First off, I want to say that I was in the choir room around the time of filming this episode, and saw the white board with “Dynamic Duets!” written on it, and was very excited. (And straight from here I went to the classroom where the Superhero Sidekicks meet, aka the Spanish Room.) So it’s like I’m a part of this episode, is what I’m saying. (I’m not really saying that.) Also, this is what Glee does best: post-modern Camp.
…everyone gets that Blaine’s costume is an homage to the love of his life, right? Because it both pleases me as well as breaks my heart. If I was a comic panel, I would be sad-faced and wincing with “SMASH!” in a bubble over my torso as the sound of my chest being split open. Doodle-ee-deedle-ee-dee! TO THE RECAP!
It’s a Superhero Sidekicks meeting with Blaine as Nightbird leading off with all of the exposition. Summary!
Tina – Asian Persuasion, her power is manipulating everyone. (Yikes.)
Sam – Blond Chameleon, his power is impersonating anyone (as long as they’re Dubya.) I love him so much, you guys.
Jesus Joe – Tarantula Head, dreads are a whip! (OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.)
Sugar – Sweet-n-Spicy, her super power is doing nothing and still making you love her.
Artie – Dr. um…Y? Absolutely no relation to Dr. X of X-Men. Nope.
Becky – Queen Bee, stings like a…me.
Brittany – The Human Brain. Natch.
Tina tries to text message Blaine during the meeting to make him talk to Kurt but Blaine won’t be manipulated by you, Asian Persuasion! Tina’s P.A. races in to explain there’s a problem in the lab, er, choir room: THE NATIONALS TROPHY HAS BEEN STOLEN. In its place is… a laptop.
Artie: Who leaves a laptop?
Blaine: Someone rich, someone who wants to send a message. Someone from… Dalton Academy.
The image is warbled (hurr) as someone explains with their voice modulated that New Directions are living on borrowed time. And Dalton Dude demands one meelion dollars! And “la-zers” affixed to some frickin’ shark heads, okay?
Jake finds Marley at her locker and asks her out for Friday night. Before she can come up with an excuse, Ryder comes over and says she can’t because she’ll be on a date with him, thank you very much. And by the way, chicks actually don’t like dicks. Erm, wrong word choice. They don’t like douches. Well, it’s a freshener, but what he’s really trying to say is that Jake is a butt-face meany, and Marley is highly allergic to butt-face meanies. And she doesn’t have an inhaler.
Is that so? YEAH. It devolves into some shoving, which devolves into a tousle until Finn breaks it up. He is wearing a sweater vest now, because that is the uniform of all unfulfilled teachers everywhere. (He learned from the best!) They all move to the choir room where he’s ready to present their first lesson. If he could only find the markers for the white board. Or make them work. Or not feel intimidated…
Foreigner! What? That’s going to be the theme for Sectionals. Singing Foreigner songs in foreign languages in world nation costumes, yeah! Finn, that is a terrible idea, and the kids have no problem making sure you know it. Brit asks her Siri knockoff “Kiki,” “What you do you think?”
“I think I am alive and you are the machine.” I think Kiki is such a hilarious concept.
Blaine, still dressed as Nightbird, tells Finn they have to be better than that as National Champions or the Warblers are going to eat their lunch! (Sam shoves his paper lunch sack under his chair, nervous. He’s got two juice boxes in there!) Now if everyone can excuse Blaine, he’s off to Dalton to get back their trophy. The one Finn didn’t even notice was missing! Bum bum buuuuuum!
Finn moans later to Beiste (also dressed up, and there are random students wearing costumes in the hall) about how frustrated he is for sucking so badly at this new gig. Well, Finnski, it’s because you need to be their hero, not their buddy. Be an adult and slap on some tights. Doodle-ee-deedle-ee-dee! [BALLOON: Manboobs!]
Blaine enters Dalton, and raise your hand if you missed Dalton? Sebastian waits for him, but he wasn’t the one that stole the trophy! He’s all good and stuff now, like Hellboy or Venom. (This is an actual trope used a LOT in Marvel comics.) By the way, turning into a good guy is totally boring. Also, Sebastian isn’t captain of the Warblers anymore. A newer, stronger leader runs the Hall of Doom.
Meet: Hunter Clarington, perched in his leather chair and petting a white cat, as is befitting a James Bondian villain. He was brought in from a military academy where he led his choir to a Regionals championship with presidential honors (what does that even mean?) “And I’m not even remotely bi-curious.”
