Glee Recap: Their Super Sweet '16' [Updated]

Oh girls, I’m standing right there with you at center stage, mouth agape, contemplating a pretty unexpected conclusion to this week’s Glee. Then again, there’s more than one way to write a happy ending, and so, regardless of whether or not you agreed with the judges’ decision at Sectionals, you prrrrrobably ended the episode with a smile on your face.

Before we get to the grades for this week’s musical numbers, let’s run through the key plot points of “Hold on to 16”:

* We kicked off with a tense lockerside chat in which Quinn told Rachel she planned to report Shelby’s affair with Puck to Principal Figgins. I really didn’t need another reminder that Puck is 18 and therefore the whole icky, morally reprehensible pas de deux is legal, but I practically pumped my fist with delight when Rachel, encouraging Quinn not to succumb to her vindictive side, said what I’ve been waiting for somebody/anybody to say for weeks: “Shelby is [Beth’s] real mom.” Ding ding ding ding ding!

* Anyone else feel a surge of white-hot rage when Mr. Schue reprimanded Finn by noting, “Too much talking; not enough looking for songs for sectionals.”? Why is it that New Directions never has their set list prepared weeks, if not months, before their major competitions? Infuriating!

* Kurt and Blaine’s coffee date was rudely interrupted by Kurt’s oversized denim collar and gold-studded ridiculata a flirtatious Sebastian, and led to a choice lobbing of insults between the boys competing for the attention of the Talented Mr. Anderson. “I don’t like your smirky, meerkat face. I don’t like your obnoxious CW hair,” hissed Kurt, to which Sebastian responded, “One of us has a hard-luck case of the gayface, and it ain’t me.” Bring on the bitch-off!

* Looking to bolster New Directions’ numbers (and chances) against the Troubletones at Sectionals, Finn and Rachel tracked down Sam at a strip club where he performed as White Chocolate (not exactly The Justin Bieber Experience) and then convinced Sam’s parents to let him move back to Lima and return to McKinley for the rest of his senior year. Worst part of that scene: Sam’s parents barely asking a question about where their son would stay, who would be his guardian, or how he’d fare academically with a mid-year transfer, before going in for the group hug and saying “yes!” Best part of that interlude: Rachel telling Mr. and Mrs. Evans that Sam wouldn’t be homeless, then remembering the family’s predicament from last season, perkily adding “not that there isn’t a quiet dignity in that.”

* Santana served a piping hot dish of insults to celebrate the return of baby-head polisher Trouty Mouth, while Quinn unsuccessfully attempted a romantic reconnection with her onetime beaux. Sam, for his part, was having none of Quinn’s “rich white-girl problems” and encouraged her to heed the Book of Mellencamp and “hold on to 16 as long as you can.” Of course, it turned out Sam really passed on Quinn because he wanted to reunite with Mercedes. We can all agree the lady protested a bit too much about having moved on from their “summer fling.”

* Somehow Blaine and Sam got into a fight over whether or not to use crotch-thrust choreography at Sectionals — “I’m not for sale!” huffed Blaine in Judgey McJudgerson mode. This led to a very weird scene where Finn and Blaine worked out their differences as the latter teen wailed on a punching bag. Then again, at least it led to this plum line from Blaine: “I started the Dalton branch of Fight Club, which I obviously can’t talk about.”

* After discovering Mike was applying to med school instead of following his dancing dreams, Tina went to confront Mr. Chang and asked him to “help your son honor his gift.” And while I actually thought Mike’s dad had some pretty practical advice for the starry-eyed teen about a future in show-biz, I can’t lie and say I wasn’t touched when the stern padre showed up at Sectionals and eventually wound up on his feet cheering for his son’s New Directions successes.

* Depending on your viewpoint, the Troubletones either got a little cocky or rather generous before Sectionals, boasting that once they took home the crown, they’d allow any member of New Directions to join their cause at Regionals. When Finn whined that Santana was being rude by making the offer, she countered with this doozy: “It would be rude if I followed you around and every time you took a step, I played a note on a tuba.” Oh snap!

* Despite the fact that, in my humble estimation, the Troubletones should’ve triumphed over New Directions for the Sectionals title, it was the latter show choir that took home first prize with the judges, including Tickles the Clown. (Anyone else notice the immediate and enthusiastic way Sugar recognized the red-nosed entertainer? One of the episode’s best moments by far!)

* As Sectionals kicked off, Rachel once again approached Quinn and tried to stop her from reporting Shelby, or at least to get her to go to Shelby before she went to Figgins: “I got a taste of what it’s like to do the wrong thing, and it feels awful,” Rachel explained. This led to a slightly stilted scene between adoptive mom and birth mother where the former woman explained that youth fades all too quickly, and that Quinn should try to enjoy being a kid, performing with New Directions, and other age-appropriate pursuits. And sorry, but Shelby’s “sleeping with Puck made me feel older, not younger” didn’t make me any more sympathetic to the fact that she’d broken the boundaries of a student-teacher relationship.

* The day after Sectionals, Quinn recruited Mercedes, Santana, and Brittany back to New Directions by promising (with Rachel and Schue’s blessing) that the Troubletones ladies would get at least one lead vocal per competition. (Let’s see if the show’s writers remember that edict in another four weeks or so.) She also had a sweet exchange with Rachel outside Figgins’ office — nope, what happened in Shelby’s boudoir did not make its way to the principal’s ears — where Quinn started thinking about Yale. (Yeah, because that’s the kind of school you apply for on a whim. But whatever.)

* Things ended with New Directions’ celebratory performance in the auditorium — with special guests the Troubletones. Some minor character named Mr. Schue oversaw the action. Honestly, adults on this show are thisclose to being relegated to “Peanuts parents” status.

And now, let’s rate this week’s musical numbers:

‘Red Solo Cup,’ Sam and New Directions
A cute little countrified return for Trouty Mouth, if not the most memorable musical moment in the history of the rehearsal room. (Question: Was that an actual bottle of champagne that Finn popped open?)
Musical grade: B Relevance to the plot: C+

‘Buenos Aires,’ Harmony and the Unitards
Lindsay Pearce has a heckuva set of pipes, but this felt less like a show-choir performance than a showcase for a soloist with some jaunty backup dancers. I do, however, love Harmony’s “Rachel x 10” boundaries-free bravado: “I’m only a sophomore, and I’m already this good. Next year’s gonna be a bloodbath.”
Musical grade: B+ Relevance to the plot: C+

‘I Will Survive’/’Survivor,’ Santana, Mercedes, and The Troubletones
Was that full-fledged waacking or just some disco-eggbeaters gone awry? Who cares! I loved that the Troubletones broke free of the standard-operating glee-club choreography, and that there’s another legendary duet to add to the Sancedes oeuvre. Maybe this one didn’t have the emotional power of “Rumour Has It”/”Someone Like You,” but I felt Santana’s exhilaration when she ended the number collapsed on her back with a huge grin on her face.
Musical grade: A Relevance to the plot: A

‘ABC’/’Control’/’Man in the Mirror,’ New Directions
Look, I understand this is a story about New Directions, but if they’re supposed to be the Sectionals champs, their Jackson Family medley should’ve felt more like a cohesive performance and less like three individual numbers hastily patched together. It was nice to see Tina get the lead on “ABC,” but nothing about that number felt like the stuff of competition legend. “Control” was an unexpected choice with some good dancing, but “Man in the Mirror” proved to be a tonally jarring ending to the performance. What do these three songs have to do with one another? And after last week’s Michael Jackson theme on X Factor, is it possible Fox purchased from his songbook in bulk?
Musical grade: B Relevance to the plot: A

‘We Are Young,’ New Directions/Troubletones
Totally joyous fun, especially with all the kids finally back in one room, but how come Schue — who’s dealt with the bad effects of alcohol on his students — allows a ditty with lyrics about helping one’s inebriated friend stagger home from a bar?
Musical grade: A- Relevance to the plot: B+

Now I turn things over to you: What did you think of “Hold on to 16”? What was your favorite musical number this week? Hit the comments with your thoughts, and take our poll below. And for all my Glee recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Trista says:

    I disagree that the Troubletones were better than New Directions. I thought the Man in the Mirror portion was extremely well crafted. Also, just for the record – Red Solo cup ROCKS and it was nice to see a country song included.

  2. Gabriela says:

    THIS is what a good Glee episode is all about – well rounded, showcasing each character equally and relationship equally. Says a lot that there was less of Will, Emma and Sue.

    Still think someone needs to bitchslap Mercedes though.

  3. Kat says:

    I hate Mercedes! She is too much a diva for her mid-level talent! She won’t join ND unless she gets to sing lead? Not everyone gets to be a star and she needs to learn that. And did anyone else notice she sounded out of breath during the Troubletones number? Mot trying to be nasty but you can’t be that overweight and be a singer/dancer because you won’t have the breath control or the moves.

    I loved Sam coming back and seeing him in the strip club was hilarious but I didn’t like Blaine making that crack about not being for sale. We know Blaine came from a fancy private school, he’s always well dressed and he doesn’t have an after school job so his family obviously does well which made it really annoying to hear him making a nasty comment on what Sam was doing to help his family get back on their feet. Just because Prince Blaine has never been in that position doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have sympathy for those who have!

    I miss Rachel. We never hear her anymore. I also miss Finn/Rachel duets because they are my favorite songs from the show. Those two have such incredible chemistry and their pairing is one of the elements that made Glee a success. What a shame RM has forgotten that!

    Santana is awful. Kids in school are mean enough without Glee showcasing a character who makes it seem okay to be a mean, petty bully. Sanatana goes out of her way to be horrible and yet she’s always forgiven? Sorry but that’s not realistic and it sets a terrible example. Some of her lines are funny or they used to be before we were inundated with them but I think parents should fast forward through Santana’s scenes to protect their kids.

    I love Idina Menzel but it’s time for Shelby to go. Sleeping with Puck just ruined the character for me.

    I thought the episode was okay. Too contrived and the musical numbers were just so-so. I’m glad they got away from doing original songs but none of their selections came close to being as exciting as “Don’t Rain on My Parade” or the Journey medley. I think Glee has jumped the shark.

  4. Dee says:

    Am I the only person who thinks Quinn reporting that Shelby slept with a student would have been the RIGHT thing to do? I don’t care if Puck is 18 years old. I don’t care that Shelby has a baby to take care of. It’s WRONG WRONG WRONG, and Shelby absolutely deserved to be fired.

  5. blahdeeblah says:

    I’m gonna go with Survivor/I Will Survive. Before you guys chew my head off for supporting TroubleTones, just wanna let you know that I’m a huge fan of Darren Criss – ergo, my heart follows where he goes. But TT just nailed this disco ditty while ND’s Jackson medley just fell short and lacked the ‘oomph’ factor.

  6. lo says:

    This ep wasn’t bad, but a lot of the story lines were rushed again, just like season 2.

    I liked that Tina helped Mike, but his dad suddenly changing his mind, too rushed.

    Quinn, who has always been selfish and self absorbed, suddenly changes her mind based on a couple of conversations, seriously?? I did like the scenes though with her and Rachel, and am glad she didn’t report Shelby, not b/c Shelby shouldn’t have been reported, but for the reasons Quinn wanted to do it for.

    Sam, the guy isn’t a gerat singer or dancer, so why the need to bring him back to “help” win sectionals – really??? Sure he looks good, maybe that’s enough, but he never had a good story line last year, why bother, he’s not really interesting.

    Shelby story line, I like Idina Menzel, so I guess I had hoped that her story line would be more along the lines of reconcilliation with Rachel, not the terrible story of having a sexual relationship with a student, regardless of how old the student is. That story was just wrong on so many levels, and it’s not like the writers didn’t have other directions they could have gone.

