Glee recap: Billy Joel tribute
Sam and Blaine visit New York to explore their post-high school options; the Marley-Jake-Ryder love triangle gets a few Billy Joel solos
You know Glee loves its tribute episodes, just as much as it loves random fast-forwards to major high school life events. The fast-talking intro tells us it’s almost time for graduation (is it actually? I have absolutely no sense of the timeline right now) and the seniors are tweaking about what they’re doing next.
Enter the McKinley high career fair, which is conspicuously missing an arts table. Sue updates Will (I have been calling him Mr. Schue in all recaps so far, which has honestly been a bitch and a half to write and punctuate, so I’m done with that) on the harsh realities of the job market, wherein arts are simply an impractical career choice. Sue encourages Will to “set up a stool in between Salad Artistry and Fecal Sculpture, [where] you’re more than welcome to regale passersby with your inspiring story how you dreamt of Broadway stardom and ended up rapping for high schoolers with a head of hair that looks just like Olympia Dukakis’ merkin.” Holy crap, what a reference. Did the tweens catch that one?
Will storms into the choir room and encourages the kids to pursue their artistic dreams. “That’s why this week’s assignment is about a goofy-looking kid who struggled for years in the music business,” he says. Kitty hopes it’s Marilyn Manson, but nope, it’s Billy Joel! Surely there are other, more deserving artists who have overcome adversity to find musical stardom, rather than a man who recorded the pinnacle song of his career at age 24, but Joel has some great music, so I’ll take it.
Blaine and Sam inform the club that they’re headed to New York — Blaine, for a NYADA audition, and Sam, for an interview with the Hunter College theatre department. (He also mentions that he’s up for The Channing Tatum Former Male Stripper Grant, which is hi-larious.) The two perform the first song of the night, “Movin’ Out.” There’s basically no diegetic function to this song, except that Blaine and Sam “move out” of the room (ohhhh) and four hours later, they’ve sung one verse and a chorus but are in New York (FYI they exited Montrose Street’s L stop, in case someone wants to put a plaque there or something). They hop on a bus and get to Rachel and Kurt’s loft. Upon their entrance, Kurt’s exclaims (according to my closed-captions): “Oh. Ah! Hi! Hi! Hi! Wha… Oh, hi!” Grade: C+.
NEXT: Sam wants to be your star
So we’re at the diner, and Rachel is working because despite being the lead in a Broadway musical, she has time to be in a band and work in a diner. (In a similar fashion, Cinderella’s Laura Osnes currently housekeeps on the Upper West Side.) While Rachel and Santana “work,” Kurt is prepping Blaine for his NYADA audition, insisting that he’ll ace it, even though Blaine says he needs to look at some safety schools. Kurt drags Blaine up to the piano for an impromptu trial run performance. “Seriously? You all need to be stopped. That’s enough,” says Santana, as if she doesn’t work at a singing diner and has never spontaneously broken out into song.
Blaine does “Piano Man” and Sam’s got him backed on the harmonica. Meanwhile, the waiters dance with lit candles like a Macaroni Grill fever dream. It’s not bad. “That was incredible!” says Kurt, one-ing me up. “There’s no way you’re not getting into NYADA! Then our dreams will come true!” And I wonder, is Glee capable of foreshadowing? Or is that just not something that this show has any interest in? We’ll see. Grade: Solid A- because, well, it’s “Piano Man.”
We cut to Sam’s interview at Hunter College, and in the spectrum of college interviews, this one is decidedly not going well because Sam is an idiot. He can’t explain why he wants to go to Hunter, but he does get across that he’s “super jazzed to be going to school in New York City” because of the diversity. This prompts the most awkward line of the night, between Sam and his interviewer: “So you’re black. That must be interesting. Do you know — this is a shot in the dark — do you know Mercedes Jones?” Oh, Sam. You beautiful, beautiful fool.
Later in the loft, Sam tells Rachel that he doesn’t even want to go to college. Instead, he wants to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a male model. He wants his junk as big as a car. What happens next: Rachel says she’ll help Sam by staging a photo shoot and giving him tips. Her first tip? Handing him a plate of cheesy pasta and meatballs. Good start, boo.
Rachel hires a Broadway photographer for Sam’s photo shoot. We get to see all his looks: Nerd, Suit Guy, Cowboy, Underwear Enthusiast. Rachel rubs oil on him, and then — THEN — maybe I’m crazy, but I swear they have a moment of intense eye contact, and I have to wonder if Glee would ever pursue a relationship between Sam and Rachel in New York (Ram?).
Meanwhile, Kurt is helping Blaine pick out an outfit for his audition, but Blaine confesses that he doesn’t event want to go to NYADA. After all, he might want to be a teacher or a doctor. Well, this speech of perfect sensibility will not do for Kurt, who tells Blaine that he’s just scared of the audition, but he’ll do great. “Thanks for knowing me,” says Blaine, hugging Kurt and abandoning his dreams of medical school in favor of being a dance major.
Sam takes his photos to a modeling agency, the House of Bichette. “So how is your name pronounced again?” he asks the lady in charge, “because I heard it was ‘bi-shay’ but now that I see it spelled out it looks like it should be ‘bitch-ette,’ like a little mini-bitch.” The lady in charge, as it is, is none other than MISS TYRA BANKS, Queen of the Smize and Lindsay Lohan’s last great co-star. “I’m used to dealing with boys far prettier and considerably stupider than you,” says Tyra. But she likes Sam. “Your Midwestern eyes have the vacant stare of a cow. I don’t have any of those on my roster.” Bichette likes Sam’s look but tells him he needs better model shots, and that he needs to lose 10 pounds. “You are in the big time now, cowboy. The camera likes starvation.” See you soon, Tyty!!!
In the loft, Blaine has bought a PIANO as a thank-you gift TO HIS OWN FIANCÉ for letting him stay there for the weekend. Santana, who is now the most realistic voice of reason on the show, says there’s not enough room for the piano (which there’s not) and complains that Kurt and his Hag Berry (HA!) will now sing Rent showtunes all day in the loft. (As if they didn’t already do that without a piano? Girl please, ain’t nobody needs a piano to sing “I’ll Cover You (Reprise).”) Sam is depressed because he’s on a Mentos and flavored air diet. The kids try to talk him out of it, and Blaine suggests that the argument would be best made in a song. But Santana says no! The next two lines sum up this entire show:
Blaine: “You don’t have to sing, Santana.”
Kurt: “But I dare you not to!”
And sure enough, Santana (with hairbrush-mic in hand) joins in for a group rendition of “Just The Way You Are” which they sing to Sam, who has had body insecurity issues for a whopping two hours but suddenly deserves a pick-me-up song. Grade: A- because I love it and it’s campy and fun and self-aware and I enjoy having these five on screen together and have you seen the exposed brick in that loft?
NEXT: Ryder actually does somethingIn Lima, the drama has picked up again for Jake and Marley. Last week, he confessed to hooking up with Bree. This week, he’s trying to apologize with roses which is an altogether silly idea since, if Glee has taught us anything, it’s that the best way to apologize for sexual misdeeds is via song. But no, he tries with flowers, and Marley spurns him, accepting that Jake is a man-ho and she can’t change his nature. Jake says he’s not that guy anymore, but when Ryder accosts Jake in the locker room for screwing things up with Marley, Jake suddenly defends his choices and owns being “that guy.” He warns Ryder, “Start learning to like the real Jake Puckerman or leave me the hell alone.” Cue another song!
“My Life”: It’s a good old-fashioned jock-singing-in-the-locker-room ditty, reminiscent of the quasi-homoerotic numbers in things like Best Little Whorehouse. Throughout the song, Jake is romancing the girls of McKinley and not-so-passive-aggressively flaunting a thinly-veiled STFU to Marley. He’s also doing a randomly alarming amount of dancing. Grade: A bizarre B+.
Not missing a moment, Ryder asks Marley to go out with him. “I have good family values, I go to church, I’ve never been arrested, I’m not ugly,” he says, knowing exactly what gets Marley hot. Marley says she’s not ready, though (can you blame her?). She rejects Ryder, conveniently stopping in front of a display of mirrors, which Ryder sings into.
