The Glee Project Recap: Tenacious Deeds

glee project top 7 season 2This week’s Glee Project went beyond the stated task of testing the final seven contestants on their tenacity, and turned into a grueling gauntlet that pushed the would-be Damian McGintys to the physical and emotional breaking point.

“Oh no, she’s vomiting with exhaustion!” “That dude might’ve sprained his ankle!” “They aren’t really going to do a 34th take because the girl in the wheelchair can’t make a basket with her back turned to the hoop, are they?” Oh yes, they are.

Anyhow, things kicked off with a shot of Blake in a white shirt that made me realize he’d quite possibly be the best looking guy in the Glee cast if he ends up winning this thing. Plus, we had Lily saying how much she’s grown as a person since the start of The Glee Project, which is hilarious, considering she’s still blaming everyone but herself whenever she underperforms.

Amber Riley popped up as the guest mentor and watched the Top 7 perform Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor.” Shanna, Ali and Aylin brought a little extra moxie to their performances, while Abraham was typically cheesy. Amber gave the win to Ali, who despite being paralyzed from the chest down, moved more than any of her competitors. (Side note: Didn’t Ali look amahhhhhzing during her mentoring sesh with Amber?)

This week’s video found the finalists doing athletic-type stuff and singing “Eye of the Tiger” in a high-school gym. The twist? Director Erik White was shooting in one continuous take, and anytime someone made a mistake, everyone had to go back and start at the beginning. “I will hate the bitch that keeps messing up,” huffed Abraham, as Karma menacingly rubbed her hands together in the background.

In the studio, Abraham’s voice kept cracking like Humpty Dumpty in a nasty hailstorm, while Michael’s vocal performance could best be described as, er, woeful. Honestly, I’m not sure he can actually sing. Finally, when it came time for group vocals, Lily — who described herself as having “an amazing, huge, booming voice” — drowned out her rivals in a stunning display of obnoxia, and then got snippy when Aylin pointed out her volume-control woes (the equivalent of walking into a room and saying “this place is full of oxygen”). Oh, also, Shanna and Blake were amazing as usual.

Watching the actual shoot was pretty exhausting. Since Blake had the opening shot — running up the steps of the bleechers and throwing a ball — he had to do it over and over and over whenever someone else messed up their part and Erik had to start rolling from the very beginning. Interestingly, though, the guy didn’t complain at all. Neither did Shanna as she vomited into a garbage can from fatigue. Lily, on the other hand, whined about needing Aylin’s help for a quick change segment — “the person I do not want to talk to right now has to help me” — while Abraham dramatically twisted his ankle, then declared himself the embodiment of tencacity for not holding up the shoot. (Rule No. 1: Don’t praise yourself; let the judges do it for you!) And then, of course, came the tricky jump-rope sequence, where Aylin, Lily, Michael, and Abraham kept messing up the action, or forgetting to sing while focused on their physical tasks. “They look defeated,” noted choreographer Zach Woodlee, well, because they were.

Finally, poor Ali broke down over the fact that she couldn’t nail the final act of the shoot — landing that backwards basket. (Why she actually had to make the shot was beyond my comprehension…couldn’t the video have ended with the simple toss of the ball going off camera?) In what felt like the most genuine moment of the season, though, Shanna and Blake individually comforted and encouraged their rival, never losing faith she’d get the job done. Ali then was like, “How about you have the other contestants lift me and I’ll dunk it, dumbasses?” Okay, she said it a lot more politely. And that somehow got me rooting for a Shanna-Blake-Ali Final 3. Is it just me?

After 34 takes, the shoot was over. In the final product, Abraham looked like a hobbled zombie jumping rope, Michael’s singing voice didn’t sound particularly good (not even with whatever studio tricks they use to process the kids’ voices), and I got a little stirring in my soul when Shanna delivered her final solo staring directly at Ali. I think this means Shanna has some actual acting skills — and that seems like something that might come in handy should she end up joining the Glee mothership.

The Bottom 3, not surprisingly, turned out to be Michael, Lily and Abraham (thankfully, we were spared a full-on ugly cry from Aylin, who got a last-minute reprieve). Here’s how their last-chance performances played out:

Lily: It was pretty clear that Lily would be called back the minute she tackled “I’m the Greatest Star” with power and pizazz, but honestly, her attitude remains wretched as ever. “I didn’t get the job done and there are no excuses,” she said, moments before blaming Aylin’s “very rude” comments for dragging her down during the shoot. Ryan Murphy has to see this chick would be a nightmare to work with, no? Then again, he’s probably banking on the fact that her rivalry with Aylin will make for some dramatic television in the next week or two.

Michael: His cover of “Brick” was pretty good, even if the verse seemed to be pitched a bit low for him, but I think that shy smile as he finished the performance bought the kid an extra week.

Abraham: Uff da, his rehearsal of “Man in the Mirror” was God-awful, but he strapped on his red platform boots and upgraded his vocals to “passable” when it came time to hit the stage. Then came some painfully awkward exchanges with Ryan. “I’m not using this as an excuse, but…” started Abraham, before the head judge/Glee EP reminded him that anyone using that line is about to make an excuse. Later, as the judges deliberated, Abraham returned the stage and had an “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” moment. Not literally — although it would definitely have been more entertaining if he’d unleashed his inner Dreamgirl — but rather, he said he wasn’t going home till he won the competition or Ryan Murphy wrote him a role. “I don’t really care about pontification and your place in the world,” said Ryan, who would’ve preferred Abraham to wow him with his talent, not his speechwriting skills. Good point!

And thus, Abraham’s Glee Project journey came to an end, with Lily and Michael living to respectively be annoying/underwhelming another day. There’s no way the winner won’t come from the Aylin-Shanna-Ali-Blake pool, is there? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments!