A power outage at McKinley High leads to emotional performances; Sarah Jessica Parker returns to the NYC scene

By Samantha Highfill
April 26, 2013 at 03:46 AM EDT
Eddy Chen/FOX
S4 E20
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This week’s episode of Glee was something longtime fans of the show could recognize: It was full of memorable Sue Sylvester one-liners, inspiration from Mr. Schu, one slushy incident, and multiple Broadway numbers. Plus, with the return of Sarah Jessica Parker to the NYC world, how could fans not fall in love? Let’s dig in!

Things all started with Ryder back behind a computer screen chatting with his mysterious love. He wanted answers that Katie wasn’t ready to give. So after failing yet again to find out the identity of his crush, Ryder went where all confused teens go when they need some answers: Glee Club! Unfortunately, things weren’t looking too great for the club at the moment. Schu had overheard a particular member of the competition singing — everyone say hello to American Idol‘s Jessica Sanchez — and he had decided to apply the “go big or go home” outlook to things. Schu wanted epic… and then the power went out at the school.

Was it a zombie apocalypse? Beyoncé’s halftime show? Sadly, it was neither of those things, but rather a boring old power outage caused by a balloon getting caught in an outlet. Hey, it happens. Principal Figgins quickly came over the loud speaker to inform the students that classes would continue as scheduled and that flashlights would be distributed based on grade point average. That sounds like a very fair, Darwinistic approach, don’t you think? And congrats to Ryder, who was clearly smart enough to be granted flashlight privileges when he revealed to Jake that this Katie person knew his deepest, darkest secret. Color me intrigued!

Stepping out of the dark and into the very bright city, Santana did a little dumpster diving and found an incredibly questionable chair that she brought home to Kurt and Rachel. But the roomies were a little preoccupied with the idea that Santana had become a bouncer at a lesbian beer garden and a “girl bar go-go girl.” According to Santana, she was a cage dancer dressed as Barbarella, which therefore meant that they needed to calm down. Basically, Santana was still trying to figure out her dream. Although Rachel and Kurt might not get it, I thought it was a very realistic sentiment.

NEXT: Sue as a personal trainer

With the first lecture of the night over, it was time for the first performance, in which Sam (with a little help from Ryder) sang “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” and taught everyone about the unimportance of power. After Artie refused to perform his Miguel song without his “synths,” Sam explained that when he was poor, he went without electricity all the time. Artie wasn’t exactly following but would later catch the drift when his wheelchair ran over a water bottle, sparking his creative mind. The result was a Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk-style rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” that taught us many things. For example, Jake can tap dance?!

But let’s catch up with Sue before we get any further. The ex-Cheerios coach took a job as a personal trainer at a local gym. As she put it, she’s a “freelance champion” who dishes out “top-tier abuse to trophy wives and self-hating single gals.” Yep, Sue Sylvester has arrived. Her classes, however, seemed to be stuck in the ’80s. Jazzercise, anyone? Luckily, that was just the thing that attracted Blaine to exercise. Also, he wanted to ask Sue to come back to the Cheerios. Roz had gone too far by asking girls to have “fatty ribs” removed. He did have a point there.

Blaine’s trip to “Sue 90X” seemed to have worked when Sue showed up to spy on Cheerios practice, but she quickly informed Becky that her new life was the best thing that had ever happened to her. And after a quick rendition of Annie‘s “Little Girls,” Sue told her protege that she didn’t miss anything about coaching those girls. Did I believe her? Of course not.

Speaking of things I couldn’t believe, tonight marked the return of Sarah Jessica Parker’s fabulous Isabelle, who invited Kurt and his roommates to the NYC Ballet Gala. It turned out Rachel, Kurt and even Santana had all taken ballet classes as a child. Although, to be fair, Santana also specialized in crunk. Finding their inner ballerinas, Kurt, Rachel and Santana all headed to the gala, where they teamed up with Isabelle to sing “At the Ballet,” after which Isabelle reassured Santana that baby steps were perfectly alright. Finding one’s dream isn’t always as easy as Rachel Berry makes it seem.

And after the gala, Santana was inspired to take a NYADA extension dance course, during which she came face to face with her younger self and promised never to forget that little ballerina again. Was it just me, or was that scene a little too much? I was uncomfortable.

NEXT: Ryder and Kitty bond

Santana wasn’t the only one opening up in this episode. After Ryder sang “Everybody Hurts,” he revealed that his big secret was that his babysitter had molested him when he was 11. Although Sam and Artie didn’t seem to understand what the big deal was, Kitty did. She took Ryder out to dinner to tell him about a similar experience she had in the sixth grade when one of her friend’s older brothers climbed into her sleeping bag. Ryder and Kitty clearly bonded in this moment, but when he later blew her off to keep chatting with Katie, she seemed done with him… at least for now. Random thought: There was no way Ryder was typing fast enough during that conversation with Katie.

Just after running into Sue on the bleachers and just before the power came back on, Becky made the decision to talk to Principal Figgins. Could she be confessing her involvement in the school non-shooting?! That’s my best guess. However, Figgins clearly wasn’t too shaken by the revelation, because when the power came back on, he quickly congratulated the student body on not reverting to rampant cannibalism. Perhaps this episode was really all about Darwinism, after all?

Or maybe it was about the Glee club taking baby steps and going back to the art of a cappella. Another beneficial lesson to end the show? When in doubt, sing Billy Joel.

Musical Grades:

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” (Original by The Righteous Brothers): This was a classic Glee choir room performance, but it fell just a little flat for me. It was a great song choice, but I found it a little underwhelming. B-

“Everybody Hurts” (Original by R.E.M.): A scarred teen singing an emotional R.E.M. song by the candlelight? Yes, please. This song was the perfect example of why Ryder needs to sing, like, all the time. B+

“We Will Rock You” (Original by Queen): With strong male vocalists, trash can lids and awesome dance moves, this was my favorite performance of the night. A

“Little Girls” (Original from the Broadway musical Annie): Jane Lynch does not sing enough on this show. Between her vocal ability and her physical comedy, this song was nothing if not a good time. A-

“At the Ballet” (Original from the Broadway musical A Chorus Line): Combining Kurt, Santana, Rachel and Isabelle is never a bad idea. However, this performance was just a little too long for my taste. B

“The Longest Time” (Original by Billy Joel): An a cappella version of a Billy Joel classic rounded out the episode on a near-perfect note. Marley’s sometimes jarring interruptions made it a little less effective, but still worth listening to. A-

Top Lines:

“May I suggest your best jam ever, ‘Run Joey Run?'” -Santana

“I need my synths!” -Artie

“Just when you thought it couldn’t get any gayer, it does.” -Santana

“I skipped all that to study the timeless art of crunk.” -Santana

“I have always admired her run-on sentences.” -Sue about Roz

“95 years I gave those girls…” -Sue

“You can’t insult the sultry and mysterious Coach Roz Washington. She is an African-American treasure.” -Principal Figgins

So, what will happen when Becky tells Figgins the truth? How much longer until Sue is back in her red tracksuit? And what is going to happen with this whole Ryder-Kitty-Katie situation? Who do you think is behind the Katie facade? More importantly, how excited are you that Kate Hudson is back next week?! And Blaine’s proposing?!

Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill

Episode Recaps

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