Glee takes on Michael Jackson
In this week’s episode “Michael,” Glee pays homage to the music legend Michael Jackson. Perhaps it’s because they had such good material to work with, but this was certainly their best tribute episode, and maybe one of the best episodes of the season so far. I think what makes it work is the fact that it has one central plot (rather than many smaller ones): Rachel facing her future and deciding whether or not she will accept Finn’s marriage proposal.
This was a really music-heavy episode, featuring 9 of Michael Jackson’s songs.
First was “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” which Blaine launched into immediately when someone suggested doing MJ songs again. It was kind of random, but the performance was fine.
Sebastian walks up to some Glee club members, spouts some racist remarks and gives a terrible display of poor sportsmanship. This leads to a little street duel between New Directions and the Warblers, in which the two sides sang “Bad.” (The members of New Directions all sported little leather jackets, which somehow made them look less “bad.”) At the climax of this battle, Sebastian whips out a slushie and tosses it in Blaine’s face. Blaine immediately collapses to the ground shrieking.
As it turns out, Blaine is not a total wimp — the slushie was, in fact, laced with rocks or something equally damaging, resulting in a scratched cornea and surgery for Blaine. Everyone in Glee club is furious, especially Artie, who is sick of taking abuse without being able to retaliate. He gets out of his chair and launches into a reenactment of the “Scream” music video with Mike. It’s all in his head of course, but I’m starting to think that there is a clause in his contract requiring him to have at least one imaginary dance sequence every season.
Rachel goes to Quinn seeking advice on what to say to Finn. Quinn says that if she wants to pursue her dreams in New York, Rachel will need to let go of her life in Lima and break up with Finn. She ends her little speech with “You’re gonna have to say goodbye” … and immediately starts singing “Never Can Say Goodbye,” in which she sings to her past boyfriends, Puck, Finn, and Sam. You’re contradicting yourself a bit here, Quinn.
Sam calls Mercedes down to the auditorium, standing on a platform with her name in giant lights behind him. (Tell us more about your financial woes, New Directions.) He asks for a duet with her, and they sing a nice acoustic version of “Human Nature.” At the end of this, they — surprise! — kiss.
Later, Kurt is pulled out of class by his dad to open his NYADA letter. Kurt is a finalist, which is good because I was starting to get really worried. When he tells Rachel, she reveals that she has yet to get her letter, and has a slight mental breakdown. They go to visit Blaine, who is sporting a dapper eyepatch, and they all sing “Ben” for him. It doesn’t quite live up to the original, but it’s still sweet, especially given that poor Blaine is missing MJ week because of his injury.
Santana confronts Sebastian about the slushie, and he reveals that it was actually meant for Kurt. They duel once again, this time singing “Smooth Criminal,” accompanied by two cellists from the aptly named real-life band 2Cellos. Considering that a) this is my favorite MJ song ever and b) cellos are great, this was by far my favorite song of the entire episode. Here’s the original 2Cellos rendition of “Smooth Criminal”:
During their battle, Sebastian reveals to Santana that the slushie was full of rock salt. She calls a meeting and reveals she was recording their conversation, but Kurt says that she shouldn’t turn it into the police, but instead they should defeat the Warblers in another way. While I appreciate the sentiment, I think there needs to be some punishment considering that this was an assault, resulting in a surgery which surely cost thousands of dollars. Finn asks Rachel to stay behind, they sing “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” and Rachel finally accepts his proposal.
New Directions “gets back” at the Warblers by giving up the MJ songs and performing “Black or White.” It’s a great performance, except for one part: a terrifying face morph of all the Glee club members. Thankfully, this ends as suddenly as it begins, and all the Warblers join New Directions on stage — with the exception, of course, of Sebastian. He just sat there slow clapping like a jerk, while his teammates stare at him with resentment. Ha.
In the last minute, Rachel walks up to Kurt wielding a NYADA letter and announces that she is also a finalist. Her joy is somewhat dampened when Kurt asks, “Have you told Finn yet?”
Overall, this was one of the most well-executed, well-organized episodes of the entire season. It serves as an excellent tribute to Michael Jackson, and certainly does justice to his music.
Next week’s episode, “The Spanish Teacher,” features Ricky Martin in a guest role. It airs at the normal time of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7, on Fox 43.