'Glee' Recap: Chord Overstreet Returns in Jam-Packed Episode
Adulthood versus childhood is the theme of this week's "Glee", where the emphasis was on telling instead of showing how the kids of "Glee" pushing into their own at the same time as they should be embracing their youth and freedom. We got a lot of overwrought speeches about the importance of youth and friendship, but at the same time the heavy load of songs and balance of character involvement may have been the saving grace of an episode that could have felt a little too preachy and instead hit more high notes than low.
We start with Quinn telling Rachel about Puck and Shelby, which Rachel handles amazingly well seeing as though Shelby's her mom and Puck is her ex-boyfriend. Quinn remains obsessed with her plot to get Beth back and Rachel tries to talk her out of doing anything drastic. Meanwhile, Finn and Mr. Schue discuss song selection and Finn says they need star power. For some reason that means Sam Evans, who moved 4 hours away with his family. While his milquetoast performances last season didn't really inspire star power, the group does need more bodies to meet the minimum requirement, and Chord Overstreet needs to return to the show, so two birds with one stone. Over at the Lima Bean, Kurt complains about his lowered chances at NYADA and fills out an application for employment while Blaine bemoans that Finn keeps giving him a hard time and treating him like he doesn't know what he's doing in glee club. Suddenly smarmy Sebastian appears, hitting on an overly polite Blaine while Kurt shoots daggers with his eyes. When Blaine slips away for more coffee Kurt informs Sebastian of his dislike and the two have a wonderfully catty little snark-off that includes the line, "you smell like Craigslist." When Blaine returns they play nice, but when Sebastian leaves Blaine rolls his eyes.
After apparently driving four hours to Northern Kentucky, Finn and Rachel walk into the "bar" Sam is working at, only to discover it's a strip joint when White Chocolate, aka Sam dressed as the construction worker from The Village People, is announced. They talk to him backstage, and he admits that he's ashamed of what he's doing, but his abs are paying for his little brother and sister's needs where his dad's new job falls short. He's good at being a stripper, but Rachel and Finn try and talk him into giving it up to join them at Sectionals. It's not really much of a comparison, since Sectionals doesn't pay the bills, but Sam's biggest concern is not cash but his dad's permission. We get to meet the Evans family, who are as adorable as you'd assume, and who start crying when Sam explains that he misses being a teenager and wants to recapture that youth by moving 4 hours away to stay at Rachel's house to go back to his old school. Whatever makes the "Glee" machine run.
In the choir room everyone is down about their chances at Sectionals until Mr. Schue pops some sparkling apple cider to welcome Sam back. He punctuates his grand return by performing perhaps the weirdest song on "Glee" since "Run Joey Run," "Red Solo Cub," which barely makes sense as a country song, and thus makes even less sense as a "Glee" number. The club bops around and Kurt Hummel is the face of everyone watching, completely lost, and mouthing "what is wrong with you" at his boyfriend. As they conclude, Santana returns to read off her list of jokes about Trouty Mouth, which Sam responds to with a big hug because being a stripper has clearly given him a thick skin.
Quinn gives Shelby the evil eye, then comes up to Sam to try and get back together with him now that they're both single. Sam turns her down and calls her out on her "rich white girl problems." It's definitely a little more complex than that, but anything that shakes some sense into Quinn at this point is welcomed. He starts pushing the Very Special Message of this episode -- hold on to sixteen and enjoy high school while you can. Elsewhere in the hallway, we learn that Mike Chang has given up his dancer dreams and applied to Stanford pre-med because ever since West Side Story his family life is strained. Tina calls him a coward for not going after what he wants, and Mike responds that maybe his father is right and he and Tina shouldn't be together anymore.
The group is finally prepping for sectionals, trying out dance moves, and while Blaine tries to show off a rather cute twirl, Sam makes fun of him for being "too boyband." Sam encourages them all to sex it up with body rolls, which he keeps demonstrating, and Blaine starts to get angry, telling him they don't have to resort to that, calling it cheap and suddenly screaming "I'm not for sale!" They start shoving each other and Blaine stalks off to go blow off some steam in the weight room. Angry Blaine is practicing his boxing when Finn walks in, and he admits to taking up boxing when he got bullied and starting a Dalton Fight Club. Blaine asks Finn why Finn is quiet, and proceeds to give Blaine the extremely After School Special speech about how "we have to do our best" and how he wants to look across the room and know Blaine has his back. Blaine pulls off his boxing glove to fist bump Finn, all choked up.
