ALL THINGS GLEE
Glee's Heartbreaking Trip to Sectionals
This week New Directions headed to sectionals, although it couldn't have come at a worse time, since the club was struck by as much heartache and infighting as they've ever been. To start, a replacement for Kurt is needed immediately, since he recently jetted to Dalton Academy to escape the gay bashing going on at McKinley High. Over there, he joins the ranks of the Warblers, a rival glee club. Kurt comes in with a load of fresh ideas, but is a little taken aback to see how formal they are. Instead of a coach, everything is decided by a panel of upperclassmen. Kurt's ideas are rejected, so instead he tries to win them over with a solo rendition of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina." He does great, considering that he receives some expert training from Rachel, but they reject him yet again. "Don't take yourself so seriously," Blaine advises him afterward.
Back in New Directions, Santana finally spills the beans to Rachel about sleeping with Finn the prior year. She's totally stunned since they had both agreed that they had only ever been involved with the other. To top it off, everyone but her seems to know about their hookup, which makes her even more upset. In her distress Rachel finds a new friend in Puck, who has begun to show his softer side. Puck turns over a new leaf after imploring his football teammates to consider trying out for the glee club. They don't take kindly to the suggestion, and trap him in a port-o-john for 24 hours. When he's finally rescued, he finds his savior to be another fresh Glee face, a butch girl who's into wrestling and snacks. Naturally, she joins New Directions. While she doesn't really show off her vocal talent in the episode, she does attend sectionals with the group.
Will is suffering heartache of his own, as he continues to try to woo Emma. The guidance counselor accepts his invite to sectionals, but eventually turns him down after revealing that her boyfriend Carl (John Stamos) remains skittish about the two of them hanging out together. Will handles the rejection stoically, but when he's back in the rehearsal room with the group, he quickly loses his cool. All of their bickering and diva attitudes jeopardize their upcoming performance, he says. He snaps at Rachel in particular for her bad attitude. The team has to learn to be selfless and stick together long enough to let their talents shine.
Once at sectionals, New Directions must compete with two other vocal groups, the Dalton Academy Warblers and the Hipsters, a group of elder singers from the Warren Township continuing education program. The oldsters are clearly just thrown in to give the air of a true competition, but they really killed their number, "The Living Years" by Mike + the Mechanics, was a blast from the past and probably the highlight of this episode.
Next Blaine leads the Warblers through a masterful a cappela version of Train's "Hey, Soul Sister." Kurt backs him up, and they deliver an awesome song and dance act. New Directions put their differences aside long enough to kick out two jams. First, Sam and Quinn did an honest but sappy duet of the Dirty Dancing classic "Time Of My Life." And second, the cast sang the Amy Winehouse song "Valerie." However, the dancing really stood out here, with some really nice moves displayed by Brittany and Mike. These two are definitely going to have to tango again later in the series.
While the Hipsters walk away with third place, the Warblers and New Directions tie for first. It's an anti-climactic ending, but at least it lifts the spirits of most of the group. Fresh off their harmonious winning set at sectionals, they now stand with an honest shot at regionals and finals.
Back at school, Will shows Emma the trophy, and she surprises him by showing off a wedding ring. She and Carl jaunted off to Vegas and came back married. It's a major blow, but Will composes himself long enough to say that he's happy for her and walks out of her office.
Finally, Rachel and Finn reconcile, assuring each other that they won't keep any secrets from each other anymore. But first, Rachel fesses up to Finn, saying that after she learned of the Santana episode she wanted to hurt him back. She reveals that she kissed Puck while they were hanging out. At this, Finn loses it. His fling with Santana was different because he and Rachel weren't together at the time. Knowing how spiteful Rachel can be, Finn breaks up with her.
It's a major burn that plays out in the middle of the hall at school. Rachel breaks down. The episode doesn't end on a total downer though, as they eke out one final song, the super catchy "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence + the Machine.
NEXT WEEK: Glee takes on Christmas before going on hiatus. Sorry Gleeks, but we'll have to savor the holiday episode until the show returns in February.
Justin Starling (@CitadelNow) for Citadel Digital © 2010