Here’s what you missed on Glee: Tina! Tina crying, Tina swaying in the background, Tina not rocking the boat, Tina never being called out by the group for faking a stutter, Tina not being a goth anymore, Tina’s fabulous Fluevog boot collection… Basically you’ve missed Tina. For a few years.
(Well, it’s because she’s not enigmatic on the screen. I’m sorry. She’s lovely, she has a lovely voice, but she doesn’t bring it. There’s a reason why certain character’s stories develop over seasons, and another reason why others don’t. Hey, how about all of the awesome Rory scenes? Exactly. It’s not a slam on them as people, not at all. It’s just that as characters they don’t bring much. Harsh truth.) HAVING SAID THAT…Tina’s solo is out-freaking-standing.
But first, Sue talks to Mercedes and Kurt about Unique being a new Show Choir Celebrity, all thanks to Jessie St. James. Um, Weezy and Porcelain are responsible for that happening, thank you. Sue has no recollection of insisting they get Wade to transform into Unique, but she does require that New Directions up their flame game and that means Kurt will be performing as Porcelina in a flapper gown. So get to smoking, Kurt, because that dress is a size two.
“Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I like to dress up like a woman!” Kurt insists.
Cut to him and Blaine at Halloween, dressed at Snooki and RAHN, respectively. Ha ha ha! (I know you want to believe he was the Situation, but as a fan of Jersey Shore, I can tell you that he was actually Ronnie. There wasn’t enough douche-baggery to be The Situation.)
“It’s absolutely out of the question,” he insists.
Sue shakes her head sadly. Oh, sweet, sweet Porcelain; it’s Tucking Time.
Rachel sings Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” (and it’s a version I really like, actually) and once finished, she calls Carmen Tibideaux of NYADA for the 14th time, and via voicemail reminds her that she’s determined to be a star, that she wants Carmen to hear her sing, and offers an invitation to Chicago to see Rachel win MVP of Nationals. Determined Rachel is back (as if there was a doubt, come on) and I couldn’t be happier.
In the choir room, Will runs down the Nationals plan: they’ll sing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” (oh my god, Meatloaf) and Rachel will sing a Celine Dion solo. Everyone will work on a production of “What A Feeling,” featuring Kurt as Porcelina—
“Not gonna happen, Dragon Lady!” (Please note the bewilderment on Blaine’s face at all of this, especially when Sue refers to Kurt as she-he.)
Sue explains that she was Jennifer Beals’ dance double in Flashdance (Santana gives a fabulous WTF? face) and if everyone would look under their seats, they’ll find a box of costumes: welder’s masks and leg warmers. Sam immediately does a Darth Vader impression and is super excited at playing dress up, Jesus Joe reminds us he was creepy-homeschooled and doesn’t know who Darth Vader is, and Blaine worries that props are…cheesy. He’s not wrong.
Will gets mad at all of this stinking thinking and says that anyone not willing to put in their all to make this work, well, they can just leave now. Tina stands and walks out. Why? Because they don’t need her, they never have—she’s sick of being a human prop! Sue tells her to take a lap, “Asian Number One,” to which Tina hisses: “MY NAME IS TINA. TINA COHEN-CHANG.”
Mike follows her out, disappointed in her lack of support for the seniors. This is their last chance to perform, and let’s all just acknowledge that this is exactly how it works in high school. But Mike goes a bit too far and tells her she’s being selfish. Rachel comes out and offers her $50 to make this the best performance for Rachel that it can be (hahaha, who’s selfish?) because everything in Rachel’s future depends on this performance.
Tina reminds her that she’s one of the Original Five, too. She’s been a happy team player for years, she just wants to get one standing ovation. Rachel gets them all the time, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that Rachel wakes up at 5am every morning. Rachel has taken every class, every opportunity to make herself better. Rachel has been at this since she was nine-months-old, actually, and not only does she devote everything to her future career, she also maintains a 3.86 GPA, is the captain of 16 clubs and manages to keep her boyfriend interested.
So. Whatchu got, Ms. Cohen-Chang? Good grades? A smile? A decent voice? Mm. “It’s exhausting being me,” Rachel says. I love that you can see that Tina never really thought of all of that before. Rachel switches gears and says that next year it’s all going to be Tina’s. She’ll be the lead vocalist, the captain, the everything.
