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.
And off we go and here we are and it’s the Vocal Adrenaline Dressing Room, where Unique’s losing her shit about all the little Uniques — “Uniquettes,” if you will — out there expecting her to kill and eat dinosaurs onstage and then light the room on fire. Or um, win Nationals.
Unique: “All I ever wanted to do was wear a dress and sing. And now I’m the poster child for any kid that’s different. I can’t handle it. I just can’t handle it.”
Yeah, me neither. Here’s Kurtcedes:
Mercedes: “You may not be able to handle it, but maybe Unique can.”
Kurt: “You’ve gotta move through that fear and expectation. At least that’s what real stars do.”
Unique, inspired like Jesus on the cross, is ready to kill and eat dinosaurs onstage and then light the room on fire. Or, um, win Nationals, and then move to Lima and set Teen Jesus on fire. No wait! Gah, I keep getting my own fantasies mixed up with this show.
Unique: “I tell you what, Unique might need to transfer schools next year.”
Oh, so there’s that set-up.
Vocal Adrenaline opens with “Starships” by Nicki Minaj and okay listen — Unique is just fantastic, we all know it, hurray. But for serious, she’s got one dance move and it’s flipping her hair, often followed by a finger in the air, a sassy hip twist, and a flip-around-and-walk-away. Once Unique’s reached the stairs, she will again flip her hair, cock her hip, flip her hair again, and then walk forward and put her finger in the air, do a sassy hip twist, and then flip around and walk away. Over and over, while all these other kids roll around like Gumby dolls and push vintage arcade games towards each other while Unique stands on them and flips her hair. Anyhow, everybody does quite well in this number to nobody’s surprise.
I love “Pinball Wizard,” but bringing out a bunch of arcade machines and rolling them around the stage does not a dance routine make! But can anyone else on that team sing, ’cause it seems like they’ve only got one singer, and her name is Unique, and she’s probs gonna move to Lima in the fall because of its proximity to Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast AND my favorite Cracker Barrel.
The Incredibly Queer Showchoir Judge Team is rendez-vousing in what appears to be a hotel conference room and I still feel weird about Perez Hilton. And Jesus Christ, Lohan! I’m so Team Lohan, and I’m so against the obnoxious trainwreck celebrity media machine situation, but my heart aches for that girl in such a special way and every time she gets a new gig and doesn’t knock it out of the ballpark, I get prematurely sad for the inevitable backlash. I just want her to be happy.
Perez is doing something gross on his portable electronic devices and Martin Fong is too excited to sit down, apparently, but in any event we all know this banter is irrelevant because this is The Year for New Directions. Perez digs at Lindsay’s presence on the judging team and Fong defends her:
Martin Fong: “If you have to ask why a 12-time Teen Choice award winner is a celebrity judge, then you don’t really understand what the word celebrity means.”
Fong says he was impressed with New Directions.
Lindsay: “I liked them but they weren’t the best singers and dancers. They were likeable. And is there anything better than someone making a comeback?”
Get it? Like how Lindsay Lohan herself wants to make a comeback? Hahaha!
Oh, but what about that Vocal Adrenaline?
Perez: “I think that Unique kid is a star. He’s like Tina and Ike Turner –”
Martin: “Together –”
Perez: “Just imagine how much it would mean to those poor unfortunate outcast kids to see him/her on national television leading him/her team to victory.”
Oh, Jesus Christ on a Cracker Barrel. I doubt any trans kid or cross-dresser or budding drag queen will find even the remotest of comforts in Perez Hilton declaring “him/her” victorious, but maybe I’m out of touch.
We cut to the expansive atrium of the Chicago Show Choir Auditorium of Greatness, where Sister Mary Clarence’s quick exit is interrupted by an effusive Jesse St. James:
Jesse: “I heard that you came here today to see Rachel Berry. And there’s something you need to know about her. Rachel’s the most talented person I’ve ever met. Bar none. If anyone’s gonna be a star someday, it’s her. She’ll make an excellent contribution to NYADA. You won’t regret it, I promise.”
We return to the Chicago Show Choir Auditorium of Greatness’s interior where the assorted children and guardians are eagerly awaiting the awards and everybody’s onstage in their Sunday Best.
Said awards are doled out as predictably as you’d expected: “Wade “Unique” Adams” wins the MVP Award…
…and New Directions win Nationals! Yay!
