New Directions finally competed at Sectionals on last night's Glee. After hallucinating about Britney Spears, dancing with Gwyneth Paltrow, doing the "Time Warp" in Rocky Horror, and tackling religion, sexuality, and bullying, the glee club performed for the chance to move on to Regionals. How did they do?
To help make sense of the episode, we have a panel of musical theater and pop culture buffs—Meghan Brown, Patrick Burns, and Kevin Fallon—to provide their takes on how realistic the show feels, how well the romances develop, and of course, how good the musical numbers are.
Here's what they had to say:
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Kevin Fallon (writer and producer for The Atlantic's Culture channel): What made this the best episode of Glee
in weeks all season? It wasn't Am-bad-ass-ador Puck saving the day by recruiting a new glee member. It wasn't Brittany and Mike Chang's jaw-dropping dancing in "Valerie," or Santana's Winehouse-cool vocals on the track. It wasn't Ken and Barbie's adorable duet to Dirty Dancing's theme, or Kurt and his new BFFs' charming Train cover either. Nope, it was the return of Emma Pillsbury, a character that has been far too missed in her sporadic episodes this season.
It was her idea, remember, to change up New Directions' set list, allowing oft-ignored members of the club to shine in solos at Sectionals (in awesome song choices, natch). Her hilarious line deliveries in her counseling scene with Finn and Rachel aptly filled the void left by Sue's absence this week (why does it seem that we only get only one of the two actresses each episode?), and her end-of-episode revelation was the real shocker (as opposed to the easy-to-guess affair between Puck and Rachel). With one look in her eyes in a brief shot during the "Dog Days Are Over" finale, she brought a surprising emotional heft to the joyous—and wonderfully staged—song ... a heartbreaking undertone that reverberated in the quick cut to Rachel removing her shrine to Finn from her locker. Is there anything more tragic than teenage heartbreak? There really isn't, which is why the scenes and dialogue in this episode worked better than usual; the characters acted like petty, impulsive, dramatic teenagers for once—and the results were hilarious, poignant, and kind of moving.
Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): I have an idea: let's just do competition episodes from now on!
Really, though. The songs work better, the conflict builds more naturally, and the whole crazy thing just makes more sense.
Kurt's arc was subtler this week, and thereby about 50 times more interesting. I loved his ridiculous audition (particularly Blaine's delicate signal for Kurt to PUT HIS DAMN ARMS DOWN), and am impressed that Glee's handling his acclimation to Dalton so truthfully.
This episode also seemed more quotable than most, in no small thanks to new Glee kid Lauren. Her deadpan delivery of "Best. Green room. Ever." and "I'm not nervous. You know why? Because show choir's stupid" both elicited some real laughs, and I hope she's on the team for keeps.
This was a fantastic Rachel episode. She was irritating in the way that real teenagers can be irritating (trust me, I work with teenagers) and faced the consequences. Her scenes with Kurt were tender, her scenes with Finn were dumb but palatable, and her fight with Mr. Schu carried some legitimate weight (go Will for actually acting like a teacher again!).
For the picky: Finn and Kurt haven't talked since the wedding? Aren't they living together now that Burt and Carol are married? And splitting the Sectionals victory between New Directions and the Warblers? Come on now.
Patrick Burns (writer, composer, and star of the original one-man-musical, From Foster Care to Fabulous): This was the best episode of Glee all season! Whenever there is a competition episode it seems like all the best ideas for musical numbers are pulled off of the back shelf in some office in Glee headquarters.
I'm not historically a fan of Lea Michele or Andrew Lloyd Weber, so at first I didn't think I'd like the Evita number, but it was fantastic! It was nice to hear Rachel and Kurt get to sing together and so passionately. The Warblers sounded fantastic and fun singing Train's "Hey Soul Sister." As always, they looked sharp in their snazzy uniforms.
As always, it was a pleasure to see Harry Shum Jr. and Heather Morris brought out in front to showcase their dance moves. These two can seriously move and we don't get to see it enough on the show. It was a nice change for Naya Rivera to have a big solo at a competition! She sounded amazing and took center stage with fervor.
Can we please do a competition episode every week?
Past Glee panels: