Just because Glee dipped into the Britney Spears songbook for the second time in its four-season history doesn’t mean Fox’s (partial) high school musical is out of fresh ideas. (SPOILERS ahead, so stop reading if you haven’t seen this week’s episode.)
Indeed, “Britney 2.0″ found Rachel channeling her inner sex kitten (while still finding time to whip up an oversized serving of foot-in-mouth stew), Brittany grappling with loneliness (and her catastrophic academic record), and Mr. Schuester huffing and puffing that New Directions might come under fire from the National Show Choir Board of Review. (Insert eye roll here.)
Okay, okay, so Schue’s persnickety brand of self-righteousness is familiar territory, but two out of three’s not too shabby, right?
Anyhow, if you were too busy hanging with Lord Tubbington and his new gang, here’s what you missed on Glee.
* Sue ousted Brittany from the Cheerios because of her pitiful grades (apparently drawing a “crayonscape” of Happyville, the town where math was never invented, wasn’t the right way to go on her algebra test). The subsequent ban on her rocking a high pony, along with a lack of attention from college-set girlfriend Santana, sent Brittany into a tailspin than included binge eating, a violent assault on Jacob Ben Israel using an umbrella (he was kinda asking for it), and eventually, an unsuccessful attempt to lip sync a New Directions performance at the fall assembly. While fellow dim blonde Sam eventually offered a little understanding — and possibly a romantic rival who might draw Santana’s wrath? — and helped Brittany recover from “rock bottom,” the girl who can’t tell the difference between George Washington and Glenn Close (a truly amazing sight gag) ended the episode with a case of melancholy, staring glumly aT an instant-message program that found Santana “unavailable.” It was a sad end to an episode that contained dozens of Brittany-centric laughs, not the least of which was “Kiki,” the smart older cousin of Siri that lived inside the super-cheap phone Brit found at the laundromat. (Here’s hoping Kiki becomes a recurring presence in Brittany’s life throughout the season, yes?) (Also priceless: Sam’s map with the misspelled message “meet me hear.” I know Brittana fans don’t want to hear it, but from an intellectual perspective, Sam and Brittany were kinda made for each other, no?)
* Cassandra July continued to torment Rachel in Dance 101, calling her “awkward and tentative” in her body. This prompted our plucky heroine to enlist new crush Brody and some of her classmates to put on a piping-hot performance of “Oops!…I Did It Again.” When the wretched dance instructor responded by telling Rachel she was best-qualified for roles like Maria von Trapp, Willy Loman and Shrek, Rachel exploded, telling Ms. July that she’s nasty to her students because “we’re the future, and you’re just some YouTube joke!” (“Crazy July” it seems, fell from Broadway grace a decade ago after attacking a cellphone user in the middle of a performance. We won’t quibble that YouTube didn’t launch till 2005.) Due to school policy, Rachel was allowed to return to Dance 101, but was forced to hand-wash the class’s dance belts as punishment. (As if!) And so the torment will continue?
* On a personal front, Rachel went and painted the exposed brick wall of hers and Kurt’s $1,800-a-month apartment in Bushwick, with a giant heart and the name Finn. (I hate to see what her landlord will charge her for that act of “redecorating.”) But by episode’s end, she’d painted over the romantic installation, possibly because the persistent Brody had shown up at her dance class, and then at her apartment bearing gifts of orchids and promises that he’d always be thinking about kissing her. The real question, though, is whether there was foreshadowing in Cassie’s passing comment about Brody’s continued interest in “ingénues.” If this isn’t the dude’s first time trolling the freshman dorms for naive love interests, one has to wonder about his intentions, no? Still, I applaud the Glee writing staff for at least temporarily ignoring the brickbat-wielding mobs chanting “Finchel!” and exploring the realistic story of a young woman exploring her options in a new city and a new life — even if she ends up making bad mistakes along the way. One burning question though: Would Kurt so readily make himself scarce to give Rachel and Brody their space, when it might lead to his BFF breaking his stepbrother’s heart? It’s possible, but I’d have liked a little more clarity on the matter.
* Meanwhile, back at McKinley, Marley continued making googly eyes at Jake, he invited her to hang out by the bleachers, and she said “heck yeah” despite his rep as a womanizer. A kiss almost happened, but Marley dodged it at the last second, opting to let Jake chivalrously loan her his jacket to ward off an autumn chill. Mr. Schue then brought Jake’s estranged half-brother, Noah, all the way from California for what amounted to a 60-second pep talk in the McKinley choir room with a basic message of “join glee club; it’ll change your life.” (Wait, so these guys meet for the very first time, and all they discuss is whether or not to join New Directions?) Noah did have “a date with a chick who was third runner-up on The Bachelor,” though, so I guess you can’t blame him for not sticking around. Still, who paid for that plane ticket? The episode closed with Jake agreeing to attend practice in the choir room, Marley thinking it might be a sign of a brewing romance, and then Kitty revealing that, nope, it was too late: She’s Jake’s new girlfriend. Love triangle instated!
And now, let’s get to grading this week’s musical performances:
* Brittany and the Cheerios, “Hold It Against Me” | B- (might’ve been an A- had it not been for the aggressively fast editing that made it impossible to appreciate the actual choreography)
* Blaine and Artie, “Boys”/”Boyfriend” | B
* Unique and Tina, “Womanizer” | B+
* Sam, Tina and Joe, “3” | C (this just felt like a time-filler with no connection to the episode; also, I really think this might be Britney’s worst single ever)
* Marley and Jake, “(You Drive Me) Crazy”/”Crazy” | A- (clever, clever mashup)
* Rachel, “Oops!…I Did It Again” | A- (Anyone think for a moment that Rachel might throw in the rap from Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted”? A recapper can dream.)
* Brittany and New Directions, “Gimme More” | N/A (We do not grade lip synced performances, lest we come under scrutiny of the National TV Recappers Board of Review)
* Marley, “Everytime” | B
And with that, let me turn things over to you: What did you think of “Britney 2.0″? What was your favorite musical number? Take our poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts!