New Directions finds their sweet spot in an old school setlist.

By Lincee Ray
March 16, 2015 at 08:29 PM EDT
Beth Dubber/Fox

It’s time to dust off all those cassette tapes purchased for that one song you loved, because Glee is returning to its “old school” roots from season one. And by “roots,” I mean iconic songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s we all belt out when no one is looking. New Directions is back people. The magnificent seven pull out all the stops, forcing the Warblers and Vocal Adrenaline to shift uncomfortably in their seats, all contemplating this question: Do I have the same emotional triggers as Sue Sylvester? For the love of George Michael, I think I do.

The episode opens with the Vocal Adrenaline team gasping for air. Having just finished their “Whip It” arrangement, the aerialists, dancers, and Clint (he has a name!) hustle to their seats to watch the others perform. Sue announces to the crowd that the Warblers will be performing the next day, followed by New Directions the day after. This change of plans freaks everyone out, except Rachel, who is happy to secure 48 additional hours to recruit members.

Kurt convinces Rachel to go after Kitty, before heading to Breadsticks for a second date with Walter. Sue moonlights as a waitress, hurtling geriatric jokes with every breath. The solemn oath she took to reunite Klaine is still as much of a priority as sabotaging the Glee Club. When Walter takes her insults with a grain of salt, she resorts to harsher tactics—kidnapping.

It’s a good thing Sue was able to acquire the materials needed to construct a fake elevator, because the next day, Blaine and Kurt fall victim to one of Sue’s creepiest shenanigans. Not only did she successfully lock the pair in a small confined space, but she mentally teases them with a disturbing Sue puppet on a tricycle that looks eerily like a distant cousin of Lady Elaine Fairchild. Puppet Sue warns Klaine that if they don’t make out like banshees, they will suffocate and die. Welcome to Ms. Sylvestor’s neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the real Sue forces the Warblers to perform, even though their fearless leader is nowhere to be found. The boys straighten their navy blazers, channel the confidence of all Warblers who have gone before them, and nail their “My Sharona” number. In a hyphenated word, they are acca-awesome. When I heard the opening riffs of “You Spin Me Round,” I was a little disappointed, considering this song was brilliantly covered by The Treblemakers. Anything that is showcased on Pitch Perfect should not be touched, in my opinion.

Another thing that shouldn’t be touched is the annoying hypnotizing storyline. Perhaps this was just a way for Glee writer Ian Brennan to share his opinion of the worst songs on the planet. I’m no expert, but “Justified and Ancient” was probably a huge hit in Mu Mu Land.

Sam’s trance leads him to the choir room, where he tries to convince Rachel that “Dear Mr. Jesus,” “Ascension Millennium,” and the aforementioned KLF/Tammy Wynette ditty is just the setlist New Directions needs to take the invitational. Sam leans in for a kiss, but Rachel fends him off. YES! I know it trended on Twitter last week, but let’s not make Samchel a thing.

Once Sam snaps out of his trance, Rachel asks him to help her find more students to fill the empty Glee Club slots. Sam heads straight to Spencer. Spencer tells him that he can’t afford to join New Directions because if the other football players “smell a little bit of gay on me, everything I worked for is ruined.”

Time out. Doesn’t everyone know that Spencer is gay? Why did I get the impression that he would “take care” of anyone who had a problem with it? Discuss.

Sam reminds Spencer of another great McKinley High quarterback who changed he tapestry of Glee Club forever. I think it’s lovely how the writers continue to pull Finn into each episode. I imagine Corey Monteith would be proud that his legacy lives on.

Back in the choir room, Rachel is about to hyperventilate under the pressure, when a tart Cheerio waltzes in. While recruiting her earlier in the day, Rachel promised to never leave Kitty like the vanishing New Directions from season 4. Kitty loves a stage, and is ready to help Rachel find the perfect setlist. All she needs is a bobby pin to infiltrate Sue’s locked office door. Kitty knows that Sue has a secret playlist on her computer, full of emotional songs that have the ability to tug at her cold heart. Since Becky can be bribed with Mexican Twinkies, Kitty was able to secure the password—Thunderbolton69. How can a password be gross and awesome at the same time?

