It's a bird. It's a plane. It's the Glee kids pretending to be superheroes

By Erin Strecker
November 23, 2012 at 06:01 AM EST
Jordin Althaus
S4 E7
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I hope you all are wearing your handmade capes — or, at least, holding a copy of The Avengers — because last night’s episode of Glee was an NYC-free superhero power hour that had Blaine swayed by the Dark Side, the McKinley kids prepping for sectionals, and Marley stuck in a love triangle.

We learned some key new info about our favorite heartbroken former Warbler: When Blaine isn’t pining for Kurt, he’s running an after-school superhero support group/fan club. All of the gang’s alter egos were amusing, from Asian Persuasion for Tina to Chameleon (because of his many voices!) for Sam. But I think my favorite was Brittany: Human Brain. Anyway, the group meets and solves crimes a.k.a Tina texts Blaine about getting back together with Kurt, which is all Blaine can think about these days. Poor Blaine. I think he really needs to spend some quality time with a Taylor Swift album.

Like all great superhero stories, we needed some trauma to kick things off properly. Kapow! The Nationals trophy was stolen, with a note that promised “a great reckoning” at Sectionals. Who could it possibly be? Blaine had a few ideas, and made his was over to Dalton Academy. Dun dun dunnn. While there, Blaine met new Dalton leader Hunter Clarington. Not a moment later, Blaine was surrounded by former Warblers, including a newly nice Sebastian, encouraging him to come back to the powerful, incredible Warbler team. They presented him with the iconic uniform jacket. “Why be afraid to try it on?” they taunted. This whole exchange was so comically over the top that I think it was my favorite part of the episode. Or maybe I just liked it because it gave us another Blaine-centric Warbler number – he couldn’t fight them off! This was his destiny! – that looked and sounded incredible. Maybe Blaine should go back to Dalton. What can I say? Blaine wasn’t the only one seduced by the Dark Side.

Meanwhile, Finn was still in charge of Glee club (now with new member Kitty!) and was trying to figure out what they should sing for Sectionals, which are next week. No time like the present! Finn landed on “Foreigner” as the theme. His suggestion was to sing songs by Foreigner, in a foreign language. It was a truly horrible idea, and amusing as it would have been to see it play out, luckily the kids instantly recoiled and shut that down.

His follow-up idea, inspired by The Avengers, was much better: dynamic duets. Finn partnered the kids that weren’t getting along (Kitty and Marley, Jake and Ryder) and told them to perform together. Kitty’s alter ego was just plain mean girl, apparently, as she continued to badger an insecure Marley about her weight while the two were working together. I really don’t like how cavalierly eating disorders are being addressed, but I digress. Because Marley is desperate to be accepted, the twosome came together and performed “Holding Out For A Hero” during class, which was a ton of fun.

NEXT: Ryder has a secret…

Less successful was Jake and Ryder’s duet. The duo have clearly had problems since the beginning, but ever since Ryder kissed Marley before Grease, it’s a regular 90210 up at McKinley. I’m definitely pulling for the Ryder angle of this triangle (math joke!): his conversation about girls liking guys who say what they want may have been a little too aware for the typical 16-year-old, but my heart was definitely listening. But just like that earlier convo turned into a hallway brawl (with Marley acting as Bella Swan, lip bite and all!), so too did Jake and Ryder’s duet.

When an exasperated Finn (I bet he’s racking up some serious sympathy for Schuster!) talked to Jake and Ryder afterwards in the auditorium, he was direct. They each had to confess something about themselves to each other — Kryptonite! — and then they could better understand each other. It was a nice idea in theory, but I was already rolling my eyes in practice. To my surprise, Finn’s idealism kind of worked. Jake confided that he always felt out of place, being a bi-racial Jewish kid, and later Ryder confessed that he really struggled in school. Props to Jake for being a decent human being, and telling Finn about Ryder’s problems. Finn staged a mini-intervention with a counselor so that she could run some tests on Ryder, where we then learned what many of you instantly called: Ryder has dyslexia, which is why he had problems with schoolwork.

In the Serious Moment of the episode, Finn and Ryder have a heart to heart after his tests, and Ryder confided the pressure he feels from his parents to do well in school. I thought Blake Jenner did a great job with this scene (on The Glee Project, his acting was considered his strong suit, and probably had a lot to do with his winning). Ryder is going to get the extra help he needs, and now that Jake has done something nice for him (UNINTENDED RESULT!) Ryder can’t be too mad at Jake when Jake winds up with Marley.

