S3E8: I keep saying I want Glee to regain that Season One spark, and while I may sound like a broken record, I doubt I’m the only one who’s hoping to see its return. And if we’re lucky, tonight’s episode is a sign that the feeling has returned and that it’s here to stay. Then again, it did take 45 minutes of the episode to get there – and we’ve been burned before.
“I’m going to quote one of my favorite songs, ‘Jack and Diane.’ ‘Hold on to sixteen for as long as you can.’” –Sam
Quinn and Rachel talk about how Quinn is going to squeal on Shelby and Puck so she loses Treble Tones and Beth. Rachel says it will bad for Beth. “Quinn, you’ve got what I call Rich White Girl problems.” Puzzle piece number two in Quinn’s twisted puzzle is nabbing Sam. She thinks they’re “perfect together” and that they’ll make great parents responds to Quinn’s proposal to start dating again by quoting “Jack and Diane,” hence the “Hold on to Sixteen” episode title.
Crazy Q finally confronts Shelby and tells her she’s going to reveal her tryst with Puck to Figgins. All it takes is Shelby’s talk about enjoying youth while it lasts to be the catalyst to the whole process Rachel’s pleas put in action. Quinn realizes she would be ruining Beth’s life and her own by exposing and shaming Shelby. By the end of the episode, she’s flipped her switch completely, giving a similar speech about enjoying their last year of high school to Santana, Brittany and Mercedes and sharing her plan to study drama at Yale with her new bestie, Rachel. I wasn’t onboard with her bipolar, Hot Topic-tinged personality shift at the beginning of the season and this sudden switch back to Sally High School in a matter of hours is just a little ridiculous too. I will say one thing though: Good riddance, insane Quinn.
“Odds are by the end of the year, I’ll have Blaine and a trophy and you’ll have khakis, a Lima Bean apron and that gay face.” –Sebastian
“You smell like Craig’s list.” –Kurt
This isn’t a huge part of the episode, but Sebastian does the typical bitchy move and reveals his entire evil plan to Kurt while Blaine is gone for a mere 60 seconds getting a second cup of joe. He plans to steal Blaine away from Kurt and his hope is that Blaine will rejoin The Warblers so they can win at Nationals. Unfortunately for Klaine fans – oh wait, you mean all of us? – there’s no happy confirmation that we’re out of the woods with this Warbler. He shows up during the New Directions’ performance to watch Blaine and distract Kurt from singing and dancing.
“I’m not for sale.” –Blaine
Finn finds what he thinks is New Directions’ lucky charm, Sam, in Kentucky, where he’s been stripping under the name White Chocolate. This was all a little much and I can’t believe Sam’s parents were oblivious enough to believe he worked at a Dairy Queen, but I can’t help but be entertained by Rachel Berry wearing her Audrey Hepburn cape to a strip club that she thinks is supposed to be a dinner theater. After a tiny bit of pleading, Sam’s parents let him go back to McKinley, which is odd, but I like having him back so I can get over it.
I’m really proud of sitting through that rendition of “Red Solo Cup” that Sam chooses as his first song back at MKHS, especially because it doesn’t really belong in a high school glee club. And yes, Sam is dirt poor, but let’s not label him a redneck just because he’s destitue and lived in Kentucky. You’re better than that, Glee.
You’re also better than the weird “sexy” body roll thing Sam teaches the rest of the guys in the glee club in order to help them win at sectionals. It turns into a debate between Blaine and Sam because Blaine is insulted that they want to chuck his “boy band” moves. This bit is a little incongruent because Blaine lashes out at Sam, making him feel bad for resorting to stripping to help his family, but his real problem is that conflict that’s been brewing between him and Finn. They both want to be the leader, but Finn keeps winning that role and it drives Blaine crazy. This is pretty typical high school stuff; Blaine’s new and a junior, Finn’s the resident top dog and a graduating senior. Finn uses the only thing that works to disarm and angry, boxing, lame Fight Club-referencing Blaine: humility. He professes his respect for Blaine and his talent, appeals to his desire to leave a legacy and they decide to work together.