“An Innocent Man”: Artie’s facial expression here kills me. Ryder basically sing-confesses his love for Marley (that’s how you do it on Glee, Jakey). “Marley, will you go out with me?” he asks RIGHT IN FRONT OF JAKE, who promptly leaves, because why wouldn’t he? WTF Ryder. You don’t do anything interesting for weeks and then you pull this sh*t? Not cool, Biebs, not cool. C+ because you’re being a dick.
But as it turns out, Marley still goes out with Ryder that night. I assume they went to Breadstix, because romance is dead in Lima, but the next day, Ryder tells Marley to check her Instagram. Why? He’s posted a picture of the two of them with hearts around them, and the fact that Marley doesn’t immediately run away is just awful. Jake comes over just to say hi and bye before he goes off to give chlamydia to two career fair attendees. Marley tells Ryder that he’s moving too fast and that she’s uncomfortable and needs time for her and her Julie Andrews movie-marathons. Ryder sad. Marley sad. Jake sexually active. The circle of life.
NEXT: Artie Abrams’ Guide to College
At the career fair, Artie approaches Becky, who is wearing a bee-keeper’s helmet. “Hi, hot stuff. Want to suck face and look at my boobs?” she coos. Artie asks Becky about her post-grad plans. He reveals he’s going to film school in New York (how convenient for Glee season six). Becky says college is for suckers. Artie offers to help Becky do research for handicapable colleges, but Sue promptly wheels Artie Muppet Stephen Hawking away and warns him about taking Becky away from her comfortable life at McKinley.
Artie decides to approach Becky again. “What do you want, a threesome with Kitty?” she offers. He gives her brochures for colleges. “I don’t want to go to college, and I don’t want your stupid pamphlets. Butt out!” she yells, and storms off. Artie can’t let this go, so he sends Becky a text invite to the auditorium for a little message-in-a-song serenade.
Singing “Honesty,” Artie serenades Becky about being truthful with herself and her wish to go to college. Becky takes the song as Artie’s declaration of love (“Band geeks, get lost! Artie is gonna show me his purple mushroom,” she muses, and honestly, who the hell is responsible for writing Becky’s dialogue this season?). Artie knows Becky’s truth, though: “I think you want to go to college, but you’re scared.” Becky confesses that she doesn’t want to be made fun of, but Artie assures her she won’t be. Grade: B- (sorry Artie).
Sue calls Artie to her office. “I went to my pharmacy and took the liberty of purchasing you a good old-fashioned ear douche because you obviously didn’t hear me when I distinctly told you with perfect diction and great clarity to stop meddling in the affairs of one Becky Jackson.” Sue informs Artie that she’s been looking into programs for Becky but doesn’t think she’s ready. Artie plans to take Becky to tour the University of Cincinnati, and Sue, in a tender moment, tells him to ask tough questions. I tear up for, like, a second.
Artie and Becky tour the school and it seems like a great fit (despite the college kid who hits on the 17 year-old). Becky returns to Sue’s office and admits that she wants to go to college: “I never thought to say this. I’ve outgrown these high school bitches.” Sue is sad to lose Becky, but offers to help write her application essay, making a Graydon Carter reference along the way that nobody catches except Tina Brown.
Finally, everything wraps up with the career fair. Sue makes a booth for the arts, because “in the words of civil rights leader Genghis Khan, everyone deserves a shot at their dreams.” Blaine and Sam return, and tell the group (who have all conveniently assembled in the hallway) their plans for New York. Someone says they’re crazy, and Mr. Schue loves it. Loves it enough to launch into song once more. Everyone starts singing “You May Be Right” and they’re all just so wacky and crazy that I kind of love it, even though there’s no point to this performance. But I’ve given up the idea that there will be points. Also, I spot another child in a bee-keeper helmet, so grade: B+. Fin!
[I have to take this last moment to apologize for forgetting Robin Williams on my list of Best Pop Culture Robins from last week’s recap. I don’t know how I could have made such an egregious error. Sorry Robin. But I won’t apologize for leaving off Robin Gibb, because falsetto sort of freaks me out.]