Last night, if you were anywhere in the vicinity of the tri-state area, you may have heard my obnoxiously ardent giddy giggles of anticipation as Glee's “Dance With Somebody” delivered its opening number. For once in what’s likely more than a year (sorry for the lack of accuracy. I stopped documenting my Glee mood swings after that Super Bowl episode because I lost the capacity to sufficiently capture my disappointment), I actually felt something genuine and almost beautiful while watching the McKinley gang’s latest escapade. And aside from the beautifully haunting opening a cappella tribute to Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” the reason (most of) the episode works, once again, is thanks to Chris Colfer and Darren Criss.
The introduction via “How Will I Know” promised a poignant, simple episode, and while Glee couldn’t make that last through an entire episode even if the entire cast had the power of Liza Minelli, Barbra Streisand and Patti Lupone coursing through their veins, Kurt and Blaine did manage to capture enough to make a little dent.
But first, we need a reason for all this belated Whitney worship, right? Because musically inclined teenagers never obsess over their idols, especially in the wake of loss. Will and Emma conclude the kids are hanging on to Whitney as a placeholder for all their sadness and anxieties about leaving high school in a few short weeks. And the Glee club proceeds to sing all of Whitney’s easiest songs because not everyone is Mercedes.
First up, in an attempt to wash away the brilliance of the first Whitney song is Brittany’s Ke-dollar-sign-hah-inspired version of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” It needed the update to avoid sounding dated, but it’s not totally appropriate to turn it into a drunken club mix. Still, the visual was where the real value lies; Heather Morris is an incredible dancer and her Whitney video dress-up with Santana was seven shades of adorable.
But after the fun came the big ol’ mess. Kurt meets a cute NYU-bound boy at Between the Sheets (which is totally a sheet music store and not a Bed Bath & Beyond knock-off or a simple way to add a sexual air to this chance meeting) and they start a text flirtation in light of Blaine’s recent distant behavior. Problem: Blaine finds out when Kurt’s phone starts vibrating incessantly with texts from said boy. Kurt doesn’t see how texts filled with one-liners from the handbook of terrible pickup lines is emotional cheating, but Blaine has the perfect explanation: Duh, it’s a song. Blaine blasts Kurt with “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” and the visual homage to the video is pretty spot-on (right down to Blaine’s shiny satin suit, which unbelievably works on him, but let’s be real: Everything works on Blaine)... until the Glee club inexplicably shows up behind the very dark and sombre Blaine donning letterman jackets and cheerio uniforms.
And now, for the best part of the entire episode: another Kurt and Burt moment. This show literally coasts by until we get another father-son moment between these two. Their interactions are the only ones that still hold the emotional weight we remember from Season 1. A distraught Kurt starts organizing his things for his move to New York, marking his pro photo with Blaine for the storage pile. His father breaks down and admits he’s been working long hours in DC to keep from having to see Kurt and face that their relationship is about to change forever. This moment was particularly genuine. To get all personal on you, I know from experience. My mother and I had (almost) the exact conversation when I was moving to New York after my senior year in college. Thank God for Mike O’Malley — he proves that this show still has some capacity to reach into our chests and wring emotions from our hardened little hearts.
Next: Kurt brings a tear to our eyes with a Whitney classic.Kurt stokes that emotional fire when he sings his apology song to Blaine: “I Have Nothing.” And while Chris Colfer has never had the most amazing voice on the show, he’s always had the ability to be extremely and sweetly evocative in his performances. (“I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” anyone?) It works long enough to get Blaine into Emma’s office for couples’ counseling (How does this keep happening? Teenagers aren’t this evolved, people!) and it turns out that Blaine’s actually upset that Kurt is so obsessed with New York when the move means he’s about to leave Blaine alone. And because this thing called the whole entire summer isn’t a thing apparently, they make up (in the cutest, most adorable, heartwarming way — as we expect them to) and Blaine makes an effort to be more romantic in the short time he and Kurt have left in the McKinley halls.
The rest of the episode includes a few storylines that are in no way worthy of accompanying Klaine’s emotional journey this week, but we have to talk about them anyway. Mortal enemies Santana and Rachel sing a cute, past-evaporating version of “So Emotional” together and just as we’re realizing they hate each other with the fire of a thousand suns and they’ve never performed together so sweetly, they let us know that they know that too. A little locker-side chat quickly sews up their three-year hateful relationship and Rachel asks Santana to put her photo in her locker. Bing bang boom, all those quips about Rachel going off to join the lollypop gang are gone, just like Lauren Zizes and Sugar Motta. (Seriously, where is that obnoxious girl?)
The ever-pouting Quinn is looking less and less like she’s going to walk any time soon, and luckily Joe of the ridiculous dreadlocks and homeschooling-naivety is there to help keep her hopes up. He accompanies her to rehab therapy and sings “I’m Saving All My Love For You” with her at Glee club. But when he’s about to kiss her, he pulls back. Naturally, she assumes that he’s just not that into her. (Because that wheelchair is definitely obscuring your annoyingly angelic face — not.) He is super into her, he’s just so religious and sheltered he thinks kissing her is going against God. Luckily, they’re mature beyond any horny teenagers in the history of time and they have a frank discussion after little Joe makes an appearance while helping Quinn stretch her non-functioning legs. They decide to be some wishy washy version of a non-couple. What happened to Quinn “My only boyfriend is Yale” Fabray?
Oh, and don’t forget about Mr. Schue. It’s his biggest fear at the moment. He’s having a panic attack about graduation and he moves his December wedding up to May so that the Glee club can perform. (But really so we can see Emma and Will get married before the season ends.) He even tries to get his OCD-afflicted fiancé to agree to a wedding at a campground where the bathrooms will be left unlocked just for them! (Because campground bathrooms definitely aren’t giant petri dished of diseases.) Luckily, Emma has learned how to wrangle erratic, self-obsessed adolescents and finally convinces her husband-to-be that those kids love him just as much as he loves them and that they’ll come back for his wedding no matter what.
By the time the episode ends with them all singing “My Love is Your Love” together in a display of their loving friendships before high school ends, Schue is able to make his proud, happy behind the curtain at Regionals face, which somehow still gets me.
The strange thing is that the whole episode felt like the second-to-last before Nationals and Graduation, but we’ve still got four weeks to go of NYADA auditions and probably another tizzy fit from Jesse St. James, which means this happy feeling is probably going to spin wildly out of control before we scramble to a poignant final song on May 22.
Did you get a little misty this week? Did you forget it was a Whitney tribute halfway through because they weren’t doing our favorite songs? What do you think is going to happen during NYADA auditions?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.