Blaine sees the trophy, locked with a blue laser security system. But it was merely bait, and you fell for it, Nightbird! If you come back to Dalton, your friends can have their puny trophy. And you? Why, you’ll be free to be who you really are inside, Black-bird. Before Blaine can argue, Hunter explains why Blaine doesn’t belong at McKinley:
- he only went there for Kurt
- they even call him Blaine Warbler (which is giving away his secret identity a little, come on, man)
- he’s ambitious, driven… A pure Dalton boy through and through.
No! Never! He’ll never join your ranks – oh, is that a song? “Oh Oh Oh… Will you love me?” he sings, the Dalton-bots having lured Blaine right into their trap of impromptu song and approved furniture jumping. They sing Kelly Clarkson’s “Dark Side,” and man, the songs are just on point this episode. It’s about admitting flaws and hoping you’ll be forgiven by the one you love. OH KURT WILL YOU JUST TAKE HIS CALL?! [sobs]
Man, do I miss Dalton. They all have fun singing, sound great, and slip a blazer on Blaine’s shoulders. As he sings “Or will you stay, even if it hurts?” he buttons up the jacket because he knows the answer to that: Kurt didn’t stay with him. (I mean, we know why, but still.)
As the song ends, Sebastian preens to Hunter because he has never gotten over not getting to tap that, “What did I tell you? Flawless.”
Hunter says to Blaine, “Keep the jacket. It’s already yours. Come back where you belong, Blaine Warbler.” Um, they have a compelling argument. Blaine, don’t do it! Doodle-ee-deedle-ee-dee! [BALLOON: DILEMMA!]
Later in class, Finn comes in dressed in a tight shirt and basketball shorts with a cape. The lesson? Dynamic Duets. And he is: Almighty Treble Clef, Uniter of Glee Clubs! His power? Uniting…glee clubs? Wasn’t that…did that not come across? Anyway, the assignment is for everyone to be the The Avengers, but without copyright infringement. Jake! Ryder! The two of you will perform a song together. Marley! Kitty! You two will…also perform a song together. Everyone else will sing? From the seats? [Stands with hands on hips, beaming.]
Kitty later tells Marley that she’s picked out the song, she’s going to be Femme Fatale, and Marley better not mess this up. Jake tells Ryder the obvious: they don’t like each other. Well, duh, so Ryder would be fine with Jake dropping out of the assignment. He is Mega-Stud, and doesn’t need Jake–
“Your alter ego is me?” Jake smirks. There can only be one! Cut to: one of my all-time favorite R.E.M. Songs before Michael Stipes got all preachy, “Superman,” sung at almost double speed. [Fun fact! This was a ‘bonus’ or hidden track on Life’s Rich Pageant, one of their best albums, and Michael Stipe didn’t want to record it because it was a deep cut-cover from a small Texas band, so he sings back-up.]
Ryder and Jake both sound great on vocals, they rip off their Clark Kent-style clothes to prance in tights, and I am not complaining. The song ends abruptly because Jake actually throws a punch – good lord! – and they go crashing into the music stands and it looks like it would really hurt. Funny moment: Sam trying to get Finn to help break up the fight by yelling, “Full Nelson! Full Nelson!”
Later, Finn tells them how lame they are because they will be the reason the Gleeks don’t win Sectionals. So they’re getting another lesson: Kryptonite. They’re going to be locked into a room together, forced to share their greatest weaknesses with one another. Only then will they realize their greatest strengths. Or will be dead by each other’s hands. Take your pick, gentlemen. Deedle-ee-doodle-ee-dee! [BALLOON: SNAP!]
Finn later is playing with Mr. Schue’s pose-able Gleek dolls when Blaine comes in needing to have a serious talk, accidentally letting it out that he sang with the Warblers. What the hell, dude?
Well, it’s pretty simple, Finn. They embraced Blaine like a long-lost brother. They made him feel like he belonged there. As Finn asks if this has anything to do with Kurt, Blaine spins on his heel, arms spread wide to encompass the choir room.
“Everything in this room reminds me of him! We were a dynamic duo in here. Kurt was my anchor, and now that he’s gone I feel like I’m floating. You need a team that will gel.” (Who has more gel than Blaine Anderson?) “The Warblers are my birthright. And my destiny.”
As he gets up to leave, Finn throws his fists to the air, screaming, “Noooooooooo!” A flock of blackbirds take flight leaving poops all over his vehicle.
Kitty and Marley talk about their duet, Marley revealing that she doesn’t want to do it because it means wearing spandex. I’m going to gloss over the whole eating disorder thing because I hate this story line a lot. Long story short, Kitty tries to manipulate Marley (in your face, Tina. You can’t do anything right, can you?) and convinces her a) they are friends and b) Kitty won’t let Marley go out looking bad. Um, okay?
