Rachel gets some big news, Demi Lovato makes her first appearance, and Tina has a no good, horrible prom

By Erin Strecker
October 04, 2013 at 05:00 AM EDT
FOX
S5 E2
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The guest stars shook things up on Glee last night, where the second part of a two-part Beatles tribute showcased the gang covering classics such as “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude,” as well as introducing Dani (Demi Lovato) as a new love interest for Santana, and Penny (Broadway star Phoebe Strole) as Sam’s new crush.

Let’s get the high school plot out of the way first: Glee had an uphill challenge finding a new way to show prom, so instead of a wholly original idea, they borrowed from some of the most iconic. There was a Regina George-homaging neck brace girl (and on October 3rd!) as well as Tina fake-winning prom queen only to be covered in a bucket of blood red slushies, courtesy of new McKinley High Mean Girl Bree (a.k.a Santana 2.0). Poor Tina. The show really kicked her around, from early in the hour with Sam saying he wished he was going to prom with someone else, to having Tina embrace her inner mean girl and dry up any sympathy viewers might have had for her.

Speaking of unsympathetic characters, new cheerleader Bree adopted a page (and a monologue) from viral-ready Deranged Sorority Girl and became wholly unlikable in her quest to take down Tina. The only upside is that now Kitty is somewhat likable by comparison? The fact that bully Bree is getting a free pass (and encouragement) from new principal Sue is only making me groan. She better not join the Glee club anytime soon.

In the much more fascinating New York world, Kurt also got a job at the singing restaurant, because his unpaid internship at Vogue is paying exactly zero bills. Also working at the cool new hangout? Demi Lovato! The X Factor judge began her arc last night as Dani, a new crush for Santana. The two instantly hit it off, which is mostly noteworthy for Rachel’s perfect BFF excitement about a friend’s new relationship. Dani and Santana flirt a bit; Santana is excited about dating a girl who identifies as lesbian, not bi, and the two then sing a duet of  “Here Comes The Sun,” followed by a quick kiss.

Rachel was busy cheerleading that relationship because she was trying — and failing — to move on from what she thought was her lost role in Funny Girl on Broadway, made harder by the fact that Santana had booked a commercial. Rachel Berry is many things, but one thing she is not is happy for others when things aren’t concurrently going her way. Sure, Santana’s big break was for yeast medication (“I like yeast in my bagel, but not in my muffin”) but it was still acting work. A+ on the over-the-top fake commercial, Glee crew.

NEXT: Rachel gets some big news

On Glee’s Random Idea of the Week list: vaccines! New principal Sue decided all the McKinley High crew must get polio vaccines because the kids rarely show up to school and who knows what they go off and do. (Joe and Sugar didn’t appear in this episode, and Glee was really hitting the meta jokes hard this week.) This doctor fever dream allowed Glee to introduce new nurse-to-be college student Penny (Spring Awakening alum Phoebe Strole), on whom Sam immediately has a crush. I’m excited for this out-of-nowhere relationship solely because I’m a big fan of Strole’s. (In addition to her great work on Broadway, she also guest starred as a pregnant teen on an episode of 30 Rock and was hilarious and wonderful in the seriously underrated film Hamlet 2, which you all should definitely check out next time you want to watch a new movie. But I digress.) Their relationship didn’t really go beyond a dance at prom, but hopefully we’ll see more of them in the future.

Let’s talk about after prom, shall we? Once Tina got all Carrie-d out (in a truly hideous dress, I might add), the Glee kids gather in the choir room to support her. And of course by support her, I mean Blaine looked for an opportunity to sing a song. Tina is nothing to them but a vessel to accomplish whatever they want in any given moment. “I’m not that girl!” Tina declared, obviously hearing Wicked in her head. “You want to be that girl? Go be that girl,” Blaine shot back as he sat down at the piano and began to sing “Hey Jude,” a number that didn’t have anything to do with Tina’s plight but IS a great song so….approved. The number concluded with all of them walking into the gym together, because bullying is bad and underdogs always get the final say, or something.

Speaking of underdogs that aren’t: In the biggest bombshell of the episode, Rachel will be Fanny on Broadway! The producer broke the news to her at the diner, right after she got done deciding she’s never going to give up on her dream. The best exchange of the episode came when Kurt declared, “I need some seed money to start my Madonna cover band” and Rachel followed that up by gushing, “This is so great, I feel like I’m on Smash season 1.” The friends agreed they all aren’t going to give up on themselves, no matter how hard things are right now; they’re all going to support each other and things will eventually be great. And by eventually, I mean two minutes from now.

Thought bubble: Rachel’s hilarious Smash joke has me wondering: Is Rachel turning into a more talented Karen Cartwright? Are the NYC parts of season 5 of Glee just going to rehash the best parts of dearly departed Smash? Kurt is Tom; Santana is Ivy….you guys! I would watch this show. We’re already straining believability; just cast Kurt and Santana on Broadway as well. See you at the Tonys for a showdown!

NEXT: Musical Grades!

Musical Grades:

“Get Back”: Kurt tells Rachel she’s got to get her mojo back, like, right now, and then the two dive into a piano-heavy rendition of the tune. It’s a fun performance; stay for the dancing on top of multiple pianos! A-

“Something”: Sam lets out his feelings for the new cute nurse in this fantasy number. I wasn’t a fan of this arrangement, which wasn’t the best fit for Sam’s vocal range. B-

“Here Comes the Sun”: Another literal interpretation for the Gleetles, but this was an enjoyably sweet and soft ballad-y version of the classic tune that featured nice harmonies by Dani and Santana. She can stick around if we get more duets like this. A-

“Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”: This was simultaneously making me bummed that Glee was covering the Beatles AND happy that they did an homage that allowed for those funky costumes. Plus side: Marley, Unique, Ryder, and Jake looked like they were having a blast. B

“Hey Jude”: Who doesn’t love this song? No one. Who doesn’t want to sing along to the nah-nahs? No one. A

“Let It Be”: A final number in the auditorium usually resonates well, and this was no exception. A-

Excited to see Rachel tackle Broadway? What do you think of the additions of Demi Lovato and Phoebe Strole? Does Tina have your sympathies? Was it weird that last week’s two biggest plots (Klaine’s engagement and Artie and Kitty’s new relationship) were hardly mentioned? Based on the “scenes from next week” teaser, on a scale of one to a giant nope, how ready are you for the Cory Monteith tribute episode?

Erin on Twitter

Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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