by Chris Saccaro
An aspect of “Glee” that is very rarely spoken about, but usually as entertaining as the actual episode is the “previously on Glee” segment. These moments before the episodes are witty and full of meta-commentary on the show, and this is especially true for the segment preceding “Props.” In this week’s catch-up, the writers shed light on something that everyone has realized for the past three years–Tina is underused and underappreciated in Glee.
This gives Tina’s outburst during practice and ensuing “Glee-ky Friday” dream a lot more weight. The character swapping was a great addition to the episode. It was humorous and allowed the show to make fun of itself via the characters’ quirks. It becomes clear by the end of the episode that the writers were priming us for a Rachel Berry-less Glee Club for next season, with Tina as the lead female vocalist. And if her duet performance of “What a Feeling” is any indication of her singing ability, New Directions will have no problem without Rachel.
And things are looking slightly more hopeful for Rachel, as Tina helps her meet with Whoopi Goldberg. Rachel begs her to come to Nationals for a third chance at “auditioning” for NYADA. Of course she is going to show up, and of course Rachel is going to get in. As tiring as the storyline is, the emotional backlash of her failed audition in “Choke” makes it worth it.
Other than establishing Tina as the new front-runner for New Directions, “Props” also revisits storylines that were completely ignored in the prom episode. It’s almost as if “Props” and “Choke” were meant to be together, but the writers just threw “Prom-asaurus” in the middle for the sake of having a prom episode.
This episode succeeded in connecting two storylines that were previously criticized for being poorly ill fitting—Bieste’s abusive husband and Puck’s failure to graduate. When these stories first premiered in “Choke,” Puck’s efforts to pass a test (and as a result, be able to graduate high school) were handled haphazardly, with too much campy humor to take it seriously. However, in “Props,” the severity of Puck’s low self-worth is revealed. Bieste connects with Puck’s lack of self-worth, and develops the confidence to leave Cooter for good. This ends with a slightly unfitting rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Mean.” It works, but it’s not a stellar song choice.
As far as Nationals go, Sue is trying to make Kurt dress in drag to rival Vocal Adrenaline’s breakout star, Unique. And Kurt refuses to do so, despite the fact that he wore a dress when he dressed up as a guidette straight out of “Jersey Shore” for Halloween (which was a hilarious flashback). It’s great that Kurt is becoming his own character that is able to draw the line at something that would clearly be a gimmick for New Directions at Nationals.
The episode ends on an exciting “we’re going to nationals!” feeling that resonates into the following episode. Storylines are wrapped up nicely, allowing for the focus to be purely on Nationals (for the most part).
In “Nationals”, the usual drama is prevalent from the very start of the episode. Mercedes has food poisoning as a result of bypassing Chipotle for a dive restaurant, and the rest of the Glee Club fight over anything they can fight over. This drama is shallow and thankfully doesn’t take over the episode. Mercedes’ food poisoning acts as a way to get Quinn and Tina to perform with the Treble Tones, and the other drama gives Schuester the ability to have one more pep talk about using their passion to become better performers.
Not much time is wasted on the pre-performance drama. Mercedes gets better in time for the performance, and even Jesse St. James acts pleasant around Rachel and Finn. This leaves more room for the performances. The treble tone’s cover of “Edge of Glory” sounds slightly similar to Stanford University’s “Mixed Company’s” cover, but it didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Plus, it was great seeing Quinn dancing again.
Rachel kills it with her performance of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” just in time for Whoopi Goldberg to witness it. This is followed by “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” This is eerily fitting with the previous song– as Jim Steinman wrote both, and Meat Loaf originally wanted to sing the former song, but was prevented after Steinman got a court order preventing it, since he believed it was meant for a woman. The songs flow together really well, with or without the complicated back-story.
After New Directions, Vocal Adrenaline performs their songs, with Unique in a starring role. After Kurt and Mercedes wish him luck, a not-so-subtle seed is planted dealing with Unique possibly transferring to McKinley High next season. As much as it pains me to say it, Vocal Adrenaline’s performances were much stronger than New Directions. The choreography was great, and Unique did a great job with both “Starships” and “Pinball Wizard.”
For all the drama surrounding Lindsay Lohan’s behavior on set, her performance was unremarkable. She and Perez Hilton had an interesting dynamic that reflected real life situations. Lindsay supports the New Directions, for their underdog status (equating their desire for a comeback with her own). Perez sides with Vocal Adrenaline, seeing Unique as a role model for the outcasts of society.
It became pretty obvious that New Directions would win once Unique won the “MVP” award, since that allows Unique to go on and be an inspiration, while also allowing the New Directions to win. The whole celebratory montage was really sweet. It definitely felt like the beginning of the end for the seniors. It took the New Directions from the freaks of the school, to celebrated champions, which was great to see for these kids.
As if the celebration wasn’t nice enough to end on, the episode continues to the annual award ceremony for the “Teacher of the Year” award. The New Directions give a fitting goodbye to Mr. Schuester. And what is more fitting than a performance of “We Are The Champions?” This song sums up the New Directions’ 3-year long struggle to win Nationals and gain respect in the school. The song represented each character’s own success. It was the perfect ending to a great episode. It could have honestly worked as a season finale, except for the fact that the seniors still have to graduate. Based on the emotional resonance of this episode, it’s clear that Glee’s graduation is going to have that same bittersweet feeling that a real high school graduation has. As Mr. Schuester says, “There’s only one thing left to do–say goodbye.”
Chris Saccaro is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.