‘Glee’ recap: Sweet 16, and a Sectionals win!


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I hadn’t realized the degree to which ‘Glee’ had lost its moral footing these last few weeks until it regained it Tuesday night. As the New Directions gang and the Troubletones (and the amusingly named Unitards) faced off at Sectionals in an episode titled ‘Hold on to Sixteen,’ the characters were back to making mostly sane, sensible, even sensitive decisions. In some cases, they acknowledged and apologized for recent missteps. There were no students sleeping with teachers, no election fixing or smear campaigns, no outing of fellow students in the hallways -- and by the end, misunderstandings were resolved and rifts were repaired in unexpected ways and the whole New Directions gang was back together, hugging, holding hands and singing out. It came as a huge relief.

A few key developments:

New Directions wins at Sectionals: Not only did the New Directions band together and pull off a first-place finish, but they did it without pretty much all their former leading ladies. With Mercedes, Santana and Brittany having defected to Shelby’s all-girl Troubletones and Rachel banned from competing as punishment for her ballot-box-stuffing crime, Tina, Mike, Quinn, Finn, Artie, Sam, Puck and Kurt got their moments to shine in the spotlight. Whether New Directions’ performance was better than either the Troubletones (Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’/Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor’) or the Unitards (‘Buenos Aires’ from ‘Evita,’ fronted by Harmony, played by ‘Glee Project’ runner-up Lindsay Pearce, from the NYADA mixer) is actually open for debate (have at it in the comments section), but it was undoubtedly longer than the other two, a triple dose of Jackson family music -- The Jackson 5’s ‘ABC,’ Janet Jackson’s ‘Control,’ Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror.’ (Considering that ‘The X Factor’ also just had Michael Jackson week and ‘Glee’ has a full-on Michael Jackson tribute scheduled for next month, Fox might want to start calling itself ‘the Michael Jackson channel.’) In any event, the group’s win at Sectionals, and the Troubletones’ loss, despite a full-on, full-throated performance prominently featuring Mercedes and Santana, paved the way for a reunion between the rival McKinley High show-choir clubs. Phew.


Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) returns: Finn and Rachel set out to bring back departed New Directions member Sam, who, after a rough year, moved with his family to Kentucky. They find him dancing at a Chippendales-esque club under the stage name ‘White Chocolate,’ and convince his parents (who think he works at the Dairy Queen, though his face glitter confounds them) to let him return to Ohio with them to finish his senior year. Sam, whose family, you will recall, was essentially homeless for a while, is excited to reclaim his teenage years, and brings the New Directions gang a new perspective -- showing them how to dance sexy, telling Quinn she has ‘rich white girl’ problems and should ‘hold on to 16’ as long as she can (yes, he quoted John Mellencamp), and vowing to do what it takes to get Mercedes, whom he dated before leaving town, back from her football-star beau. Santana pays tribute to Sam with a flurry of ‘Trouty Mouth’ insults: ‘Welcome back, Lisa Rinna … ‘ I’m happy to have Sam back, too.

Quinn gets sane: Quinn’s character, as I’ve noted, has been completely out there this season. But in this episode -- thank goodness -- she finally returns to earth. Her plans to keep the Troubletones from winning (or perhaps even from performing at) Sectionals by telling Figgins about Shelby and Puck’s liaison are derailed by Rachel, who points out that the move might not only cost Shelby her job, but also deprive baby Beth of her mom. At least, Rachel begs Quinn, warn Shelby about what might be coming her way. Eventually, after a chat with Shelby in which the teacher doles out advice and apologizes, Quinn opts not to tell -- and informs Rachel she’s considering a future at Yale drama school. Then she uses her manipulative skill for good: bringing the New Directions gang back together in a way that makes everyone happy. Welcome back, Quinn.

Mike Chang’s dad sees the light: There’s tension between Mike and Tina because Mike has chosen to surrender his dream of a career in dance and instead apply to Stanford, pre-med, as his parents have insisted. Tina doesn’t give up, going to see Mike’s dad at his office and asking him to honor his son’s talent. So … Mr. Chang shows up, finally sees Mike’s impressive onstage moves, and gives his son’s dance dreams his blessings, telling him to apply to the best programs. But wait … is it too late? Has Mike missed the application deadlines for the programs Tina has in mind for him, Alvin Ailey and NYU? Nope! Tina forged his name on the applications and sent them in. This is great news not only for Mike’s character, but also for those holding out some shard of hope for a ‘Glee’ spinoff following the graduating seniors in New York ….

Finn and Blaine make friends: The detente was a little abrupt and a little rushed, but I’ll take it. After Blaine and Sam argue over a sexy dance move that Artie says makes him feel ‘slight tingles where it’s only 50/50 for tingling,’ Finn finds Blaine jabbing furiously at a heavy bag. (Blaine started a fight club at Dalton, he said, noting that he ‘obviously can’t talk about’ it.) Blaine tells Finn he’s imagining not only Sam’s face on the bag, but Finn’s as well, pointing out how shabbily Finn has treated him since he came to McKinley and joined New Directions. Finn states the obvious: that he’s been threatened by Blaine’s talent. He then tells Blaine that New Directions needs him, and they promise to work together to do everything they can to support the group. Fist bump! What did you think of this feel-good episode of ‘Glee’?


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-- Amy Reiter