Sam grabs Mercedes hand in the hallway and expresses his interest in winning her back from her new boyfriend. Samcedes was the biggest loss when Overstreet didn't return at the start of the season, and its return is welcome. Meanwhile, "Glee" continues its trend of kids confronting other kid's parents when Tina visits Mike's dad to try and force him to watch Mike's West Side Story bootleg and support his dance dreams. Mr. Chang tries to talk sense into Tina about the trails of performing arts careers, but Tina remains confident. With all that plot dispelled with, it's Sectionals time.
Blaine and Finn show they are friends now by trying to help the poor recruited band guys (the unsung heroes of "Glee") with their singing and moves. Wouldn't it be great if one of them turned out to be the best singer New Directions ever had? Mike and Tina are still fighting, with Mike mad that Tina spoke to his dad and only made things worse. The Troubletones visit the New Directions to offer that in the event of their victory they'll welcome deflecting New Directions members with open arms. Quinn implies that they have it in the bag thanks to Puck, giving Shelby the evil eye the entire time. Rachel joins the group in the audience to watch as the non-McKinley competition takes the stage. It's Harmony from episode one with her group, the Unitards. She sings "Buenos Aires" from Evita, and Kurt and Rachel both mouth along, furious at her talent. Her group is nothing more than back up dancers though, so they're clearly doomed from the start. Still, she's a fantastic singer, although we later learns she's only a sophomore and thus no NYADA competition for them.
After they finish Quinn slips into the hallway to tell Figgins about Shelby and Puck, but Rachel catches up with her and tries to talk her out of it, pointing out that Rachel has experienced the consequences of her bad judgement and doesn't want the same for Quinn. Rachel pleads that at least Quinn should give Shelby a heads up, so Quinn marches into her choir room to confront her. Shelby is resigned, and tells Quinn to treasure her youth because it's fleeting. She leaves Quinn there to go watch the Troubletones.
The ladies perform a mash-up of "I Will Survive / Survivor" that, while strong, doesn't stack up to their previous Adele mash-up. The "Glee" choreographers make a nice nod to the fact that Troubletones has a queer woman of color with the wacking dance style, which originated in gay Black and Latino disco clubs, it's not particularly believable that Shelby would be able to pull that off, nor that the citizens of Lima would truly appreciate it. While it's a lively performance, Blaine and Finn's triumphant fist bump mid-performance does seem warranted.
Finally it's McKinley's turn, and they've pulled together a Jackson medley with almost zero preparation. They start with ABC, with Tina on lead and Kurt and Mike featured. We're reminded what a lovely singer Tina is, and their only fumble is when Mike notices his father has arrived to watch. He's seated next to Sebastian, who Kurt notices and suddenly leap-frogs over Mike's back and shimmies his hips center stage. Sam pulls out some of his sex appeal too, and we see Mercedes blushing in the audience.
The next song is Janet's "Control," which Quinn begins with the spoken-word section. Blaine and Artie take the vocal lead. It's worth noting that the jazz band guys are holding their own with the background dancing through the whole number. Who knew! Maybe they'll get to stick around. New Directions finish with Michael's "Man In The Mirror," with Artie, Finn, Puck, Blaine and Sam getting all boyband in the front while the group somehow transforms into an improbable gospel choir. At the end, Mr. Chang stands to clap almost in tears. Everyone in the club starts hugging in as many pairs as possible, and the excitement continues as they skip and dance back into the dressing room. Mr. Chang follows and tells Mike to pursue his dreams, but when he worries that he's missed all the application deadlines, Tina reveals that she forged his signature and sent them anyway.
Of course, New Directions wins because the yearlong structure of the show falls apart if they are defeated this easily. Poor Mercedes and Santana look crushed, and we watch the Troubletones stand in the auditorium until everyone is gone and the lights cut out.
Quinn thank Rachel for keeping her from doing something stupid and finally starts talking about a life for herself outside of Lima. She's got her sights set on Yale, hoping for a spot in their drama program. She also conspired with Rachel to bring the Troubletones back to New Directions, offering them a featured spot in every competition with the blessing of Rachel and Mr. Schue. She pulls out the final straw in the "embrace youth" plotline, reminding them that after these 6 months the gang is going to break up for life after high school, and they should make the most of the time they have. She tells them to come to the auditorium for the big group sing if they're interested.
The auditorium is set in a direct mirror of last year's post-Sectionals "Dog Days Are Over" performance, and again the group takes on a buzz band with fun.'s "We Are Young." It's loose and free "Glee", and Britt, Santana, Mercedes and Sugar all show up to join in (the other Troubletones must not have contract extensions) as the group lounges, hugs and sings all over the conveniently placed risers. Overall, it was a "Glee" that felt like the plots were dealt with as fast as humanly possible to cram in as much singing and dancing as we can. Luckily the finale singing was the best kind of "Glee", and as the group pushes together for a massive embrace we're back to cheering on one cohesive unit again.