The Glee Project Recap: The Only Thing They Had to Fear Was Fearlessness Itself

glee project fearlessnessSmiling after getting slushied. Being sexy and not knowing it. Making up words to well-known songs right after Ryan Murphy tells you to stop heeding only the sound of your internal drummer. Pushing your body to such extremes that you momentarily lose the ability to breathe.

Three of these four behaviors resulted in a brush with elimination for this week’s contestants on The Glee Project, while the fourth scored herself an enthusiastic round of kudos. And given that the week’s theme was “fearlessness,” you can probably guess who’s who in this equation.

Things kicked off with what I’d argue was the least successful homework assignment of the season to date — a cover of Heavy D & The Boyz’s “Now That We Found Love” that found the contenders “comically” presenting their backsides to judge Robert Ulrich and guest mentor Jane Lynch, and generally proving none of them are adept rappers. Nellie’s lyric flubs, Charlie’s hamminess, and Shanna’s s too-short romper get my gold, silver, and bronze in failure, but nobody really stood out for me in a positive way. The woman who plays Sue Sylvester, however, declared her love for the whole sack of potatoes, and named Lily the challenge winner.

Because the video shoot was set in a pool — and had the contestants taking slushies to their faces — there was no choreography class, but Michael and Charlie struggled in the recording booth, so you knew it was likely they’d be low on the callback list at best. Personally, I thought Abraham sounded pretty awful behind the mic, too, but vocal coach Nikki Anders dubbed him one of the week’s best, so he’ll live to bleat another day.

At the shoot, Nellie got skittish about having to wear a bathing suit, so naturally she ended up having to perform a “slo-mo sexy” exit from the pool — and for the third week running, showed off palpable sexual tension with Blake. Aylin became the first person in Ryan Murphy’s recollection to laugh after taking a slushie to the face. And despite the fact that her body “doesn’t handle extreme temperatures well” and her paralysis prevented her from dodging cups of sugary, ice water, Ali submitted to a slushie facial and wound up in a frightening situation where she had trouble breathing. She later got praised by the mentors for her bravery, but on set, their facial expressions reflected exactly what I was feeling: A combination of dread, discomfort and distress. I appreciate Ali doesn’t want anything to stand in her way from landing a role on Glee, but maybe the production could’ve been a little better prepared for her physical response to this particular set of stressors?

Oh, we also got intermittent Charlie-Aylin showmance stuff, but it felt so contrived — so, “let’s smooch because there’s a camera in the room!” — that I don’t want to dignify it with more than a single sentence.

Shanna, as usual, stood out in the finished product — a mashup of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”/”One Way or Another” that was far from musically seamless — and I also thought Blake and Aylin “popped” on camera, too. The judges, though, decided that Lily was the week’s MVP, and put Charlie, Aylin, and Nellie in the Bottom 3 (with Michael narrowly escaping the last-chance performance round).

* Nellie’s almost-tears on “If I Were a Boy” felt very genuine, and her tone and pitch continued to be beyond gorgeous. Still, the whole “little mouse who couldn’t” act is growing a little tiresome. As Ryan asked during her on-stage back-and-forth, “Does she not know she’s a star?”

* Aylin’s “Take a Bow” was the best in show, at least from a perspective of combining vocals with actual acting. She’s definitely one of the strongest contestants this season in terms of telling a story with her facial expressions, which makes me optimistic she might be able to navigate a role on the Glee mothership better than The Glee Project‘s Season 1 co-champs.

* Charlie made up his own second verse on “It’s Not Unusual” — sample line: “It’s not unusual for me to be on Glee/ Although it’s been four weeks in the Bottom 3″ — but his full-throttle ham-and-cheese menu, which involved standing on the piano bench, dipping the mic stand, and wading into the audience to flirt with Ryan left him stranded at the intersection of contrived and desperate. I couldn’t argue with the judges’ decision to send him packing, and felt even better about it after his overbaked, tearful final exchange with Aylin. Dude wasn’t diagnosed with a terminal illness, he just got eliminated from a basic-cable reality competition. Perspective, people!

What did you think of this week’s Glee Project? Did the right person go home? Sound off in the comments!