At the mall, Blaine and Kurt are indulging in a little pampering (the only kind available in Lima, I suspect)—one dollar chair massages. Blaine tells Kurt how he supports Kurt’s decision to not go against who he is by wearing a dress. Tina, there buying fabric for the costumes, is texting angrily to Mike while telling the boys about her frustration. Stomping off after a particularly prickly text from Mike, Tina falls into a fountain and cracks her head on the bottom. OUCH. Nice sound editing, because I totally winced.
You can hear Kurt scream, “Get her! Get her!” as Blaine struggles to pull her out (these boys, I love them) and the knock to the noggin has scrambled things up in Tina’s mind. (They must have had an absolute blast doing this.) Tina is now Rachel. Blaine is Puck. Or…Puck is Blaine? Kurt is Finn? Freaky Friday is happening, basically. Here’s the final switch list:
- Tina and Rachel
- Puck and Blaine
- Finn and Kurt
- Artie and Santana (my personal favorite)
- Brittany and Mercedes (eh)
- Mike and Jesus Joe
- Rory and Sam
- Sugar and Quinn
- Will and Sue. Will as Sue was pretty funny, I have to say.
Hilarious moments: Mark Salling overselling the Blaine head motions, and Darren Criss’ drugged out, bored stupor as Puck. Naya Rivera’s quiet eagerness as Artie was another highlight. There are lots of Klaine moments (with Cory and Mark) and I know it’s funny because it’s two straight guys, har har, but I choose to think that in Tina’s fantasy, they’re always touching and cuddling in her eyes. Also, Santana and Brittany cuddle and hug and coo, (it’s Artie and Mercedes) and I thought that was cute, too.
In class, with Tina still thinking she’s Rachel, she’s given a chance to sing a solo and panics. Because it’s Tina and Tina doesn’t have the confidence that real-Rachel does. Finn (Kurt) pulls her aside, concerned, because Rachel (Tina) never turns down a solo. Also, because her boobs look weirdly bigger he wants to make out afterward.
Rachel (Tina) sings “Because You Loved Me” by Celine and knocks it out of the park. I can honestly say that this is the first time Tina’s voice has blown me away. Not been simply a solid voice, but a voice to take note of. Well done, Jenna! She gets a standing ovation and she whispers excitedly to herself about it. Afterward, she approaches Tina (Rachel) and gives her a pep talk about how next year it’s going to be all about her, and to chin up. (There are several digs at real-Rachel’s treatment toward real-Tina here.)
Not-Tina (Rachel, oh my god) says that she wishes Not-Rachel (Tina) wouldn’t give up on her Broadway dream, that Not-Rachel needs to find Carmen Tibedeaux and force her to listen to Rachel sing. Good advice! They hug, and it would have been primo if Tina-as-Rachel had said, “I’m going to hug you now,” before they hugged. Tina comes out of the fountain, sputtering, and everything is back to reality. She grins because she gets to be her again—being Rachel probably sucks.
As the group works on their Flashdance number, Sue gets pissed off at the lack of musically timed sparks from the guys on metal working equipment. Sam says, “Shouldn’t we be in some type of grinding union?” Wanky! Sue tries once again to convince Kurt to put on a dress, but nope. He has a better idea….
Santana, Brit, and Mercedes confront Shannon Beiste about not leaving Cooter for abusing her physically. (Flash to her being berated emotionally by him, still. She’s standing at the sink, a knife clutched in her hand before dropping it into the soapy water. Oh, Shannon!) Beiste tries to say that they can’t understand, but Mercedes makes it simple: he hit you, you should leave. She’s right. The girls ask her to join them for Nationals as a chaperone, if only to get her out of the house, but she turns it down.
Later, in the locker room, Kurt shows them a black and white film he took (“Because I worship The Artist.”) of Vocal Adrenaline rehearsing. They’re “flawless” we’re told, even though it doesn’t look magical to me. Will is shocked that they’re doing a dance move called, “The Human Centipede”—um—which is apparently the most difficult and challenging dance move in the history of show choir.
