GLEE 2.9: Special Education

Last year, GLEE’s “Sectionals” episode was all about that scrappy collection of outsiders coming together to form a family (or at least a team) to win sectionals. This year, Show Choir Sectionals was an excuse to tear the team apart via outside influences and internal strife.

Believe it or not, Emma (Jayma Mays) actually gets the blame for sowing the seeds of discontent, because she suggested to Will (Matthew Morrison) that he should change things up for sectionals and not go with his rigid format. “You’re a constellation of stars,” Emma noted in pointing out that lots of glee club members are capable of singing and should be showcased. (She said this right after perfectly pegging his predictable program.) Will agreed that after devoting so much time to making everyone feel like a star, it’s actually time to make them stars.

Will chose the winners of the duet contest, Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Quinn (Dianna Agron) to be the featured singers. This incensed Rachel (Lea Michele) and perturbed Finn. If you thought Rachel pitched diva fits before… But the stakes were upped when Santana (Naya Rivera) blurted out that she and Finn had sex last year – and Finn has been lying all this time. It’s hard to say whether Rachel was angrier at Finn or simply embarrassed that she was literally the last to learn about the tryst.

Meanwhile, Kurt (Chris Colfer) was having his own problems at the Dalton Academy, where he was not bullied, but he was treated like the new kid – meaning his voice was not heard on matters like the Warblers’ song set for Sectionals. He was also given responsibility for Pavarotti the canary. In a development that was either deliberately heavy-handed or just Screenwriting 101, Pavarotti was molting, or changing into a new form – which was exactly what Kurt was doing. “Did you notice that we all wear uniforms around here? It’s about being part of a team,” Blaine (Darren Criss) lectured Kurt, underlining the episode’s teamwork theme. At Dalton, everyone was expected to sublimate their individual desires for the good of the team, in contrast to New Directions, which was warring over who got a solo. The Warblers are all about not standing out, while New Directions was all about celebrating individuality. There may be no “I” in team, but there is a “me.”

I really liked seeing Will get angry and arguing with passion against Rachel’s diva hissy fits. He realized that he had created not a group of special little snowflakes, but rather a bunch of me-first monsters. When he walked in on a screaming match between Rachel and the rest of the gleeks in the green room at Sectionals, Will unloaded on them: “Listen to yourselves! I am ashamed of you.” He reminded them of how they used to be a collection of losers and outsiders. “For six minutes, remind yourselves you’re not alone,” he commanded.

When New Directions performed their set, Sam and Quinn led off with “(I Had) The Time of My Life,” but how can you perform that song without doing the Lift? (Have these people even seen Dirty Dancing?) Then Santana, Brittany (Heather Morris) and Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) were showcased: Santana sang “Valerie” by The Zutons, while Brittany and Mike performed an elaborate dance routine that was really much better than anything on that crap show Dancing With the Stars (even with Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey). Shum and Morris are phenomenal dancers in real life, and they got a chance to really impress at center stage. Blaine led the Warblers through Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister,” and I loved watching the old-person choir, The Hipsters, busting out the Mike + the Mechanics’ “The Living Years.” A contrived tie sent The Warblers and New Directions to Regionals. So, like, whew, crisis averted, eh?

In keeping with Will’s new inclusionary policy. Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Mercedes (Amber Riley) led the celebration song-and-dance with a rocking rendition of Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over.”

In addition to enjoying Brittany’s stellar dancing, I also laughed out loud when she mentioned going to motocross club. The thought of her riding a motorcycle out there on a dusty course… Well, it was funnier than her non-sequitur of the night: “I know the cricket that reads to me at night is totally stealing my jewelry.” Huh?

Oh, almost forgot to mention: After Will got back from Sectionals, Emma revealed that she and Carl (John Stamos) got married in Las Vegas. WTF? How can they do something like that off-screen? The whole thing smacked of a tacked-on desperation move. I’m hearing a lot of noise about how GLEE has jumped the shark this season. Could the haters be right?

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