The oldest New Directions return to Lima and pair off to revisit some fan favorite performances in Glee's 100th episode.

By Jodi Walker
March 19, 2014 at 08:00 AM EDT
Fox
S5 E12
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  • TV Show
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Genre

I’m known amongst my friends for occasionally expressing my distaste for nostalgia (also, my extreme love of Daylight Savings Time – give me all the sun, I want it ALL!). But I don’t really hate nostalgia – not only would that be weird, but I would probably have to get off Tumblr altogether. I’m just weary of it; like your grandmother watching you use your iPhone…actually, maybe that’s that opposite of nostalgia, but you get it. Weary.

Nostalgia isn’t just remembering the past, it’s remembering the past more fondly than you’re experiencing the present. Because when a bus splashes you with three-month-old snow on your walk to work (seriously, New York, it’s late March, I did not sign up for this), you’re not exactly looking at the present situation through rose-colored glasses. But when you’re looking back on college, or high school, or that time you had a bunch of Britney Spears hallucinations, it’s easy to just remember the good stuff.

I think I’m future-focused Quinn in this long winded scenario — Puckerman is a Buzzfeed list about how everyone wore capri pants in 2003. And maybe Puck is right this time, that it’s OK to dwell a little in the past (especially if it’s going to result in Mercedes, Kurt and Rachel revisiting “Defying Gravity”) because this 100th episode was a pretty fun ride. It has most of the mainstays of 2.0 and Original Flavor Glee. It pokes a little fun at itself, and still lacks plenty of self-awareness; it made me laugh, and, ugh, it made me cry; I was simultaneously frustrated by and disgustingly fond of almost every single character. Yes, somehow it’s taken this long for confusing, silly, weird little Glee to reach its 100th episode. Bring on the nostalgia, I’m totally ready!

When the camera first flashes to Mercedes and Rachel storming down the McKinley halls – Mercedes sashaying, and Rachel with her baby stomps – I almost can’t remember a time when they weren’t there. Of course, we won’t soon forget the era of “What Does the Fox Say” or “Gangnam Style,” but for one brief moment, it’s a near thing. Technically they’re here to celebrate the Glee Club one last time before it’s gone forever; but in reality they’re back to prove something they wanted so badly to prove in high school, and it seems that no amount of unimaginable success at 19 years of age is able to do it for them. (See, this is why I’m nostalgia-weary…I am not trying to go back to my Texas high school to prove a point.) They’re don’t quite receive the hero’s welcome they were expecting as “the biggest Broadway star/recording artist this school has ever produced,” though, and it’s got them a little sour.

In addition to the two shiniest Glee divas, the rest of the gang has also made the trip back to Lima: Brittany, Santana, Mike Chang and Quinn are all back, and still willing to listen to Will, who tells them their assignment this week is to reinvent songs they’ve sung in the past. Speaking of revisiting the past, April Rhodes is back! She’s acquired herself an island, a pixie cut and just a hint of extra Blanche DuBois to her accent. Tina tells Marley that April “taught [her] how to shoplift meat in [her] vagina,” and I’m reminded that, yes, that sure is something she did. But today is less about vagina thievery, and more about celebrating, so it’s time to revise former Warblers number, “Raise Your Glass” (with only two episodes left, I knew it was about 50/50 that I would have to hear Will say “panty snatcher,” so at least I was semi-prepared). It doesn’t quite hit the original Warblers high, but of course it’s a party because there are just SO MANY PEOPLE. The kids, new and old, and their chaperones dance the only way you can to that song: jump, jump, fist pump, fist pump, break into trios indicative of your dance skill level. B+

NEXT: A pretty extensive saw metaphor we’ve never heard before…

Supposedly, everyone in high school called Puck “The Saw,” because he was always sawing through life: “Dude got in my way, sawed him; set my sights on a chick, sawed her.” It mostly ends up sounding like he’s saying “I saw’d Timmy steal a cookie” like a tense-confused toddler, but the point is, he’s over his sawing ways. He’s got a purpose now, and that purpose is — oh, sh-t, there’s Quinn. She’s the new purpose, there was never any other purpose, what was I saying? Saw, saw, saw, QUINN.