In the locker room, Sam wins my heart again by doing a Bane impression with a jockstrap over his face. (Please be your own. Or be Blaine’s. What? You know that would be spotless. Because he’s not using it with Kurt anymore, hey-o.) He gets Jake and Ryder to follow through on their task.
Jake hands a note to Ryder, who tells him to “be a man” and read it out loud. Fine. Jake’s biggest weakness is not fitting in. he’s half-black, half-Jewish, and he gets all sorts of grief about it everywhere he turns. Cut to a shot of Ned’s Declassified Corn Rows insulting him.
Ryder refuses to say his weakness at first, finally revealing that he can’t really read. (I can’t help it, I thought of Mike Meyers in Wayne’s World flicking water on his face and saying dramatically, “I never learned to read!”)
Kitty comes out of the bathroom in skin-tight black pleather, waiting for Marley to join her. Eventually our shy girl comes out in skin-tight spandex (as opposed to loose-fitting spandex?), where Kitty assures her she is h-o-t-t hot. But who is she supposed to be? “Um, Wall Flower?”
Hmm, Kitty thinks it’s more like “Woman Fierce!” They bust out “I Need A Hero” in class and I have to say Kitty’s voice is much less bubbly here, to the point where I enjoyed this number. I love Marley’s voice, I think it’s rich and lush, and they’re cute and young-girlish with their silly dance moves and whip cracking, and I like that they feel like high school girls, you know? They get a solid round of applause from the class.
“I don’t smell raspberry hair gel. Where’s Blaine?” Brittany asks. Finn tries to say gently that they all know Blaine’s had a hard time of it lately when Tina cuts him off.
“BORED NOW. I am surly and mean and dismissive and why would anyone like me this season because I am literally the worst now,” Tina says.
Finn finishes what he was saying, which was: Blaine is finishing out his senior year at Dalton. Where’s your dismissive assholery now, Tina? And please note the gut-punched facial expression on Sam’s face. He thought he and Blaine were BFF? Deedle-ee-doodle-ee-dee! [BALLOON: Heartbreak!]
Jake tells Finn off-camera about Ryder, prompting Finn to show that he really has what it takes to be a considerate teacher by taking Ryder to see the SpEd director. Ryder’s nervous and defensive at first, but the teacher is a good one and allays his fears right away. She’s going to test him but there are no right or wrong answers here. He can understand letters and numbers, he just can’t always read everything. He can’t write well unless he spells things phonetically, and sometimes he sees words or letters backwards. Aha! He has dyslexia!
He comes out, overcome with gratitude at finally having a name to put on what’s been wrong his whole life. He’s not stupid or dumb, like he’s always thought (and has been called). He’s just wired differently, that’s all. His dad is a Ph.D so everyone assumed there was just something….wrong with him, since he never did well in school. Lazy? Incapable? NO. I love this, and that they’re finding someone late in life and showing that you can always get help. Massive props to the actor playing Ryder, Blake Jenner, for really selling this moment.
He tells Finn that he owes him but Finn corrects him. “Actually, you owe Jake.” Nice.
Jake is in line at the cafeteria, flirt chatting with Marley’s mom. It’s cute. But Ms. Rose reveals that Marley “talks about him at home all the time,” and MOM! Shut up! That’s when the D-Bags arrive and are cartoonishly horrible to her, prompting Jake to defend her honor. He’s about to get into a fight with about six guys when Ryder shows up, says Jake’s his boy, then Artie and more of the Gleeks roll up to defend him, too. Aww, they’re really a team now! They’ve taken Hawkeye back, even though he went evil.
Jake calls Puck up, who is selling photos of himself as a superhero at Grauman’s theater for $20 a pop, and asks Puck for lady advice. Puck says they’re Puckermans. Chicks will catch a whiff of what they’re wafting and come wailing with want. The rule: Don’t be a dick but don’t give up. Good advice, Puck!
Blaine cleans out his locker when Sam shows up, ripping into him. Sure, it sucks big time that Blaine and Kurt broke up, but going back to Dalton? That just seems like another way for Blaine to punish himself. And for what? What did Blaine actually do? Break my heart and all of America’s, that’s what.
Blaine flashes back to The Event, pulling on his shirt, oh my god nudity, with a fuzzy-indiscernible guy in the background, his shirt hanging open. The guy (Eli C.) asks, “You okay?”
“No,” is Blaine’s reply. He looks shattered and ready to cry, actually.