My notes for this scene: “Sad music plays, lots of hugging and glitter.”
But seriously folks: you know what they did right this time, this Club? They sang songs and danced. No nth-hour “write your own song” contest, no So-Called Finchel Makeouts, no crazy props or conceptual performances — just singing, and dancing, and whatever it is Finn was doing that I suppose resembled signing and dancing.
We segue into a segue leading into a segue wherein the children travel significant distances throughout space/time eventually bringing us to the Glee Club’s homecoming at the Eminently Hallowed Hallways of Dear Dear McKinley High, where candles sparkle atop endearingly-iced cakes, party paper falls from the sky, Slushee cups are filled with confetti and The Lima Record has for some undoubtedly insipid reason put William Schuster on the cover of their fine publication.
What’s more, Sue gets one of those gigantic checks (the kind you always have to photograph with the check recipient, otherwise it doesn’t count), Dianna Agron and Naya Rivera smile so hard their faces freeze that way, Sugar Motta pops the bubbly, a random never-before-seen Hot Cheerleader Extra seduces me with her dancey eyeballs… and what else you ask? What else?
Mhm, that. GIRL ON GIRL CULTURE!
However, much to our collective dismay, the girl-on-girl kiss is immediately followed by some face-sucking courtesy of That So-Called Finchel. So, let’s just look at the girl-on-girl kiss again instead:
Um, also Emma and Will haven’t had sex yet? So she gives him a pamphlet called “When It’s FInally Have Intercourse” and I hope she made at least two hundred of those suckers because high school kids are basically the target audience for that kind of literature.
There’s some time travel in this montage, too, I believe, but why get hung up on the details now, eh? When Emma walked out of the bedroom in this orange teddy catastrophe and Will’s jaw went agape, I laughed. Who wears those things for serious?
We then detour to Figgins’ Lair, where for reasons surely known to somebody somewhere but not anybody here, he gifts That So-Called Finchel with bumper stickers, miniature pom-poms, and $5 for their wedding, which will get them about 1/5 millionth of the way to Niagara Falls.
Anyhow, the real point of this meeting is that Figgins needs That So-Called Finchel to present an award at the Teacher Awards Ceremony —
Figgins: “Can you keep a secret?”
Um, as long as it’s not that you’re gay. Finn cannot keep that secret.
At some point the next day (???), Will thanks Emma, and this dialogue exchange happens:
Emma: “My man is a winner and he deserves to be treated as such. And it was as much for me as it was for you.”
Will: “Last night was way worth the wait, but I mean thank you for everything.”
Cut to the McKinley High School Auditorium, where Mrs.Hagburg (she of the “magically transferrable tenure”) has got news about her upcoming episode of Intervention and Figgins plans to give out the Teacher of the Year Award to one of McKinley’s stunningly incompetent educators. Honestly it’s a wonder these kids can read.
Figgins summons “That So-Called Finchel,” Prom Queen & King, onstage to present the award, which obviously goes to Will for his Magical Achievement in Keeping His Job as a Spanish Teacher Without Knowing Any Actual Spanish.
Sue: “Way to go, buddy.”
Schue stands up but Finn gets a bit angsty about the possibiity of being forced to leave the stage without talkng about himself for a few quick minutes:
Finn: “Three years ago, I thought I had it all. I was the quarterback of the football team, I was dating the head cheerleader, and then I met you, Mr. Schue, and I realized everything I was missing. There’s a lot of great teachers at this school who teach their students a lot of important stuff, like how to drive and fractions. But you teach your students how to dream and as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more important than that.”
Barf. Here’s Rachel!
Rachel: “When I first met you I was just an annoying Jewish girl with two gay dads and a very big dream. Today, I still have two dads, I’m still Jewish and I’m probably just as annoying, but I stand here before you headed to New York City come hell or high water, and I can honestly say I couldn’t have done it wthout you, and I will carry you with me every step of the way. No one deserves this more than you, we love you and this is for you.”
Well, that was cute, and leads us seamlessly into a musical presentation of the Vintage Queen number, “We Are the Champions,” and its inspirational message that there’s no time for losing because we are the champions, yes we are the champions…. OF THE WORLD.
So there you have it! Next week we’ll be saying “Goodbye” to this band of misfits and everybody will be crying and Gloria Estefan will guest star as Santana’s Mom.