It was the best of Glee, it was the worst of Glee — and no, this isn’t another rant about how I prefer the NYC-based storylines of Rachel, Kurt & Co (even though I do).
Rather I’m talking about how the dubiously titled “The End of Twerking” featured one of the show’s most beautifully conceived and executed musical performances in recent memory, bookended by a second one that — were it not for a bile-soaked response monologue from Sue Sylvester — would’ve had me sending a strongly worded Tweet to @GLEEonFox.
I speak, of course, of Unique’s fantastic “If I Were a Boy” — a flawless example of how Fox’s high-school musical, even in Season 5, has the power to surprise us, to move us and to advance its story arcs through carefully chosen music. And on the flip side, I’m talking about Will Schuester’s disturbing performance of “Blurred Lines” — birthed in the halls of McKinley High under the banner that twerking is an inalienable right of the American teenager. “The fact is,” blathered the erstwhile Teacher of the Year, “twerking is blurring the lines between past and the present, between men and women, between tradition and envelope-pushing. It’s all in that Alan Thicke song that I love.”
Shall I let Sue take it away? “You need to back your ass up to the fact that you, a married 37-year-old, just performed a song about coercive sexual advances as nine minors twerked alongside you – down the hallways of a public high school.” Preach, Coach Sylvester!
In other news:
* After Tina catches Blaine’s enthusiastic twerking on video, Schue decides the controversial dance move is exactly what New Directions needs to win Nationals. Sue spies the club’s booty-popping rehearsals, however, bans the dance from McKinley and fires Schue after he rebels with the aforementioned “Blurred Lines” performance. He winds up in front of the school board and wins his case by proving the waltz, the Charleston and the lambada caused copious controversy back in their day, too — but in spite of the win, his crusade proves short-lived. (More on that in a second.)
* Rachel pretends to get a blunt-cut bob to give herself some different mojo, almost incurring the wrath of Funny Girl’s director. After a sexy “You Are Woman, I Am Man,” however, he decides her new look suits the role — and she tells him it was only a wig. In the same spirit, though, Kurt and Rachel get tattoos to jolt themselves out of the shock of losing Finn; Kurt’s gets botched — “It Gets Better” becomes “It’s Get Better” — but when he demands a refund, the tattoo artist gives him a bracing pep talk on embracing his crazy. (Show of hands: Who else half-thought the two of ‘em were gonna lip lock for a sec?) No romantic sparks, but Kurt eventually ends up with “It’s Got Bette Midler.” Rachel pretends she chickened out in the end, but actually she’s just keeping her ink a secret; the reveal of the ribcage “Finn” at the end of the hour was a thing of bittersweet beauty, no?
* Unique fights for her right to a separate bathroom where she won’t be bullied by transphobic jocks. After initially grappling with the horror of a purple port-a-potty welded to the floor of the rehearsal room — and that truly wrenching Beyoncé cover that somehow managed to make palpable the kind of pain a transgendered teen might feel in a hostile school environment — Unique finally scores a key to the faculty restroom through Sue. The only catch? Schue must agree to drop New Directions’ Twerk obsession.
* Bree reveals to Marley her affair with Jake, and when he doesn’t deny it, Marley gets a case of the sads.
Grades for the Week’s Musical Performances
Rachel and Paolo, “You Are Woman and I Am Man” — Grade: A-
Schue, “Blurred Lines” — Grade: F
Unique, “If I Were a Boy” — Grade: A+
Marley, “Wrecking Ball” — Grade: B-
New Directions, “On Our Way” — Grade: B
Quotes of the Week
“Stop right there, voice of Elmo.” –Bree, bitchily cutting off Unique
“What if I run into Dan Savage in the steam room at the gym: I mean, I’ll be humiliated.” –Kurt, running worst-case scenarios after realizing the typo on his back tattoo
“OK, if ‘Oprah’ is going to drop ‘the Cosby kids’ off at the pool, I am not going to be here for it.” –Kitty, wanting to leave rehearsal after Unique makes a move to use the port-a-potty in the center of the room
“No one needs to know how you identify yourself — they just need to know that you washed your hands after.” –Schue, telling Unique she can use the faculty bathroom
“Then get out, BITCH!” –Becky, discovering Schue doesn’t have an appointment to see Sue
“Are you eating something? Did you get a pretzel from the guy down the street? Because I thought we were diet buddies!” –Rachel, wondering why Kurt’s post-tongue-pierce voice sounds weird
Anyhow, with that, I turn it over to you. Hit the poll and tell us what was your fave musical performance, then hit the comments and expand on your thoughts.