Glee: Michael recap/review

This highly anticipated episode was called Michael, which I personally believe was a shortened version of its working title – Let’s see how many Michael Jackson songs we can cram into one episode.

Nine, it turns out. I won’t discuss them all, because we’ll be here forever, but needless to say this episode was heavy on the music, light on the plot.

There were two main plot strands – Sebastian and the Warblers doing battle with the New Directions, and Rachel deciding whether or not to marry Finn. Most of the other things that happened in this episode can largely be tied in to these two plot points.

Let’s take Rachel and Finn first, mostly to get it out of the way. When we left them in the last episode Finn had just proposed to Rachel. She was about as shocked as I was annoyed by this development. Like the ‘Quinn wants to steal her baby back plot’, teenagers getting married on a whim is a plot that should stay firmly in the realm of trashy soaps.

What I really wanted Rachel to say when we saw her and Finn again this episode was: “No, are you crazy? We’re 17, you’ve just found out your father died an addict not a war hero, and you’re trying to fill the hole in your life with me. I love you, but we are too young to get married.”

Instead, she thought about it, and then when she thought she’d been completely rejected from NYADA she decided to talk Finn up on his offer, seemingly charmed by his rendition of I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (not the best number for his voice we’ve heard Finn do). I wanted to shake Rachel when she said yes. Not only is it a stupid decision, it doesn’t take a genius to work out it’s going to end in disaster. Which it will, since Rachel was accepted into NYADA at the end of the episode and now faces the choice between her man and her career.

Talking of NYADA, after all Kurt has been through this season and, oh, every season, it was lovely to see him being accepted (I’m taking being a finalist as being accepted) into the university of his choice. He deserves some happiness, especially in light of what happened to his boyfriend this episode.

Which brings us neatly to the other main plot point of this episode – Warblers vs New Directions. This faux rivalry, orchestrated entirely by the rather nasty Sebastian, was simply an excuse to do a lot of Michael Jackson numbers. Both groups want to sing the King of Pop’s songs for regionals (what’s the betting neither will?), so a war to see who does Michael best ensues.

The episode opens with the New Directions singing Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – setting the tone for the battle ahead – before we head to the Lima Bean, where Sebastian drops the bomb that he’s got the Warblers to agree to change their set list to MJ tunes.

So follows a showdown in a dark car park, where Blaine and Santana look like the kick arse besties I’ve always wanted them to be. Alas, despite Blaine rocking the line “it’s time to see who’s bad” before the start of the number, by the end he’s on the floor is a screaming heap, the victim of a slushie laced with rock salt thrown by Sebastian (public school kids, or private, should I say, since it’s an American programme).

Horrid as Sebastian is (truly horrid), his injuring of Blaine leads the latter to wear my favourite outfit of the series so far (yes, including the leather jumpsuit Kurt sports at the beginning of the episode) – pyjamas and an eyepatch. Seriously, pyjamas and an eyepatch. Imagine Darren Criss turning up to work that day and being handed pyjamas and an eyepatch to wear. Genius.

Unfortunately, it also leads to Kurt, Rachel and Finn singing Ben at Blaine, which is a bit weird. It would have been fine if it was just Kurt (although a love song would have been more appropriate), but I’m not seeing the need for Rachel and Finn to get involved with this.

Blaine’s injury also leads to a sing-off between Santana and Sebastian, who rock Smooth Criminal with the help of a pair of phenomenally talented cellists. In my opinion, Santana wins, and not just because the dictaphone she taped to her “underboob” caught Sebastian confessing to tampering with the slushie.

Santana is brilliant in this episode. Her wit and cruelty are pointed firmly in the direction of Sebastian, and she shows that as bitchy as she is, she will come through for her friends. Her and Kurt have some cute moments, and if I can’t get Santana and Blaine as BFFs, I’ll happily settle for Santana and Kurt.

There were, however, some disappointing moments in this episode. For one, I found it hard to believe that the Warblers, who go to a school famous for its no tolerance bullying policy, would suddenly start assisting in the slushying of people. Secondly, Dalton is meant to be a good school, so I find it difficult to believe a group of clever teenagers would be taken in by Sebastian so much that they pretty much turn on a good friend, especially because at the end they realise the error of their ways (cheesy).

Also strange for me was Artie’s outburst. Granted, his and Mike’s recreation of Scream and its video was brilliant, but the lead up to it was clumsy. We’ve seen so little of Artie this season – some appearances as director of West Side Story, which gave him the opportunity to give a speech about how responsibility and trust made him feel like a man; his friendship/relationship/thing with Becky, which gave him the chance to berate the others for not looking more than skin deep (only to turn around and do the same thing himself); and now this, making an angry speech about the glee club standing up for themselves and fighting back. I feel like Artie is the big speech guy, like the writers say: “Ooh, we’ve got a lesson disguised as a speech, let’s get Artie to do it.” They wheel him out, literally, and then once he’s done they shuffle him to the back again. I love Artie, I’d just like to see him more often with a more consistent plot (although he got to sing a lot this episode – yay!). He did a good speech, but I was a little bit: “Where did that come from?”

Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid episode, although it has to be taken very much as a tribute episode to Michael Jackson, and not compared to some of the plot heavy and better structured episodes of Glee. Like the Madonna episode, it was all about shoehorning the music in, but the writers did a good job of moving the NYADA and Rachel/Finn stories along, even if I don’t think Rachel should have said yes. 

The music
Well, lots of Michael Jackson. My personal favourites were Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, Bad and Smooth Criminal.

I also loved Quinn’s version of Never Can Say Goodbye, as she seemed really connected to the song and it fit well with her plot of finally learning to let go and doing something for herself.

I thought Black or White could have been stronger, although I loved the Warblers (particularly Trent) getting up on stage with the New Directions to bust some moves.

EDIT – I forgot about Mercedes and Sam. I liked Human Nature, but that kiss was lost in the middle of this episode. I’d completely forgotten about it when I got to the end.

What Glee did well
Doing Michael Jackson numbers is a tall order, but props to Glee for trying, and for pretty much pulling it off. 

Next week
Ricky Martin as the Spanish teacher.

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