That’s right. After a call to his big bro Puck (Puck cameo!), Jake’s advised that no girl will be able to stay away from him. But his real success comes when Ryder had to bail on his Friday night date with Marley. So far this season, I’ve been on Marley’s side, but I really didn’t like how this played out. Ryder told her about needing to study Friday night, and then explained he had a doctor’s appointment the next morning. Yes, it definitely sounded like a blow-off excuse. I know high school is misunderstanding central, but Ryder was honest and he gave her an alternative date. Of course, Kitty was around to pour some poison in her ear. But instead of having the intended consequence of Marley feeling bad for herself, Marley took some of that Sandy-At-The-End-Of-Grease confidence and told Jake they had plans after the football game. I did enjoy Kitty’s look of confused disgust when she realized that Marley now had a date with both Jake and Ryder. Her?

NEXT: Blaine has a decision to make…

At the same time, Blaine decided that the Warbler jacket was a seductive mistress indeed. He told Finn that he was going to leave McKinley to go back to Dalton – mainly because without Kurt, he doesn’t know why he was at McKinley at all. This is why you have a life outside your relationship, kids. Later, Sam confronted Blaine about his plans to leave, and Blaine just about broke my heart when he told Sam: “I just want to stop feeling like I’m a bad person.” We got a flashback to the night Blaine cheated, and Blaine explained what he’d been trying to tell Kurt for the last couple episodes: He wasn’t sure he was suppose to be with Kurt, but once he hooked up with someone else, he realized Kurt was all he wanted. Forever. Despite the fact that I think every fictional character who has ever cheated has had a similar realization, the tears in Blaine’s eyes made me hope that someday Kurt can forgive him.

Sam really rose to the friendship challenge. He told Blaine, “You’ve got to stop villianizing yourself,” and then Sam asked for one day to change his mind about switching schools. While they were singing, we were treated to a montage of all the kids being real-life heroes, cleaning up graffiti and gathering food donations. I imagine it also made Blaine feel like he was repaying some made-up karmic debt.

But there was still the matter of the stolen trophy. Superhero Sam and Blaine (Slaine!) snuck back into the school otherwise known as “Death Star meets Mordor meets Temple of Doom” and stole back their Nationals trophy, leaving in its place the Warbler jacket (RIP) and a note that said, ‘No thanks!’ And with that, I guess Blaine’s decision was made. He’s sticking with McKinley after all. And the Glee club kids, after some initial skepticism, are sticking with Finn. They presented him with a utility belt – well, a fanny pack — full of stuff he may need to be their instructor. Obviously the best part was the Barbie doll head that Kiki-loving Brittany threw in there. The Human Brain strikes again!

NEXT: Musical Grades and Top Lines

Musical Grades:

Holding Out For a Hero (Original by Bonnie Tyler): I’ve said it before: I may not like her character, but I really enjoy Kitty’s performances. This high-energy choir room duet with Marley was a superhero treat. B+

My Dark Side (Original by Kelly Clarkson): The Warblers – with Blaine – are back! I loved the all-male harmonies, and come on. How could you not fall in love with that incredibly staged choreography? A-

Some Nights (Original by fun.)I’m a sucker for a big group number in the auditorium. I liked that some of the new kids, particularly Ryder, got a chance to shine on the popular song that was my favorite of the episode. The number was also very reminiscent of the original club performing “Don’t’ Stop Believin’” for Schuster back in the day. A

Superman (Original by R.E.M/The Clique): Jake and Ryder’s choir room duet didn’t fare as well as the girls’ did, which is too bad, because I liked the twosome’s harmonies, as well as the staging all over the room. B

Heroes (Original by David Bowie): Sam is such a good friend. One of the quiter numbers of the episode, this Sam/Blaine duet –complete with Sam on guitar – was simply lovely, and a nice song pick thematically for the Dalton break-in/real-life hero work. B+

Top Lines:

“Being nice sucks.” –Sebastian

“Just call Santana back from Kentucky again. Apparently she’s better than anyone who goes here.” –Tina. I literally LOLed.

“You know what’s lame? NOT WINNING AT SECTIONALS!” –Finn

“Deal do we have?” –Finn as Yoda

“I don’t smell Rasberry hair gel. Does anyone know where Blaine Warbler is?” –Brittany

“Isn’t MS a degenerative nerve disease?” -Artie

“I thought it was a girls’ magazine” -Finn

What did you all think? Did you like the superhero twist (I loved the comic book-esque exclamations we got between scenes!)? Who do you think Marley is going to choose: Ryder or Jake? Hoping for some more NYC goodness next week? How do you like Finn – I’m sorry, Treble Clef – as the new club leader? And can someone please tell me where I can get a Kiki?

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