Blaine wins all of the awards for his puzzled, “That actually doesn’t look that hard.”
Sue makes it simple: VA has a “Unique” factor, unlike McKinley—no, Berry doesn’t count, as every school has a small, big-nosed singer in their stables—and unless Kurt gets in a dress, they’re going to lose. Puck can’t believe that all they need is someone in a dress to win. “Really?” Really, Sue affirms.
Rachel warms up her vocals on the empty stage as Tina comes in and tells her about her Freaky Friday hallucination, and how she had really good advice (from Rachel as Tina) to go find Ms. Tibedeaux. And it so happens that she’s teaching a Master Class at Oberlin, a short drive away. So how about it? Yay!
And my favorite bit-character shows up, Rick “The Stick” Nelson, to give Puck shit about being a “Lima Loser.” He taunts Puck for showing up in a dress, for not graduating, and for basically beginning his complete transformation into Matthew McConneghey’s character from Dazed and Confused. (“All right, all right, all right! That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older; they stay the same age.”) Puck’s ready to fight, but it should be a fair fight. Rick has three guys with him—better bring two more so it’s not unbalanced. (I love Bad Ass Puckerman.)
The girls are on their way to Oberlin where Rachel has a moment of doubt about actually becoming a star. She indulges herself in rolling in the muck for a minute before shaking it off and putting on her “Rachel Berry, I’m A Star” persona, which Tina admires. Tina gets it now, just how much work goes into being Rachel. And she wants to get there next year. Good for you, Tina. They have a moment of being friends, promising to sing together before the year (episode) ends.
Out behind the school, Rick starts in on Puck, talking about his “garbage father” and taunting him before they go at it, and they really do. They slam their fists into each other, tackle one another into metal dumpsters, all while a crowd cheers for Rick to destroy Puck. Eventually Rick gets the upper hand, and two of his buddies toss Puck into a dumpster.
While he’s lying there, the crowd begins to chant “Loser! Loser!” Puck gets himself together, climbs out ready for more, and pulls a switchblade, freaking Rick out. (Just like a hockey player to bring fists to a knife fight.) Before things get out of hand, Beiste is there, breaking up the fight and dragging Puck off to talk.
He explains that it was a rubber knife from West Side Story, but he just couldn’t take it anymore. And talk about characters getting their moment to shine, Mark Salling brought me to tears in this scene.
“I’m nothing, don’t you get it? I’m a failure. The school joke. I feel [worthless] every day of my life, every damn day! You know how many football games or concerts my mom’s been to in the last four years? None. Not one.” He says how his dad split when Puck was ten, and good riddance since he called Puck garbage every day. “He must be proud, because that’s exactly how I turned out.”
His voice breaks and he turns away as he begins to cry, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” over and over and good lord, this poor kid! Beiste pulls him into her arms and holds him as he sobs, this tough, never anything beyond the surface kid. She says, “We’re bad asses. Nobody thinks anything hurts us, but it does.” Oh my god, I never saw these two connecting like this, and it’s just perfect.
Carmen Tibedeaux listens to a student sing (mediocre) and then turns to find Rachel. Boy, does she think Rachel is entitled. And every time she wastes Carmen’s time, it’s time that could be dedicated to an actual student. Who does she think she is? Tina steps in and says, “Yeah, she’s awful, right? Always gets what she wants. And it’s because she’s exceptional.”
Rachel takes the moment to ask Carmen, “You’ve had an amazing career—did you get there by playing it safe?” She again extends an invitation to the Chicago Nationals, when Carmen says it’s time for them to go.
“OK. But you’ll see me next year. And every year until I get in.” And um, Rachel’s pretty sure that Carmen auditioned four times to get into Julliard, so… The girls leave and Carmen stands still, mulling that last bit over.
Beiste goes home to Cooter, who’s ordered some apology pizza, saying how sorry he is for the latest fight, and he’s just so worked up and she knows how he gets, blah blah. “I feel like I’m always disappointing you.” Um, that’s because you are, Cooter.
She tells him that she’s been sleeping with a knife under her pillow, and she’s done. “I’m out.” And in another of those moments that I think are so important, she continues. “I’ve got shame about what happened between us. But I leave that here with my ring and you.”
