are you an angel?” he asks her. Her response? Screw you. The two engage in an old-fashioned seven minutes in heaven romp before she agrees to join Glee, and a newly vulnerable Puck and an equally beaten-down Rachel turn to one another for comfort.
Elsewhere, Kurt vies for a solo with The Warblers. He turns to Rachel for help, and she encourages him to sing a song that he can connect with; like last season’s incredible “Defying Gravity,” these two divas go toe-to-toe with a Broadway standard that resonates beautifully with both characters – both vocally and lyrically. Kurt, because he’s had to leave his friends and join a new team, and Rachel, because even though she’s borderline insufferable, she still needs love. I was a big, big fan….but unforch The Warblers weren’t and Kurt was denied his chance to shine.
This brings up one of the major themes in this episode. Kurt’s emotionally stirring performance wasn’t what The Warblers were looking for; while it demonstrated showmanship and connectivity, it lacked the seasoned musicality. But Warblers’ opinions aside, I can’t help but side with Kurt on this one (and if you know me at all, you know that that is a STRONG STATEMENT for me to be making). These days, it isn’t all about being perfect – it’s about energy, and heart, and making something unique. Today’s world would much rather see a heartfelt performance, kinks and all, than an immaculate one. Or am I wrong?
I have to wonder: is it better to live life like an Acapella singer: that is, concerned with technique, and conformity, and the ability to break into a proverbial eight-part harmony? Or, is it better to shine with all the show stopping panache of a show choir: in other words, to be like Kurt, who concentrates less on being part of a team and more on “screaming to get noticed?”
There was no angry chair-throwing in this ep, so I’m going to say the last year’s sectional installment packed more of a punch – but there were still some zingers tonight. For one thing, Emma becomes downright impulsive and marries Carl in Vegas. An even more uncharacteristic move? Uber-girlfriend Rachel cheats on the man of my (uh…I mean her) dreams with none other than Noah Puckerman. Even though Puck backed away from Rachel before things could get all hot and heavy, Finn dumped her for hitting him where it hurts: the part of him that understands that he lacks the bad boy magnetism that Puck embodies.
Instead, tonight’s episode felt more like an open-ended question. Which tactic proves more effective: the top-down approach that The Warblers take, choosing one flawless lead singer and building a perfectly crafted wall around his impeccable vocals, or throwing the rules to the wind a la New Directions? Who ultimately wins in this challenge: a group made up of ragtag misfits, who create intimacy by walking through the audience, who are “best when they’re loose” – or, a group that would most likely scoff at all this?
I personally love the New Directions because they let their freak flags fly, and even though Brittany’s little storyline with the magic comb probably only exists for the sake of comedy, it speaks volumes: people find the most potent strength in the form of something to believe in. Is it better to celebrate the “unsung heroes,” to believe that people have “magic in them” (so cute, Artie), to love others “because of and in spite of their flaws” the way Finn loved Rachel? Or, is it better to follow the rules the way Blaine and his crew do? I know where I stand, but the fact that there was no definitive competition winner makes me think that maybe, when it comes to this question, the jury is still out
Best Performance of the Night: I have to give props to almost all of them. “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” because Lea Michele is a friggin’ POWERHOUSE and Chris Colfer’s voice is really improving. “Hey, Soul Sister” was great because Darren Criss manages to steal hearts with his sheer charisma (if you ask me, he’s kind of screaming to get noticed himself…I don’t hate it.) “Time Of My Life” featured Dianna Agron’s best vocals to date, and I’ve always seen her as the weakest singer of the bunch. And “Valerie” was every bit as sassy as Santana herself.
Best Quotes of the Night: None. Where the hell was Sue?