Last night's episode of Glee was titled "Comeback" so I hoped it would continue the return to creative form that started with the Valentine's Day episode. What came back, however, were the nonsensical plots, sloppy character development, and horrible gimmicks—this one involving Justin Bieber.
Honestly, I'm sick of not liking Glee. I know I'm harsh on it all the time, but it just keeps disappointing me. I tune in every week all excited to laugh and cry and sing along, and every week my hopes are dashed. I guess my expectations are too high. Maybe I just need to surrender to the schlockyness of it, but that's not holding the show up to its potential. That's like letting your once favorite actress just make crappy Hallmark Channel movies for the rest of her career. They're fun to watch, but they're not going to win any Emmys. There were still plenty of moments of joy in the episode.
But none of those moments had anything to do with Justin Bieber. I'm sure that not liking the Bieber makes me an "old," but I just don't understand the appeal. When Sam wants to feel more "rock 'n' roll" he asks, "Who's more rock 'n' roll than Justin Bieber?" Um, everyone! Bieber is popular and talented and the little ladies love him, but he is by no means "rock 'n' roll." He is as close to "rock 'n' roll" as a piece of Bubble Yum is to a balanced dinner. Anyway he decides to start a one-man band called The Justin Bieber experience and he makes tween girls at bar mitzvahs scream for him. That's funny. I'll go with it.
He also sings Bieber's tune "Baby" to impress Quinn. I only took the briefest clip from the song to spare you. It's pretty awful and reminds me of the booziest parts of a certain coworker's birthday party (OK, it was Lawson's). Anyway, it works and after her dalliance with Finn last episode, Quinn is back in love with Sam.
Also in need of a new baby is Sue Motherfucking Sylvester, who is despondent after losing the national cheer leading tournament because Brittanny wouldn't be shot out of a cannon. She has threatened to commit Sue-icide, so Emma comes up with a creative cure for her depression: join Glee club! Yes, joining the Glee club is the panacea for everything. Football teams having problems? Join Glee. Feeling blue? Take a dose of Glee? America's disintegrating infrastructure? Prop it up with Glee. Colo-rectal cancer? Glee enema! Glee club will fix everything. So, Sue's in Glee now. Great.
Mr. Schue got word for the Great Glee Club Governing Board of Greater Ohio and they said the theme for this year's competition is "Anthem." They have to sing an anthem at the competition so Mr. Schue is making them all find an anthem to sing. None of them do, because apparently once the show sets up a theme it doesn't feel the need to stick to it.
When all the other boys see the power that Bieber has over the girls, they want in on the female adoring action and force Sam to let them join The Justin Bieber Experience.
"Somebody to Love" makes me a little sad because it reminds me the Queen version of the song, which Glee did with such power and meaning that it nearly brought me to tears. Now here is a pandering version of a much lesser hit that is going to sell a ton of downloads on iTunes and really isn't included in the show for any other reason. Oh, how far we've come. Another short clip to spare you from The Bieb.
All the boys perform this song and the girls go crazy. It works especially well on big Lauren, who is slowing starting to fall for Puck. Thankfully we have Finn to let everyone know just how much Bieber sucks. At least we can get one voice of reason. But when Quinn sees Sam's second performance and his confidence, she rejects Finn for her boyfriend. Then he starts to see the light. Maybe Bieber isn't about the music, but about the feeling that he creates in young girls who need a safe sexual outlet.
Rachel Barry is looking to make everyone love her and have some sort of comeback. She's payed Brittany, a budding fashion icon now that she's not rocking a cheer leading uniform everyday, to start a trend and say it's Rachel's idea. Her plan is that if everyone thinks she's a trend setter, then they'll thinks he's cool.
Now that Sue is in Glee she's not feeling the love at all and she wants to break up the club from the inside. She knows that she can do that by working Rachel and Mercedes insecurities and pitting them against each other. After fomenting some internal strife, she gets them to agree to a diva off. Oh, this is gonna be good.
This classic lesbian love ballad from Rent isn't really the right sort of tune for a diva off, but this was a spectacular rendition of the song. Their performance was just wonderful and while watching it I remembered why I love watching this show in the first place. The thing Sue didn't calculate is that Rachel and Mercedes both love nothing more than getting their diva on, so their diva off actually brings them closer together than farther apart.
