It was time once again for Regionals on GLEE. Recall that last year the plucky underdogs from McKinley High School lost at Regionals. But this year, New Directions were determined to take home that ridiculously oversized trophy.
GLEE’s big gimmick this week was to have New Directions perform original songs at Regionals. This was justified by having Sue conspire to get the band’s permission to use a song revoked. But instead of simply choosing another song, Will (Matthew Morrison) went with Rachel’s (Lea Michele) suggestion to write and perform original songs. Talk about taking the long way! But it proved worth it in the end.
The other big development came at Dalton Academy, where Blaine (Darren Criss) finally saw the light and suggested performing a duet with Kurt (Chris Colfer) at Regionals after he sang a moving tribute to the Warblers’ late mascot, Pavarotti the Parrot. Not only that, but Blaine also meant he wanted to duet personally. Ironic that Kurt began to spread his wings only after Pavarotti had his permanently clipped.
I have to admit the original songs were quite a bit better than I had anticipated. Granted, Santana’s “Trouty Mouth” and Puck’s “Big-Ass Heart” will never win any Grammys, but they do qualify for so-bad-they’re-good, along with Mercedes’ “Hell to the No.” The big anthem that the group collectively pen for Regionals, “Loser Like Me,” was pretty damn good. The message sounded a little too trite, but the music had a hook. And Rachel’s diva-to-the-max performance really sold the self-indulgent paean to her own single-mindedness, “Do It Right.”
Kurt did a great job with the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” but I thought the other covers, including Maroon 5‘s “Misery,” Pink‘s “Raise Your Glass,” and Hey Monday‘s “Candles” were all rather lackadaisical. Part of this was possibly due to the Warblers’ style. I think everything they do lacks any kind of edge at all. Everything they do sounds like they want it to sound like barbershop quartet or doo-wop. Blaine’s solos are terrific, but the Warblers as a whole are boring. For instance, I was extremely disappointed in their rendition of Neon Trees’ “Animal” last week.
Of course this wouldn’t be GLEE without moments to tug at the heartstrings. Some folks might think that the death of Pavarotti was designed to be the tear-jerking moment, and maybe it was, but I didn’t see it that way. To me, this week’s emotional through-line came from Quinn (Dianna Agron), who explained her plot to use Finn (Cory Monteith) to win the crown as Homecoming Queen, which she considered the ultimate social triumph. Rachel was, of course, aghast that Quinn and Finn were secretly an item, so Quinn laid it out for her: Quinn has mapped out everyone’s future, the one she sees for herself involves her and Finn settling down in Lima, Ohio, after high school. She will become a successful real estate agent, and Finn will take over Kurt’s dad’s auto shop. But there will be no place for Rachel. Her path lies elsewhere. Quinn only hinted, but I think we were supposed to assume that Quinn pictured Rachel on Broadway. It was moving to think that Quinn has such small-town dreams, and believes in them so devoutly. And it was most poignant that Quinn realizes being Homecoming Queen will most probably be the high point of her life.