When we last left off, New Directions was left reeling when their long-time M.V.P. Rachel Berry was suspended from school and disqualified from performing at Sectionals after she tried to fix the Senior Class Presidential vote in favor of her best gay: Kurt Hummel. As a result, it seems that their rivals: The TroubleTones think they have a Sectionals win in the bag… but New Directions have always been the underdogs and they’re not giving up just yet…
Read on for my recap, thoughts and opinions about this week’s episode: “Hold On To Sixteen”. I say it every week and I know it’s obvious, but there are many spoilers ahead…
We open the show with a shot of Quinn, which immediately doesn’t bode well for my favor, who walks up to Rachel in the school hallway with a bitchy but self-satisfied look on her face. Rachel explains that she’s been allowed to come onto school premises to get her books and things and offers vocal coaching to New Directions since she can’t compete at sectionals. Quinn says they won’t need any coaching because she has a secret weapon. She confirms that Puck IS in fact THE DUMBEST MAN ALIVE and he did tell the scheming bitch that he had sex with Shelby. Way to give the psycho a loaded gun, Puckerman! Quinn, of course, plans to use this information to get Shelby fired and supposedly get Beth back. (Ever heard of Social Services, Girly?) Rachel, knowing how it feels to do the wrong thing and pay for it, tries to convince Quinn that ruining Shelby will only hurt Beth. Quinn stares off into space…
Sectionals is this week and it`s being held at McKinley! Finn is worried that without Rachel (and with everything that`s happened this semester) that New Directions don`t stand a chance. He tells Shue they need a secret weapon; They need Sam “Trouty Mouth” Evans. Finn has tracked him down in Kentucky and revealed he intends to go there and convince him to come back.
Kurt and Blaine are chillin at the Lima Bean. Kurt is stressing that he and Rachel will never get into NYADA now that she’s suspended and he lost Sr. Class President. Blaine is whining about the way Finn has apparently been shooting him down constantly since he joined New Directions. Is this for real? Until about 2 episodes ago, Season 3 was the Blaine show! Now I’m supposed to feel bad for pushed-into-the-shadows Blaine? This show is exhausting sometimes.
Luckily, I don’t have to care about Blaine’s unwarranted discontent for long because up walks the lower torso of a Warbler. OH NOES!!, that asshole Sebastian is back and right from his first line he’s still a Triflin’ Ho. He walks up and says he’s been checking out a hot guy from across the room and just realized it was Blaine all along. What kind of dirty whore says something like that to a guy who is SITTING WITH HIS BOYFRIEND!!?? This guy has absolutely no shame. We learn that apparently this year The Warblers aren’t in the same Sectionals competition as New Directions (did they re-zone the area since Season 2?) and we learn The Warbler’s won and will be at Regionals. When Blaine excuses himself for a refill Kurt lays out a simple but sharp: “I don’t like you” and with pure disgust in his eyes Sebastian spits back “Fun… I don’t like you either”. The rest of this scene is ELECTRIC. Both Chris Colfer and Grant Gustin deserve props. The two exchange fightin’ words until Blaine returns and then resume playing nice; Blaine is none the wiser.
Rachel and Finn walk into a bar where they believe Sam is now working. The club, named “Stallionz” seems to be full of cougars and there’s a disturbing little buffet set up. (Ew?) They soon discover they’re in a strip club and former all-American boy: Sam is now an exotic dancer who goes by the name of “White Chocolate”. Finn seems rather shaken by it all but Rachel asks him for a dollar and goes up to the stage. While one would hope to see Rachel stick it in Sam’s G-String, she just kind of hands it to him as he looks down with suprise.
Later, Sam explains that his family are all working now and that his parents are scraping by and he helps out. Minimum wage jobs aren’t cutting it so he’s taken up stripping. He says he’s good at it because the crowds love him and Rachel says he’s good at it for all the reasons he shouldn’t be doing it. The audience then has a slight “aww” moment for Rachel. She sure seems to be working for that Redemption for her sins, doesn’t she?
On a side note, Sam’s hair is so much better now than it was when he left. I missed him!! If only they hadn’t destroyed Quinn’s appeal for me completely this season; I once wanted her and Sam to find their way back, but that ship has sailed.
