Well, if there’s anything I like more than being trapped in an attic with a dozen 18-year-old fraternity pledges being force-fed cheap beer from a dog bowl while Enya’s “I’ll Fly Away” plays on infinite repeat, it’s Celene Dion. No wait! It’s Meatloaf. Definitely Meatloaf. The man, not the meal.
No but seriously — this episode was okay! Granted, I’d declared a new Glee drinking game before the episode – “If you’re going to watch Glee, drink beforehand” — and in that festive spirit, dramatically over-imbibed to the point where I probably would’ve laughed and cheered for a seal in a tutu singing “Run Joey Run.” But I watched it again on Wednesday and felt pretty good about it. Sober.
Anyhow! Lizz recapped “Props” for you and now I’m gonna recap “Nationals” for you.
We open in Chez Hotel Extravaganza Chicago, where Mercedes Jones, following an unsavory snack experience at Señora Salsation’s Taco Shack, has fallen ill with cholera/black plague/the H1N1 supervirus, thus concerning Sue & Schue regarding who will do Mercedes’ part in the Troubletones number.
Schue surveys his motley crew of lovely lilting ladies and determines that that chick who got hit by a truck and just barely managed to stand up last week with the help of a microphone stand can take over the Mercedes song/dance, because Will Schuster is an idiot.
Spoiler alert: If you’d been hotly anticipating a Chicago-centric montage similar to Season One’s Journey to New York City, as I was, you’ll be sorely disappointed. No such thing occurs. Blaine will not be belting “My Kind of Town” while Brittany does handstands in Millenium Park. No acoustic Sufjan Stevens numbers will awkwardly find themselves at the Navy Pier. Nobody will cover “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” at Wrigley Field. Nope. None of that.
We thus journey to an Unidentified Banquet or Conference Room of Some Kind at the St. Chicago Chateau Drive-In Motel, where the Glee children are engaged in some kind of PG Fight Club that involves everybody making faces, pushing each other and growling.
Brittany’s pillow and sheets have somehow fallen in the pool and Sam’s peeved that Puck’s obsessing over the patterns of rain on various European geographical plains rather than, um, whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing and Finn’s being, SURPRISE, a self-righteous bale of hay, and all of this is somehow related to aggravation regarding Mercedes Jones’ impending absence in the National Contest Olympics of Singing Life.
Santana: “Hey! I don’t wanna hear any of this ‘We can’t do it without her,’ because guess what? We don’t have a choice. So be warned: if you are not giving this everything you’ve got, I will go all Lima Heights on your sorry asses.”
Will: “Listen, you guys –”
Santana: “I know, I’m sorry, I always go to the yelling place. I have rage.”
Will: “No, it’s a good thing. A great thing. There is so much passion in this room. Even all your arguing, it’s about the work. You guys really want this.”
Tina and Quinn take turns delivering exposition: New Directions have the first slot “aka the death slot” and they’ll be singing “Edge of Glory,” aka “the slot couched by the labia majora.”
Rachel says something about how important this is to her bla bla, Artie wheels onscreen with a giant bucket of popcorn in his lap and then, in a rare sensical moment, Schue orders Brit-Brit to get everyone back into practicing the choreography — and SCENE.
We cut to an indeterminate but definitely overnight period of time later, where the children have crowded the Chicago Show Choir Auditorium of Greatness for the Nationals Finals Foreverafter Contest and Jesse St. James mills outside, searching for buttons to push.
Jesse spots Rachel and attempts to psych her out by ragging on her failed audition and riffing on her foolish illusion that Sister Mary Clarence might flee the fluffy fields of Oberlin Hippie College for the afternoon to witness Rachel’s Big Day/Night.
Rachel, no doubt endeared to Jesse St. James after five years of nightly right-breast grabs, dismisses his cruelty as nervousness, calling out his tell: a Danny Zuko-esque hair-touch. Jesse admits he’s nervous about the contest and will be devastated if Vocal Adreneline flops and SPEAKING OF FLOPS, suddenly a potted plant comes to life, morphs into a Finn Hudsonish life form, and ambles over to St. James to address his lady-love.
Jesse: “Heard you two are getting married.”
Jesse: “Good for you. Good luck today.”
Cut to the extravagant dressing room, where Rachel’s admiring her eyebrows in the mirror when Finn arrives, gleefully clutching a Chicago souvenir glass cooler mug for Rachel to crush on their wedding day, as it was commanded by G-d in the Torah, except not like that at all.
Finn: “This is the town where everything’s gonna change. We’re gonna go from losers to National Champs.”
Rachel: “Your optimism is very sexy.”
Finn: “Well, I’m so optimistic I put my money where my mouth is.”
