Sue Sylvester has threatened to kill herself, and after watching this episode of Glee I am right there with her. Her bout of depression is set off by the Cheerios failing to qualify for Nationals, likely because three of her stars quit to join the all-important football halftime show two weeks ago. Shue and Emma rush to her side only to call her dramatic and storm off. (Is karma coming back to get me for saying we hadn't had much Mr. Shue in the second half of the season? Because I'm over him after two minutes of him on my screen.)
Dopey Sam enters shouting "hey," and awkward camera angles makes me think he's talking to a male extra. That would have been more exciting than him talking to Quinn, which is what he is actually doing. Sam has bought Quinn's lie about her case of mono—she didn't kiss Finn, she saved his life by seductively sucking a jawbreaker out of his mouth. Sam, in the grand tradition of completely clueless boys on Glee, is buying it for now. He wants to take her to paint coasters as a date. He knows he needs to do something to win back Quinn's affection. His first thought is hunting, which makes absolutely no sense and which he discards, and his second is rock'n'roll, which he somehow translates to "emulating Justin Bieber."
Thus begins "The Justin Bieber Experience," Sam's one-man-bar-mitzvah-band quest to impress the woman he loves. From my notes at this point: "I HATE THIS EPISODE."
But Sue reignites my affection for Glee by asking, "Would you mind if I borrowed one of your rafters so I can hang myself?" It's decided that since singing a song has helped Sue feel marginally better, Sue should join New Directions and experience the joy of music to cure her depression. Unfortunately the first "joy" she experiences is The Justin Bieber Experience. (Too bad Emma threw away Sue's rope.)
Sam pulls "Baby" out of the Bieber canon, an awkward thing to sing to a girl who gave up her actual baby last season. Keep crooning "baby" at Quinn, Sam! It's sexy and not going to bring up memories of her daughter at all! Then Sam starts trying to dance and it's just embarrassing. Finn's reaction to all this pretty much sums up the way I felt:
Chord Overstreet gets points for trying to pull this off, but loses all those points for trying to pull this off while singing a Bieber song.
But the girls got all hot and bothered by Sam's Biebering, so the rest of the guys in ND want to join The Justin Bieber Experience.
While I was thankful for the gratuitous Mike Chang abs shot, I have to agree with Finn in this instance, who opines "You guys do realize that Justin Bieber sucks, right?" At least he sucks in this storyline. Note to dudes out there: Justin Bieber should not lead the way into your girlfriend's pants. (Didn't Glee already teach us that wine coolers are the answer?)
We get a glimpse into Rachel Berry's locker, which has important information about Celine Dion's birthday and Barbra Streisand. Rachel is trying to make a comeback as a star at school, and thus has paid Brittany to emulate her clothing to start a trend. Only Brittany doesn't understand how legwarmers work. (Her arms are cold because no one has ever taught her to read a calendar.) As this plotline continues throughout the show of course Brittany gets all the credit for setting the trends that Rachel has been sporting for two seasons, driving poor Rachel batty.
And now we find out that Sue's depression was just a ploy for her to get close to the glee club... and destroy it! Her first order of business is to pit the two resident divas, Rachel and Mercedes, against each other. Unfortunately before we can hear awesome singing, The Justin Bieber Experience rears its ugly head again. Literally—this time Puck has put on a Bieber hairpiece. To quote Mercedes, "Sweet Jesus, who bought tickets to Crazytown?"
"Somebody To Love" is notable for Mike Chang's dancing, Artie taking over vocals from Sam and being decent, and how Lauren Zizes' adorable styling. I'd do anything for Kurt to show up and just make a comment about this insanity, but at the very least the Justin Biebering of this episode is over. Quinn decides she's into Sam again, but Santana (in a really hot dress) takes the time to make a play for Sam as well. (I hate how this show is trying to make me care about Sam.)
We get to see Lauren in her wrestling gear, and taking down some guys who couldn't possibly be in her weight class. A lovestruck Puck is watches. Afterward they talk about how she wants to sing but is nervous, and he gives her the predictable "imagine them in their underwear" advice. But I can't even knock it because I love how he's in love with her, and I love that Lauren will not let him touch her knockers yet.