“Is it because I don’t look at all like my profile picture?” AND HERE IS MY THEORY: Eli C’s profile picture looks like Kurt. That’s why we’re not seeing his face, because it doesn’t matter because only Kurt matters. Blaine mumbles that he has to go and leaves, probably to sit in his car and sob and I just want to pull him in my lap and smooth his hair and give him a kiss. In a motherly way, of course. (“So that’s how it is in their family…”)
Blaine continues talking to Sam, saying, “I met him on facebook, went over because it felt like Kurt was moving on with his life and I wasn’t a part of it. I got to thinking that maybe Kurt and I weren’t meant for each other. That we weren’t supposed to spend the rest of our lives together. But the horrible thing is that right after I did it I knew that we were.” AND THE KLAINE THEME PLAYS AND MY HEART SHATTERS INTO MOLECULES.
THESE BOYS OH MY GOD. Romance that just rips my insides to pieces because Blaine’s insecurities have ruined his life, and his insecurities are his greatest weakness. D:
But why can’t he just tell Kurt that? Oh, because Kurt’s heart has also been shattered into molecules and he can’t hear anything from Blaine without agony. “I cheated on the one person that I love more than anything in this world; I hurt him. So of course he’s not going to trust me. He’s never going to forgive me.” [All my cries!]
Sam’s advice: forgive yourself. Stop beating yourself up over this. Sounds great, but Blaine just feels like he’s fundamentally a bad person. BLAINE ANDERSON. You are not. Sam asks for just one day to show Blaine that he’s a good guy, cut to one of the best David Bowie songs ever, “Heroes.”
Sam leads off the acoustical portion, and when Blaine comes in on the emotional swell of the song, it adds a ton of personality to the number. I still wasn’t a huge fan of this, because JFC, it’s David Bowie. That’s an iconic voice that’s hard to improve upon, in my opinion. (But Darren and Chord sound really great together, I want to say. I’m just a huge Bowie fan.)
Things I want to point out: during the number where they have a montage of the Gleeks Doing Good (and doing it well, ha, grammar jokes are fun!) and they paint over grafitti. You have to know how much Kurt Hummel would hate that activity. It could get in his hair.
Blaine has one last mission at Dalton, then, and he’s going to need Sam on this one. Cut to Dalton, where Hunter and Sebastian open the door, find the trophy missing! (There’s a huge screwdriver jammed into the lock, hahaha.) In place of the trophy is another trophy, but one less desired: a Dalton blazer with a note that reads, “NO THANKS.” Zoinks! Sebastian spies the window open, they race to it, find a grappling hook hanging off the balcony, and Nightwing and Blond Chameleon racing away with the trophy. Doodle-ee-deedle-ee-dee! [BALLOONS: BLAM! and SLAINE!] Hahahaha.
Ryder cancels his date with Marley that Friday night because he has to study after the game, plus he has an appointment with the state’s best doctor for Dyslexia. He’s really sorry about it, and Marley is a bit bratty here. I get that she wanted to go out with him, but he just told you it’s for his dyslexia, girlfriend. Of course Kitty convinces her that Ryder is “just not that into you,” hoping to destroy Marley into a shell of a girl.
Instead, Marley squares her shoulders and asks Jake out on a date instead. WHAT. I mean, sure, he’s a total cutie pie with amazing arms and smile, but you were werkin it with Ryder! Tsk tsk. Kitty is pissed that her plan isn’t working.
Blaine apologizes to the Gleeks, and he believes they can beat the Warblers. They have the team, talent and leader to make it. Aww, Finn! You did it, buddy, they finally see you as an adult because you had a great lesson plan and actually helped a student. Nice work! They give him a “utility belt” that has markers, Pepto (I can’t help but think there was a story about “show choir…troubles” from when Sam was living with the Hud-mels.), a barbie doll head from Brittany (“You’re welcome”) and a mini treble clef pin to remind him that he truly is the Uniter of Glee Clubs.
Choir huddle! This is going to be the best year ever, guys! All in: gooooooooo GLEEKS! They all put on the Red Shirts of Unified Glee Clubs (seriously, they always wear red shirts and perform group numbers when they’ve had to come back together as a team) and sing “Some Nights” sounding awesome. I’m really starting to enjoy the new kids’ voices, even if I’m not interested in the bulimia story line in the slightest. I just needed time, I guess? Hmm.
I noted how much I loved Sam and Blaine’s voices together on this song, as well. I’m hoping for more Slaine (ha). Joe (Samuel) had a mini-solo in the song and I was reminded that he actually has a great singing voice that we’ve not heard in a while. This is another cover I’ll gladly buy – I thought everyone sounded fantastic, honestly. Doodle-ee-deedle-ee-dee! [BALLOON: GLEE!]
How are you feeling about the new kids? Did you enjoy the over the top camp? That’s what this show does best, tempered with actual moments of emotional resonance, I think. Put your pie plate down and come talk at me. You can turkey coma later. (And next week is the…Thanksgiving episode. Whoops!)