“I don’t care how big your boyfriend is, I’m going to fight to get you back.” –Sam
First off, I’m surprised at how happy I am that Sam is back. He may sing like a Backstreet Boy, but his dorky character is sweeter and more likable than Finn. Silent “yay!” Now that he’s in Lima, Sam wants Mercedes back, and I kind of want him to get her – despite that cheesy bit when he yells down the hallway after her like he’s in a TV movie on ABC Family. Glee tried to do the hot guy with a girl who’s not traditionally pretty or hot plot with Lauren Zizes and Puck, but that storyline was a bit too pretentious and prickly. With Sam and Mercedes (who is beautiful, but without the traditional “it girl” physique), it feels like a high school crush should feel. It’s sweet and innocent, but infinitely exciting. That little smile Mercedes lets peek out as Sam yells after her and that moment when he’s watching her proudly and longingly at Sectionals is everything Puck and Zizes were missing.
“But you want to be a dancer, not a doctor.” –Tina
Mike isn’t applying to any dance schools and instead he’s applied to Stanford to go pre-med to please his dad. Of course, Tina gets upset because she knows how much he loves dance and they get in a bit of a fight – though, they’re so perfect all the time it’s about time they disagree about something.
When Tina goes to Mike’s dad to give him a copy of Mike’s West Side Story performance, it gets a little after school special, as Glee tends to do. It also drives a larger wedge between Mike and Tina, but I love that Tina stands her ground and continues to insist Mike follow his dreams and not his father’s. His father ends up showing up during the New Directions’ performance and seeing his son in action changes his mind. While I wish more parents could change their minds that quickly because life would be a lot easier, you can’t help but be happy for Mike. Tina does the caring girlfriend thing and sends in all Mike’s applications for him so that by the time his dad changes his mind, he’s actually all set up. They are pretty cute, plus, letting them fight for any longer would be an unwelcome excess of drama in an already bloated set of storylines.
“It’s in the bag.” –Finn
Of course it is. When we reached the competition, I appreciated that the third team wasn’t a geriatric band of crooners or some other group that stood no chance against our heroes, though Lindsay Pearce’s (Glee Project runner-up) Evita number was a little too much of a solo and not enough of a group performance to really stand a chance. And with that quip about being so young and so good, I’ll be they’re grooming her to be future villain – of course we also know that she’s not actually NYADA competition for Kurt and Rachel. I just hope they get a better name before next season. I’m not sure how many more times I can deal with “the Unitards.” Worst choir name ever?
Finally, it’s just down to just the Trouble Tones and the New Directions. Before I continue, I’d like to point out the narrative trick this show uses over and over again. No matter how good the other teams are, they always get just one song, while the New Directions always get three. Of course we root for them. They go last and they perform for three times as long as anyone else. Before the Jackson medley, I was on team Trouble Tones – plus wouldn’t that have been a much more interesting twist? “I’ll Survive/Survivor” was simply fantastic, but how do you beat a performance that is as uplifting as the most famous Jackson 5 song combined with the iconic “Man in The Mirror?” Apparently, you don’t – but those camera-ography quick shots and slo-mo pauses for Kurt to spy Sebastian and for Mike to see his dad threatened to derail what was an admittedly great performance. Even so, we knew they deserved it when the New Directions nabbed that trophy and sent the Trouble Tones into a bout of depression that made them feel like they were standing alone in the auditorium. Drama queens.
By the end, the Trouble Tones (or at least the ones we care about) come back and the glee club we know and love is all back together, singing joyfully and preparing for the last semester of high school. While the first half of the episode was just plain painful, by the end Glee managed to restore a little of that magic that we loved so much when the show first hit the small screen. Now let’s see if they can keep it up.