by Melissa Albert
"Glee Geeks Go Grease!" would be my headline, were I the sophomore theater critic of the McKinley Muckraker. But I’m not, so I’ll just break it to you now: the glee kids' production of "Grease" is a major hit! Now, let’s back it up:
The episode opens with Schue’s badly received announcement that Finn will be replacing him till after sectionals. "We’ll all be dead by sectionals!" Tina screams, rightfully assuming that Finn’s going to leave the glee club in a hot car while he goes to get a slushie. Even scarier, Sue uses Finn’s appointment to re-declare war on the arts at McKinley—she’s out for blood after he insensitively referred to her baby’s disability in last week’s episode.
Over at NYADA, Rachel’s bragging to Brody about both her official single-lady status and her upcoming off-Broadway audition. Stars in her eyes, she foolishly suggests that Cassie try out, too. After squinting her eyes into angry little raisins, Cassie suddenly asks Brody to be her new TA. Uh-oh, we smell an evil plot brewing.
Of course, that smell might be wafting from backstage at McKinley, where Kitty’s sabotaging Marley’s costumes to make them smaller, claiming that the "circus fat" gene she inherited from her mom is suddenly activating. (So many problems with both this scheme and the weirdly blunt way the show’s looking at body issues this week.) Kitty invites Marley to a slumber party, which WARNING! WARNING! IS OBVIOUSLY A TRAP. Once there, Kitty plies her with diet-busting snacks, recommends she become bulimic, then performs a candy-sweet "Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee," choreographed in near imitation of the movie original.
There’s more “method rehearsal” going on at the Hummel auto shop, where Finn makes Ryder stick his head inside the hood of a car till the fumes inspire him to sing "Greased Lightning." Comically PG rewrites of the lyrics aside, it’s pretty weak tea, just copping more movie choreography—though Sam’s a sweet Kenickie, and Mike Chang rocks a pompadour like he was born to do it.
While stretching it out in the NYADA rehearsal room, Rachel tries talking Kurt out of flying to Ohio to see "Grease." Cassie overhears and offers them her JetBlue miles, a plot even more transparently devious than Kitty’s slumber party snacks. Unfortunately, Rachel fails to see through it, and she and her roomie hop a flight to Lima.
An opportunistic Sue tells Wade’s parents he’s been cast as Rizzo, and while they’re accepting, they opt to protect him by pulling him from the show. We’re sad for Wade, but...Santana’s taking over as Rizzo! Let’s ignore the fact that she no longer goes to McKinley, and just reflect on the glory of Santana in a Pink Ladies jacket.
After approximately one week of rehearsal, it’s showtime! Blaine sings a smooth, adorable "Beauty School Dropout," but almost loses it when he sees Kurt in the audience. Ryder catches Marley trying to barf up her lunch per Kitty’s instructions, but flirts her out of her funk. And Santana uses her breakup with Britney as inspiration for a killer performance of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.”
A heartbroken Unique imagines himself chiming in from the audience, and at the same time, in a sweaty practice room in New York, Cassie’s singing the song to Brody. “I could hurt someone like me, out of spite or jealousy,” Cassie croons, as she inappropriately creeps on Rachel’s wannabe man...and then kisses him. And Rachel can’t even be mad, cause she didn’t lock down that hunk of upperclassman when she had the chance!
Backstage, Mike Chang is so turned on by Tina’s performance of Jan that he wants to get back together. Hold on a minute here. JAN?!?!? She’s the blandest character in “Grease”! Saying you’ve fallen for someone because of the way they play Jan is like saying you’ve fallen for someone because of the way they ate that hotdog without getting very much mustard on their shirt: both take the barest level of competence. Anyway, Tina says she’ll think about it.
Right before Marley and Ryder go on for "The One That I Want," they share a kiss—which Jake catches sight of, before slinking sadly away. The boring blocking once again comes straight from the movie. Unlike the “Rocky Horror Glee Show,” which added some original interpretation to songs like “Toucha Toucha Touch Me,” this ep mainly pays homage without adding interest (with the major exception of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”).
In the audience, Rachel’s feeling all kinds of weird Finn feelings and runs off to call Brody...but Cassie answers his phone from BED, and lays it out for her in no uncertain terms: Rachel blew it with Brody by leaving him unattended, and Cassie’s punishing her for punching above her weight, both with the off-Broadway audition and the upperclassman flirtation. Seconds after hanging up on Cassie’s vindictive screed, she runs into Finn, and they basically break up a second time. He tells her he doesn’t want to talk to her anymore: “No contact, not even in song.” Whaaat does “contact in song” mean? Does it hurt? Do you have to take your clothes off? Does it involve a Ouija board? I guess we’ll never find out, because Finn’s outlawed it.
Blaine and Kurt also reaffirm their breakup, after Blaine tries to talk it out and Kurt shuts him down hard. But at least “Grease” is a hit! Will says goodbye to his victorious students, then tries to give interim choir director Finn some last-minute advice. Finn shuts him down in a manly fashion. “Schue? I got this,” he says, then struts in slow motion toward glory. It’s on, Sectionals!
Song of the episode: “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” by a landslide. Through the magic of Santana and by NOT imitating the movie, there was finally Glease magic.
What did you think of last night's episode Gleeks? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!