So, New Directions are sitting around griping and being whiners in the choirroom, joined now by band geeks for numbers, when Shue and Finn burst in (with sparkling cider) and reveal that Sam has returned! They, of course, must immediately perform a musical number! Unfortunately, they pick the worst song that Glee has done to date, `Red Solo Cup`by Toby Keith, rivalled only by the misguided choice to let Matthew Morrison use a track from his solo album on the Season 2 finale. As happy as I was to see Chord Overstreet back on this show, that number was painfully terrible. I was so offended, I tweeted: “Christ… WORST #Glee number of the entire series. I hated everything about that. #RedSoloCup”
Quinn approaches Sam in the hallway and makes sure to let him know Mercedes is taken and makes a move on him for herself. For some reason, in what has become typical Quinn fashion this season she doesn`t even try to hide her crazy and tells him she`s going to get Beth back and wants to find a man to help raise her. Sam tells her that she has #RichWhiteGirlProblems and quotes Mellencamp when he tells her to “hold on to sixteen as long as you can”. Quinn stares into space again. (sigh..)
Tina and Mike walk up the hallway; Tina is suggesting different dance schools Mike should apply for while Mike looks concerningly awkward. He confesses that in order to keep his family together he’s decided to apply to medical schools. Tina is disappointed and encourages him not to give up and to stand up to his father and show him that he’s meant to be a dancer. When she tells him not to be a coward he lashes out and reveals that his father wants him to break off their relationship. Dun Dunn Dunnnnn….
Meanwhile, in the choir room New Directions are practicing their dance moves and trying to work out their sectionals routine. Blaine makes a couple of suggestions that Sam, still under the influence of his success as a stripper, shoots down. Sam suggests instead they need to sell their routine with sex and Finn quickly agrees which sets Blaine off. He feels like this is cheap and says that he’s “not for sale” before storming out of the room.
Cut to Blaine in his workout clothes, sweaty and agitated as he pounds a punching bag. Finn comes in, hands in his pockets and admits he was jealous and felt threatened by Blaine’s talent. Like the stand-up guy Finn always ends up being, he apologizes to “Angry Blaine” (which quickly became a trending topic on Twitter). He says with Rachel gone, Blaine is the most talented, well-rounded person in the club and that they need to come through for eachother now more than ever and do their very best at Sectionals and prove to all the haters that they are the best. Angry Blaine seems to be sedated by this ego stroking and goes back to cheesy smiley Blaine, minus the bow tie. (For now…)
Mercedes is walking down the hall, minding her own bidness, when Sam walks up next to her and tries to hold her hand. She quickly pulls away and reminds him she has a big, football playing boyfriend and that they had a summer fling and it`s over. Sam plays it cool and says “ìt was more than that”. She tells him he should move on and starts to walk away but he calls down the hallway “I don’t care how big or bad your boyfriend is, I’m gonna fight to get you back”. She walks away with a smile on her face. (I was so pissed when Sam transferred and we didn’t get any Samcedes! I’m very much supportive of this storyline.)
In the midst of all of this melodrama, I keep forgetting that Sectionals is happening at some point in this episode too. I hate to admit it but at this point in the episode I’m a little bit Team Troubletones and I’m doubting New Directions’ ability to pull this off.
Cut to Daddy Chang sitting in what I suspect is his office with his usual judgemental expression, Enter: Tina, ever the loving girlfriend, with a bootleg copy of McKinley’s performance of West Side Store. She tells Mr. Chang he needs to watch it and recognize that performing is what Mike is born to do and that he’s throwing everything he loves away just to please his father. Chang Sr. tells her that a career in the arts is full of disappointments and financial hardships and that a good parent wouldn’t encourage their children to pursue that life. He tries to send her away with the DVD and she pleads with him one last time stating that if honor is so important to him, he needs to “honor his son’s gift.”
Suddenly we fast forward to Sectionals! New Directions are all wearing white tuxedos with black trim. Mike reveals he’s angry with Tina for trying to talk to his father, who almost wouldn’t let him compete tonight as a result.