Quinn saunters over in Michelle Obama’s dress with Laura Bush’s feathered bangs, and you know something’s up. Gone is the girl who last quoted Gloria Steinem and got wed-sexual with Santana. She’s come to Lima with her new bicycle boyfriend, Nate Archibald Biff McIntosh, who is – you guessed it – a tool bag. And if you guessed that he was played by Chace Crawford, then you are more astute than me, because I spent half the scene trying to figure out who the actor who looked so much like Chace Crawford was, only to discover that it was Chace Crawford (Chace Crawford has officially stopped sounding like a real name). A country club haircut really changes that guy.

Reminder: In addition to one McKinley class producing a Broadway star, a Broadway understudy and a recording artist, Brittany S. Pierce is also a mega-genius. But don’t worry, she still wears two-tone denim vests. Brittany is really feeling the pressure from her MIT colleagues to keep enhancing her beautiful mind, so Santana calls upon a stress-relieving Unholy Trinity performance of “Toxic,” originally performed by a riot-inducing, fedora-wearing William Schuester. I am less nostalgic for the days of Will performing sexual songs with his Glee Club, but man, do Quinn, Santana and Brittany take me back in their Cheerios uniforms. They look like adults playing dress up now! I think that technically has its own term, but I’ll refrain from using it, because this performance was scandalous enough on its own. I mean, damn, y’all; the bustiers, the hips, the “Cell Block Tango” – Zach Woodlee is really enjoying the post-“high school” choreography opportunities. A

But stupid Preppy McDimplebutt (props, April) could care less about Quinn’s attempts to woo him out of Lame McDoucheville. Biff invites a few of the other former Glee members over at Breadsticks to tell him about Quinn in high school. Oh boy, do you have a few hours and, like, a spare flow chart to keep up with plot twists? Luckily they mostly focus on one of my very favorite Glee tidbits: long live the Ryan Seacrest tattoo! Three layers of roommate-applied makeup and a lot of truth withholding have been helping Quinn present herself to McDimplebutt “in a particular way.”

A quick visit to Fondue for Two reveals that Mercedes and Rachel (along with Kurt, who is really taking a backseat this week… and last week… and kind of the week before) are both planning on revisiting “Defying Gravity.” So, how about just call it a Diva-Off and have the rest of Glee “finally answer the age-old question: Who is the true star of the Glee Club? [Rachel] or Mercedes.” You will get no complaints from me on this trio doing “Defying Gravity,” except regarding Kurt’s Charlie Brown button-up. I will complain about that until the day I die. They kill it, because of course they do. I’m casting my vote silently with my left foot for anonymity, but I’ll simply say, I would never want to go against Mercedes or Rachel with something to prove. (Actually, I do have one complaint: Where was the shot of Blaine frothing at the mouth to throw his hat in the ring?) A-

Brittany is out on the quad playing human chess, still having a hard time coping with all the genius pressure. Santana, ever Brittany’s champion, thinks about getting her back to dancing and — YES! I don’t know why, but “Valerie” was one of the top songs I was so hoping they would revive this episode. I have such a vivid memory of being so surprised by how Santana owned the stage in her first big feature solo. Then Mike jumps into his old choreography, and my nostalgia sets into full gear. My only regret is that even when Brittany finally strips off her fur sweater (yes, fur sweater) to dance, she doesn’t ever pair up with Mike. But the foursome is a fun, jaunty time once little Jake jumps in, and Brittany and Santana dancing is a sweet variation to the original. A-

NEXT: Nobody brings the angst like Avril…

But not all memories can be a Valerie good time, and Puck’s song is a revised version of the truly weep-inducingKeep Holding On,” originally performed by the whole Glee club for a pregnant and struggling Quinn in season 1. That version ended in sad but supportive tears, and this one just ends in a lot of tough memories. Quinn wants to be able to forget her past and look forward, but Puck thinks she shouldn’t be ashamed of it, though “That’s why you’ve got to keep holding onto your past” is maybe not the most convincing allusion. Extra points for hand-grab dancing continuity. B+

Glee Emotional Checkpoint: We’ve hit Fun, Sexy and Sad, so now it must be time for Disconcerting Rage. When everyone gathers for the mandatory Diva-Off vote – “a pointless vote in a meaningless contest that has absolutely no practical ramifications whatsoever” – Santana has some things to say about Rachel. They ain’t good. Santana says that Rachel has sold everyone in the room out in order to succeed (except maybe Rick, aka, Ryder), and oh, by the way, she didn’t really win prom queen either. Rachel, who has learned how to express herself a little more calmly since her original choir room quarreling days, tells Santana she just wants make to feel her bad because she’s “better” than her, exits stage right, and promptly goes to the bathroom to cry.

