Blaine Anderson has a cold. Sure, lots of others stuff happens this week on "Glee," and it's actually really good, but the amount of times Blaine blew his nose was extremely distracting and we must note it from the onset. This week the group turns to their inner divas, but what the episode really explores is the developing and shifting friendships of the characters -- to a meltdown and restart between Kurt and Rachel, to Tina's feelings for Blaine and the train wreck that that causes, the changing relationship between Emma and Finn now that he's part of the adult world, and the post-relationship relationship between Santana and Brittany.
Being a diva is all well and good, but the fallout for those around you is considerable.
Now that Rachel Berry is the Winter Showcase winner, she's been taking her diva status to whole new heights by making ridiculous demands and basking in the glow of her new hoard of sycophants. Kurt, fed up with this, lashes out in the loft and challenges her to a sing off, revealing finally that in their last showdown ("Defying Gravity," during season 1) he threw the competition to spare his father, thus shattering Rachel's sense of self since she says she built her confidence on that first big win. Her admirers at school continue to puff her up by taking Kurt down, but even in the heat of battle Rachel stands up for him so not all is lost.
The pair take on "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, gliding seamlessly from one to the other for a sea of agog NYADA students.
In the end, Rachel's sycophants turn on her and swing the vote to Kurt by the narrowest of margins. They try to bring him into their fold instead but he turns them down, calling them out on their coattail riding and two-faced natures. For Kurt, who always dreamed of New York and NYADA as a place to find like-minded people, the evidence that it's still just like high school, just now with gay bullies in addition to the straight, must be disheartening. At least he still has Rachel, who he encourages to audition for the Funny Girl remake and not to worry about being a bad diva, just to embrace the good part of being a diva, the uniqueness part that they both have. He also seems to have Adam somewhat solidly, much to the dismay of Klainers everywhere.
Then in Ohio we have Blaine and Tina, and the continued spiral of awkward, embarrassment and just plain not okay. The group receives the assignment to channel their inner diva, which segues into a group fantasy sequence over Emma's detailed explanation of how she made the manager of a Cheesecake Factory cry set to Beyonce's "Diva" where Tina, Unique, Blaine, Britt, Marley and Kitty terrorize the boy assistants and strut on a catwalk in increasingly bizarre fashions. It's big, flashy fun Glee, followed by Blaine's turn at further proving that boys can be divas too.
Despite his ongoing cold, Blaine powers on with a performance of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now," complete with leather jacket-and-hat combo and piano playing. The crowd is unabashedly into it, but with no Santana-type figure in the choir room at the moment there was no deserved WTF side-eye. All good fun, but definitely so camp that you had to laugh as you cheered.
While nursing her ongoing crush, Tina tries to nurse Blaine back to health with homemade remedies, Blaine still oblivious to her obvious heart-eyes. He invites her over to his house to plot her own diva performance, and while looking at his mini bedside shrine to Kurt she asks if he's ever been with a woman. Gold star gay, says Blaine, and proceeds to suggest her some old school divas to perform before yawning due to his dose of cough syrup and lying down behind her while she researches. Tina takes this opportunity to confess her budding love for Blaine, and suggest that they could embark on a sexless relationship even, but when she turns around he's passed out. Then she unbuttons his top, straddles his lap and applies vapor rub before curling up next to him. Blaine, knocked out by the drugs, doesn't know what happened the next morning, assuming he used up all the vapor rub himself in a cough syrup-induced stupor.
Glee has danced around the idea of consent and assault (listen to many of Britt or Puck's offhand comments about their sexual histories), but this is one of the first times it's been so glaringly apparently and uncomfortable on the screen. It's further complicated by Tina, not getting the adoring reaction she desires from Blaine, lashes out at him for being unappreciative of her before breaking into Madonna's "Hung Up" for a stunned Blaine and the rest of the McKinley courtyard.
Then it is even further compounded when Blaine apologizes to Tina, believing he was being unthankful of her help in curing his cold while still not aware of what happened in the bedroom, and invites her to be his date to Emma and Will's wedding. Everything about their entire encounter leaves the viewer prickling, the combination of being upset on Blaine's behalf and being so sympathy-awkward over Tina's misplaced affections. Hopefully Glee doesn't drop the ball on dealing with the form of assault that happened on Blaine and levies real consequences for their friendship, and deals with Tina's eventually breakdown over how she's been behaving these past few episodes. It's not going to be pretty for anyone.
Emma isn't so much being a diva as living with the reality of her OCD and feeling lonely with her fiance still gone only 10 days before their wedding. She's grown closer to Finn, who's taken strides into his new adult life but is still stalled -- he hasn't liked anyone since Rachel and doesn't seem to know how, meanwhile he's worried about what Will's return means for him and his newfound career. Emma helps Finn with the diva assignment, and he in turn helps her settle on wedding details. However, Will is less enthusiastic about her picks and Finn finds her in her office, in a full-blown panic attack mode. Finn's only ever encountered this type of situation before with Rachel, and his instincts kick in and he kisses her to calm her, freezing immediately and fleeing the room. It's the second instance of consent issues to pop up in the episode, although one that might be more swiftly and easily dealt with via apologies. Although it's Glee, and with a wedding looming the "you kissed her!" type of drama might make that hope moot.
Finally we have Santana, who returns to show the group how it's done with her fellow college cheerleaders with Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits," although her real reason for returning is to confront Brittany over her relationship with Sam and taunt her with her new, but later revealed to be fake, girlfriend. She confronts Sam in the auditorium and urges him to leave Brittany, duetting with him on "Make No Mistake (She's Mine.)"
He tells her he knows that she loves Britt, but that he's what's best for her now. Distraught, she considers an offer from Sue to stay in Lima to train to be the eventual replacement cheer coach. However, it's Britt who gets Santana to realize that Lima is too big for her, and that she's not going to get back together with her even though they'll stay best friends. As Britt leaves the auditorium to meet up with Sam, Santana begins belting Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire," stalking from there through the McKinley halls into a burst of light that transforms into the streets of Brooklyn. She shows up at Rachel and Kurt (and Brody's) loft and declares that she's moving in.
Despite one glaringly sagging number (sorry Sam and Santana) and the terrible unease settling over half of the explored friendships this episode, the performances and storylines were strong. This is chugging-forward-Glee, and a Glee that deals with the realities and structures of the past while building a realistic future, even if we don't always agree with it, and sings sensical songs to boot. Plus with all these balls in motion, it's a sure bet that the big Valentine's wedding won't go as smoothly as the previous Hummel-Hudson nuptials. The real question is who will yell at who first -- Will -> Finn or Kurt -> Tina? Only time will tell.
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