In walk The Troubletones. They come in to intimidate, stating that should the Troubletones win tonight they will be happy to let any members of New Directions join their club to compete at Regionals. With this obvious villainous ploy to mindfu*k the competition, we pretty much know The Troubletones are going to lose. Shue, obviously annoyed, tells them to suck it (“thanks, but…”) and urges his team to concentrate on doing their best.
They announce the judges and none of them are special guest stars this time so no one really cares and introduce the first group: The Unitards. They’re fronted by The Glee Project’s Lindsay Pierce (“Harmony”) and Rachel and Kurt, remembering how amazing she was at the NYADA hopefuls group, look on in horror. Personally, I wasn’t terribly impressed by her or this club with their rendition of “Buenos Aires” from Evita. Poor song choice. Great costumes. Overall, a yawn! At the end of their number, Quinn stands and leaves the auditorium and Rachel runs after her suspecting that she’s headed to tell Figgins about Shelby & Puck.
In the hallway Rachel pleads with Quinn to reconsider, telling her that when she gets over her anger and realizes that she’s destroyed Beth’s life and all of the hard work their friends in the TroubleTones have done to get here that she will regret it – even if New Directions win as a result. Quinn is stubborn, but Rachel argues that if she plans to go through with it that she owes it to Shelby to tell her first and let the TroubleTones perform and have their moment. As Ms. Berry walks away, she adds that she knows what it feels like to try and live with making the wrong choices. Surpringly enough…
Quinn goes to Shelby and tells her that she knows about Puck and intends to tell Figgins and get her fired. Shelby tells Quinn that she’s “ending it” but that there “isn’t much ‘it’ to end”. She confesses that it was an error in judgement and that growing older can be hard to accept and she thought it would make her feel younger and better about herself but all it did was make her feel worse. She accepts that Quinn wants to do her in and doesn’t try and convince her otherwise and encourages her again to enjoy her youth and not try to grow up too quickly as she heads back into the auditorium to watch her team perform and enjoy her final night as a teacher/coach.
The TroubleTones take the Sectionals stage with a mashup of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. It’s a sassy divafest but something about this number doesn’t do it for me either. They look and sound great but “I Will Survive” is so overdone. After the Adele mash-up from two-episodes-past this one just seems a bit lacklustre. We shall see if it’s enough to win them the title. Kudos to the choreographer for the cute Brittana moment as the ladies paired up for a touch of ballroom and the two get to share a cute dip/spin moment. The ladies seem confident when it’s all over but New Directions seem to think they have it in the bag. What on EARTH are they cooking up?
No wasting time; We dive right into New Directions set. As always, while we only see one number from the rival teams we can assume they’ve done numbers we didn’t see because New Directions are about to sing several. They open with The Jackson 5′s “A.B.C.” and despite my enthusiasm to see MIKE CHANG SINGING in competition, this number (fronted mostly by Tina) is cute but not really SECTIONALS material. Note, however, how much they’ve pumped up the choreography!!! Even Finn looks decent!
We quickly realize this number is only meant as a device to explore the different things happening in the audience: Sebastian looking on at Blaine, Kurt wanting to choke-a-bitch, Chang Senior arriving to WATCH HIS AMAZING SON!!! (ahem, sorry), the crowd getting more and more into it, Mercedes looking on as Sam dances – OBVIOUSLY still in love with him! Suddenly I realize I’m enjoying this number too! It’s a grower! Even Chang, Sr. appears to be fighting a smile!
The song ends. Applause! Then Quinn steps to the front. In the episodes creepiest moment she begins (as Shelby watches) “This is a story about Control.. MY Control.” The group launch in to Jackson ode #2, Janet’s “Control”. Mostly Artie and Blaine on the lead, “Control” is another number that is just okay but again, the choreography seems to be the highlight.
But now, the crown jewel. In a moment that brought many tears to my eyes, a single spotlight finds Finn Hudson as he sings the opening line of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”. He’s quickly joined by Artie, Puck, Blaine and Sam who sing it as a quintet until the end of the first chorus when the rest of New Directions explode into glorious backing vocals and harmonies. Cut to multiple shots of Rachel, Mr. Shue and others looking on like they know full-well who’s got this in the bag. Cut to another shot of the TroubleTones dancing in the audience and loving it. Unable to be a grumpy stick in the mud any longer, Chang Sr. stands and applauds his son with a smile so full of pride I’m crying like baby even more than I was 10 seconds ago.