Girls? You have nothing to be ashamed of, that’s the shit that pisses me off. Would you be ashamed if someone ran their car into you without any fault of your own, except for being in the wrong place? No. So don’t feel shame for someone being a dick to you. It’s on them.
Cooter flips out and starts yelling at her, “Who’s gonna love you now?”
“Me.” Standing O for Ms. Shannon Beiste.
Puck is in the auditorium singing Taylor Swift’s “Mean,” and it’s good when he gets to rough his voice up on the rock bits. Beiste shows up and sings along with her country twang, and they’re just cute together. I really enjoyed their scenes, I have to say. They’re two sides of the same coin, and the show did a great job of showing it. Puck explains that he was working on the song in hopes of using it in Nationals, which he’s determined to win—he wants to win something.
Beiste says that she’s spoken with Puck’s teacher (the one who failed him) and talked her into giving him another chance, all because of the drive and selflessness he’s shown with Glee Club. (And let’s not forget last season’s football team, and how Puck got everyone back onto the field for the Thriller number after they’d all walked out. Puck’s grown a lot.) He can’t understand why she’d go to bat for him, even offering to help him pass the test.
“You’ll never know how much you’ve helped me. You’re loved, Punkin.” Here come the waterworks, again…
Tina, Joe, and Sugar are sewing costumes and Sugar begins bitching about the work. Why should she have to sew Rachel’s costume? Rachel should be doing it. Tina says it’s because Rachel is probably having her fourth rehearsal of the night, perfecting her voice so they all can win at Nationals, that’s why. And, by the way, Tina is sewing Sugar’s costume, because that’s what team players do. They all pitch in. Mike overhears and gives her a thumbs up.
(This is another example of how I’m just not overly impressed with Jenna’s acting. I don’t know if it’s because of the character, or what, but she’s just…there. Mind, I don’t dislike her, not at all. She just doesn’t leap off the screen like other characters do.)
Beiste shows up with a suitcase while Will and Sue finalize the setlist, asking if she can be a chaperone. Will agrees and says to bunk with Sue, but Sue booked an executive maternity suite, so no, that’s not fair. Okay, then, Shannon can bunk with Emma and Will.
Um, Shannon is cool with sleeping on the bus, then? She then explains that she’s left Cooter. Sue gets up, and without saying a word, wraps Shannon up in a tight hug. Sue can be good people.
Rachel and Tina start singing “What A Feeling” on the stage, doing all of those “oh my god, I’m having a feeling!” type dance moves that are so hokey, but so musical theater, and who cares, because everyone is excited to get on the bus for Nationals! Next stop, Chicago!
I know that people online are up in arms about Tina and her treatment for three seasons, but I stand by the mantra of—it’s television. Yes, they want to make art. But they want people to come back every week, too. And if some people shine brighter, they get the story lines. That is how television works, gang, especially in an ensemble cast. And note that Tina wanted to be Rachel. Not Quinn, Santana, or Mercedes. Rachel. The lead, the captain, the one who has put more blood, sweat, and tears into winning than anyone at McKinley High. I mean…you can’t argue with that, at least.
So for someone who has happily swayed in the background, for someone to demand solos for the very last competitive performance, that’s a bit much. Was Rachel snotty in her treatment of Tina? Of course! She’s still Rachel Berry, after all. But I do think the point of “let the seniors have their last moment” is valid. And when I was in high school? That’s pretty much how I remember it, too. With a few rare exceptions.
And again, I really like Jenna. I really like Tina! I’m just not desperate for more of her, is all. I will happily watch her in Season Four; I’m looking forward to seeing how the season will play out with her as the female lead at McKinley. But I’m not going to be breathless like I was knowing that Santana and Mercedes were going to sing a duet that still stands as the benchmark of duets on the show for me, “River Deep—Mountain High.”
(Yes, even above Rachel and Kurt’s nod to Barbra and Judy. Which is saying something, because that is still pretty freakin’ outstanding, that and “For Good.” What can I say, I’m an R&B girl deep down in my soul.)
So. What are your thoughts? (And remember, no bashing. You can express yourself, just don’t malign someone to do so.)