I had very little doubt that New Directions would win Nationals (finally), but it was still pretty satisfying to see. It’s all about the ginormous trophy. What is it with arts competitions handing out these ridiculous trophies? Is it some sort of attempt to thumb our noses at the oft-more-decorated athletes?
I’m okay with that. In high school, I spent every August at band camp, nursing my second-degree sunburn and insisting, “Marching band is TOTALLY a sport.” It’s pretty satisfying to have the biggest trophy in the case that also holds the accolades of the more glorified naysayers.
So congrats, New Directions! Nice bling. Let’s take a look at your two-hour long road to victory.
The show got its third everybody-feel-bad-for-Rachel song in early, when she performed “I Won’t Give Up” to an empty auditorium. “I Won’t Give Up” described her take on the poor NYADA audition perfectly and though she definitely tipped the scales in favor of earning the label of “deranged stalker,” you can’t fault her for being proactive. The muffin basket was nice, but 14 voicemails? That’s the crazy leaking out, Rachel, and you need to take care of that. Or maybe not, because after Tina got over her (completely justified) hissy fit (more on this in a few) the girls drove to Oberlin to crash Madam Tibideaux’s master class. Rachel begged Tibideaux to drop in on Nationals in Chicago and Tibideaux told her to GTFO... before ultimately coming to Nationals.
Now let’s talk about Tina. We haven’t seen much of Tina over the past few weeks and when she finally returned to the storyline, she was promptly shot down for a solo in favor of Rachel. To be fair to Mr. Schuester, Tina doesn’t exactly have a strong history of committing to solos when she’s given them, but her rejection, coupled with the general attitude maintained by the other students and faculty that Nationals would be the Rachel-Messiah’s second coming, well, I saw where she was coming from. I’m sick of The Rachel Show too.
Schuester and the others argued that seniors always got the solos and Tina needed to be a team player. The argument would have had more weight if we had seen evidence of the seniors always taking solos in the past, even when those seniors weren’t named Rachel, but the truth is, in the last two major competitions that we’ve seen, Regionals in Season 1 and last year’s Nationals, Rachel was very much the star of the show.
You can make the argument that Rachel has always been the star because she’s always been strongest, most consistent performer, and that’s totally fair. When you’re in any kind of competitive musical environment, you flaunt the talent you have, regardless of class standing, and if that was the reason that Tina was given, then I could have lived with that. But the “seniors always get solos” stuff was just weak and essentially turned the glee club into Rachel’s own personal troupe of background dancers/catapult to fame, was unfair to the lesser-used members of New Directions and irritating to those of us who find Rachel insufferable.
Then again, that very situation tends to happen quite often in real life when you have one stand-out star in a group of “generally talented” talent. I tend give Glee a hard time for its insistence on operating in a high school fantasy land because I think that if you’re going to present hard, complicated issues, you should do it with at least one foot in the real world and no, being a musical isn’t an excuse not to do that because lots of successful musicals have done it on the stage—Rent, Miss Saigon, Spring Awakening, etc. So even though this is a small thing, it’s something.
Tina had a change of heart when she tripped and fell into the fountain at the mall and imagined that she was Rachel. It was more confusing than amusing, but seeing Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison trade roles for a few minutes was priceless. Tina sang “Because You Loved Me,” and it was awesome. It was also a sad commentary on her headspace that even in her sub-consciousness, she could only sing a solo when she was technically Rachel. Schuester and the rest of New Directions promised her “next year” would be her time to shine. I’m totally holding them to that.
Mercedes, Brittany, and Santana confronted Coach Beiste about how they figured out that she hadn’t left Cooter. It didn’t go well. At the same time, Puck found himself the target of the very bullies he used to lead, challenging him to a fight at the legendary dumpster where he used to toss Kurt before class. They told him that he was a “Lima Loser,” the sort of guy who hit on younger chicks at the 7-11 that they used to make fun of when they were freshmen. I don’t know what kind of dweeb freshmen those guys were, but back in my day, we idolized those guys. Kids these days, I just don’t get them.
Puck brought a prop knife to the fight and Beiste, mistaking it for the real deal, broke the fracas up. Puck raged about his loserdom and Beiste shared her own feelings, the hurt ones that she and Puck, as resident badasses, aren’t supposed to have. She offered to help Puck study so he could retake the exam and went home to Cooter, purely to tell him that they were through. He went from sweet to psycho in about ten seconds, asking, “Who’s gonna love you now?”
Beiste is so badass, but she doesn’t even realize why. She and Puck sang a duet cover of Taylor Swift’s “Mean.”
And then it was off to Chicago for Nationals! Mercedes got sick upon arrival and Puck’s studying created a brawl in the middle of rehearsals. Sue managed to drug Mercedes to her feet in time for curtain call and she joined the group for their epic performance: “Edge of Glory” into “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” into “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” “Paradise” was wicked. Sure, they had to trim a good chunk of the 8-minute song, but still, that was fun. The audience went nuts and lo and behold, who was that hiding in the crowd? Madam Tibideaux.
Going first, in the “death slot,” gave New Directions a lot of free time to hang out and Mercedes and Kurt dropped by to visit Wade “Unique” Adams. Despite the initial resistance, Unique was well-received as one of the leading ladies of Vocal Adrenaline. She became the “poster child” for everyone who is different, which was great and all, except it was a part of the spotlight that she and Wade never wanted. Wade implied that he was considering changing schools due to all of the unwanted attention. I’m willing to bet that Unique will be gracing New Directions with her talent in Season 4.
Perez Hilton and Lindsay Lohan played themselves as guest judges at Nationals. (Rex Lee also appeared, as some sort of politician.) There were some tongue-in-cheek moments—Hilton’s compulsive need to return to his computer (I know the feeling, bro) and Lohan’s “Is there anything better than someone making a comeback?” Cute. Our three esteemed judges awarded New Directions first place, prompting Emma to award Will Schuester her virginity because that’s not creepy or slightly demeaning in any way, right? Right. Schuester was also awarded the title of McKinley High's Teacher of the Year. Now everybody join in the obligatory “We are the Champions” sing-along that was actually pretty awesome.
What was your favorite musical performance this week? I’m going with the Puck/Beiste cover of “Mean” and the Nationals-winning performance of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” Seriously, Glee, you can bring Meatloaf to your party any time you want.