    I know the ND had to win sectionals, but was still disappointed that TT didn’t win, not that either groups songs were fantastic. But I did love the Santana/Brittany moment at the end of their song, and loved the Rachel/Kurt audience moment when they were both singing the Patti Lupone song, true to their characters.

    Best moment was the end when the entire group including Sugar, who I like watching, she is a good comedic character, and just fun watch in general. Anyone notice how excited she was when the clown judge was announced?? :) It was nice to see the entire gang just enjoying each others’ company doing what they love to do, sing. Having Rachel reach out to Santana and include her with the group was a nice touch considering those two are generally antagonizing each other. I’m not saying Santana’s character should be excused for her bad behaviour, it’s wrong. But, her character looks very happy now that she’s forced to deal with her sexuality. Her rant of insults to Sam was more comical than bitter really.

    This was the first episode of many to come I’m sure, where the writers are making an effort to prepare us for graduation, and the first time I actually felt a bit sad that thing would be coming to an end. For as much as we all complain about stories and characters, I think season 3 is proving to show some good development of the seniors, hopefully, they won’t continue to rush some of the story lines like last night.

  7. Jenny says:

    I was actually bothered by the way the TT were allowed back to ND. Not the part of them coming back but the promise of one TT song per competition as well as the part of Shue and Rachel agreeing to it. ND didn’t win with just their star performing. They won as a team with each person having a part in the win. Quinn’s speech to get them to come back should have been about that. I just felt te deal basically rewarded them for being selfish, rude divas.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Totally agree. In addition, the only one of them who actually performed as a choir was New Directions. The first group was basically a group of dancers who occasionally sang a few lines and a singer. A lot of TT’s performance was just a duet with dancers.

      I also wonder if the deal includes solos for Brittany and especially for Sugar (grin) because the second choir was created because Shue would not allow her in for her horrible singing.

  8. Jenny says:

    All this TT story do is make me dislike the characters of Mercedes and Santana.

  9. kai says:

    Re: Red Solo cup…
    1)… the first thought that came to mind was “product placement”, or embedded marketing…shades of American Idol judges sipping from red Coca-cola cups.Watch for a rise in Red Solo cup stock.
    2)”Question: Was that an actual bottle of champagne that Finn popped open?” Actually it was Martinelli’s (non-alcholic) sparkling cider…I recognized it from a Thanksgiving dinner I attended where it was available for non-drinkers, and subsequently checked pausing the video to read the label. I’m sure the producer(s)/directors/writers considered highschool students drinking alcohol would be an issue so they had Finn show the label as he poured.

  10. Katie says:

    Not sure if anyone already commented on this but it wasn’t Champagne that was popped during “Red Solo Cup,” it was Sparkling Cider.

  11. Vetle says:

    Give. Lindsay. More. Episodes.

    Also, can’t wait till Samuel arrives. Hopefully he gets more screentime than Damian.

  12. khs says:

    Slezak, you obviously missed when Kurt said “Sparkling Apple Cider.” C’mon keep up!

  13. Jenna says:

    Does anyone else think that Lindsay Pearce looked like a younger, less wrinkled Michele Bachmann?

  14. Susola says:

    The Michael Jackson medley had me crying, and yes, New Directions did deserve to win over the Troubletones. Why? Because all of New Directions got to sing, each person got a mini-solo. The Troubletones was really just Mercedes and Santana singing with backup singing and dancing by the rest of the group. No contest.

  15. AndyLuvr says:

    I loved the bitch off between Sebastian and Kurt. What makes it extraordinarily hilarious is that Sebastian too has an incurable case of gayface but he apparently doesn’t realize he’s afflicted with the condition!

  16. dda says:

    Oh man…I HOPE they aren’t hinting that Lindsay will eventually become a series regular. (I didn’t like her on the Glee project and I like her LESS on Glee.)

  17. Lily says:

    I am because of the following:



    And most of all, FABERRY!!!! All in one episode. But for real, the Faberry. I know these ladies are straight… but please happen!