NEXT: Roderick is on center stage—finally

The next day, Rachel wrangles the deaf choir coach (SCARLET FEVER) who is a part-time police officer. He continues the search for Blaine and Kurt, while the Glee Club studies their new setlist. The four newbies balk at Rachel’s last-minute change, Kitty defends their teacher, and Spencer walks in to save the day with his self-proclaimed rock-n-roll talent. And then there were six.

How an entire school full of students are unable to hear Blaine and Kurt pounding at the fake elevator door is a mystery, but in order to stick with this show, you must be willing to suspend reality. Just as Klaine is bonding over naming their first child Fettucini Alfredo, and deciding Kurt’s iconic rapper name will be MC Hot Chocolate, Blaine brings up Karofsky. The whimsical mood is deflated. Cue Puppet Sue announcing that the elevator is filling with an aerosol drug that promotes sexual stimulation. Klaine had better kiss, or they will be careening into all the other bases in a matter of minutes.

There’s no time to worry about Blaine and Kurt. New Directions is about to go on stage, with Spencer and Kitty taking the lead. When they reach the chorus of “It Must Have Been Love,” Sue’s eyes widen. At the exact same time, Blaine and Kurt swear that their pending kiss means nothing. New Directions serenade the ex-couple as they passionately kiss. BING! The elevator opens, and they race to the auditorium.

By the time Kurt and Blaine get there, Roderick has taken center stage. His soulful voice punches through the familiar lyrics of George Michael’s “Father Figure.” I may have stood up. When the others join Roderick, Sue gets a serious case of the feels. Rachel, Sam, and Mr. Schuester mouth the words. I choose to sing out loud.

When New Directions sit down on stools, swaying to the mellow beats of Air Supply, we are treated to an entertaining flashback. Apparently Sue lost out on major acting roles in Star Wars, Pretty Woman, and Scarface. At this point, Sue is an emotional mess. She doesn’t hesitate to give New Directions the first place trophy.

Backstage, Clint reams Mr. Schu for caring more about Rachel than his own team. Sue steps in seconds later, telling her arch nemesis that she has officially purged herself of the anger sparked by the plastic fork rage.

Sue’s “Operation Sabotage All Glee Clubs” may be couched, but there’s still one huge item on her to-do list. I think we’ll see a lot of “Operation Klaine Nuptials” in the coming weeks.

Musical Notes

“My Sharona” by The Knack

The Warblers killed this song. The back beats were hard hitting, the “My Sharona” parts were on point, and the choreography was entertaining. It was hard to believe that this was an a cappella performance, which is the compliment I imagine every a cappella group wants to hear.

“You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive

This song was wonderful, but my subconscious could not get away from the fact that it sounded like a chapter out of the Pitch Perfect book. Had this song come first in the set, I’m sure my view of “My Sharona” would have been tainted. Again, it’s a stellar arrangement, but one I’ve connected to another group.

“It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette

I thought Kitty and Spencer were a little vanilla. I’m unsure if it was the smooth jazzy song choice (which I love by the way) or their voices together. It was an average performance that actually got better as the song went on. I’m eager to hear Spencer sing by himself.

“Father Figure” by George Michael

Hands down, this was my favorite performance of the night. The kids looked like they were having a ball, and it sounded phenomenal. It was a perfect choice for Noah Guthrie’s voice. Excuse me while I go purchase the song.

“All Out of Love” by Air Supply

After the emotional fist pump that was “Father Figure,” New Directions could perform anything, and I would smile like an idiot. It’s no mystery that Air Supply is total cheese. It’s best if we embrace this fact. I would have preferred the set to begin with this song, instead of closing with it. With that said, I couldn’t help but appreciate the simple delivery of the nostalgic tune.

Sound Bites

Kurt: We need to recruit Kitty. She’s talented. She’s a senior.

Rachel: She hates me. I was so intent on being a Broadway star, I never even learned her name. Or any of their names. There was Puck’s brother, cross-dressing Mercedes, the one with the fat mom, and Raider.

Kurt: Ryder.

Blaine: Look! They have a new elevator to the auditorium.

Kurt: Of course they get an elevator after Artie graduates.

Sue: Ladies and lady boys! I give you the Dalton Academy Warblers.

Madison: I thought you said you’d never join the Glee Club again.

Kitty: Well someone has to stop you from marrying your brother.