Then the plot about their discord was dropped immediately after the song, just like the whole Justin Bieber thing faded into the background. Yes, the story is now only a way to loosely connect one song to the next in some willy-nilly fashion, like the set list is planned out before the plot is written. Sarcastic hurrays all around!
Rachel wants to leave Brittany behind because she keeps taking Rachel's carousel horse sweaters and leg warmers—and her money—and making them popular. This was the most interesting element of the evening because it proved to Rachel that it's not about what someone is wearing as much as who is wearing it. Brittany tells Rachel, "You remind people of a cat getting its temperature taken and then screaming at them." Never has there been a more apt metaphor for the often shrill Ms. Barry. And Brittany is right. The reason she can't get any respect is because she doesn't respect anyone else. Meanwhile everyone thinks Brittany is the bee's knees (or the ant's hem) so when she goes in one direction, everyone wants to follow.
Speaking of knowing what people want, Lauren has decided that she wants to sing for Glee, but she's a bit nervous. Puck has a sweet talk with her and boosts her self-esteem. He also tells her to get over her nerves by imagining everyone in their underwear.
I think Lauren's "I Know What Boys Like" might win for number of the night. Not only did she put a slight spin on The Waitresses' hit, but it was a cute number with some naked people (and Sue's dominatrix undergarments!) and Lauren throwing some bony bitches around. This show proves, yet again, it's best when it's singing and dancing. This doesn't bring Lauren and Puck immediately closer, but it's nice to see that they're working on a slow build with these two rather than having them get together and break up seven times in one episode like most couples on the show.
Santana also knows what boys want, the boys want her. My devilish favorite goes to Sam and lets him know that everyone thinks he's a fool for forgiving Quinn. She told Sam she got mono from Finn when she sucked a gumball out of his throat to save him from choking to death and silly Sam bought it. Satana (which is how we should really spell her name) offers Sam a deal: he can break up with Quinn, start dating her, and win lots of cool points at the school for being a badass with the ladies and not buy Quinn's malarkey. He falls for it. This snake always gets you to take that apple.
Will knows what Sue wants, to feel better, so he tries to get some joy. He takes her to the hospital to sing songs to kids with cancer. This is the worst kind of emotional manipulation because it is entirely unearned. But, at the same time, you can't hate on kids with cancer. It's kids with cancer! You have to feel sympathy, but nothing about this storyline earned this sort of emotional payout. Sue MF Sylvester shows her tender side as she and Will sing "This Little Light of Mine" with them. There is no clip, because I just can't watch it again.
But Sue is so inspired by their trip to the hospital that she wants to sing a sing with Glee.
I'd never heard Chemical Romance's "Sing It Out" before last night's episode, but it's a good song, and our troupe did a good job with it, even though they looked like the waiting room of a casting session for a Brawny paper towel commercial. The song is about singing your truth and convincing the world of how you feel. Finally an anthem!
Quinn is ready to express her feelings for Sam, but he's starting dating Satana and breaks poor Quinny's heart. We guess she kind of deserves that.
Rachel speaks her truth when Mr. Schue decides they should perform this number at Regionals. She thinks that they need original songs if they want to compete with The Warblers and Aural Intensity—the team that beat them last year. (Hey, what ever happened to Vocal Adrenaline?) Rachel makes a good case, but no one listens to her. Just like with her fashion sense, it's not about the message, it's about the messenger. Just when Rachel is feeling dejected, Finn tells Rachel he liked her confidence and chutzpah. When she tries to get him to work with her, he tells her she needs to do this on her own. Even if she's not singing alone, Rachel needs to save the day to show everyone that even a squealing cat can make pretty music once in awhile.
The real kicker of the episode is that Sue had so much fun in Glee that she now has a song in her heart and she's the new coach of Aural Intensity. Yes, it's totally implausible and out of left field, but it's the kind of development that we love. Now Sue has a reason to live, Glee has a reason to fight, and the episodes will have some sort of structure heading into the final stretch of the season. It's the perfect formula for—dare we say it—a comeback.