Hey DC Theatre Scenezians, sorry about the delay in this one. Life sometimes throws a whole bunch of things at you at once and navigating them in a timely matter can be tricky. Your recapper swears to try harder at the whole “deadline” thing.
Color me somewhat impressed, Glee. You’ve had me watching two episodes in a row, and they’ve managed to convey roughly the same tone, balance, style, and level of ridiculousness as each other. It’s almost like I watched two episodes of the same show! What is going on?!
In the spirit of keeping this week’s breakdown quick and dirty (much like the way my brain reacted to and subsequently rejected the Sue Sylvester Penthouse subplot), here’s what happened in a nutshell:
Rachel - A pretentious NY film student asks Rachel to star in her student film, with one catch – she must appear topless! Kurt thinks Rachel is changing too fast, so he calls in the reinforcements – Quinn and Santana! I haven’t watched the show this regularly in a long time but I will admit my brain has already been hard-wired to be excited by that.
Nostalgia is powerful; just ask Don Draper. In the end the girls manage to get enough foresight into Rachel’s head to make her realize that, though she might be ready to go topless someday, it was not right here and right now.
Sam - Sam got an SAT score lower than lab monkeys, apparently, and begins doubting his worth as anything beyond muscley guy. Fortunately, Glee club is going to do a “Men of Glee” calendar to fundraise, so he has a ready receptacle of overcompensation right there. Meanwhile Artie feels insecure about his body. The club makes Sam a nice video to show him how substantial he actually is (in a lovely sequence that’s as heartwarming as anything Glee has pulled off. This show can sure do moments well).
Jake/Marley – Jake’s gonna be “naked” on the calendar, so Brittany (in a return appearance of the always amusing “Fondue for Two” segment) encourages Marley to get “emotionally naked” for Jake. Meanwhile, Jake is getting similar advice from Ryder (THAT’s that guy’s name!). Then they get nervous, and then they tell each other they love each other. Très cute. As I’ve said before, I like Melissa Benoist a lot, and Jacob Artist isn’t bad either, but sometimes I wonder if the show itself is aware of how “puppy lovey” this storyline actually is. It plays like a very cute little Sandy/Danny innocent teen romance. Part of me hopes the show just endgames them and lets this stay this way, but another part wonders if they’re in for a shattering reality check at some point. However, both of these questions are asked in assumption that this is a show other than Glee, so how knows what the hell will actually happen.
Finn/Sue - Sue is outraged that Glee club is selling sexy calendars. Finn sets out to prove she’s a hypocrite since she appeared in a Penthouse spread once upon a time. He does so.
That’s basically it.
Also, the Warbler steroid thing literally happened, got them disqualified (and Glee club back in the competition), and was done in the first 30 seconds of the episode. Okedoke then! In general, the episode was very strangely paced, with a storyline seemingly ending with each act break. There were at least three points where I sat up and wondered how there could be several more story beats left.
“Torn” – I irrationally love this song. Also, the weird concept of the dueling Rachels (and it was weird) was actually executed and edited very well. All that was missing was the ballet class denizens backup dancing. A+
“Hot in Herrre/Centerfold” – Ok, here’s the Glee I know. When the music vamped up, all I could say was oh god. Still the choreography was good, despite negligible vocals. B
“A Thousand Years” – Good for what it was, but didn’t stand out in any other ways. It gets a bump for a very authentic kiss at the end. B-
“Let Me Love You” – A well chosen song for the plot and moment, and I liked the simplicity. It could have stood to lose a verse in the episode edit. I bought the emotion and connection, but enough was enough. B
“Love Song” – Another song I really like, and it was just fun to see Lea Michele, Naya Rivera, and Dianna Agron just jamming out and having a good time to it. The harmonics were nice and the overall vibe was very pleasant. It also reminded me how much I like Rivera and Agron’s voices. I uncynically enjoyed it quite a lot. The shirtless band was one of those “weird enough to work in context” things, too. A
“This is the New Year” – This song literally came out of nowhere. I think there was some paper-thin “calendar = new year” justification in there or something. Maybe if the “requalified for Regionals” aspect of the episode was played up it would have made more sense. Anyway, I liked the black and white aesthetic, the song itself, and patches of the staging. Good closer. Also, Lord Tubbington shows up! B+
“None of your high rises are up to code. Those families are living in squalor and they deserve better.” Brittany, to Slum-Lord Tubbington.
“Rachel, it’s a student film; it’s not going to be good.” Santana, in a string of quotables that made me really miss Naya Rivera’s regular presence.
“Sam was the first person in America to do a Sean Connery impression. His impression is what made Sean Connery’s career really take off.” Brittany, extolling Sam’s virtues.
Tie – The entire Sue Sylvester subplot (culminating in Lynch’s delivery of the phrase “glorious taco”, forever ruining that food for me). Also, the running gag where “Oh Yeah!” by Yello played every time dudes took their shirts off.