Finally it's time for a diva-off, with Rachel and Mercedes taking on the Rent lesbian lover classic "Take Me Or Leave Me." While they're both wonderful and I'd enjoy seeing them do this in-character on Broadway, the content and emotion of this song clearly work better when the two characters want to fuck each other yet are simultaneously frustrated with each other, the take me is about hot lesbian sex just as much as it's about accepting the other's faults. Trying to take out part one of the equation dulls part two. I wish they'd found a better, purely competitive song (something like "The Boy Is Mine," which worked perfectly last season as a lady tension duet). Still, Glee tries its best to make the song work platonically, and the girls' giggly love fest at the song's conclusion proved that music had triumphed over Sue's machinations.
Now it's time for Mr. Shue to teach Sue another lesson about the positive power of music by busting out his ukulele at the kids cancer ward. This was a sugary sweet scene that left me a sour taste if only because I feared Glee might be laying the groundwork for a Shue/Sue romance. Please no!
Lauren, with the help of Heather Morris' ass bent over in a schoolgirl mini, makes her glee club debut with "I Know What Boys Like.". She follows Puck's advice and we get treated to Lauren's vision of everyone wearing undies—Sue is wearing dominatrix gear, natch. Lauren is the bright spot so far in this episode, and much of this half of the season. She takes the room by storm, getting up close and personal with several of the boys and shoving the girls forcibly out of the way. Puck's heart-eyes for her at the end are heartwarming. He's finally found an actual match, someone who is as full of herself as he is but who won't give him everything he wants. I hope the casting directors keep Ashley Fink around forever.
I'm glad they've returned Sam to his dorky, N'avi speaking roots, even if Santana is going to sex the dork out of him post-haste. She seduces him away from Quinn and into her arms, continuing the Glee relationship shuffle.
Sue finally points out to Shue the obvious problem with this episode—Bieber does not write anthems! She would like to organize the glee club to sing an anthem of her choosing, which leads us to discover the Sue Sylvester is a closet My Chemical Romance fan. (Can't you just imagine her at Warped Tour circa 2005?)
The club performs "Sing" from the band's most recent album, but for some reason they are styled completely in plaid. That combined with the way the scene is shot, with the cameras looping and pulling odd angles all over the place, makes the segment seem like an attempt to capture My Chem's aesthetic by going on an Old Navy shopping spree instead of a scavenger hunt for actual post-apocalyptic roller derby items. (Sue's plaid tracksuit, however, is perfection.)
I know I am supposed to feel bad for Quinn after Sam's rejection, but I just don't. She and Finn have been terrible manipulators these last two episodes and I want them back together so they won't bother anyone else. Back in the choir room Rachel points out that "Sing" is good, but not good enough for Regionals, and the only way they'll have a leg up is if the group writes its own songs. I don't know who Rachel thinks is talented enough in that room to write music, and the group seems to agree with me because her idea is shot down. Finn is the only person on her side, and I'd be more into this whole Rachel/Finn supportive friendship plotline if Finn hadn't been so damn smarmy recently. In the final plot twist of the night, Sue declares she has been empowered by glee club to take on a night job coaching a glee club of her own—New Directions' big competition at the upcoming Regionals, Oral Intensity. (I hope Sue makes a million blow job jokes.)
And now the best part of tonight's episode—the preview for next week. The club throws an alcohol-soaked party, complete with spin the bottle and sexuality-challenging kisses. There's been much buzz online about Blaine's potential bisexuality crisis after his lip-lock with Rachel. The people who run Glee know exactly how to stir the pot, putting a fair chunk of that into the promo and leaving the Internet to boil for seven days until the answer—which will probably be less dramatic and less offensive than feared—is revealed. Your intrepid recapper is happy to be on a vacation from the Internet until next week, when she will hunker down in a hotel room in Paris at 2 a.m. to watch via an illegal live-stream and discuss sexuality politics, pop music and whether or not Ke$ha can take the mantel as the new princess of Glee covers from reigning queen Katy Perry. Until then, I apologize to anyone who had to watch this awful episode like I did. You can't win them all.