Mercedes goes to check on Rachel and they have their moment, because unlike Santana and Rachel, they can’t actually stay angry with each other long. They were both underdogs in high school, with tormentors that they occasionally had sing-alongs with. But while Rachel feels like she can’t escape those feelings from high school, Mercedes uses her memories of that time to drive her determination. She mentions that sometimes the voice trying to tell her she’s not good enough is Rachel’s, which is something I wish they would talk out just a little more, but they settle on being happy for each other. Of course, they both still want to be “bigger and richer and more famous” than the other…probably in a similar way to Barbara and Beyoncé, thinks Rachel.

Biffster is still floating around the high school that he didn’t go to, so Quinn decides to come clean about her two biggest seacrets (it was a typo and I’m keeping it, and maybe tattooing it on my lower back): the Seacrest tattoo and giving up Beth for adoption. McDimplebutt spends an inordinate amount of time dwelling on the tattoo and then he gets really low, like, Is this a human that exists? low: “You walk around acting like you’re some Snow-freaking-White, but you’re really just a dirty little slut bag.” Quinn grabs his stupid, pompous honker for a quick reprimand, but then Puck jumps in to deck him and throw him in the dumpster in a bout of violence that seems unnecessary, but isn’t really touched on again.

NEXT: Guess who’s back…back again. Goop is back…tell a friend.

In one other bit of uncomfortable storyline, Will and April have been trying to use April’s various adultery payoffs to buy the auditorium and keep the Glee Club going, but Sue finds out her finances aren’t so stable, in addition to Will running the two million she previously donated into the ground with elaborate Katy Perry sets. I don’t enjoy watching how all April tries to do is help, but she’s pretty consistently shamed for her attempts. But at least her attempt to make it up to Will (“giving [him] hope,” that is) results in bringing back your favorite fun aunt, Holly Holiday, for whom she’s freshly buttered the floor.

I cannot say enough about how many times Gwyneth Paltrow’s accent fluctuates from valley, to urban, to country, to just not saying her ‘t’s altogether; go ahead and tack onto that an inability to focus on anything else but how much she looked like Chris Martin when she was dressed up as William Henry Harrison, and I was thoroughly overwhelmed. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t quite get into “Happy.” It was fun, because that song has fun built into it, but it didn’t reach the necessary funk, once captured in “Forget You.” And it didn’t stick to the theme, but I guess substitutes don’t have to follow rules. B

The episode ends with a thorough revisiting of past relationships. For Brittany, it’s kissing Santana and telling her she’s sure now more than ever that they belong together. For Puck, it’s telling Quinn that she’s his soul mate and he wants her to tell him to stay. Santana still seems to be up in the air, but Quinn catches up to Puck in the hall to requite his love (McKinley breeds high school soul mates almost as well as it does meteoric rises to fame). And for the whole Glee Club, and Will, it’s time to say goodbye to the experience they all shared together, the experience that made them family. April and Holly look on from the rafters, moved and buzzed on Tervis Tumbler wine, and decide they have to save that Glee Club. Looking back, I have to wonder just how many times that phrase has been uttered in this show’s 100-episode span.

It’s still not quite time to move on to New York because, apparently, this 100th episode reunion will span to a 101st episode reunion. Tune in next week for more fan-voted remixes. Judging by tonight’s plot, I’m assuming Tina and Mike will revisit their epic love affair, and the writers might spare Marley a line or two. Any educated guesses on what to expect? Perhaps these Best Lines will get your wheels turning:

– “You’re currently rehearsing for the lead role in a Broadway musical; you’re also working full-time as a singing waitress at a diner, and enrolled full-time as a student at NYADA. Would you agree that it’s slightly irresponsible to leave New York for an entire week for no other reason than the Glee Club’s been canceled.” – Brittany, keeping it way real, as always, on Fondue for Two

– Reasonable followup by Rachel: “Are your cats making out???” (They were.)

– “Apparently the only song we can sing in a Diva-Off is ‘Defying Gravity’” – Will throwing shade at his own lesson plan

– “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, the one thing this country needs more of is teen marriage.” – April Rhodes, everyone.

– “I have here a line item budget of the jungle set you constructed on stage a few weeks back so the Glee Club could perform a Katy Perry song for literally just you.” – Sue Sylvester, destroying Glee dreams, making me laugh.

– “This is crazy because I could really give two poops about this place, but this is really getting to me.” It’s a commonly shared emotion of confusion around these parts, Santana.

Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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  • 05/19/09
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