  18. Joe says:

    The most frightening part of these comments every week is how out of touch some of you seem to be acting as if the show and characters are real and not scripted entertainment. The Trouble Tones would have won if they did their Adele mashup? No, they wouldn’t have because it’s not real. The “judges” didn’t actually judge the performances. They were actors playing characters. The writers write a script and decide who wins based on where they want the story to go. It’s not real people. Phew. Had to get that out.

  19. Wendy Fletcher says:

    I have become such a sap over the years. This episode made me cry and reminded me how much i miss being a teenager and singing with my friends in choir (or out on the street). Music is a passion that i cannot give up, even though i am completely outta tune. I continue to watch, listen and give the best advice as i can. I encourage as many people as i can to keep trying and they will get to where they need to be. I would like to think the cast and crew of ‘Glee’ for hitting the nail on the head for this one. You guys are doing awesome! ;)

  20. Sasha says:

    Honestly when I saw the trouble tones song I didn’t find it awesome.

    I liked it but we all know they can do better, but based on that performance and the Medley the New Directions did OF COURSE ND should have won.

    I Honestly LOVE the whole thing.

    It makes me happy about Glee again.

  21. annette says:

    I’m over Santana & Mercedes. They are rude and snotty. Brittany’s stupidity is no longer charming. I really hope there are consequences to her horrifying presidential campaign and her completely false promises.

  22. peacelady says:

    I can’t believe you didn’t point out the hideous costumes and lipstick New Directions chose for sectionals. They looked so bad I thought it was supposed to be a joke. You have try awfully hard to make Diana Agron look bad. I totally missed the whole Blaine/Sam argument – was Blaine implying that he knew about Sam’s stripper job? Otherwise how was he ‘for sale” by doing a sexy move. Really didn’t get that. I kinda liked the Jackson medley, but it did seem weird that ND got to basically sing three songs. Nice to see the kids win without Rachel. Thanks as always for the recap!

    • Lily says:

      Blaine was angry because a “newcomer” like Sam can give advice, accepted by the Glee club whereas Finn does not listen to Blaine’s advice… And I guess Finn told stepbrother Kurt who told lover Blaine where Finn found Sam.

  23. shawn says:

    I dont think that harmony will be coming to mckinley, i just think that they were setting up to have her be around in upcoming years as a competitor. The nd winning was not a suprise since otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a season left but i wouldn’t have minded if it were a tie between them and troubletones and have the two clubs merge back together on their own terms. I would have preferred if mercedes hadn’t gone back so easily instead of a promise of solos. I want to see her learn her lesson about being a diva, not just getting what she wants. Its just another way to stop focusing on her character. I bet that she will hardly be in the next episode. I think a better story line for her would be for to be the only one left not back in nd and have kurt and rachael convice her to come back since at one time the three of them were friends. Also anyone know if Rory is actually going to be kept around? If not, his stint on the show was completely pointless. I don’t love his character per se but Glee doesn’t really need more background people that dont’ get any lines.

  24. KB says:

    I really didnt enjoy this episode, maybe im alone in this, but i hated all the songs, and the choreography of the troubletones looked weird, and why did new directions get to sing 3 songs and the other groups get to sing one. There are some things liked i like about this episode, sam is back, mike’s dad changed is mind, sam rejected quinn, and the song at the end of the show was nice, i’ve never heard of it.

    • Emily says:

      ND always gets to sing three, because the show is about them. It’s implied that every choir sings three songs, but they only include (at least) one song just to establish that other groups are competing against the New Directions. I think the Warblers and Vocal Adrenaline might’ve gotten two songs in competitions past… but again, not the point. There’s only so many minutes in an episode, after all.

  25. addie says:

    My favorite part was seeing Tina being able to sing without being either booded off stage or bursting into tears. The episode should be renamed
    Ryan Murphy Realized Who Jenna Ushkowitz Is.

  26. Eveline says:

    I thought Blaine’s attempted smack-down of Sam was ironic seeing as Blaine’s got a few stripper moves of his own and if you factor in how rich Blaine apparently is and how poor Sam is. I’m sure Dalton didn’t refund his tuition when he decided to walk away after the school year started and nobody seems to care. Sam’s family could probably live six months on that tuition check. And didn’t Quinn (aka singing the rich white girl blues) call Shelby a wh*re a few weeks back for being a paid surrogate? But she can just decide to go to Yale, no probs.

    And can Finn Hudson keep a secret for longer than 10 minutes?

    • akary says:

      Why you suppose that was Finn who said about Sam?
      Rachel could be telling Kurt and Kurt telling Blaine.

      Blaine is just freaking baby, he always making the victim

  27. Coachingguy says:

    There’s no way the Troubletones had the best performance. The choreography was terrible, and the dresses were less than flattering. Granted Santana and Mercedes are amazing singers, but the mash up was too busy.

    The New Directions was fun and full of energy with easily the best choreography of the night. The black and white worked great. I thought each song did a really nice job of showing off different people and skills.

    Mr. Sleazak, I don’t know if you’d already read the EW review, but obviously you were trying to write a counter to that review.

  28. karenb says:

    LOVED this episode!! I loved that most, almost all characters were kind to each other! And the Return of Trouty Mouth! Chord was amazing and I think that it was great that he was given so many lines/scenes. He is so deserving! LOVED the MJ songs. Tina and Mike were freakin awesome!

    And Slezak-I was wondering the same exact thing about the champagne!!

  29. Maia says:

    Attn: Michael Slezak / Editors

    If you find Glee so frivolous and its storylines so ridiculous, it might be better if someone else writes the recap. The ascerbic tone and sarcasm are distracting.

    Disclaimer: I’m no Glee fanatic… I watch it, sometimes I love it, sometimes I don’t get it. So please don’t think I’m just another Glee fanatic who will hate on whomever disagrees with me.

  30. Leo says:

    Clearly, the writer is a fan of Troubletones, but do you have to be THAT obvious? I don’t hate Troubletones (Love Candyman!) but is it THAT hard to admit that they made such a mess at that mash-up. That ridiculous dancing, and fast-paced choreography, I enjoy what I see but I don’t feel anything from their performance. Great vocals but Sectionals isn’t just about vocals, it’s about performing too. Plus, I’m sick of Santana and Mercedes leading all their songs. Not even few lines for Brittany?
    And that’s ridiculous that they’re letting TT doing one song per competition. So does that mean, oh hey, TT got one song, Rachel got another, the rest of the cast can just scatter around and background-singing and dancing. So annoyed.
    Anyway, Glee is just about fun so no matter what they shove down my throat, I’m gonna keep watching with a smile on my face.

  31. Caroline says:

    I’m late to the party and don’t feel like looking through 8 pages of comments to see if this is a repeat. This comment will probably get buried, but it infuriates me that glee keeps pointing out that because Puck is 18, the Shelby thing is legal. IT IS NOT LEGAL. Shelby is a TEACHER at a school, and even if a student is at the age of legal consent a student-teacher relationship is 100% illegal. It’s ridiculous, disgusting and misleading. If Quinn had told, Shelby would definitely be fired, probably criminally prosecuted and CPS would absolutely take Beth away (even if only during an investigation period, though chances are good that a woman being investigated for having a this kind of relationship would probably lose custody). I know glee is a stupid, unrealistic tv show, and believe me I’ve learned to push aside common sense when watching it, but this is insane.

  32. Nikki says:

    Finally just got a chance to watch it and I can totally see why ND won. The mashup the TTs did was great and they have amazing voices, but it just didn’t feel like such a great performance to me. Their dancing seemed a bit jilted and messy, although I did like when they did the partner bit. ND’s dancing however felt a lot more cohesive and in-sync, and I really loved that they featured pretty much everyone rather than just focusing on one or two people. Plus they did a really great job with their songs, I especially loved ABC. I can’t wait to see what the recombining of the two groups will bring in the future.