Apparently the allegedly-happy couple has scraped together a $500 honeymoon fund, which I imagine will cover gas, sandwiches, two bottles of Fanta, two day-passes to Cedar Point and one romantic evening at the Sandcastle Suites, but now Finn’s put that $500 down on New Directions with plans to double it and obtain “an extra two nights in Niagra Falls.”
Finn: “Carmen Tibedoux is coming and we’re gonna be perfect and then we’re gonna get married and I’m gonna smash this glass and the we’re gonna live happily ever after.”
Rachel: “I love you.”
Ok, ugh, that was almost endearing.
Mr. Schue arrives to ‘pump up the team,’ but is swiftly interrupted by Finn The Great, who recognizes Mr. Schue’s moment to inspire the team as an opportunity for Finn himself to inspire the team, because Finn is a douchebag.
Finn: “Hold on Mr. Schue, hold on. You’ve given us a lot of pep talks over the years, but remember, you told us one that you know, a teacher’s job is done when his students don’t need him anymore?”
Mr. Schue: “Okay, Finn. The floor is yours.”
Apparently after Mr. Schue was all tucked in, the Gleeks circle-jerked all night long regarding why they wanted to win this, and everybody said they wanted to win this for Mr. Schue because he’s been inspiring them year-round with fantastic decisions like doing absolutely nothing at all, ever.
Finn: “You’re like, our teacher of a Lifetime.”
Oh, the naivete of youth. Oh bonus — thanks to Sue’s witch doctor magic or something, Mercedes shows up, ready to rock. GAME ON.
We cut to the Chicago Auditorium of Music and Laughter to meet this year’s overwhelmingly homosexually-inclined judges — “America’s sweetheart, Lindsay Lohan,” “Hollywood gossip legend Perez Hilton” and “Democratic City councilman representing the new North Side and the West Loop corridor, 51st Ward Alderman Martin Fong!”
Hey remember that time I convinced Perez Hilton to stop being a douchebag? Unfortunately, I remain uninterested in his website and all-around existence despite all that, and am unmistakably troubled by his existence on my television screen and also, I admit, somewhat troubled by his weight loss situation, though I suppose it’s none of my business. ANYWAY.
Backstage The Troubletones are preparing for their opening number, the aforementioned “Edge of Glory”:
Santana: “The unholy Trinity, starting together, ending together.”
Brittany: “Just the way it should be.”
You can tell HeMo practiced that line in the mirror for an hour and eventually resigned to the fact that it would never sound cool or natural and just to you know, wing it.
Thus the Unholies open the contest with a fantastic and neatly choreographed “Edge of Glory.” They don’t take any risks here, but they don’t need to — this is a strong group of performers, any which way.
Sister Mary Clarence got held up at the rectory, leaving a conspicuously empty seat Rachel eyes with the eyes of a very hungry tiger —
Finn: “This is your moment. It’s three years in the making. Forget about everything else! Take it!”
— and thus Rachel Berry bursts onto stage like a Jewish strawberry wrapped in a chocolate bow, singing the insufferable Celine Dion number “It’s All Coming Back To Me,” except we’re supposed to call it, I think, the insufferable Meatloaf number “It’s All Coming Back To Me,” as he too recorded this song and it was maybe originally written for him but really WHO CARES the point is that it’s Meatloaf Day, and if Meatloaf counts as “vintage,” I’m officially a fossil and should stop watching teevee shows about high school students.
Despite this insufferable song now being stuck in my head for the rest of the year, just like it was for all of 1996, it’s got so much going for it — it’s got these fervent big emotional parts about the past and tough love that swallow the room and then it’s got these gentle secret parts about the familiarity of a lover’s touch that draw the room forward and into the singer’s memory and tactile sensations. It’s one of those songs that makes you wanna cry sometimes, and Rachel kills it.
Sister Mary Clarence, dressed like a gypsy psychic, late-adds herself to this spectacular spectacle, and Rachel spots her and for a moment you worry she’s gonna freeze, but she doesn’t — she grins, she gets even bigger and even better and more self-assured in a way that has more to do maybe with Lea Michele the Woman than with Rachel Berry the girl.
Then we segue into “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” unfortunately fronted by what appears to be a mutated turnip who really can’t dance.
The highlight of this number is the homosexual quadrant of Brittany/Santana and Kurt/Blaine that manifests itself mid-song after Kurt and Blaine totter onstage together snapping their fingers like gay babies, only to be interrupted by Rachel Berry’s “Stop right there” which makes you wish she was dressed like Olivia Newton-John in “You’re The One That I Want.”
For the duration of this number I hate Rachel & Finn slightly less than normal. Anyhow, it was good, despite the baffling decision to feature Finn, rather than Blaine or Kurt or even that fuckknob from The Glee Project.