In the choir room moments later, New Directions are celebrating a great performance and Mike is telling Tina that he can’t believe his Dad came to watch the show when in walks Daddy Chang to tell his son that he’s sorry for not seeing it sooner that dance and performing is truly his calling. He tells Mike to apply to all of the best dance schools with his blessing. For Mike, this is bittersweet as he’s missed deadlines to apply to colleges. Fortunately for him, Tina reveals she filled out the applications for him and forged his signature. Mike, nearly in tears, tells her he loves her. The world sheds a tear and wonders why we were ever mad that they broke up Tina and Artie in the first place. Adorable.
Now it’s time to announce the winner of the Sectionals competition. In third place: The Unitards! Kurt moves to tell Harmony he thought they did great and she reveals she’s only a sophomore! (Does anyone else smell a transfer to McKinley when New Directions loses Rachel?). In second place, in what doesn’t seem like it should be a surprise to anyone, we have The TroubleTones! New Directions have done it, even without Rachel Berry! Sadly, for the TroubleTones this is a really sad moment and that is where the show focuses.
In breaking news, Psycho Quinn has apparently decided to do another 180 and go back to being sweet, friendly Quinn. Her first order of business is to tell Rachel she’s decided NOT to ruin Shelby’s life and wants to thank Rachel for talking her out of doing something stupid. Quinn reveals she’s thinking about applying to a Drama program at Yale and the two continue their sort-of friendship. Rachel offers to help Quinn with her college applications but Quinn asks for a different favor…
Cut to Quinn entering the girls locker room, where Santana, Brittany and Mercedes are lamenting their Sectionals loss. Even the jaded ladies see where this is going and immediately tell Quinn to not even try to talk them into coming back to New Directions. Quinn, seemingly knowing that they would react this way, tells them that “Growing up is about losing things” and that they only have 6 months left together before everything changes for all of them and they’ll never have a chance to be together again. She reveals that both Rachel and Mr. Shue have agreed that if they return to the group, The TroubleTones will get at least one number at every competition. The girls start to reconsider. Quinn says they’re going to be singing in the auditorium and leaves them an open invitation to come back and take anyone else who wants to join with them.
In what was my second favorite (and most tear-inducing) number of the episode, New Directions celebrate their Sectionals win with a rousing rendition of “We Are Young” by NY based band: “fun.” From stage right enter Mercedes, Santana, Brittany & SUGAR MOTTA!!! I know she can’t sing but this girl is HILARIOUS and will make a welcome addition to New Directions. This song is a bit of an anthem and given that the original is by a relatively unknown band, it’s likely to be a runaway Glee hit. The episode ends with everything being back as it should; One Glee club and one very large group hug.
- It really doesn’t matter much now that they’re finished, but why on earth are there SO many very talented singers/dancers from the TroubleTones who have no interest in New Directions? Was the whole club made up of Cheerios under Sue’s control? Was Sue just too busy with Congressional Campaign duties to micromanage them? That’s kind of dumb. As much as I enjoy the TroubleTones it makes nearly ZERO sense to me that they exist.
- The gang is back together but WHERE THE HELL IS LAUREN ZICES!!!!!???
- The fact that the Warbler’s were in the same Sectionals competition last year but fall into a different one this year? Obviously this is a device to ensure there will be more delicious discomfort with Sebastian but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, really.
Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. I’m very happy to finally see the rival glee clubs thing come to an end and hopefully that mess of a storyline with Puck/Quinn/Shelby. One question, however: What will happen to Shelby now? Will Idina be sticking around?
Next week we get this season’s Christmas episode so it’s likely that the overall plot won’t advance much but it will be great for some Holiday cheer! As always I’ll be here to comment and gripe about it and I hope you’ll all join me! Let me know what you thought of this week’s episode or where it’s going! I love to discuss.
As always, thanks for reading!